Creating Healthy Habits: 5 Strategies to Bridge the Gap between Insight and Action


Cultivating a healthier lifestyle is the only research proven approach for healthy weight loss and this forms the foundation of the Green Mountain program.

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Stopping Negative Self Talk

Many of the women who come to Green Mountain understand that their years of dieting not only didn’t work, but was damaging to their body and their psyche. They understand a new, more sustainable approach is needed.

However, bridging that gap between insight and action can feel elusive when striving to undo years, and sometimes even decades, of ingrained behavior. As a result, the process of change can sometimes feel like swimming against a strong current because it requires letting go of the old approach while learning new skills for being different.

Creating Healthy Habits: Insight to Action

If you find yourself stuck between insight and action, here are five strategies that can help propel you out of idle and into acceleration within the process of change.

1 Be Mindful

5 strategies for creating healthy habitsOften people are stuck in an all-or-nothing pattern with food and exercise because of ingrained patterns. As a result, the middle ground can feel like a mystery. Because you can’t change what you aren’t aware of, cultivating body awareness will help illuminate what the middle ground feels like with food portions and moderate activity, which is crucial for shifting behavior.  This practice of mindfulness or present-centeredness allows for the cultivation of body and mind awareness in the here and now.

2 Focus on Addition, not Restriction

When we focus on the foods we ‘shouldn’t’ have, the typical human response is to want it even more. This is the “forbidden fruit” mentality and this mindset inevitably sets up a deprivation/overeating of the “forbidden” foods.At Green Mountain we teach women to focus on the foods they need to ADD to their meals to help create more of a balanced intake of all foods. Adding what’s missing (i.e., fruits, vegetables, whole grains) shifts the focus from ‘what I can’t have’ to the foods to add for optimal health. Not focusing on “can’t” can help reduce the fear of deprivation.

3 Shift Your Negative Self-Talk

Self-criticism does NOT provide the motivation for positive change or help to keep you “in check.” But it CAN foster feelings of unworthiness and hopelessness. Because desperate thoughts often lead to desperate measures (think diets), it’s important to decrease the negative self-talk default setting.  We can create new neural pathways in the brain with new thoughts. So, when a negative thought pops up, simply replace with something more compassionate, such as “may I be gentle with myself in this moment”, or whatever affirmation feels comforting and authentic to YOU. And repeat!

4 Start Small and Build Up

Start with the molehills, not the mountains. Creating realistic and doable goals is key for success, but often we want to see and feels results yesterday.  The unrealistic plans that often are created only set us up for failure, not success. Creating attainable goals and corresponding action plans are important when embarking on a healthier lifestyle. Slow and steady wins the race. It allows you to feel what is working or not working and to evaluate and adjust your approach as needed.

diagnose yourself with depression or low self-esteem

5 Find Positive Support

“Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self-esteem, first make sure you are not, in fact, surrounding yourself with @*$holes.” ~ William Gibson

Take stock of who is truly supportive in your life and who is not. Sometimes those who are not supportive simply need guidance on how to be.

And sometimes we need to let go of those who are highly critical and shaming. We buy in to others criticism to the extent that we buy into it ourselves, so as you shift your negative self-talk be sure to surround yourself with people who embrace you for all of who you are.

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About the Author

Erin Risius, MA, LPC

Erin Risius, MA, LPC, is a former program director of Green Mountain at Fox Run.

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