Welcome back to the Mindful Weight Loss Podcast. Today we are heading into session two of the Habits series, and we're going to be talking all about creating new habits. Now, this is so much easier than it sounds like, and I think we make it so much harder than it needs to be when we embark on creating new habits in our life. And I'm talking about weight loss, health, money, relationships, job, anywhere. We're wanting to make an improvement in our lives, habits become a part of it. And John Maxwell, he famously said at one point in time that you don't choose your future, you choose your habits, and your habits decide your future. He also says that if you want to change your life, you have to change your habits. And that makes a lot of sense. But what gets so difficult about this is that most of the behaviors that we do in a day are actually entirely habitual and automatic. And the question becomes for us is, did you choose those habits or not? For most of us, the programs that we have running on automatic in our brain are not things that we ever intentionally chose. They are just things that we continue to repeat day after day, for whatever reason, way back in our lives. And those things just became ingrained with strong neural pathways in our brain. And so they're things that we continue to do day after day without actually thinking about them. And so if you read any of the habit gurus in the literature, and I'm talking about, like, BJ Fogg, who wrote Tiny Habits, and James Clear, who wrote Atomic Habits, what they all say is what habits are really about is design. And I think that this is so crucially important to emphasize because what most of us do is we commit to doing something for 30 days. For example, I don't know, committing to exercise every day for 30 days. And maybe we make it to day six, and then we kind of pucker out. And typically what happens is we get upset at ourselves. We do some self flagellation, we beat ourselves up, we decide we're a failure or that we're willpower weaklings or that we just can't do anything. Sometimes we get right back on the horse and keep on doing it. But more times than not, we just give up. And I think this is where it's important to realize that habits are a design issue. So if you're having troubles creating new habits and sticking to your new habits, we need to look at this as a design flaw, like a system failure rather than a character flaw. And so if a certain habit isn't working out for you for whatever reason, you want to try looking at it like a curious scientist, just removing all judgment from it and asking it's like, where can I improve the process of creating this habit like where are things not working that I can make it work just a little bit better? And one mind trick that you can use for yourself to help with this piece of it is pretend like you are the director of your own movie and your life is that movie. And so rather than looking at boo boo that you make in your habits as a mistake, look at it as a mistake instead. And so what is your take two going to look like? If you're the director of your own movie and trying to instill a new habit today didn't work, how can you do it in a different way for take two tomorrow? So I really like that mindframe because it kind of makes you step out of yourself a little bit. Look at it like a scientist would like a movie director would like what worked, what didn't work. How do we want to do it a little bit differently next time versus saying, well I screwed that up and I'm such a failure and I can't do anything right and I'm never going to lose my weight and write all of those rabbit holes that we love to go down when things don't work out the way that we want them to. So that is the mindset piece of this. How do you actually go about creating these habits? Well, we're going to talk about the who, the what, the why and the how of this. And it's really important that you actually go in this order when you're designing your new habits. And so what I don't want you to do is just decide, you know what I'm going to work on drinking more water from now on and just start going at it Willy nilly. If you remember that habits are about processes, about systems, then we actually have to put some pen to paper and put some thought into it. And if you do this, if you go through the who, the what, the why and the how on paper and figure out a plan for your habits, you are going to increase your chances of success exponentially. So, you know, take my word for it, trust me and just see how it works if you do it this way. Alright, so we always want to start with the who. And you want to ask yourself who do you want to be? And right? This is so important because if you don't connect your identity to the habit that you're trying to create, it's never going to feel important enough for you to stick to it. And so you want to ask yourself who do you want to be, right? And so we talked a lot about banishing junk food in the Willpower episode. So if you want to be a person who doesn't eat junk food, you got to think about that. It's like do I really want to be a person who doesn't eat junk food? Do I want to be a person who just eats junk food once a week. Do I want to be a person who only drinks water and never drinks Diet Coke, like, whatever it is? But you have