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NEWSTART- T=Temperance (It's all about habit formation)

Updated: Jun 2, 2023

NEWSTART stands for Nutrition, Exercise, Water, Sunlight, Temperance, Air, Rest, and Trust. It is a scientifically researched lifestyle change program based on eight principles proven to help you achieve optimum health.

Today's topic is Temperance.

It takes 21 days to form a habit, make it simple and make the change so small, you can't say no!

Temperance means self-control, restraint, mind-over-matter, grit, and willpower.

But we don't always have self-control or strong willpower. So, how can we use something that is changeable like self-control to achieve something long-lasting (like a new habit)?

I’m going to share a better strategy for making long-term, successful, positive changes in your life by using your existing habits to remind you to do something different.
This is going to change your life! Literally.

But first, the age-old question; Why is it so hard to stick to good habits?

It seems easier to fall into bad habits than good ones.
Eating junk food, snacking, eating late at night, having colossal food portions, watching TV, smoking etc.

There’s no shortage of unhealthy and unproductive behaviours and we all struggle with them from time to time. But why do we struggle?
It’s a new year, you’re really motivated and inspired to make a change. How come it is more likely that this time next year you’ll be doing the same thing rather than something different? Why is it so difficult to stick with it?

Here are 6 strategies to help you make positive long-term changes in your life! This is a sure way to help you keep and achieve your new year's resolution!

Tip #1 Understand that your life today is the sum of your habits.

Focus on your habits!
It is true that the most common mistake we all make is setting our sights on an event or transformation or overnight success that we want to achieve rather than focusing on habits and routines.
James clear, in his phenomenal book Atomic Habits, says “Becoming the type of person you want to become — someone who lives by a stronger standard, someone who believes in themselves, someone who can be counted on by the people that matter to them — is about the daily process you follow and not the ultimate product you achieve”.
In other words, what you repeatedly do (i.e. what you spend time thinking about and doing each day) forms your habit. Habit forms character and character determines destiny, Mind character and personality volume 2 page chapter 72.

Tip #2 Understand and use the 3 Rs of Habit change

For example, your smartphone pings (Reminder), You touch the screen or press a button (Routine), and You find out who the message is from (Reward). If the reward is satisfying, you will likely repeat it again next time. Follow this same cycle enough times and you'll stop thinking about it. Your behaviour will become a habit.

Tip #3 Use a current habit as the reminder for your new one

What new habit do you need to form? Is it exercising, eating healthy, or giving up smoking? And what's going to help you achieve your goal? Is it motivation or is it self-control? It is neither!
Why would you want to rely on motivation (something that changes) to create a new habit (something that you want to be consistent)?
Here's how you do it. Simply use the R of Reminder (the trigger of your new behaviour) as the foundation for change. A good reminder makes it easier for you to start your habit by encoding your new behaviour in something you already do, rather than relying on motivation.
For example, to make a habit of exercising, I used the fact that I shower before going to work to remind myself to exercise. To make things easier, I found sets of simple exercises on google and saved them on my phone, so I don’t have to leave my dressing room to exercise. For me, having a shower is a reminder to exercise in the morning. I keep it simple stupid!

Tip #4 How do you choose a reminder?

Write 2 lists, List one: What you do every day without fail, List two: Things that happen to you each day.
List No. 1: For example, this is what I do every morning.
Drink hot water
Water banana plants, veggies, herbs and flowers
Clean my office
Clean teeth
Put shoes on
Have supper
Video conference with my mum and 26yr old son at the end of the day
So, watering my bananas reminds me to run on the spot. Drinking water reminds me to meditate. Cleaning my teeth reminds me to do 2 minutes of squats to strengthen my pelvic floor. Having supper reminds me to sit straight. Video conferencing reminds me to stand up and keep moving. You see how easy it is, I can form whatever new habit I want because I already have reminders (or systems in place) to remind me. Another example is having an attitude of gratitude. When I sit down for dinner, it is a reminder to think of 3 things that I am Pleased about, Thankful for and Happy about. I call it having an attitude of PTH.
Remember, all your existing habits are powerful reminders for forming new habits!
In list No. 2: Write down things that happen to you each day. For example, I get emails, text messages, Facebook messages, the sun rises, the sun sets and so forth. These events can also act as triggers for my new habit. For example, When I read an email, I stand up and do five squats per email.

Tip #5 Make your habit Simple Stupid to start with.

Make it so easy you can’t say no. —Leo Babauta.
So you want to lose weight or be as fit as the athletes on TV, in the words of Leo Babauta, make it so easy you can’t say no, start small.
For example, if you want to strengthen your pelvic floor with squats, start with only one squat! If you need to drink water first thing in the morning because you know it’s good for you, start with only one sip.
In the beginning, performance doesn’t matter. What does matter is becoming the type of person who always sticks to your new habit – no matter how small or insignificant it seems. You can build up to the level of performance that you want once the behaviour becomes consistent.

Tip #6 Always Reward Yourself

It is important to celebrate! This is true with life, but also with habits. We want to continue doing things that make us feel good. For example, I’m writing this blog at the end of the day, I'm really tired, but I’m motivated to finish it before bed because I will post it on my brand-new website and visitors will enjoy reading it. So when I’m finished, I will post it on my website, do a little jig, punch the air and tell myself well-done Purity! You did it!
Try it! You do one push-up, tell yourself “well done”
You do one squat, “good job”
You run on the spot for 5 seconds, “success”
Studies show that reward is an essential part of habit formation. So give yourself some credit and enjoy each small success!

Finally, Make sure that the habits you are trying to build are important to you. It’s difficult to find a reward in something that you do because others expect you to or they will approve of it. It's your life, so make sure you're spending your time on things that are important to you. Form positive habits that little by little transform you into the best version of yourself that you can be. But remember, be kind to yourself and do not cause yourself or others harm.

So, Ladies, sticking with your new year resolution is not grit, grinning and bearing, it is all about forming habits based on reminders triggered by things that you do daily.

Your homework: Pick a new habit you want to start. Now ask yourself, “How can I make this new behaviour so easy that I can’t say no?”

Dr Purity Carr is a GP and Menopause Doctor in Harvey, Western Australia
The next blog on the NEWSTART series is on Air. Don't miss it!
Don't forget to leave comments on how this series of NEWSTART is helping you. It will encourage others!
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