ReMind Yourself: www.remindyourself.com

Hannah:
Welcome back, Burn Pod listeners. We’re super excited to have Annia Baron returning for our second podcast with her. Now, if you didn’t get to listen to the previous one, jump on back to the last episode, where we got stuck into some pretty major topics. So, all about self-sabotage and external noise, mean girl stories and how we can reduce these and how we can really bring our personal values in now. Now, today’s topic is all about habit formation, how we can get habits into our life to find that balance, that whole-self health, that really critical whole-self health topic, and personal values as well.

Hannah:
So, I’m so excited to have Annia join us and let’s get stuck right in now. Now, something that BurnTheory is big on talking about and encouraging is creating or forming good habits, removing bad habits and finding a balance between all the crazy that we have in our lives and what we really want and need for our overall whole-self health and well-being. And I guess when people speak about whole-self health, what do they mean, in your opinion and why is it so important?

Annia:
I think the whole-self health is a real fundamental shift in the paradigm of how we look at well-being, because for so long we’ve had these concepts of what gives us well-being, what is well-being? And looking at it from this perspective, it’s more holistic. The way that I see whole-self health personally is really about alignment, Hannah. It’s about aligning what’s going on in the mind, with the heart and the body.

Annia:
So, it’s about how we think, which is the brain and the mind, how we feel and our emotions and our values, which is the heart. And then the body is how we take action to then go forward and create that kind of life that feels right for us. That gives us joy and meaning and lets us flourish. But it’s really tricky because with habits, it’s really important to remember that from anything from 40 to 95% of our behaviours are actually controlled by our subconscious mind. So, so much of what we do is habitual. It’s quite scary.

Hannah:
Yeah.

Annia:
That’s why looking at this from that whole-self perspective, looking at it from what’s happening in the mindset, what’s your attitude like? What are the emotional blockers and physically what’s going on in terms of what’s preventing you to take action? Looking at the heart, the mind and the body and aligning those concepts, for me, creates this idea of whole-self health, because it’s really about bringing everything back to that homeostasis, that equilibrium that I mentioned earlier. And with that, we can go out into the world, be our best selves to help others, to do things that uplift our community, to have enough energy and vitality to share time and space with those we love. So, the whole-self perspective, isn’t just one element, it’s really holistic and it’s really integrated and it’s a really beautiful way of seeing well-being.

Hannah:
Yeah. I love that. Now, I guess, let’s dig into habits in a little bit more detail. We already started talking about the importance of habits, but how really important are they for helping people create a lifestyle that they desire, and coming back to that whole-self health?

Annia:
Hannah, so important. How many times have you said, “Oh, I’m going to try something.” And then, “I’m going to have a new habit.” And then, we get really excited in the beginning and then after some time, things fall apart or we don’t stick to a habit. It’s so common. It’s such a common experience from the perspective of neuroscience. When you look at what’s going on in the cells of our brain and how the different areas of our brain function, it makes a lot of sense. We’re really clear in the beginning, we’re highly motivated, but the thing that starts to happen that helps … Sorry, that impedes us from sticking to good habits to live the life we desire and deserve is this, in today’s day and age, right? Think about it. Everything is instantaneous. Yeah?

Hannah:
Yeah.

Annia:
If you want to know something, Google it. If you want songs, Spotify. If you want food, Uber Eats. Yeah?

Hannah:
Yeah.

Annia:
It’s instant. Everything is instant, which is wonderful in many ways but what tends to happen is there is an expectation that we place that any change in behavioural patterns and thought patterns and how we live, we have an expectation that that’s going to happen really quickly. So, we set ourselves these goals and we say, “This is what I’m going to do. This is what I’m going to do. I’m going to get better at this or I’m going to stick to this class. I’m going to stick to this exercise. I’m going to stick to that.” And then after a while, it falls apart. So, that expectation is the first thing that we need to just remind ourselves and be a bit realistic about it. That things do take time to change.

Annia:
But just because we might not see the changes initially, that does not mean that changes aren’t happening in our neural wiring. So, when you’re practising something like gratitude, mindfulness, exercise, even though straight away, you might not look in the mirror and go, “Oh wow, excellent. This half an hour session works.” We don’t see it, but obviously there are changes happening inside the body. So, if we remind ourselves to have a realistic expectation of the changes we want and the goals we set for ourselves, then that’s going to actually be a really key factor in building those good habits and sustaining them and committing to them.