to decide who do you want to be, and that has to feel really good to you. It has to feel right. So if you decide, I want to be a person who never eats junk food, and that just rubs you the wrong way, it doesn't feel right, then you got to take a step back and find something that does feel right. So if you're deciding to banish junk food because somebody told you that's what you need to do to be healthy and lose weight, and that doesn't feel right for you, I guarantee the habit of banishing junk food is never going to stick for you. So you've got to really decide who you want to be and why that's important to you. And part of this is also remembering that you are merely human. So perfect is out of the question. And so keep that in mind when you're using words like never and always, it's not realistic to always do something or to never do something. And so that's why I kind of like, really thinking about who you want to be. And maybe it's back to the junk food example it might be, I want to use junk food responsibly, right? I just want to eat junk food intentionally. I never want to eat it mindlessly whatever it is for you, use that version of you of who you want to be more like a guiding star rather than a distant shore. So this isn't necessarily something you're striving for to reach a destination. It's like a guiding principle for who you want to be a guiding star. So somebody who eats healthy, somebody who has a diet that's focused primarily on whole foods but allows space for junk food when it's appropriate, whatever. And so just when you're looking at the who, when it comes to your habit, you really just want to ask yourself, I am the type of person who blank, right? So if you're wanting to incorporate more movement into your life as a goal, then I'm the type of person who is fit and flexible and strong. I am the type of person who incorporates daily movement in their life. I am the type of person who values exercise. Just find a statement, a who statement that really feels congruent with you. And then once you're feeling confident with that who, then you can move to the what. And what we want to do is really ask ourselves, like, what habit will have the most benefit? What would your superpower be? So if you want to be a person who exercises more, what habit is going to be the most powerful in terms of allowing you to do that? So maybe the habit will be packing a gym bag. Maybe the habit will be actually physically going to a gym. Maybe the habit would be taking a walk. Maybe the habit would be spending 5 minutes planning when you're going to put the movement into your day every day, just kind of whatever is going to fit for you and your life and the circumstances that you find yourself in now. And when we look at how to delete habits next week in terms of the what we're going to look at, like what is your kryptonite? So if you're wanting to be a person who incorporates daily movement, what is the one thing that tends to get in your way the most? And then that's what we're going to work on eliminating in your life. But today we're looking at building habits. So you're going to ask what habit is going to contribute to us becoming that who to really living that identity the most. And it's important to really spend some time and think about this because the answer isn't always obvious. Right. So if you want to become a person who drinks more water, then it might be easy to say, well, you know what? The habit is to just aim for eight glasses of water every day. But that is actually not very specific. So you might want to start with, you know what, having a glass of water first thing in the morning, that is going to be my first habit. Or maybe it's going to be filling up three water bottles before I go to bed every night so that I have them available to take with me tomorrow. You just want to spend some time thinking about what habit is actually going to give you the most benefit because as you know, habits are hard to build, they're hard to stick to in the beginning. And so you really want to see some big bang for your buck when you're choosing your habits. So choose intentionally and make sure you're choosing something that is going to make you feel like a superstar. All right. So once you've identified your who and you've identified your what, then we want to look at the why. And you have to remember that your life is not going to change. Your body is not going to change until you change something you do on a consistent basis. This is the very concept of repetition by design. And so you want to look at how would your life be different by doing this particular habit. And you really want to connect to that. So if you go back to the last week's episode where we talked about cultivating willpower, and we had that one exercise where you wrote down your future self identity at the top. And then on one side of the paper, you wrote about all the good things that would happen if you lived that identity and all of the bad things that would happen if you did not lose live that identity. So you want to do that exercise here to really connect to how your life is going to improve by sticking to this habit. And this is what we call your why power in ways of health. This is the thing that's going to drive you to get it done on the days that you don't want