Erasing bad habits are soooo hard, no actually they are ridiculously hard. You wanna know why? Because inside of our brains are these little wire like tunnels called neural pathways.
We have been molding them from our learned behavior/activity. I like to picture these paths are little highways. From the movements you make, everything you think, say, or do, your brain has created a specific road to travel on. The brains regions are connected by these, kinda like exits off into a different city. Similar to the picture above, inside of your brain there is wiring (pathways) that run all over carrying little chemical messenger cars know as neurotransmitters. For instance, dopamine (a neurotransmitter) is used in many pathways to effect motivation. (ding ding!!! we found the key to all of our motivation searches, too bad we can’t order it online, huh?) They go all over to send messages to our body to produce a reaction, for example motor neurons control the contraction and relaxation of the muscles. Extra, extra read all about it- Did you know there are some that don’t even use the brain! They are called reflex pathways (sensory neurons), which cause our leg to jump when our knee is tapped by the doctor. So our pathways have big jobs to do and pretty much run our mind. No wonder emotional change is one of the hardest battles and mandatory for our fitness successes.
For your neurotransmitters to travel somewhere new, the ground work must be done. You have to CREATE new pathways. Since we are already picturing highway let’s stick with the analogy. So cue the hard hats, orange vests, and caution signs. It is time to go to WORK.
We all know how difficult traveling with new road work can be, it causes all kinds of negative response. Traffic, stop and go, and even detours cause people to get discouraged and tend to have a lot less of a good time driving on. Similar to why new habits are hard for us to stick with. Everyone wants to just take to old route, even when the new route with road work is way better and more beneficial for their journey. That’s kind like habit changing, creating a new pathway is actually called neuroplasticity. Our brain has to reroute to create a new course, kinda like when your GPS is rerouting to when you miss a road while getting directions. You take a new route, this route is often completely foreign to you and usually requires a YOU turn. Most of the time we feel out of place on this route because we don’t know what to expect or because it isn’t the easy way that we know exists. And the lie we tell ourselves is if we could just get back on that old path maybe we could still get there. Truth is it usually just leads to a one way street back to the lifestyle we are trying to get out of. Or in some serious health cases, a dead end.
Let’s talk about the most important part of making new pathways in your brain. Routines. Straight out of the Merriam- Webster Dictionary, A routine is a regular way of doing things in a particular order.
Did you know the key word in Route and Routine is Rout? and it has 3 meanings…
- to drive or to force out, such as to dig,
- a overwhelming defeat
- to bellow
…Hmmm sounds about right. Nothing in life is ever easy! There will be moments of failure, probably some tears, and definitely before we can get the reward, we must put in the mental and physical labor.
I found this great graphic that gives you a simple break down of habit forming. In a few, I will give you 9 tips to give you a more in depth kit to succeed while in this cycle.
Fitness and health changes are not easy. That is why we have to be #goaldiggers . To create new habits we need to set ourselves up to succeed. As you heard above, one of the ways to ensure we are building new pathways is by having routines. And do them over and over to make the new path deep enough that our goals don’t hop of track. The more we dig in, the more deep the neural pathway becomes. And that is why it becomes easier over time to stick with your goals and accomplish them, because your road work/ ground work is ready to drive on. But there is always more!
9 Tips to Help You Succeed-
When you want to start a new lifestyle or develop in fitness you have to set a course for success. In order to do that you should always follow these 9 tips.
- Identify- decide what needs changing, be realistic.
- Observe- look for reasons to back the choice to change, such as because you are unhappy or unhealthy.
- Focus- make mental effort to switch from the old to the new
- Plan- set aside time to write down in detail what your goals are, how you want to obtain them.
- Schedule- get a calendar out and set times like appts. for your action ( working out, meal prepping, or planning routines)
- Discontinue- you need to stop the patterns you previously lived in by conscience effort. For example, when you start to order a pizza because you forgot to prep a meal, put the phone down and get up and make something. Or when you got to have more than one cookie, tell yourself NO and walk away.
- Convert- change your negative thought processes to positive. When you start to get down on yourself or you have a relapse, allow yourself some grace, accept, and move keep moving forward. For instance, if you miss a scheduled run because you are too sore, forgive yourself and try to get it done the next day. (in the case of illness listen to your body, get rest and see a doctor if the condition worsens)
- Accountability- Make sure you get yourself an accountability partner, use a tracking app, or write on a calendar or in a journal. Like stated above, if you miss a workout don’t let it become a habit. When you are feeling better do that days planned workout, and if you feel like getting brownie points make up your missed workout.
- Connect- One of the best ways to stay on track and develop routines are through social media challenges. Instagram has a very large active and health community that always has challenges. (yoga @beachyogagirl, fitness #sweataday) And social sites like Twitter (twitter chats and links) and Pinterest have great posts for fitness and nutrition hacks. Facebook can link you to events, fitness groups, and like minded locals. GET PLUGGED IN ASAP! Say Hi, tag, and hashtag the crap out of everything to get in on the conversation topics you are interested in. I always suggest a public site that you monitor. You can find me at Twitter Instagram and Facebook I would be happy to help you get connected with other ladies (my pages are women only)
With health and fitness, you create new pathways every single time you make a change to a routine. I hear it takes 21 days to create a new habit and 30 days to break an old one. The best part is if you keep doing just simple tweaks every day and building upon them you will have dug yourself a new city’s worth of paths! And plenty of options when decide to take a different road to get some new scenery. xoxo
Sweat til you Shine,