Here’s a question - why is it so hard to develop good habits like eating healthy even when we know what’s good for us? Or even more intriguing - what makes some behaviors stick even when it gets hard (ex. eating healthy even while on vacation…that’s some major willpower) versus habits that slide right off at the first sight of difficulty?
Elizabeth Sherman, Executive Health Coach, has been pondering this question for the last decade. Over the past 12 years, she’s helped hundreds of people achieve optimal health for them through staying consistent with the basics, getting a little bit better every day, and having self-compassion on those days when we thing we ‘should’ be more. Lucky for us, she’s here to share her findings with
with us in this episode! The topic of health & fitness, and in specific, healthy habits first dawned on her after her mother had passed away from breast cancer. Elizabeth was motivated to understand how she could stay as healthy as possible. As she puts it, she thought that
“once I found that magic pill, everything would be easy”
Sorry to break it to you, but there’s no magic pill. But what she found does come in as a close second! She discovered that the brain (mindset) is crucial when it comes to being healthy. We can extend that into something even more concrete and say that forming healthy habits is all about how we wire our brain.
While our examples revolve around habits for health, you can take the principles that Elizabeth shares and extend it into any good habit that you want to develop - relationships, work or self care. Here’s my take on habits:
Good habits for health are crucial to every part of your life because it’s one of the drivers of your energy. Energy is one of the most important commodities that you have so do everything that you can to keep it up. Without energy, you end up as a potato! You feel slow, foggy, and unmotivated to create a life you love. With energy, you can take life by the horns and go live vibrantly!
Creating any good habit will help you live in ease and flow! Imagine all the brainpower you save when you just get up and workout in the morning without having to think about it. Or that you get up and slip right into meditation and start the day off just the way you want. Even simpler yet, maybe it’s something like taking out the trash every time you leave the house - like a well oiled machine. No pep talk needed, no extra energy spent on remembering…then forgetting…then berating yourself for forgetting….
I used myself as the guinea pig with my issue of not being able to wake up early even though I really want to. Elizabeth quickly revealed a few possible limiting beliefs and helped me flip it - a technique that you can apply too.
So in summary, this episode is all about setting habits that stick. Elizabeth tells us why sheer willpower or even setting our environment up for success (ex. laying out your gym clothes the night before) isn’t the key. She shares the number one most important thing when it comes to actually making a habit work. I can’t wait for you to listen in - what she shares will make your life a lot easier!
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What makes some behaviors stick even when it’s hard (ex. eating healthy even on vacation) and some that don’t?
Identity, limiting beliefs & belief systems
Why are some habits easy for us to stick with but others are not?
For example, why is it easier to exercise regularly but so hard to eat healthy regularly (or vice versa)
Elizabeth shares with us a pyramid that describes the layers of habit forming. From the top:
Environment - the physical things can you do to set yourself up for success ex. Put out your workout clothes, only have healthy foods around the house
Problem: When we’re thrown off our game (ex. you miss your Sunday groceries or you have a stressful day) it’s easy to blow them off
Habits & Skills – pegging something to something else
ex. If you want to start taking vitamins then peg it to something you already do daily like brushing your teeth.
Problem: Once again, habit falls away if stressed out
Beliefs & Values
Identity – the most important layer. Elizabeth explains in more detail but essentially you become what you think you are.
How do you know if your identity is holding you back?
You can identify your identity through noticing resistance. Ex. If you’re wanting to go for a walk but you end up watching a Friends rerun, why is that?
Elizabeth actually takes my trouble forming a habit of waking up early in the morning and workshops it with me. That was really cool because we got curious about possible beliefs like:
What do I think about people who wake up at 6am?
What are my beliefs about people who sleep early?
You can work through your own limiting beliefs by:
Figuring out what belief about the habit you’re forming bothers you (ex. I believed that people who sleep early are boring)
Reflect on the domino beliefs that come with that
Flip the belief (ex. find examples of people who sleep early who aren’t boring)
Why affirmations actually work
3 things to do right now that you can do to start living healthier:
1. Start small – start so small that you can’t fail.
2. Try to be 1% better everyday – do a little more than you did the day before
3.. Do what you can with what you can – we put pressure on ourselves to be overnight successes. Relieve yourself of that pressure
One of Your Biggest Lessons So Far:
The reason why diets and exercises don’t work for us is because you need to go through the mindset shift to create lasting change. (You can extend this concept into any habit you’re trying to form)
What is one nugget of wisdom that you would share with fellow seekers who are on this journey of growth and transformation?
It takes time to unlearn years of programming that we learned. Realize that as we’re creating new habits, we will backslide. Approach it with compassion!
If you have any questions for Elizabeth or want to learn more, connect with her through: