Want to get started making new healthy habits? (here’s a free habit from the Habit Project)

On Tuesday, Sean Flanagan and I will be enrolling the next group of the Habit Project On-Ramp.

We know that the approach we use is in such a stark contrast to the rest of the fitness industry, that it’s tough to be an outsider looking in and imagine what it’s like to go through.

But while you need to experience focused community support, and autonomy-focused coaching, to know what those are like, there is one aspect we can easily give you an inside look at…and that’s the habit building approach itself.

For this next On-Ramp group, we’ll be using a different habit sequence than with previous groups.  

And while we have had a great results starting groups off with the “Record What You Eat Without Judgment” habit, we had to make the tough decision and remove it to make room for the other habits we want to walk you through.

However, there’s no reason you can’t do this one without us.  🙂  

This pseudo habit (“pseudo” because it’s only intended for you to do it temporarily) is a great way to supercharge your awareness of your current eating patterns (without unnecessary negative self-talk), and use it to practice the art of habit personalization (and re-personalization) as you get some initial momentum.

If you end up joining the On-Ramp, this will help give you a running start for your future habits and will directly lay a foundation that can help you with the first habit we’ll do as a group. And if you don’t join us this time around, this habit will give you some insight into what’s going on on your plate, so to speak!

The Habit:  Record What You Eat Without Judgment

“Why Do I Want to do This Habit?”

Getting a really good picture of what you’re eating now, and what your eating patterns are like day to day is going to be a great starting place for your habit change process. The most important step in change is to create awareness.  If we can get an honest look at what “Point A” is, we can be more realistic with what we’re aiming for when we try to define “Point B” for a given habit.

As crazy as it sounds, at this point we don’t want you to work at changing your diet.  You’re not trying to get the “perfect” balance of carbs, protein, and fats; or hit a certain target with your fruits or vegetables; or even trying to keep your number of treats low.

You might be tempted to make drastic changes – but here is a good opportunity to practice the courage it takes to make slow changes.  Drastic changes are easy – do something big all at once and crash and burn.  Instead, you need to sharpen your commitment to realistic change.

The goal with this habit is creating awareness without judgment.   The goal is not to say to yourself “this is what I ate today. I’m such a bad person for eating all this junk”; the goal is to simply say “this is what I ate today”.

“How Can I Make This Habit Easy?”

You might want to track only specific meals (just breakfasts, lunches, or dinners) or only one component of your diet such as treat foods, vegetables, or protein.  The more you can track this week, the better for your potential at getting really great insights.

There are two apps that seem to have been the biggest hits with Habit Project members.  The first is YouFood (formerly known as TwoGrand), which helps you to journal with photos and notes.  The second is Recovery Record, which was created for patients with eating disorders and also is great for this habit as it allows for detailed journaling but from an awareness perspective rather than a good foods vs bad foods or calorie perspective.

You’re welcome to use a tracking app that has calorie counting such as MyFitnessPal, but be careful that you don’t end up turning this into an “Aim for a Specific Calorie Count Every Day” habit.  Calorie counting itself isn’t always helpful for the habit creation process we’re embarking on and for some people can even get in the way.

This is very important: Whatever you pick, it should be as easy as brushing your teeth. You start the process of habit change by choosing a behavior you know you can succeed at. And then, when that behavior is a habit, you add something slightly more challenging. And so on, and so forth. This way, the process never becomes overwhelming.

“When Am I Going to do The Habit?”

You should plan to do the recording right after a habit you do already. So if you are going to track what you eat during dinner, finishing your dinner might be a good trigger to remind you to track what you just ate.

If you’re doing this habit with pictures as with using YouFood, you’ll want to take a picture when you’re about to start eating (and maybe for what remains as well, depending how you want to roll with it).

If you can’t for whatever reason record what you eat at the mealtime, my suggestion would be to choose a habit trigger that is as close to your mealtime as possible.  For example, if you have a meeting every day after lunch, you’d use the end of the meeting to do your recording.  You may also want to send a reminder on your phone.

Personalizing This Habit:

Once you know what the habit goal is, you personalize it to your specific schedule, skill level and personal tastes. Here’s your template for personalizing this habit:

“I am 90-100% confident that I will record what I eat without judgment by [insert how] after I [insert the thing that reminds you here] every day for the next 14 days.”

Here’s an example:

“I am 90-100% confident that I will record what I eat by writing down what I eat at dinner in my journal after I am done eating dinner every day for the next 14 days.”

If you come up with a version of this habit where you’re less than 90% confident, you’re almost there!  Now you just need to identify the part that is giving you less confidence and either remove that from the habit or figure out a way to increase your chances of success with it.

Every day for the next week, I’ll make a post on my facebook page to follow up on this blog post. Join me there to let us know how you’re doing (and what you’re learning) from this habit. I think it’ll be fun community building!

If you can learn how to increase your awareness without engaging in negative self-talk about your eating, that will be a very valuable skill that can serve you for moving towards your goals.

Every day for the next week, I’ll make a post on my facebook page to follow up on this blog post. Join me there to let us know how you’re doing (and what you’re learning) from this habit. I think it’ll be fun community building!

If you want to get coaching and community support on the 8 habits in the Habit Project On-Ramp, Click HERE.  Enrollment for the April group will open on Tuesday April 5th and this time around, we ONLY plan on announcing enrollment to those who are on the VIP notification list.

Here’s that link again:  http://seanflanaganwellness.com/comingsoon2

P.S. Got questions about the On-Ramp?  Email Sean: Sean (at) SeanFlanaganWellness.com