Create new and better habits. Give yourself a break // Life | Kylie Purtell - Capturing Life

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Create new and better habits. Give yourself a break // Life

At the end of last year I wrote these words in my 2014 wrap-up post...
I feel as though I have failed in many things, the things that I was so determined to succeed at, the biggest one being my weight. I'm so angry at myself for letting it get out of control again. For losing the determination and mindset that I worked so hard for in the first part of the year. It's been really easy to beat myself up about it and that only makes things worse.

These words only scratch the surface of what has been going through my mind since about October last year. If I'm completely honest, I've been on this downward spiral of negative self-talk. Every time I didn't get up exercise, every time I stuffed chocolate in my face, I felt like a failure. And that feeling made me want to sit on the lounge some more and eat another block of chocolate. 

It's a funny thing, the way the worse you feel about yourself the harder it is to make changes. When you have a little voice in the back of your head telling you that you've failed, it's very easy to listen and then think "Well what's the point of trying again, I'm just going to fail, why even bother?". I think there are a few of you who can relate to that sort of inner dialogue, no?

Over the last couple of weeks I've done a lot of thinking and soul-searching. I've thought really hard and talked to Dave about what it is that I've been feeling and how things got so off-track. One conclusion we came to is that I tend to go too hard too fast.

I'm one of those people who is really good at starting things, not so good at finishing them. I'm also incredibly impatient and want everything to happen fast and happen now! My approach to exercise and weight-loss and healthy eating is no exception. You'd think after 30-odd years on the planet I would have figured out a way to dealing with this, but no.

In all this thinking I've been doing a lot of reading. It's funny how things present themselves to you exactly when you need them. There have been two things recently that have helped me come to a bit of an Oprah A-Ha! moment and as a result have really started to shift my thinking.

The first has been reading through Glenda Bishop's Healthy Stories blog posts. She makes a lot of sense in her writing, and I've taken away more than a few helpful ideas. Last week I wrote my One Word blog post and she left what has turned out to be a perfectly timed comment. Glenda said...
...I do wonder if gaining control over a mindset for healthy living is the right way to look at it. Maybe you could instead go back to the definition of capture and choose #1 for this - to take by stratagem. I think this could be a better approach since you talk about the need for planning and organisation, which really is just a series of strategies that together will achieve an overall stratagem for what healthy living is for you. This way it's not so much about gaining control or exerting influence, but simply making a series of plans that you will tick off one by one.

Glenda's comment has been percolating in my brain all week. Funnily enough it came the day before a perfectly timed book arrived on my doorstep. You see, I won a book thanks to Raychael of Agent Mystery Case, and it turned up last Wednesday and exactly the right time. We were leaving to head over to my Mum's house (a drive that takes over an hour when we go via non-toll roads) and I devoured this book during the drive.

The book? Kelly Exeter's Your Best Year Yet. I've been a fan of Kelly's blog for a while now, and I've been wanting to get my hands on her book for some time. I read it from cover to cover during that trip, and I've read through it 2 more times since then, highlighting key passages with my trusty yellow highlighter, like the total nerd that I am.

The fourth chapter in Kelly's book is called A Different Way to Approach Bad Habits and it's my favourite one. In this chapter she says (I've just pulled out the key sentences that really stuck out to me here)...
"Anyone who's an expert on the topic of habits will tell you it's really, really hard to just get rid of a habit... Breaking bad habits is hard. It's much easier to make new and better habits... The beautiful thin about habits is once you create them, they're easy to maintain... So create new and better habits, and give yourself a break."

This idea of rather than focusing on and trying to stop bad habits I try to create new habits really struck a chord with me. It fits well with what Glenda said about making a series of plans, and it's helped me to start shifting my thinking and how I'll go about creating a healthier lifestyle for myself.

I've decided that rather than going all out and trying to make a complete overhaul of my lifestyle, I need to take small steps and create new habits. I've set myself one overall goal for the year in regards to my weight. I've identified the things that will help me to lose weight, and broken them down in to small steps. 

My overall weightloss goal for the year is to simply lose half a kilo a week, each week, until the end of the year. My first new habit to create for January is to drink more water. Drinking more water will not only be beneficial for my body health-wise, but it will also go towards helping me break the habit of drinking Coke Zero all the time. Instead of simply saying "I have to stop drinking Coke Zero", I'm focusing on getting in to the habit of drinking more water.