to. You have to be so connected to the benefits of living this habit that saying no to the habit is just not an option. All right? So really spend some time journaling thinking about why you want to do this habit in the first place. Okay. So once you've identified the who, you've written down your what and you've identified your why of this habit, then we've got to get to work on actually mapping out how you're going to do it. And I'm going to give you this super simple protocol for getting it done. You're first going to map it, and then you're going to ABC it. And both of these things come from BJ Fogg and his book Tiny Habits. And I love the way he talks about it because he really just breaks it down into little steps doesn't make it complicated. And so I'll describe to you what mapping it out looks like and then what the ABCs look like. And then I'll give you an example of how you can do this for yourself. So when we look at mapping it out, BJ Fogg really narrows habits work down to this simple formula. B equals map, where B is your behavior. So this is the habit, the action that you actually want to be doing, and your behavior depends on the map. And map is motivation, ability, and prompt. Here's the thing. Motivation and ability have an inverse relationship with each other. So if your motivation is really low and the habit is really hard, you're very unlikely to be successful because you probably won't respond to your prompt. And we'll talk more about what your prompt is in just a moment. And then the flip side of that, if your motivation is super high, then you can handle some more difficult habits. But if it's low, you really have to make your habit as easy as freaking possible. Now, in terms of your prompt, your prompt is something very obvious in your life that you're doing already that you're going to tie your new habit to. James Clear talks about this in Atomic Habits as well, and he uses the language trigger. So queue trigger, prompt, whatever word works best for you. That's what you're looking at here. And so the best way to really be successful when you're mapping out your habit is to plan your habits, assuming low motivation, because chances are you're going to have days. And if you're like me, you're going to have many of them where you feel like crap and you don't want to do your habit. And it's these days that will make or break your success. So you want to make your behavior as easy as humanly possible. So it's almost impossible to fail doing it on your crappy ass days. And the key here is and BJ. Fogg talks about making your habit so easy that it almost feels stupid. So like, if you start finding yourself starting to judge that you've made it too easy, that's why you know you're on the right track with this. And I guarantee you, because I've been there, it's going to feel absolutely absurd. And that's okay. That's actually the point. What we want to do is just set things in motion. And making it as small and as easy as possible is what takes away all of the friction so that you can actually set things in motion. Right. This is all Newton's first law. Right. And so examples of this of making things just as ridiculously laughably simple as possible. It's like if you want to start a meditation practice, you don't start with 30 minutes. You start with 1 minute. Or you may even start with just one breath. Or if you want to start a daily walking habit, then your initial habit is literally just putting your shoes on. Right. Or if you are working on decreasing the amount of cookies you have everyday, you really start by having just like one bite less of a cookie. Right? We're starting simply laughably small with this. And this is why it's so important that you make your behavior ridiculously laughably simple. And again, it comes down with just taking away that friction of getting started. You know you can sit and meditate for one breath or 1 minute. You know you can put your shoes on even if you don't walk out the door. You know you can have one sip of water. You know you can go to bed 3 minutes early, right. It really just sets you in motion. And Newton's first law of motion States that an object in motion tends to stay in motion. And so before long, you'll notice that once you put your shoes on, it's easier to get out the door. Once you meditate for one breath, it's easier to meditate for 10 minutes. Once you take one sip of water, it's easier to finish the glass. You get where I'm going here and we're going to talk about the ABCs in a minute. And part of that is celebrating. And the key is you celebrate yourself for that baseline of the small, tiny, ridiculously simple habit. So even if you go out for a 20 minutes walk and your habit was just to put your shoes on, you celebrate putting your shoes on, not the 20 minutes walk. If you plan to take just one sip of water with your morning coffee, then you celebrate the one sip. You don't celebrate the whole glass if that's what you ended up doing. What this does is there are going to be days when simply putting your shoes on is all you can manage. And that is okay. That is okay. And that is actually the point because you put your shoes on, you celebrate, and tomorrow you feel fantastic because you put your shoes on yesterday. And when you put them on tomorrow, you actually go out