The 6-Step Process To Changing Any Habit

By Dr. Brooke Kalanick

Note from GGS: If you’re interested in learning how to truly change a habit, we highly recommend reading through Part 1 and Part 2 of this series from Dr. Brooke.


If you’re not satisfied with your weight and your body, I’d be willing to bet that you are pretty excited when a new diet book comes around promising you the answer at last. But, here’s the big weight loss secret…

Most of what you need to know, you already know. It’s bridging the gap between what you know and what you do that’s essential for success.

womanmeditation-350x375There may be are several choices you make every day that you honestly know are not supporting your fat loss goals, or even are just not making you feeling very well.

  • You go to bed too late.
  • You choose lunches that make you sluggish.
  • You look for the quick, sugary, or caffeinated treat to get you through the afternoon.
  • You overeat at dinner because you come home ravenous having not eaten in seven hours.
  • You’ve never learned to mediate or handle stress better, because let’s face it, you’re too busy and stressed out to start.

There’s the gap.

You know these things aren’t helping, but you’re still doing them. You’re not alone. What diet book (and I’m willing to bet you’ve read a few) has ever taught you how to deconstruct a habit and how to manage your willpower?  These are tools you need as much as a fork and a dumbbell when it comes to losing weight and changing your body.   

Are you trying to incorporate a better habit or new, healthy habit?

1. Understand how this new habit will help you get your WANT.  Identify and write out at least 2 ways it supports your WANT.

2. Tap into your WHY power and utilize your anchor at the start and end of each day, as well as during any tough moments.

3. Plan in detail how you will accomplish this habit.  Use if-then planning as you lay out your intention for this new habit.

4. Troubleshoot challenges and obstacles you’ll go through on your journey to pull this off.  Think about a minimum of two challenges you’ll undergo while successfully practicing this new habit.  Use if-then planning here if it seems appropriate. Practice optimism light (stay positive but plan for trouble).

5. Optimize your willpower.

6. Manage progress by comparing to your old self, not someone else. How much better are you doing than you would’ve done before?

Are you trying to transform an old habit?

1. Identify the habit and tune in to its reminder, routine, and reward.

2. Identify the payoff of this habit and be willing to give it up. Identify and write out at least 2 reasons you are willing to give it up and how it helps you get your WANT.

3. In your habit loop (reminder, routine, reward), replace the routine. The reminder and the reward stay the same, routine is all that changes.  As you change your routine, utilize if-then* planning to implement. And, lay out in detail your new routine.

4. Troubleshoot challenges and obstacles you’ll have in completing this. Think about a minimum of 2 challenges to you successfully practicing this new habit.  Use if-then planning here if it seems appropriate. Practice optimism light (stay positive but plan for trouble).

5. Optimize your WILLpower.

6. Manage progress by comparing to your old self, not someone else. How much better are you doing that your old self?

Take this simple approach to tackle doing more of what you need to do, or to transform an unhelpful habit.

Break It Down

I know there are a lot of ideas in this post…it’s BIG! I’ll keep unpacking these and teaching you more tricks for better willpower, if-then planning, and more, as we go.

womantakingnotes-450x340For now, just try it out and get wise to how your habits are getting in your own way, and know you can change, you just need a system to bridge that gap between knowing better and doing better. Remember to only work one habit at a time and that the advice of, “it takes 30 days to change a habit”, is an outdated idea.

What is the one habit you'd like to focus on starting today? Some habits take a few days while others may take months to take hold. When you feel solid with a new habit, go ahead and try another. Avoid what typical diets and fat loss plans have you do: take certain supplements, eat a very specific way, avoid a bunch of foods, eat every 3 hours, do a certain workout 3 x per week, do only these stretches, drink these juices, drink more water, and go to be earlier, etc, etc.

YIKES! Who can remember all of those things? Do one thing at a time. Let the changes take hold, then take the next step. You’ll find some are way easier than others and that as you do more and more of this behavior change, it gets easier and change happens faster.

But, please, heed this advice: one thing at a time (especially to start).  Slow and steady does indeed win this race. Good luck!

And if you feel like you could use a little help...

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About the author:  Dr. Brooke Kalanick

Dr. Brooke Kalanick earned her Doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine from Bastyr University. Known as “The Hormone Whisperer,” Brooke's balanced approach to health, using both conventional and alternative therapies, allows her to successfully treat patients with Hashimoto’s Hypothyroidism and PCOS as well as other female hormone imbalances. Learn more about Dr. Brooke on her website and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

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