Yesterday I drank 7 cups of water and not a single glass of Coke Zero. The first day I haven't drunk Coke Zero since I was away in Perth in November.

My new habit to create for February is to walk more and aim for a minimum of 7000 steps a day. This will tie in to my goal of keeping on top of the housework as moving around the house cleaning and tidying is a great way to get my step count up. I've also set up silent alarms on my FitBit to remind me to get up from the computer and move around for 5-10 minutes on the days that I am working on the computer. When I get up I'll have a cup of water, put away a few toys, put on a load of washing, whatever small job needs to be done around the house.

I'm continuing to think about new habits that I can create, rather than bad habits I need to break, with the goal of the new habits replacing the bad, or helping me to avoid the bad habits. I've been thinking a lot about what the triggers behind certain bad habits are and things I can do instead when I those things happen. I read this article by James Clear that Kelly references in Your Best Year Yet and it's been helping me to focus on these small steps.

So that's my plan going forward in 2015, of how I plan to capture a healthier lifestyle. I'm putting small steps and strategies in place, creating tasks that I can tick off and creating new habits to replace the bad. I think 2015 is going to be a year of growth and learning. The title of this post is taken from Kelly's book, and it's my new mantra for 2015, to go along with my word.

Do you struggle to break bad habits? Is a healthier lifestyle on your list to work towards in 2015? What strategies and resources have you found or used that have helped you?

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  1. So easy to beat ourselves up, feel despondent because we've 'failed' and then carry on doing the things we really want to stop doing. It really IS about creating new and good habits, I found that when I wanted to stop smoking a few years ago. Smoking is mostly habit based it's not clinically addictive so I don't sit down with a cup of tea first thing in the morning any more and I don't have a coffee after lunch. I don't set myself small goals at the end of which I take a break because all of those things tell my brain that it's time for a cigarette. Even now after more than 2 years my brain remembers these triggers and I'll have the odd moment when it would seem natural to smoke. Fortunately they are few and far between and very short lived. I also found it was very important to me not to think of it as giving something up but to rather think of it as gaining something. In my case a healthier, happier and sweeter smelling way of living. I won't wish you luck because that's not what it's about but I do wish you a happier, healthier and successful 2015.

  2. I think it's a great idea to create new habits ! It's definitely a more positive way to approach it and I am sure that will work a lot better.. Weight loss is really hard, but as you said, by creating a new habit, instead of saying we want to loose weight, we just want to be a healthier us. Love that post!

  3. I'm really glad that I've helped you Kylie and I love seeing that you're breaking down your big goal into smaller and very achievable goals that will all add up slowly over time. Funnily enough, my blog post today is a 10-step guide to creating daily healthy habits, which you might find helpful. This is the link: I also really love Kelly's book - lots of good stuff in there.

  4. Starting new habits definitely help break old ones. I hear where you are coming from about weight loss. The last few months I had been eating lots of junk food, i just couldn't resist the specials at the supermarket. I have since the beginning of the year resisted todate, hope I keep it up.

  5. Oooo such an a-ha! moment for me too... I'm like you - always so enthusiastic and starting off strong, then losing steam and sometimes losing the focus. Will try to be slow and steady.. plus concentrate on making new, better habits instead of trying to break bad ones. Thanks for the tips Kylez!

    Ai @ Sakura Haruka

  6. Sound like some good, realistic goals you have set. Mine this year are all about simplifying, so I'm tackling the big guns. Starting to build new habits is the way to go. Good luck!

  7. What a great way of looking at it- things seem much more achievable framed that way!

  8. I'm the same Kylie. Usually I start things really enthusiastically (and obsessively) and I can't sustain it. I'm trying to change my approach, but... it's a struggle!

  9. I think your plan to change one habit at a time each month is a great one. I've made a lot of changes to my health and looking back I feel like it has been a layered process of adding in new things over time and extending others - and these have slowly built up a solid base for change.

    My PT & Wellness coach often tells be that being awesome is about being able to deal with the monotony of doing all the right things every day for a long period of time - like your January habit - of drinking the right amount of water every single day and then the same really for your Feb one... because it's not a day or even a week or a month that brings about permanent change, it's introducing those new habits permanently.