Annia:
The other really important thing about habit formation when it comes to creating the life we want is, we’re so damn hard on ourselves. When something does go wrong, Hannah, and we’ve been working hard with our habits, let’s say, for example, we’ve been eating really well or we’ve cut out our sugar, or we’ve had a good habit with work or turning off screens at night, or whatever it is. If we slip up because we’re not feeling good that day, a lot of us tend to go to that automatic self-sabotaging, negative headspace, that then all of that dialogue comes in, that, “See, you can’t stick to this habit,” or, “You’re not good enough,” or, “I knew you couldn’t do this,” or, “This isn’t working,” or, “I’m weak.” Or dah, dah, dah.

Annia:
And at the end of the day, that’s something we can all relate to, but the reality is that we are human, and the reality is that we are allowed to have days and weeks and months even where things are challenging and we might not stick to the goals that we’ve set for ourselves and we haven’t had those good habits that we knew we should. But instead of wallowing in that space and becoming quite self-teaching and listening to that negative dialogue, it’s again, about learning how to catch yourself and be aware of those thoughts and then having the skillset to intervene and interject.

Annia:
So, to create a new thought pattern or a new practise that gets you out of that loop, because at the end of the day, we just try our best, everyone tries their best. And when it comes to habit formation, they are key in then setting up behaviours and actions and your entire life. But break it down and understand A, be realistic about what goals you set for yourself and what habits you’re building up to that and B, be really nice to yourself in the process.

Hannah:
Exactly. And we say that so often, particularly in the fitness space, we put pressure on ourselves to … Let’s say, we’re starting a “health kick,” I do this in inverted commas because I’ve done this too. And our health kick has taken us from couch to working out for an hour, five times a week. And if we’re not 100% perfect and we don’t meet that, which is unrealistic from where we’ve come from, anyway, we feel like we’re complete failures.

Annia:
Absolutely.

Hannah:
Yeah. We also, at BurnTheory, we talk about exercise and nutrition, 80/20. You’re not going to be perfect, you’re human.

Annia:
No. And this perfectionism, this contagion of perfectionism, this idea that we have to be perfect, it is a disease almost, Hannah. It’s so unfortunate that so many of us, including myself and many of my clients, we talk about it a lot that there’s this ideal of what perfect is, and that really can get in the way of how we treat ourselves during our habit formation or goal setting, and how hard we can be on ourselves. But I guess where that importance of values comes back, if you’re really clear on the deeper reasons, now, I mean the deepest, awful, psychological, human elements of why you’ve set that goal to do your health kick, that’s where it comes back to.

Annia:
If you can really dig up the real reason of why you want to do this, then no matter if you have one of those days where you slip up or you don’t do, in inverted commas, “perfect work” then at the end of the day if you come back to, “Okay, why am I doing this again? Oh yeah, this is why. This is really why. So, you know what? I’ll get back up tomorrow and I’ll show up again, because this is meaningful to me and it’s not just about the superficial, I want to look a certain way,” which is really important too. Don’t get me wrong. For us, it’s important. It’s okay to celebrate how we look and be proud of wanting to take care of our bodies.

Annia:
But most of the time, if you dig deeper, it’s much more significant than that. It’s about having vitality and freedom, the freedom to put any kind of clothing on and the freedom to run on the beach naked, if you wanted to. The freedom to pick up your children. The freedom to just be, and not have to have so much headspace that gets drained by all of this, how I look and my weight and all of these other body image issues, that I’m sure as you might experience in your field, are quite prevalent. So, it’s really about the core values and they do help with forming habits. So, they’re very strongly aligned.

Hannah:
Yeah. I love that. Now, I know the main cause of people dropping off their health and fitness journey is usually what we hear, “I’m too busy.” In this day and age, I guess, when we are mother, we’re partner, we’re friend, we’re a colleague, we’re a taxi driver, a social events creator, a coordinator, we are a farmer’s market purchaser. And I don’t know, everything else that we are, how do we create balance in our lives, or how can we use habits to help us find balance?

Annia:
I like to encourage people to start thinking about how they prime their day. I think how you start your day has a tremendous effect on how you not only establish, but follow through with some habits that you’re trying to set for yourself. And you’re so right, and there’s not one person I’ve ever met or worked with or spoken to, where the word busy doesn’t come up and that’s just the reality of our life. But I actually feel that there’s a lot of work we can do, and we can change our mindset about how we see ourselves, being busy or not.