for the walk versus if your goal was to do 20 minutes of walking right off the bat and you didn't do that, you're going to start to go in that negative thought spiral, and there's a good chance that you won't do it tomorrow either. So that's why it is just so important that your habit is ridiculously, laughably, stupidly simple. And the other piece of this is that we aren't trying to create a habit for when you're feeling amazing and your motivation is high, right? Because it's super easy to make decisions that are good for us. When we're feeling that way, we're looking for a complete behavior change so that when you are feeling the least motivated or when you're crazy busy or when you're tired or where you just don't feel like doing it, you do it anyways. That is what a habit is. That is mapping it out. You're looking at your motivation and you're assuming it's low, you're looking at the action and you're making it as simple as possible. And you're looking at the prompt. And we're going to talk about that just a little bit more in the ABCs. But your prompt is really the trigger that is going to set the rest of this in motion. So if your habit is drinking a sip of water in the morning, you can tie that to making your coffee in the morning. So making coffee is your prompt. If you have a goal of going to bed 5 minutes earlier, then perhaps you can set an alarm on your phone to remind you. And when the alarm goes off, that's your prompt, right? So you get the idea there. So once you've mapped it out, the next thing you want to do is actually put this in motion and you're going to do that with your ABCs. And the ABC stands for anchor, behavior and celebration, starting with the prompt, which is your anchor. Your anchor is really just your prompt. Or James Clear would call it your trigger. This is something that you're already doing already every day, such as brushing your teeth or making your coffee. And it's what you're going to tie your new habit to. And then the B in the ABCs is your behavior. So this is the habit that you're working on. And again, remember that this is a super small, easy, ridiculously simple thing to do, especially if your motivation isn't going to be super high. So again, for example, if you're working on your water intake, you have a small glass while your coffee is brewing, and you don't commit to a gallon first thing every morning. And then the C, which is arguably the most important here, is celebrate immediately. You have to make this a win every single time you do it. And I don't mean that you have to go get a pedicure or buy yourself something pretty. It just has to be something that allows you to feel the joy of accomplishing your habit for that day. So for me, what I like to do is this comes back to my niece. So back when she was a toddler, every time something exciting happened, she would just yell Boomtown. I have no idea where she got this from, but it's like every time I hear the word Boomtown or say it, I just connect to the joy that she expressed every time she said it. So when I accomplished my habit, I like to just do a fist bump and say boom town. And then I say that's just like me. So I've been working on getting outside every day. And part of that, like my little tiny, ridiculously simple habit, is putting my shoes on. So every time I put my shoes on, I do my fist bump. I say boom town. And I say it right out loud. And then in my mind, I say that's just like me to spend time outside. And that just for me, reinforces what I'm doing. The reason why the celebration piece of this is so important is that when you do that celebrating, you actually release dopamine and your nucleus accumbens. This is the reward center in your brain loves that dopamine. And so it's going to start associating doing that behavior with dopamine, and then boom, it's just going to start becoming a habit, and it's going to be a habit that you've actually chosen for yourself. So that dopamine is key to creating those neural pathways in the brain that are going to put this whole habit loop on repeat for you so that it becomes automatic. And at some point, you don't have to think about it anymore. And the key here is that you have to celebrate immediately and not when you're journeying about it later in the day. Right. Because it's important to connect that dopamine hit with the action. So you've got to give yourself that boom town or however you want to celebrate right in the moment. And, you know, remember, the point of that celebration is to just feel the joy of accomplishing something. So whatever you need to do to connect to that feeling, that's what's going to give you that dopamine hit. All right, so first you're going to map it out, and then you're going to do your ABCs, and you're going to do that ABC day after day after day after day. It's the repeating it over and over again that is going to create that neural pathway and make it a habit that you do automatically without thinking about all the time. All right, so let's just see how this works in action. So let's just use learning how to meditate every day as the habit that you want to work on. So first you want to map it out, right? So you want to look at your motivation. Are you highly motivated to learn this? Are you not very motivated? And I strongly suggest you just assume