3 Simple Tools to Develop Healthy Habits

I used to hate exercising. To me it was punishment. I exercised because I had to. I'd eaten too much and had to run or bike to counteract my inability to manage what I was eating.

When I released myself from my eating disorder I decided I had a free pass. I was now thin so I NEVER had to exercise again! I pretty much stopped for years, maybe even a decade or more!

But because I didn't exercise, I had some physical side effects. The most notable one was headaches. One day my husband suggested that perhaps my neck muscles needed strengthening to hold my head up better. 

What? Exercise?

I tried it. Did some weights to build up my shoulder muscles and neck. Sure enough my headaches started going away. 

My husband loves to exercise and he was always touting the importance of it for health reasons. I'd want to go with him but had so much resistance. I couldn't get out of bed. I was too tired. I ...

That's when I had the recognition that my view of exercise had always been associated with pain.

Right about this time, I hit 40 and started to realize that I needed to exercise for health reasons. 

But because exercise always had that negative spin, it didn't feel fun. It was a requirement, a duty, a have to.

After I made the exercise=punishment realization, I knew I had to change my associations.

I had to create positive experiences and memories of exercise so that I'd want to go out for a run instead of dragging myself kicking and screaming.

I consciously talked to myself about it. "I like exercising. I feel so good when I exercise. It gives me energy. I'm good at this. It's a way to nurture my body."

Soon I was exchanging those old beliefs with new ones. Now I exercise 4-5 times a week. Not because I need to lose weight but because I feel so much better when I do it.

And exercise is a healthy habit.

So how do we shift ourselves out of old thinking that no longer works for us into making better, healthier choices?

The first step is the recognition.

For me it was that I had always associated exercise with punishment. What is it for you? Do you have to go to work? Do you have to mow the lawn? Can you identify what is behind the have to?

The second step is deciding that you want to change your relationship with an activity.

We do this with our beliefs and our words. In my example, I did it by reframing how I viewed exercise, how I talked about it and that helped me create new associations and beliefs. What habit would you like to shift? How can you change your language around it to better support you?

The third step is to do it and be positive.

So I went for a walk or a run, did push ups or an abs workout and tried to be enthusiastic about it. I also totally praised myself afterwards for doing it. "Good job! Awesome workout!"

Our habits stem from our beliefs, Our beliefs are formed by our words, our thoughts and our actions. By being positive while exercising, I created new memories to replace the old ones.

What habit would you like to transform today?

Use these 3 simple steps to help you do that.

Tell me about it by leaving a comment below.

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