While we all want to develop good habits, sometimes it seems easier said than done. Nike was on to something when they coined their phrase, “Just Do It” because, as it turns out, that’s how it happens!
We have two systems in our brains that help us create habits. System A is the system that automatically responds with no forethought. We answer the phone when it rings or we put toothpaste on our toothbrush when we pick it up. System B is responsible for walking us through an unknown activity such as choreography or even learning a new lift in strength training. We have to think it through. Over time, we will learn short sequences of steps to learning the entire activity. Then it will move to System A and become automatic. That’s why it takes time to develop good, healthy habits.
We automatically try to use System A first because it’s easy. Very little energy is used to do something that’s already learned. That’s why we tend to fall back on old habits, whether good or bad. We already know how to do them. There is no further expenditure of energy required. Still trying to hit the drive-thru for unhealthy breakfast food even though you set in line longer than it would take to scramble eggs and zap a bowl of oatmeal at home? Still waiting several minutes for the elevator instead of just walking the stairs? Are you the one who drives around the parking lot for 15 minutes trying to get a park practically in the front door of Walmart? These are all examples if how System A works against you. Before you started trying to be healthy, you developed these habits. System A is lazy, conservation of energy is it’s goal.
In order for you to create new, healthy habits you have to go through a new learning process. You will need to fix your breakfast at home a few, or several, times and reap the rewards of having more time and money and seeing your body improve first. You will do this on System B, the learning system. At some point, fixing breakfast will become automatic. It has moved to System A.
This process is required for all new habits to become comfortable. When I first quit eating sugar, it took great forethought and planning to avoid that pitfall. It’s in everything. Over time, it became easy for me to avoid. I learned it’s hiding places and discovered great new sweeteners thanks to David. You’ve got to try Swerve Granulated, Confectioners and Brown. They are awesome!
If you are having trouble developing new, healthy habits, you are not alone. Press in and do the hard work until you get the habit to switch systems. Then it will be a part of your new healthy lifestyle and will come naturally. You won’t even think twice about it anymore.