Over the past few months, you’ve probably picked up a few habits you might not be thrilled with right now. Maybe your new normal has you staring mindlessly at the fridge looking for something snacky (and packing on a few extra pounds). Putting your workouts off ‘til the gym reopens. Or managing your stress with another drink, another bag of chips, or another hour of scrolling through your social media feed.
A lot of my clients have noticed that the bad habits they used to have are resurfacing too. Which is totally normal given the circumstances.
So, what gives?
You can’t change your genes. But you can program them.
The modern world presents a number of problems for our genes. The world we’ve constructed over the last 50 years is not the environment in which our genetic code evolved. Our genes don’t “expect” historically low magnesium levels in soil, spending all day indoors and all night staring into bright blue lights, earning your keep by sitting on your ass, getting your food delivered to your door, communicating with people primarily through strange scratchings that travel through the air. So when these novel environmental stimuli interact with our genetic code, we get disease and dysfunction.
The genes look bad viewed through a modern prism. They get “associated” with certain devastating health conditions. But really, if you were to restore the dietary, behavioral, and ambient environments under which those genes evolved, those genes wouldn’t look so bad anymore. They might even look great.
This is epigenetics: altering the programming language of your genes without altering the genes themselves.
Hi folks, welcome back for another edition of Ask a Health Coach. Today, Erin discusses how trusting your instincts might just be your best bet during these uncertain times, how finding your ‘why’ can help you stick with long-term goals, and the one thing you need to do to change bad habits for good. Got more questions? Keep them coming in the MDA Facebook Group or down below in the comments.
“I’ve definitely felt the pressure of having more time on my hands lately. Everywhere I turn I’m hearing people say, ‘what will you do during the quarantine?’ And ‘how will you come out of this better?’ What’s your take on all of this?” – Andrea
From my perspective, there are just as many people shouting “MAKE YOURSELF BETTER!” as there are “TAKE IT EASY ON YOURSELF.” Honestly, I’m team DO WHATEVER THE HECK FEELS RIGHT FOR YOU.
We all have a new normal right now, even those of us who are used to doing the work-from-home thing. Your new routine might have you feeling unproductive, fearful, or totally out of it. Or it might have you living your best life enjoying extra hours of glorious sleep, a reinvigorated sense of creativity, or desire to learn.
“I’ll start eating healthy again on Monday.”
“I’m not really a gym person.”
“I’ll probably gain the weight back anyway.”
I hear statements like these all the time. If any of them sound remotely like something you’ve said recently, there’s a good chance you’re secretly sabotaging yourself. You might not even know that you’re doing it—but what you do know is that nothing in your life is changing. That probably sounds a little harsh but hear me out.
We all know the grim stats about how many New Year’s resolutions fail. It’s not because making resolutions is hokey or people are inherently lazy. It’s because most resolutions come down to one of two things: adopting new (good) habits or breaking old (bad) habits, and habit change is hard.
People struggle at every step, from picking the right goals—ones that are motivating and achievable—through the implementation process.
The trick is to be strategic and intentional about changing your habits. Rather than relying on willpower and wishes, get good systems in place. As James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, says, “You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.”