Have you ever driven to work, the grocery store or anywhere else familiar and been surprised you arrived – like the drive didn’t even happen?
Why is that? How can we do something which clearly takes skill, clarity and focus and not even realize it happened? Because we’re on autopilot. It isn’t that we didn’t notice anything on the way to our destination we’re just so used to the drive it’s like second nature. We say we drove there “on autopilot”.
We live a lot of our lives on autopilot. How many times do you find yourself walking away from the refrigerator or kitchen cupboard with food and not even realizing you were heading there in the first place? Or ordered the Frappuccino when you were trying to give up sugar? Or you flopped down on the couch after dinner instead of taking that walk?
You probably live most of your life on autopilot. I know do. Autopilot isn’t always bad but if we’re on autopilot doing things that harm our health it’s time to stop being on autopilot for those destructive behaviors. Autopilot may be why you’re struggling to lose the weight!! How do we take steps to improve our health without forgetting our plans and going into autopilot?
Think about all the ways you’re on autopilot every day. Brushing your teeth? Flossing? Making coffee? Your makeup? Feeding the dog? Stepping on the scale? Eating lunch at noon? We don’t always look at our life as a bunch of habits but that’s exactly what most of our life is – a day full of habits. Autopilot.
We formed them over time and now they are just part of our routine. They are habits.
New habits can be formed to start or to stop. We want to start exercising, we want to choose something sugarfree, eat vegetables with every meal, meditate, etc., etc.
(I want you to notice one thing here – I said “choose something sugarfree” NOT “stop eating sugar”. It’s subtle but it’s a positive message sent to the brain. Always frame what you want to do in the positive. You want your brain to hear what you DO want NOT what you DON’T want. This is an important piece to remember. ALWAYS stated the change you want to make in the positive. Trust me on this – it’s neuroscience. I won’t go into the details in this article but trust me – stay positive!)
Here are 6 ways to stop going on autopilot (and create good habits) to lose the weight, increase your energy, improve your health (or any other positive change):
- Start small! Let’s say you want to be able to do 20 pushups every day (and let’s assume you haven’t been doing ANY for this example). Start with committing to 1 single pushup daily. Then build up. Don’t start at 20. Trust me. Start small. Same thing goes with increasing your water consumption. Want to drink half
your body weight in water but only having your morning coffee and a glass of tea at lunch? Add in 8 ounces in the morning and 8 in the afternoon. Then work your way up. You won’t end up in the restroom constantly by ramping up.
- Set alarms on your phone. It’s a rare person who doesn’t have a smartphone. So use it to help improve your health! I was struggling to take my Vitamin D for a while so I added an alarm that said Vitamin D to go off every day until I just started to automatically remember.
- Put notes around the house reminding you about the habit you’re trying to incorporate. Put them EVERYWHERE. Even where company can see them. Why in plain view? If someone else sees the habit you want to form you just might do it more. Because SOMEONE ELSE KNOWS!
- Add the behavior into your calendar. Want to walk the dog instead of plopping down on the couch? This strategy works similarly to the alarms but we’re actually scheduling the behavior. Want to start going to the gym? Add it in to your calendar (and then actually respect the time and don’t schedule other stuff). I recommend trying to get in the habit of reviewing your calendar for the following day. This puts the healthy behavior into your mind as something you’ll do the next day.
- (MY FAVORITE) Visualize yourself doing the behavior. By putting the thoughts into your mind – seeing yourself at the gym, ordering the salad, taking your vitamins, or meditating you’re more likely to do the behavior. And, take it even further. Imagine yourself, at the gym, looking amazing, strong, healthy and full of energy. Imagine yourself at Starbucks ordering a latte or a tea. The mind is a powerful thing – use it for your good. To make the visualization even more powerful try to feel the energy of what you’re seeing your mind’s eye. Enjoy the salad thoroughly. Feel your good energy at the gym. See yourself saying hello to someone you met at the gym and really like. Allow the calm sensations of your meditation to drift down through your body. Connecting positive emotions with your thoughts can be amazingly powerful.
- Get support. If you’re really struggling to make positive changes accountability and support can be the thing that tips the scale in your favor. Asking a friend is a good start but friends don’t have any real vested interest in your forming the habit. A coach is a better bet. People who invest in coaches are more likely to be successful in making positive changes, more quickly than people who try to do it all on their own.
Note: I recommend adding ONLY ONE habit at a time. And, if possible, don’t add in another habit until you’ve gotten the first one down. Some habits will take you a long time to solidify in your life. You’ll know you have the habit down if you go a week or two without even having to depend on anything to remind you to do whatever behavior you’ve adding in to your life. It’ll start coming to your mind and you’ll be heading towards doing the habit without any help. I also recommend employing more than one way to implement your new healthy habit. Don’t just depend on visualizing or your phone reminder.
And don’t get down on yourself if you’re 35 days into it and you still don’t feel like you’d be successful without a reminder. Some things just take a lot longer or we have such a full life it takes more time to make it a true habit. Be gentle on yourself!
What ONE change would you like to incorporate into your life? Send me a note and let me know! firstname.lastname@example.org. Do you need support? I specialize in helping women whose bodies are stopping them from having the life they dream of having. I’d love to help you reach your dreams. Contact me. I’d love to see if I can help you.