The Secret to Sticking with Good Habits

Despite practicing mindfulness for almost twelve years, I still need reminders to stay mindful. Even more important than these reminders is remembering the “why” – why am I doing this? Why is it good for me? Understanding the why can have a positive impact on whether or not we stick with healthy habits such as mindfulness, healthy eating and exercise.

Throughout my life I have read countless articles, attended numerous talks and heard time and again the importance of a balanced diet, regular exercise and getting eight hours of sleep. Even so, it’s easy to fall out of good routines with all of these things. And based on the industries that have formed around diet and exercise, I’m not the only one this happens to. I experienced a game-changing moment when my son Carter was 18 months old, about eleven years ago.

A Game Changer – The Power of Why

One day, Carter and I were at the library, browsing the bookshelves. He waddled over to me holding a book in his little hands and reached up, offering it to me. I smiled, took it from him and read the title. I looked at him in disbelief.

The book he brought me was titled, “A Woman’s Guide to Staying Healthy Through Her 30’s“. How did he know? 🙂

Since his birth I had been so focused on his needs and being a good Mom to him, that I had let my own needs slip, including my health. I still hadn’t lost all of the weight from my pregnancy. It was starting to bother me. I was 32 years old and I knew I wasn’t feeling my best. This book was exactly what I needed at that moment in time.

The Reminder and the Power of Why

I eagerly read the book. It offered a lot of common sense advice that I had heard before. But this time it was different. The author described why each element was important. For example, sleep is important to prevent memory loss, fatigue and headaches. I also learned that eating smaller meals and managing portion control is key to preventing indigestion, diabetes, heart disease, infertility and cancer. Yikes, if I can avoid heart disease and these other illnesses/discomforts I’ll certainly do what I can.

Since I had heard these tips before but they didn’t stick, I wanted to have reminders of the reasons for exercising and taking care of myself. After all, they’re quite convincing. The nerd in me came out and I created a table with the Do’s and Don’ts in one column and “why it’s important?” in the next column. I jotted down all the tips from the book and keep it handy so I can readily be reminded of the “why’s”.

Fully understanding the why was a game changer for me in developing and sticking with good habits.

New Habits

With the health reminders, including understanding the “why”, I was very motivated to figure out sustainable habits. That’s when my husband and I discovered the seven-minute workout. Scientifically proven health benefits in just seven minutes a day. For busy working parents, we were sold! It became a simple exercise habit that we do together almost daily.

We also started a habit of making a shake for breakfast every morning that includes spinach, carrots, bananas, blueberries, hemp powder and oat milk. This way we know that everyday we are getting a minimum of certain nutrients.

We try to maintain these habits for healthy bodies. I’ve learned that to establish a healthy mind I also need reminders and good habits.

A Healthy Mind – Habits and Reminders

The book Carter found for me also talked about the numerous benefits of doing yoga and meditation. Along with other research I learned why mindfulness is so important for our health and happiness. This helped establish my habits. After practicing mindfulness for many years now, I have firsthand experience of not only the physical benefits but also the mental and happiness benefits. The amazing feeling of peace and calm when I am present is the best “why” I could have.

Even still, reminders are important for me. I can very easily get caught up in negative thought patterns and automatic behaviours. I suppose it’s only natural after unknowingly contributing to those bad habits for over thirty years of my life.

In terms of habits, I kept a journal for a long time which led to increased mindfulness, happiness and the book Good Morning, Life!. Now, I have other mindfulness habits including morning meditations and nature walks.

In terms of reminders, I have a variety that I rely on. My family and friends are great at calling me out when I’m not being mindful. My kids will say “Mommy, get off your phone! For a mindfulness author, you’re not being very mindful.” Ouch.

I also keep my favourite books on hand to revisit passages. While I try to balance my time on social media, I subscribe to sites that offer positive insights, resources and suggestions. Surrounding myself with a great community is so helpful!

For you

On that note, thanks for being part of my community and I hope that this website and my book are helpful sources of reminders for you as well! I recently created a YouTube channel and video (How to be Happy During a Pandemic – 6 Simple Tips) that I hope can also be supportive. [Huge shoutout to my talented son, Carter, at carterdfilms for his video editing services.]

The beautiful thing is that, after a reminder, it just takes a second to come back to the present moment and experience the benefits.

Presence. Balance. Love.

the secret to sticking with good habits
This is a reminder I put up in my office to help me stay mindful and in the moment at work. It’s now collecting dust while I work from home, but hopefully by posting it here it can be a reminder for all of us.

Author: Barbara

Barbara Demone is a graduate of Ivey Business School at Western University and holds an executive level role in a government agency in the financial services industry. Her vision is to bring compassion, joy and love to the world, by being her best, most authentic self and inspiring others to be their best. She sees a strong correlation between mindfulness and authenticity with success and fulfillment in business and in life. Her goal is to live her life in presence and mindful awareness and encourage others to do the same. Barbara lives near Toronto, Ontario with her husband and two boys.

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