The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines a habit as an acquired mode of behaviour that has become nearly or completely involuntary.  Examples of good habits that benefit physical or mental health are regular exercise, a good work life balance and eating a balanced diet.  Bad habits that have a detrimental effect on physical or mental health include smoking, not taking enough exercise and drinking too much alcohol.  Scientists have estimated that we each have up to 80,000 thoughts per day, up to 95% of our behaviour is automatic and beyond conscious awareness so we are only truly aware of 5% of these thoughts.  

Psychologists describe a habit as any regularly repeated behaviour that requires little or no thought and is learned rather than innate. A habit forms a link between a stimulus and a response. It serves as a mental connection between a trigger thought or event (stimulus) and our response to that trigger (the response).  Habits are developed and learnt through repetition which reinforces the behaviour which affects subsequent decisions and actions.  One of the most well-known examples of habit forming (classical conditioning) was demonstrated by Pavlov’s dogs. The dogs learnt to associate a sound with food and started to salivate when they heard the sound whether they were subsequently given food or not.  Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to reorganise itself and make new nerve connections called neurons which enable us to learn new processes and habits.  It is similar to training a muscle the more exercise you do to work a muscle the stronger it gets. The more often you carry out a new habit the more new connections you make as your brain rewires itself to learn and remember new habits.

HBI programmes work by coaching participants to gradually replace bad habits with healthy habits.  HBI has been shown to be a reliable way to break old habits and develop new good habits.

The Sum Sanos™ programme  (I am healthy) https://www.sumsanos.com/ is an evidence-based long term weight loss and life transformation coaching programme developed by Dr Gina Cleo at Bond University https://www.sumsanos.com/#gina  Participants that have followed the Sum Sanos programme have achieved and maintained long term weight loss and wellness.  Whilst the programme is focused on successful weight management, the techniques learnt during the programme can be applied by participants to other areas of their lives e.g. general wellbeing, fitness, healthy lifestyle, confidence, giving up smoking etc.

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