There is a very real tug-of-war that goes on within each and every one of us. The war rages between your conscious and subconscious mind. Your conscious mind knows all the reasons you MUST change. Your subconscious mind has gotten used to the way things are and resists change.
You can continue to try forcing change, but don't expect a new outcome. The better way is to create change. Let's take a look at how it is done.
Why habits are hard to change:
Habits are a mechanism your brain has created to save brain power. Habits run on autopilot freeing up your brain to deal with other issues.
Consider learning how to drive.
When you first got behind the wheel of a car at the age of 16, you noticed everything about that car. It took a long time to adjust the seat, adjust the mirror, and figure out where the turn signal was. And, your mind was ever vigilant as your eyes constantly moved from the speedometer to the road.
If you had to keep this level of consciousness every time you got behind the wheel of a car, driving would be a maddening and all-consuming activity.
Instead, your brain started putting driving tasks together, and driving became a subconscious activity. How many times have you driven from "Point A" to "Point B" and remembered little about the drive?
Like driving, your eating has become a subconscious habit. So if you try to force yourself to change by turning your life upside down and going cold turkey on all of your old eating habits, your body and mind will feel very uncomfortable... too uncomfortable and you will quit.
How to break old habits and create new ones:
To break the habits of the old you, you need to create change by working with your body and mind at the same time.
To change your body, you need a strategic approach to changing the foods you are eating. Instead of trying to change everything about your diet overnight, ease into change over a 7 day period by methodically replacing junk foods with healthy foods. By doing this you give your body time to adapt, and you avoid overwhelm.
To change your mind, you need to focus on why life will be better when you are eating a healthy diet. What will it be like walking into your church or social function at a spry 125 pounds? How would it feel to try on new clothes at your ideal weight?
Focusing on what is wrong with the current you will keep you locked in your old destructive habits. Focusing on the new you naturally pulls you to new and healthy habits.
Would you like to know how to strategically change the foods you are eating to avoid overwhelm? You can follow the Free 7 Day Plan. This plan has evolved from my work as a professor of health and wellness courses for two universities. It gives you the exact foods to eat to move from a junk food diet to a super foods diet in one week.
Here's How To Follow The 7 Day Junk Foods To Super Foods Challenge:
Think ADD before SUBTRACT:
DAY 1: Add 1 pound of non-starchy vegetables. Don’t worry. I show you how and it’s easier than you think! No need to change anything else.
DAY 2: Add 3 pieces (servings) of fruit to your typical diet.
DAY 3: Add 1 cup of beans to your typical diet
DAY 4: Add up to 3 Tbsp. of raw nuts/seeds and 3 Tbsp. of dried fruit to your typical diet.
DAY 5: Subtract refined carbs and sugars (i.e. avoid white foods). Limit whole grains and starchy vegetables to 1 cup (combined total).
DAY 6: Subtract red meat. Limit poultry, eggs, fish & shellfish to 4 ounces.
DAY 7: Subtract dairy products.
Throughout the week you may add oil, butter and/or salad dressing in moderation.
You may also have water, coffee and unsweetened tea throughout the week without limitation. Drink diet soda in moderation, but avoid juice and alcohol.
I recommend starting on a Friday to give yourself the most freedom on the weekend.
I also recommend that you weigh yourself on the first day of the challenge and the day after the 7 Day Challenge. If you weigh yourself during the week you will find yourself making eating decisions based on your weight, not on your natural hunger.
Are you interested in changing your mind so you can stop the internal tug-of-war that keeps you locked in your old habits?
Here's how to change your habits:
Your habits were created by you based on past thoughts and actions. So, you can create new, more beneficial habits in the same way.
Therefore, you need to conjure up a very clear image of what you want to accomplish and then feel the great feelings that come with reaching your goal. You then want to run this mind movie through your head many times a day. I recommend a minimum of five times and that you do it with feeling.
If I have not yet lost you because this sounds way to silly, then I congratulate you. Listen, I am as scientific-minded as they come and this all sounded a bit ridiculous to me when I first heard the concept. Then I gave it a shot and here is the story of how I used this exact technique to finish my first marathon with an unbelievable result.
How Could This Happen? [Real-Life Example]
I had made a pact with myself that I would run a marathon by the time I turned 40. In my 39th year I knew it was now or never, but I was not sure I could do it. After all, 26.2 miles is a long way.
So I went about training not only my body, but also my mind.
To get my body in shape I followed a four month training plan.
To get my mind in shape I came up with a mantra that I repeated to myself a minimum of 5 times a day every day for the four months leading up to the marathon.
The marathon was named the Flying Pig Marathon, so my mantra was this:
“I am absolutely certain in my ability to run the Flying Pig Marathon in 4:44.”
Why I choose to focus on running the marathon in 4 hours and 44 minutes, I do not know. It just felt right.
Speaking of feeling, I did not just repeat this phrase over and over again with a bland “get-it-done” attitude. I put emotion into it.
If I was in my house I would stand in front of a mirror and look myself in the eye while I said my phrase.
If I was out on a training run I would finish the last 50 feet with this phrase running through my head and a very clear image of me crossing the finish line, arms in the air and happy beyond belief as I looked up at the race clock in my imagination that read 4:44.
This image was so vivid in my mind that my arms would fly up in the air and tears would come to my eyes.
On race day I got to the start line, battled through grueling muscle cramps and unexpected heat and as I closed in on the finish line I looked up and saw 4:44 on the race clock. My body had matched what I created in my mind.
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