June Focus = Building Small Habits

Welcome to June! This month at DPT we’re focused on building up small habits so they become sustainable parts of your life.

This is not the most flashy topic but any real change comes from a process like this. How many times have you stopped and started a certain habit?

Think of that one thing that you just can’t seem to get right.

You’re on the wagon then you’re off the wagon.

Well here’s the good news. There’s no right or wrong, there’s no wagon and it’s all just life.

You will have ups and downs with anything. It’s actually absurd to think that we’d be perfect at something all the time and if we’re not perfect, we should probably just stop.

Run over a nail and get a hole in your tire? Better just pop the other three too.

Sounds ridiculous, right?

But that’s how we sabotage ourselves on a daily basis, whether it’s with nutrition, exercise or any other healthy habits we’re trying to establish.

So back to the good news. You don’t have to be perfect with these things because there’s no such thing. When you try to white knuckle it and use motivation and will power, you’re just wasting a ton of energy. Wouldn’t it be nice to go through this process with a little more compassion and patience with yourself?

Think about what happens to you personally when you “slip up.”

Are you someone who sabotages and gets a case of the fuck it’s?

Are you someone who tries to rely on motivation and will power, only to fall short and wonder why you can’t get it together?

Do you focus on perfect execution or nothing at all?

Any of these are completely valid, human experiences and we’ve all had them. I just want you to start to become somewhat aware of your tendencies. Awareness is one of the first keys to change.

Just start paying attention to how you view yourself and your so-called success when it comes to your nutrition or your exercise. Don’t worry too much about this yet, just be aware and question why you’re believing those stories or thoughts.

When it comes to habits, we want to focus on the big rocks. Sleep, exercise and movement, nutrition, hydration and stress.

Each of these have giant buckets with a lot of little habits that make up the entire process. But the point of focusing on these “big rocks” is that they make a huge impact. Don’t get bogged down with the minute details and stress yourself out. In other words, we’d rather have you focus on getting 7 hours of good sleep each night and drinking 3 full Nalgene’s per day than the dash of cream that you put in your coffee.

This month we’re focusing one week on one habit.

Each person will have a different goal within this habit, just depending on where you’re starting from. Here are a few ways to start building any habit.

Start thinking about new habits as skills. You must learn a new skill in order to execute this habit daily. It’s not about just shoving something new into your life and expecting that you’ll be able to master it or sustain it. Hello, chasing perfection again!

1). Break down your goals into specific skills

2). Break those skills into daily practices

For example, your goal may be to add more non-exercise movement into your day. That would also be a specific skill, making that a habit each day to have 20 minutes of movement. The daily practice might be to take a walk each day, or hit 10k steps on your FitBit or watch.

That daily practice will be more successful if you tie it to something you’re already doing.

For example: after lunch I’ll take a 20 minute walk.

Instead of trying to stuff that walk into your day with no structure, use the tying method.

Precision Nutrition, one of the leading nutrition education programs, suggests the 5S Formula for your practices, because you want to practice the right things.

Practice doesn’t make perfect, practice makes better.

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Each week we’ll be sending you one habit to work on. For you, based on your goals and current competence with that habit, break it down into a daily target that you can tie in with something you’re already doing. Keep it simple and use the support of the group to stay accountable.

Remember that we’re not striving for perfect, just moving toward better. If you have a day where it doesn’t happen 100%, how can you make it happen even 10%?

If your goal was to walk for 20 minutes but you were having a busy stressful day and wanted to skip it, could you instead just walk for 5 minutes?

It seems like it’s not “enough” because it’s not our goal. The goal REALLY is forward momentum. If you skip that day, it’s a lot more tempting to skip the next day. But if you just keep moving forward and creating a streak that you don’t want to break, that momentum over time helps build the result that you want.

Let’s have a strong month of building those habits!