Change is an uncomfortable process, and your brain is hardwired to resist it. Here are a few tips that can help you retrain your brain to stay on the right path.

Change is an uncomfortable process, and your brain is hardwired to resist it.  When your brain tells you to stick with the same old habits that have made you unhealthy, you need to fight back.  The steps on Brain Fit Life are designed to help you rewire your brain, but don’t expect it to be as easy as flipping a switch. It takes time to overwrite old neural pathways with new ones.  Here are a few tips that can help you retrain your brain to stay on the right path.

Don’t try to change everything at once.

If you have come to the decision that you want to make changes in your life, you probably want them to happen NOW!  But after 30 years of helping patients navigate the change process, I have learned that taking a gradual approach is the surest way to success.  So many people try to change all at once, but this almost inevitably invites disappointment and failure.  You don’t have to change dozens of behaviors at once.  Start with a few vital behaviors—the ones that will have the biggest immediate impact—and go from there.

Believe you can do it.

 If you don’t believe in yourself, you will never achieve your goals. Take what you learned – Kill the ANTs and start changing your negative thinking patterns to honest and positive thinking to help you believe that you can do it.

Don’t swap one bad habit for another.

If you’ve got a sweet tooth, you may think that kicking your sugar habit is the ultimate goal.  So, instead of chomping on chocolate in the afternoon, you start sipping a diet soda or a café latte.  Yes, it isn’t chocolate, but it still isn’t good for your brain.  I see this so many times with my patients who quit one bad habit only to acquire another one in its place.

Some people even turn to illicit drugs.  At the 2010 meeting of the American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, researchers presented evidence that some people who have bariatric surgery replace their food addiction with drug or alcohol addiction.  A survey of post-bariatric surgery patients in substance abuse programs revealed that 85% of them put some of the blame on “addiction substitution,” and 75% thought “unresolved psychological issues” played a role in their substance abuse.

This doesn’t surprise me!  As I’ve said before, stapling your stomach may be working on the wrong organ.  There may be underlying biological, psychological, social, or spiritual causes for your overeating.  If you get rid of your problem foods or have surgery to shrink your stomach but do NOT address these underlying problems, you won’t make any progress.  You will simply look for other ways to self-medicate.  To be your best self, you need to kick your bad habits without replacing them with others.

Remember that change never stops.

Our bodies and lives are in a constant state of change.  Marriages, divorces, job transfers, pregnancies, injuries, illnesses, and hormonal transitions are just some of the many things that keep us in flux.  Because of this, as you reach your initial goals, you may decide that you want even greater results.  Or, unexpected things might happen in your life that make you reevaluate your original benchmarks and downshift your expectations.  Just know that with every change that comes into your life, you have the power to be in control of the way you handle that change.