Habits & Your Inner Monologue BY CHRISTY BARONI • PHOTO BY ROB KAUFMAN
Did you have a chance to read the Fall issue? The one with that happy family just trotting along Shelter Cove Park, smiling as if they run in parks all day every day? That’s us! And, it just so happens that on the very day that issue hit the stands, we had a disastrous meltdown in the middle of Publix that ended up with not one, but both of my children getting soap in their mouths, and grounded in their rooms for the afternoon. The juxtaposition of the family pictured in the magazine and the one I was experiencing in real life was so stark that it stopped me in my tracks. Was it the fact that I actually wrote about family wellness that jinxed me into the foul-mannered shenanigans of that afternoon? While I hardly believe in being jinxed, we are in a season of change. Like many of you, we live through these transitions with some trial and error. We don’t often read in health and fitness articles about the struggle, the challenging times, the seasons of change. We don’t often get to see what it actually takes to build new habits, to re-identify the patterns that sustain a healthy body, a healthy mind, and healthy soul. What we do hear often is that age old adage that if you want something bad enough you’ll do the work to get there. But I find there to be some pretty big holes in that mindset. It suggests that the mere desire is enough to elicit change. However, in working with hundreds of people over the years I have found that the most powerful tool in creating change is in 52
managing two things: habits and internal monologue. We have a moment of space between any stimulus and our response. It is in that moment that our judgement kicks in and we choose to respond positively or negatively. We receive the stimulus of hunger, and we can choose the doughnut or the apple. We receive the stimulus of boredom and we can choose to snack mindlessly or go for a short walk outside. (We receive the stimulus of kids acting crazy in the grocery store, and we can choose to explode or to remain calm.) Both your habits and your inner monologue kick in during that space between. The habit of having healthy food prepared kicks in a sense of readiness when hunger strikes. Our inner voice reinforces that we are prepared and we calmly make the healthy choice. In this short example we see that building the habit of prepping food and speaking kindly to ourselves has immediate and real impact. The response is immediate, but the habit takes time. The alternative is also true. When the habit of having healthy food prepared isn’t there, our inner voice may reprimand
in the moment of choice. This reinforces a negative thought pattern that may be keeping us from making the best choice. The holidays can often be a time of higher stress. A time where habits may be challenged due to being over tasked, and where stress levels are higher than normal. Let’s take a closer look at the habit of prepping food ahead of time. Popular wellness literature encourages us to tackle prepping food for the entire week in one swoop on Sunday evenings. Maybe in a perfect world we would have a huge block of time to do this, but in my reality I have a few smaller blocks throughout the week. Instead of tackling this huge task of thinking through the entire week, break that up in to a smaller more manageable task at first. Try one breakfast casserole this week. Next week add a dinner side dish. And build from there.