    Looking forward to seeing how you go!

  10. Sounds like a really workable plan Kylie. I'm doing much the same. Like you I'm an all or nothing kind of gal, especially when it comes to diet and exercise. I'm finding sharing my Jawbone UP stats on Instagram is helping me be more accountable, although it's not necessarily getting my sleep back on track. Something I'm desperately needing to work on more than anything else.

  11. Kylie you know it is hard to break habits. I've spent two years losing weight, getting fitter and still I make excuses. That last 6 kilos isn't going to move itself, but there are still one or two habits that I don't seem to be able to break for life. But you know what these days the steps backwards are much smaller than the ones forwards. Goodluck, and remember to be kind to yourself xx

  12. Good luck with reaching your goals! Inch by inch life's a cinch ... ;-)

    I lost 6 kg last year, simply by taking little steps, and being persistent. And it paid off!

    Visiting today from #teamIBOT.

  13. I love moments of revelation Kylie. I agree, breaking big goals down into achievable chunks makes it easier to reach them. And also creating good habits is the best way to break bad habits. Good luck. xx

  14. Inspiration can come to you at the most unlikely of times, I'm glad it arrived right on time for you. I love how you have tied each of your goals together. Good luck, you deserve to achieve each of these goals.

  15. I like that you have broken things down into small, manageable steps, and that you have the support of Dave.
    I find for me, with things like weight loss, I need to not think obsessively over it, or I get frustrated and despondent. When I just approach every eating moment with 'do I need this' I do better.

  16. I'm with you on working on the healthy lifestyle thing. I always break resolutions so I've worked on setting some achievable goals, some short term and some longer term that I can really get my teeth into. I really love that idea of creating new healthier, happier habits! I think I'm going to have get my hands on a copy of Kelly's book x

  17. That is awesome you've been able to shift your mindset. I know what it's like when you get into that negative self-talk cycle. You're unhappy with yourself yet you keep on doing what makes you unhappy because it all just sucks and it's too hard. I'm glad you've been able to stop the cycle though and are positive about your new habits for the future. I'm in a bad cycle with my food at the moment. I am starting a two week detox next week with a support group. I'm hoping it's what I need to break the cycle.

  18. You know me. I'm all about this aging positively stuff. I love creating new habits and I love love love creating a road to health and fitness. Although the fitness thing I find harder to commit to.
    The key word with sticking to any plan or aiming to achieve any goal is just that ... commitment.
    Great post!
    Leanne @ Deep Fried Fruit

  19. Good for you!! I've taken up running every day but it's still a chore (and my butt & belly are still fat!)....which I could change my mindset and actually want to do it!!

  20. I'm going to copy so many of these great ideas! I too have fallen into some bad habits and they are hard to break so will work on new ones. One is more water instead of coffee, and instead of coke zero with dinner have a glass of cold water! I too need to get more active. I'm going with the slow and steady approach too - we can do it! xxx

  21. Oh exercise is my biggest demon. I used to be good at it and motivating myself then motherhood came along and that blew it all to the shit. It's hard to get on the band wagon and stay on the band wagon. You are not alone sister! Sounds like that prize book arrived at precisely the right moment and those words have had a powerful effect! I like your new way of thinking!! GOOD LUCK! I hope you win with this one xx PS - What's the bet this time next year I will be writing this same post. Healthy lifestyle this year is out. Pregnancy and newborn mothering has it's own vibration ;)

  22. That's such great advice and words to live by. I like the creating new habits idea rather than breaking old habits and taking small steps. Someone I know talks about "what is the smallest change that you can make that will have the biggest impact"... seems relevant here.. good luck.

  23. Awesome advice you have been given hun. Kell has inspired me to make many changes.. all be it via baby steps. We can do it this year hun, we totally can xx

  24. Great post Kylie! I like the idea of the silent alarms to get you away from the computer for 5 mins. I could really use that on days where I find myself at the computer for hours without moving. My new habit this year is Pilates, focusing on adding things to my life rather than taking things away :) Good luck!

  25. I know how you feel, I stood on the scales yesterday for the first time in a while, I was too scared to do it before now. I wasn't happy with the result. Many changes are coming this year...I can feel it!


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