Creating Habits for a Healthy Lifestyle
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Creating Habits for a Healthy Lifestyle. Motivational Readiness . Dave Blomquist , LCSW. Employee Assistance Program (EAP). Employee/Dependents Professional Staff 24 hours 7 days a week Confidential/Voluntary Counseling at no Charge Prevention Any life problems

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Creating Habits for a Healthy Lifestyle

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Creating Habits for a Healthy Lifestyle

Motivational Readiness

Dave Blomquist, LCSW

  • Employee Assistance Program (EAP)

  • Employee/Dependents

  • Professional Staff

  • 24 hours 7 days a week

  • Confidential/Voluntary

  • Counseling at no Charge

  • Prevention

  • Any life problems

  • Marriage, family issues

  • Elderly Care, financial,

  • Alcohol/drugs, Depression, Stress

  • Like a cake recipe you need several ingredients.

One Step at a Time

  • Take every step

  • Don’t get left behind

  • Don’t fall into the trap of merely learning then doing

  • Don’t accept the notion that a step by step process is beneath you

Step 1: Honest Evaluation

Ready, shoot, aim?

Question 1

What holds you back from attempting to change your health habits?

Question 2

  • What are the long term consequencesof unhealthy habits?

Question 3

  • What will your life be like in 10 years if you don’t make changes?

Question 4

  • What would be the most important benefits in your life if you chose to change your health related lifestyle habits?

“A healthy lifestyle can do more to improve your health than any other single medical breakthrough in the past 100 years.”

Steven Aldona

The Culprit & the Cure, 2005

How do we go about make the decision to change our health habits?

Is it really that simple?

  • Make decisions on cost/benefit ratio

  • Programmed if/then choices

  • Underlying emotions

  • Habits

  • Fading memories

  • Physical desires

How do we make it hard on ourselves?

Coerce ourselves with fear and guilt

Coercive motivation = trying to avoid something

How do we make it hard?

  • The “Should” or “Ought to” strategy

  • The “Have to” strategy

  • The “Avoidance” strategy

  • The “Substitution” strategy

  • The “Fear of forever” strategy

  • The “I’m not enough” strategy

The problem with coercive motivation

  • We resist when coerced

  • Coercive change is a battle

  • Give power to what we fight against

  • Where we resist persists

Constructive motivation – A powerful solution

  • Become highly motivated by what you want to achieve

  • rather than bywhat you want to avoid

Constructive motivation – A powerful solution

  • Rather then focusing on negative consequences of bad habits

  • focus instead onpositive effects of good habits

Constructive motivation – A powerful solution

  • Look at the big picture, not just the present moment.

  • Look beyond the action to the consequences of the action.

What motivates you?

  • Many good reasons to change

  • What are your reasons?

What Motivates You?

  • I want to be thinner, sexier or more attractive.

  • I want to improve and maintain great health and vitality this year.

  • I want to be happier and better able to maintain my motivation.

  • I want to increase my feelings of self control and be the master of my own life.

  • I want to increase my daily energy, stamina, and physical strength.

  • I want to improve the health and well-being of those whom I live with and love.

  • I want to reduce the likelihood of facing chronic or disabling diseases.

  • I want to live longer and be healthy and active as I grow older.

  • Other _________

Which are your highest priorities?

  • Which 2 reasons are most important to you?

Make Your Motivation Powerful

  • What would you most like to see yourself doing?

  • What is your scenario?

  • Make it compelling, full of emotion and color.

  • “Vision of the future”

  • “Of the many important reasons to change your enduring health habits, which one is the most important to you?”

  • Share your ‘vision of the future’ and explain why it’s important to you.

Brain Quiz!

  • 1.) Neurons cannot divide like other cells in the body…therefore the brain cells you are born with do not change. When brain cells die they are never replaced.

  • FALSE – The adult brain can add brain cells well into the 80’s. New cells develop in the brain where new learning takes place.

Brain Quiz!

  • 2.) The brain is shaped experiences from outside events and activities. The brain itself cannot be changed by mental activity.

  • FALSE – Brain changes can be generated by purely internal mental activity. Intentional and willful thought can alter the brains physical wiring and pathways. Simply thinking and imagining to be playing the piano leads to a measurable change in the brains motor cortex.

Brain Quiz!

  • 3.) What you pay attention to does not have an effect on the physical brain.

  • FALSE – Attention increases neuronal activity. Attention literally sculpts the physical form of the brain. This means that you literally shape who you are in each moment by what you choose to pay attention to.

Brain Quiz!

  • 4.) The brain’s ‘set point’ is fixed and cannot be reset. Long term status of joy, happiness, optimism are not attainable.

  • FALSE – The brain’s set point can be reset. Specific brain states related to feeling of peace, calm, optimistic and happiness are measurable.

What is a Habit?

  • Practiced in the past

  • Predictable

  • Automatic

What does a Habit Look Like?

  • Pathway bridge/neural chemical connection

  • Naturally changing

  • More practiced, stronger, automatic

  • Involves multiple areas of the brain (thoughts, emotions, behavior).

  • Not consciously aware

Habit formation is your brains top priority

Your brain is efficient – the most effective way to be efficient is through the formation of habits

Not all Habits are Functional

  • Reoccurring, self defeating patterns of behavior

  • Why not simply change?

Stuck with Habitsthat are Self-defeating?

  • Trigger –urge – act

  • We’re changing all the time, naturally

  • Difficulty with self-directed change

Stuck with Habitsthat are Self-defeating?

We try to stop the firing of the habit pathway STOP IT! STOP IT! Woefully inadequate strategy

Rarely results in change

  • Stop fighting what brain does naturally

  • Create new health habits

  • Grow new habit pathways

  • You can actually change the physical structure of your brain

Brain is wired through repetition and works quickly to make behavior automatic

Consistent repetitions “practice” hard wires habits

Anything we persist in doing becomes easier

Replace those Self-defeating Habits

  • Grow new pathway in brain rather than stop an old pathway

  • Physical connection: 21 days of practice(42 days if practice every other day, 147 days if practice once a week)

  • Attempting to stop or extinguish a habit takes at least 6 times longer

Starting a New Pathway

  • Recognition that your enduring health-related habit is not going to give you what you really want.

  • Clarifying what you really want instead.

10 Common Habits of Thin People

  • They don’t diet

  • They keep track of their weight

  • They exercise regularly

  • They don’t solve problems with food

  • They stop eating when they are full

  • They don’t surround themselves with temptation

  • They allow themselves treats

  • They eat breakfast

  • They move stand and fidget

  • They don’t skip meals

Starting a New Pathway

Step 1: Honest Evaluation

  • Depth or intensity of your realization

Step Two: Make a firm decision

A habit pathway really connects at the point that you make a firm decision.

Step Two: Make a firm decision

  • More than just considering your options. I choose to: __________”

Step Two: Make a firm decision

  • What decision are you ready to make now?

  • To give your body what it needs

  • Implement Julie’s Ideas

  • Targeted self-defeating habits

Step One: Honest Evaluation

Step Two: Make a firm decision

Step Three: 21 days of practice


  • Habits are pathways in brain

  • Change habits when we replace old pathways with new.

  • Recognizing the need to change and honestly evaluation

  • Speed this process along by verbalizing what we really want, making it visual, graphic, emotional, and important.


  • Growing a new pathway to the point of being automatic takes about 21 days of practice.

  • Making a clear, well reasoned decision makes the connections physical and real. Deciding on how and when you will implement the decision really helps.

Time For Homework

  • Review the Reading Materials

  • Create Your “Vision of the Future”

  • More Honest Evaluation

  • Make a Firm Decision

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