Stick to resolutions by breaking bad "Habit Loops"

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by Tami Hoey

azfamily.com

Posted on January 7, 2013 at 11:54 AM

PHOENIX -- We’re almost a week into the New Year. And would you believe, one third of folks who made resolutions have already broken them?

Experts say that’s because many of us are locked into what’s called a “Habit Loop.”

Doctor Martina Cartwright tells us that 40 percent of what we do every single day is based on habit.

The first thing you can do to do is to identify habit loops by documenting your day. “It’s important to do it for seven days,” Dr. Cartwright says. “What we do on our weekdays is very different from what we do on our weekends.”

Dr. Cartwright also advises making small changes instead of drastic ones. “I tell people to limit, not eliminate”, she says. “So it’s okay to have your cheeseburger every once in awhile.”

Another idea is to be social. Seek out support from friends and family members who will encourage and believe in you.

Dr. Cartwright also says to ditch the drastic changes. Instead, make small changes by altering one cue or reward to change a particular routine.

And remember to be patient!  Creating a new habit loop doesn’t happen overnight. “It takes about three weeks to incorporate a habit into your daily routine,” Dr. Cartwright says.

Cultivating good keystone habits is important, because it can have a ripple effect, improving other areas of life. For example, exercising as little as once a week has been shown to improve eating habits and increase work productivity.

Just try to do a little something different every day, and don’t beat yourself up if you slip. Most people can expect relapses.

Most importantly, stick to it. “Every day can be New Year’s Day when it comes to resolutions,” says Dr. Cartwright. So don’t give up and keep trying.”

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