that you're not going to have high motivation because it just makes planning the rest of it a little bit easier. And then you want to look at your ability. So is learning to meditate something that's going to be very easy for you or something that's hard for you and you can think about? Have you ever tried meditation in the past, and how did that go for you? And how much do you know about meditation? Is there lots that you have to learn, or is this something that's going to feel quite natural for you? And regardless of where you think your ability is, you really want to make your action as simple as possible. And if you think it's going to be very easy for you, then you can get away with a slightly more challenging habit. But I still recommend that you make it as stupidly, ridiculously easy as possible to increase your chance of success. And you might be tempted here to try to increase your motivation to kind of like raw raw or cheerleader yourself into wanting to do it more. But just trust me, it never works that way. It's just honestly assume your motivation is always going to be low. So plan for your motivation to be low on most days, then you're going to make things as easy as possible for yourself, such as make your habit meditating for just 1 minute or even just one breath. And you also want to think about what you can do ahead of time to prepare yourself to be successful. So maybe it's purchasing a meditation cushion or downloading a meditation app, or just anything that you think you might need to help you be successful. Because when it comes time to actually implement your 1 minute of meditation every day, you don't want to have to do a bunch of other things to make it possible. So when you're here in the planning stage, make sure that you have everything you need to actually do what you want to do. And then in terms of mapping it out for the P, your prompt, you want to make that piece of it as easy and accessible as possible as well. So if you do have a meditation cushion, put it in the middle of your floor. So you literally trip on it in the morning and also decide what are you doing in your day already that you can tie meditation to? So this is actually an example from my own life when I decided to incorporate daily meditation, and I initially decided that I was going to do it right after I brushed my teeth in the morning. So my prompt was brushing my teeth, and then immediately after I would go do my meditation so I did my meditation in one of the spare rooms upstairs. And the bathroom where I brush my teeth is connected to our bedroom. So I would put my meditation cushion literally in the floor between my bathroom and the hallway to get to the spare room. So I would trip over it like it would be literally impossible for me to forget to do my 1 minute of meditation because I would trip over my meditation cushion. You have to make it that easy for you. And so when you do that, you don't actually need motivation. Right. Because you've made it so super easy. All right. So then once you've mapped it out, that's when you want to start doing your ABCs over and over and over again. Right? So the A is the anchor. It's brushing my teeth. So every time I brushed my teeth, I decided ahead of time that I was going to meditate for 1 minute. I put my meditation cushion in the way. So there's no forgetting. I've made it as easy as possible for me. So the B is your behavior. So doing my 1 minute of meditation, and then the C is celebrating the heck out of it, doing my boom town. And it's just like me to meditate every day and then doing that over and over again every single day. Now the reason why doing it every single day is important. And just as a side note here, when you're first starting with habits, I highly, highly recommend that you choose something that you do every single day of the week, not something that you just do Tuesdays and Thursdays or whatever. Because the repetition is really the key to creating these new neural pathways that are going to create this new habit to run on automatic for you later. And the reason why is because of your basal ganglia. So your basal ganglia is the oldest part of your brain, and it's the part of the brain that really drives all of your automatic behaviors. And the language it speaks is repetition. So when you start doing things over and over and over again, your basal ganglia takes no. And it said, you know what? Here is a place where we can be more efficient. Let's put this on automatic. And once that happens, that's when you start doing things without really thinking about it. And the downside to your basal ganglia is that it is totally indifferent to whether it's repeating things that are good for you or bad for you. It just doesn't care if it's something that you do on a regular basis. Your basal ganglia is going to make it automatic. And this is why repetition is so important to creating new habits that you actually want. And that will be good for you. And so you can think of this part of your brain as being like a NASA supercomputer. It's super fast. It's super powerful. It does everything quick, quick. And its goal is efficiency and then your prefrontal cortex. So this is the part that has to engage Willpower. This is the part that makes your decisions ahead of time. This is the part