Annia:
So yes, it starts I think, with in the morning, set up your routine. You don’t have to be a morning person necessarily, but just think about the first couple of things you do in your day and think about where you can inject a little mini-moment of something that’s quite fulfilling, pleasurable, calm, relaxing, joyful. So, even if that’s something like, go make your favourite cup of tea in the morning and open the door and take some deep breaths in of our beautiful Tazzy, fresh air. Or, it could be having a shower in the morning, but in the shower, just take a moment to open up some nice shampoo or whatever bath stuff you have or shampoo gels or whatever, and just smell them and enjoy them and take a deep breath in.

Annia:
Your morning routine might just include a nice little stretch before you actually get out of bed. You might feel like, “Oh, how is that going to help me find balance?” But remember, every little bit counts, and when we’re looking at rebalancing, it’s unrealistic to interject like, “Okay, you have to do this for half an hour and that will help you balance, and then you’ve got to cut this out and that will help you balance.” No, it’s just about finding moments throughout your day, and particularly in the mornings when you prime your day, to set up a little bit of calm, peace, joy, and pleasure. Doesn’t have to be anything big, find something that matters to you.

Annia:
That’s what I would really encourage people to start off with if they’re trying to seek some more balance, but remember as well, just importantly, about stimulation and what I said about the mindset and the nervous system. If you want to change your mindset and find more balance, please listen to your nervous system, listen to what it needs, and to do that, you might have to shut off a little bit of that external noise. And the noise I’m talking about is, don’t be afraid to take the plunge and turn the TV off, turn the phone off, turn the external noise off.

Annia:
So, if you can replace that with a little bit more nature time, with a little bit more gentle music, with just silence even. A lot of us don’t like that, we’re not used to it, but that’s really important to settle the nervous system again, which is going to create a better sense of being calm, which is going to help you feel in control, which is going to help you feel like you can then get back to your day and feel more balanced with what you’ve got on. But it really does start with how you start your day, and it starts as well, with shutting off all of that unnecessary noise.

Annia:
Because remember, Hannah, the way our brain is taking in information, it’s constant. Our brain is just perceiving, registering, consolidating, analysing constantly. And it’s a lot of load these days because there’s just so much data nonstop, news, constant news, constant feeds, constant posts. So much of that is another layer of something that your brain has to think towards. So, it’s eating up a lot of our headspace and heartspace. So, if you can try to minimise that and instead go out into nature and have a bit of quiet here and there, you’re already doing yourself such a favour to reset the way your brain’s thinking about balance.

Hannah:
Yeah. I love that. And coming down to a little bit of the tough love, I guess, area, sometimes we need some accountability and to be honest, it’s one of the main reasons people do seek us out in our programmes, is to actually have that accountability. So, how do we build in more accountability or learn to love being more accountable?

Annia:
Oh, I love this so much because it comes from personal experience. Hannah, I’ll admit, I hated the word accountability. Hated it. If I heard anyone say that, growing up to me, I would associate accountability with people that were rigid, boring, didn’t have any charisma. Someone who was accountable meant doing the right thing all the time and being obliging all the time, and following up on deadlines on that day, and that wasn’t really me, growing up. And I thought, “I don’t like that. That doesn’t resonate with me.”

Annia:
But here’s the funny part, because I associated that word with so many negative connotations, no wonder I was stopping myself from giving any chance to be accountable in a way that meant something to me, which then blocked me from being successful and being the person I wanted to be. Because if I just wanted to see myself as one type, who wasn’t accountable, and I saw myself as more free flowing and creative and, oh, just do that whenever. But I realised, hang on a minute, but if I’m not accountable for following up my work, if I’m not accountable for making sure things are done, when they need to be done, and I’m not accountable, then that’s not letting me live the life I want to be living. That’s not allowing me to feel like, oh, actually I feel really good about myself because I’ve earned the right for my life, in a sense.

Annia:
Anyway, so to cut a long story short, I realised, okay, mindset, it’s all about the association. What associations have I given the word accountability? And instead, how can I reframe it? So, when I started to look at accountability, I did a little mind map and wrote, “Accountability,” on a piece of paper and I drew lines outside of it and I put down words that were related to my values. So, I put down freedom, I put down gratitude, I put down adventure. And I thought, if I’m more accountable with my life, that leaves me more time, money, love resources, for adventure. And then, I started to see, hang on a minute, this is good, this is working.

