Health Habits – Making New Year Resolutions That Last

I am your constant companion. I am your greatest helper or your heaviest burden. I will push you onward or drag you down to failure. I am completely at your command. Half the things you do, you might just as well turn over to me, and I will be able to do them quickly and correctly. I am easily managed; you must merely be firm with me. Show me exactly how you want something done, and after a few lessons I will do it automatically. I am the servant of all great men. And, alas, of all failures as well. Those who are great, I have made great. Those who are failures, I have made failures. I am not a machine, though I work with all the precision of a machine. Plus, the intelligence of a man. You may run me for profit, or run me for ruin; it makes no difference to me. Take me, train me, be firm with me and I will put the world at your feet. Be easy with me, and I will destroy you. Who am I? I am a HABIT!

H-A-B-I-T

When most people hear this word, a negative thought immediately pops into their minds. Most people think of a habit being negative.  If you want to produce excellence in some facet of your life, develop the healthy habit to get you there. The secret to our future lies in our daily habits so ask yourself right now, “Are my habits today going to help me achieve my personal goals in life?” This is an  empowering question if you truly ask it and listen for the answer.  Habits are part of the process of life.  We learn ways to get the results we want then practice until it becomes part of us – good or not so good.  Since habits are most easily learned when we are young, it takes a focused effort to correct a not-so-good habit after we mature.

Steps To Forming A New Habit

How can we create systems in our our lives so we can slowly but surely point yourself in the right direction?  From many successful people the process can be boiled down to three main steps.  Here they are:

1st – Have An Accountability System 

There are different ways to establish accountability.  As an example. Most of us were physically active before our family and full time job.  But the HABIT of working and caring for our loved ones slowly took precedence in our lives and we lost the healthy habits we had in our care-free youth.    Lets say you now want to form a habit of working out regularly at the gym.  A good method is to start with an accountability partner.  An accountability partner is a person that you have to answer to regarding the new habit that you are starting.  A workout partner at the gym is an ideal accountability partner.  I have three  buddies I meet at our 5:30 work out.  This makes accountability even better.  I talk to them about my goals in forming this healthy habit and they share their successes with me.  I look forward to that gathering and do not let other things get in the way.

2nd – Remove Obstacles

Obstacles that prevent us from implementing good habits need to be removed. When we don’t want to do things – we find excuses not to!  Let’s take the gym example again: If it’s difficult to find your gym clothes in the morning, there is a HIGH probability that you won’t go.

K.I.S. Method – Keep It Simple – make achieving the goal (getting to the gym) as easy as possible.  Remove all potential obstacles so NOTHING is stopping you from getting to that goal.

  • Pack everything that needs to be packed- this includes your water, some 180 Snack bars and other equipment and tools that you may want to have with you.
  • Place your car keys in a designated spot where they belong and won’t be moved.
  • Fill up your gas tank after work or anytime it falls below 1/2 a tank.

I prepare my cloths the night before then when the alarm goes at 4:30 AM slip into them, grab my gym bag and go out the door.

3rd – Give Yourself An Immediate Reward…..no matter how small!

The problem with promising oneself a major reward months away from the goal is that it does not result in motivation. It is unlikely for you to keep on with the goal because the reward seems too far away.

Setting up a small reward that you can enjoy that very day provided that you’ve done your assigned task means you’ll be more likely to follow through.  For those who are trying to set up a gym habit, the reward can be something as simple as getting to spend 10 minutes in the hot tub right after the exercise session which is what I truly enjoy.  Seriously – this is my personal reward and has pushed me to go out into the freezing cold winter mornings lately in Oregon knowing that I can lounge for 15 minutes before starting my day.

Coffee with A2 cow cream and stevia, 180 Pomegranate tea or a 180 Snack Bar……..these small rewards add up and help us change.  Although be careful with some things like donuts, that can be a REALLY bad habit in of itself.

Te Science Behind Healthy Habit Formation

Patients trust natural doctors as a source of advice on ‘lifestyle’ (that is, behaviour).  During a short office visit or brief phone consult with an established patient, change and casual advice can be effective with issues such as how to control weight or when to take a dietary supplement. Many health professionals shy away from giving advice on modifying behaviour because they are seldom trained in how to assist patients to achieve their goals. This is the traditional doctor centered paradigm.  Even when patients successfully initiate the recommended changes, the gains are often short lived because few of the behaviour change strategies are patient centered – they do not produce a habit!  The advice to “ask your doctor” often leaves the patient frustrated or feeling abandoned in their effort.

The “Hotline” Can Help

Brief advice is usually based on advising patients on what to change today and why (for example, reducing trans fat intake to reduce the risk of heart attack). Psychologically, such advice should be designed using the 3 steps above to engage conscious behavior changes. This is sometimes a ‘slow’ process.  Without further engagement the effects are typically short-lived because feedback and accountability is lacking between the patient and their doctor. Brief advice on how to change incrementally may offer a valuable alternative with potential for long-term impact. Health advice must be easy for health professionals to give and easy for patients to implement to fit into routine life. This has been the experience behind Dr. Brouse’s complementary Patient 3 minute Hotline on Tuesday and Thursday mornings.  There is no excuse for not feeling encouraged to make the changes and reap the benefits.  “I am here for you!” I have no limit on how often you can call and ask anything about your health.  I have recommended providing this to hundreds of chiropractors and naturopaths over the years to solidify their patient centered practice.  Some doctors understood and some did not.  But now you know the how and why habits are so important – good or not so good.

 
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