that goes through the process of mapping out your new habits. It is slower and a little clunkier, and it functions more like a Postit note than a computer. And, you know, you can really only have so many Postit notes within your awareness at any one point. And so this is the part where Willpower comes in that we talked about last week on the podcast. Your willpower is really just all about transcribing the data that you have on that Postit note into the supercomputer that is your primitive brain. And that is what we mean by using willpower offensively. You're using it to create this new habit so that you don't have to constantly use it to remind yourself to meditate every day. You see where we're going with that. What I want to reiterate is you really want to pick like this, like a Keystone habit, the habit that is going to have the most positive effect in your life. Because I think especially for those of us who are trying to lose weight, we get a little bit anxious and we're so eager to see results that we want to do big things that don't necessarily have the biggest impact on us overall. Right. Like an example of this would be committing to having more protein every day. Yes, protein is super important, but if you have a crappy diet and you're relying on processed foods and you're not drinking any water and the only fluids that you're intaking is Diet Coke, then adding protein is probably not going to make much of a difference, right. So perhaps switching Coke to water for some of your drinks might have more of an impact. I think it's really easy for us to pick things that might just be easy or obvious, but that's not what we want to do here. We really want to pick something that is going to have a huge impact on it. You want to pick something so that when you nail that one particular habit, it also affects everything else. And so if you want to look at this from an even bigger picture, I'll give you an example from my own life. For me, it's sleep, right? And I did the thing for 20 years where I focused on the protein and getting my carbs right and cutting out sugar and all of that stuff, and it never really had much of an impact on me. But when I looked at, like, the Keystone habit that would have this ripple effect on everything else, including how well I eat for me to sleep, because if I am tired and not sleeping well, that is when I eat like crap. That is when I'm not exercising. That is when I start to gain weight. So I made my Keystone habit, actually getting 8 hours of good quality sleep every night, because then it makes changing all of the diet stuff that much easier. So if you can look at a level that high, like what is that Keystone habit for you that affects nearly everything else that affects your weight loss at the end of the day? And so one way that you can think about this is by drawing a Venn diagram. If you consider a Venn diagram with three circles that are each overlapping, I'd like you to take one circle and write down everything that fires you up. So things that you would be excited about changing and working on, habit on. So there's not something that you think you should do or something somebody else told you to do, but just something that would get you excited. Like for me, it's working on getting more movement or working on getting more water. I don't know why that one fires me up, but it does. Right. And so that's your one circle. Then your second circle is impact. So what are the things that I could change that would actually have a good impact in my life? And sleep is one of them. Getting more exercise is one of them. Eating more vegetables is one of them. Right. And then in your third circle, you want to look at the things that you are certain you could commit to 100% and make completely non negotiable. And for me, sleep is one. Exercise is another. Vegetables, I think would be another one too. Right. And then you want to look at where do those circles overlap? And what is the one thing that would fulfill all three of those circles? So that would have a big impact that you can commit to 100% and that you're actually excited about doing. If you can identify something there, that would be an excellent Keystone habit that you could put through the map it out and ABC process. But remember, before you get to that part, you have to start with the who, the what and the why. Don't skip that part. Super important. All right. That's what I have for you today on Creating New Habits. Next week, we're going to use some of the theory from this episode and apply that to deleting old habits that are holding you back, identifying your Kryptonite and eliminating that from your life to help you be successful toward your goals. Now, some might argue that eliminating the harmful behaviors is even more important, and that might be true, but I think it's also just a little bit more difficult. So we'll talk more about that next week. Until then, have an excellent week. Thank you so much for listening. If you're interested in learning more about how habits can be used on your weight loss journey, feel free to watch my new Master class. You can watch it by going to Waysahealth.com Masterclass. And I would love to hear your feedback on that so reach to me on social media or email me and I'm happy to continue the conversation. Thank you.