We so enjoyed our recent conversation for this podcast episode with the amazing Dr. Gina Cleo.
Gina is a leading habit change expert, PhD holder in habit change, adjunct professor at Bond University, accredited dietitian, and founder of the Habit Change Institute.
One of the personal stories she shared – which I just loved – was about how she changed a habit that wasn't serving her. The habit of buying and eating a chocolate bar every time she stopped at a petrol station!
Here’s a recap…
“So what I would do” said Gina, “is that every time I would go to the petrol station, I would buy one of the chocolate bars they have at the counter. I was doing this habit mindlessly. I was doing it subconsciously.”
But it wasn’t until Gina was cleaning her car that she noticed the extent of the bad habit she’d formed.
“I noticed that the storage area in my car door was overflowing with chocolate wrappers! I was like, what am I doing? What's triggering my habit? When is it that I'm actually getting these chocolate bars? What am I feeling afterwards?”
Gina decided to change the habit – and her approach to doing it holds some great learnings for us all.
“I wanted to hack the system, rewind the process and break this habit because I knew it wasn't good for my health. It didn’t make me feel good. And it was entirely unnecessary. I wasn’t using chocolate as a treat because it was happening all the time.”
So, awareness was the first step to change. And how did Gina go about it?
“I was able to break it by firstly noticing the bad habit and realizing that being in the petrol station was my trigger …and then anticipating that it was going to come.”
So when Gina knew she needed petrol, she consciously flipped her thinking.
“I knew I was going to crave having a chocolate bar. It's what I'd always done. But what I decided to do instead was to have some vitamin water or something healthy to distract myself from grabbing that chocolate bar.”
What was interesting for Gina was that it didn't take very long for her to break that habit because she felt really good not eating chocolate mindlessly in her car like that.
“When I eat chocolate, I want to sit and savour it and enjoy it and I wasn't doing that in my car.”
Key Learnings From Gina’s Story to Help You Change Unwanted Habits:
1. Awareness of Triggers:
Identify the situations or contexts that trigger your unwanted habits.
2. Mindfulness of Cravings:
Be conscious of your urges and prepare for them.
3. Substitution of Habits:
Replace a negative habit with a positive alternative.
4. Consistency in Change:
Regularly choosing the alternative reinforces the new behaviour.
5. Positive Reinforcement:
Acknowledge and feel good about making healthier choices, as this is vital in habit transformation.
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