Annia:
So look, in essence, we need to start changing the frame through which we view accountability. It’s not a bad word. It’s not something that we have to do, that’s obligatory. Let’s start seeing it as something that we get to do. It’s not that I have to be accountable for my life. It’s, oh my goodness, I get to be accountable for my life. Isn’t that a privilege? That’s a joy. I get to wake up every day and put work into what matters to me. I get to follow through with my habits. I get to put my goals out there. I get to achieve them. I get to do this. And you know what’s so good about getting to do that? At the end of the day, if you learn to love to be accountable for what you do, the inner work that you put in and that you’re accountable for, no one ever, ever can take that away from you. You’ve earned it. You’ve earned it, and you’ve put love and energy and care into being accountable for the kind of person that you really want to be in this life.

Annia:
And that is tremendous because like I said before, this day’s all about instant reward, we get instant gratification. We put a picture up and we get instant comments and likes, but in this case, being accountable for yourself and doing that inner work where maybe no one else really sees but you, even though it feels like it’s hard work, oh, it is so much more rewarding, so much more. And all of our listeners know that, we know that when we put the effort and time into something and we learn to celebrate it and we can see that we’re making progress with it, that is super rewarding for us.

Annia:
So, it is about just reframing how we see accountability and changing the way of looking at it as, I have to, or I should, or I better be accountable. No, it’s, you’ve got the privilege to be accountable for your life. You’ve got the privilege to be accountable for your health and wellbeing. Isn’t that amazing? You’ve got a body that works. You’ve got a mind that can think for itself. You’ve got will. You’ve got freedom. We get to be accountable.

Hannah:
Yeah. I love that, and it makes so much sense. And so, for my ladies, instead of seeing, I have to go to a challenge or I have to have a challenge because I need the accountability, the external accountability, to be able to exercise or to be able to stick to something. And a lot of the time we see people that drop off or they have to come back to us in three or four months time because they’ve lost their mojo and lost their motivation. And it’s not to say that this is going to happen immediately, but just changing how you frame or how you look at accountability too, it’s not an external thing, or external can help you get kicked started.

Annia:
Yes.

Hannah:
It’s a privilege to be accountable and to be able to move your body. It’s a privilege to be able to exercise and to feel healthy and fit and strong, even if at the time you’re hating us for making you do that extra hill sprint.

Annia:
Absolutely. Absolutely. Not to sound condescending in any way, I say this from a place of love all the time, but my goodness, if you just found out the next day that you don’t have much longer on this magnificent earth, with all the beautiful people that you love and care for, you would do everything in your power to get out of your house and go to that class, and go and see people and go and take action. There would be this fire within you that would ignite, and you would realise, oh, actually I don’t have to do anything, I want to. I want to do these things. These things matter to me.

Annia:
So, it’s really important to come back to that space sometimes and have a little gentle kick up the butt, give it to yourself. Just be like, “Hang on a minute. I don’t have to go and have to go to that class. I don’t need someone to tell me what to do, but why am I doing this again? Values. It’s important to me. I do want to be that person that I know I can be.” It just takes a little consistency, habit, and all of those things that we’ve talked about. And maybe a good psychologist or a mindset coach to give you that kick up the butt, if you can’t give it to yourself.

Hannah:
Exactly. And what a perfect segue, because how can our listeners get in touch with you?

Annia:
I’m very personal, I enjoy getting calls and messages and emails. So, you can contact me in whatever way suits you, but my email address and contact details are on my website. So, that’s at remindyourself.com. But yeah, my phone number’s on there, so give me a call. My email’s on there, and my Instagram is just @AnniaBaron, A-N-N-I-A B-A-R-O-N.

Hannah:
Amazing. Well, thank you so much for joining us. It’s a topic I’m sure you and I could literally speak about for years. We could do a podcast every day, for a whole year, and we probably wouldn’t even get to even a quarter of this topic.

Annia:
Very true. There’s so much to explore.

Hannah:
Exactly. No, look, I really appreciate your time and I’m sure the listeners have got so much out of it. So, thank you so much for joining us.

Annia:
Hannah, it’s an absolute honour and a pleasure. Thank you so much for having me.

Hannah:
And until next time, guys have a wonderful rest of your day and we’ll catch you later.

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