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Sustainable Habit Change

The beginning of change is building skills and habits you can use in your everyday life.

Sustainable and simple habit: Drink a glass of water every morning before anything else.

My name's Caitlyn Lynzee Harbottle, and I am a certified nutrition coach. You can call me Coach Lynzee. My job is to make food and dietary choices accessible to anyone who is tired of diet systems that refuse to deal with the underlying issues that cause them to eat the way that they do. I coach habit change.

When we talk about habit change in reference to food and eating, we are talking about a lifetime of behaviors developed and shaped by our environment, experiences, and emotional response to all of these. Our habits are a product of us, and we are a product of our habits. In real terms, our choices to live where we live, drive a specific route home, shop in certain places, and buy specific foods are all driven by the habits we have developed and are the emotional response we have developed through our life experiences. I am going to come right out and say something that may really upset some people: this is the key reason why diet or eating systems do not work on principal; no two people are the same. We all have different experiences in life that have lead us to where we are presently. Now, there may be some persons that have exceptional resolve and can stick to a program found in a book over the course of years, but how are they maintaining that routine? If it is an obsession or a tool that they are using to manage a form of damage, then the diet plan has now become the disordered behavior. The difference between intuitively eating well and using a published eating system is the ability to think for yourself and listen to your body and emotions with the element of self aware accountability. Following a book may be helpful for some people, but the empowerment that comes with thinking for yourself is life long, and that is what sustainable habit change does.

This is where I could talk about how hard it is to change our dietary routine for the better and actually make it stick, but most people that have ever had something bad happen to them know exactly how emotions take over and we feel like bingeing on something or we feel the need to control every last calorie that goes into our bodies. This emotional response triggers disordered eating patterns, and if the emotional trigger is not dealt with, a person can end up with a serious eating disorder like anorexia or bulimia.

Let's use an example: One client of mine had a problem with eating junk food in massive quantities (5,000 to 6,000 calories in one sitting). Instead of focusing on that “mountain” of a problem, I introduced a slight change in that routine—water. We developed a new habit for him of drinking water before bed and in the morning, and very soon, his junk food habit had shrunk by 75 percent without so much as one craving. This is a sustainable change because even if he does go back to his old ways of eating, which he did on a few occasions, the sickness that followed immediately reminded him of the new habit. He can now enjoy a dessert bowl of ice cream and not feel the need to eat the whole carton. So what was his trigger? That is confidential. However, I can say to deal with the trigger involves a lot of talking, identifying emotions, and retraining the pattern. He has seen tremendous improvement, but he is still working with me as a client. This type of lifelong behaviour isn't changed overnight. It takes time, diligence, and accountability.

If you are having problems with making permanent changes in your diet, it might not be your fault. Start with a small, positive change in your eating routine, and see how the rest of your daily pattern is affected. 

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Sustainable Habit Change
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