Episode 80: [Q&A] 50/50 Habits

You’re listening to The Work Of Becoming podcast! My name is Dr. Karin Nordin. I am your host as well as a behavior change expert and self-proclaimed tornado girl. I spent years of my life struggling to change before I finally got my PhD and learned the psychological tools that I needed to actually make those changes happen. Now, I’m bringing you five-minute sneak peeks of how I’m applying the real science of self-help to my life. Let’s get started!

Good morning, y’all! Welcome to today’s episode of The Work Of Becoming podcast, which is a really exciting one! It is going to be the first of a Q&A series. So, in the show notes, I have now linked a form that you can fill out. So, if you have questions about anything that I’ve mentioned on the podcast or, essentially, if you have requests of things you want me to cover in future episodes, you can submit that form, and at least once a month I’m gonna do at least one episode where I come in and I talk through some of those Q+A questions.

I will say keep in mind that I do not do direct instruction on this podcast. So, I am not teaching you what behavior change concepts are or how to apply specific behavior change concepts in your life in this podcast. This podcast is about me. It is supposed to be an example that you can look to of how it looks to have a behavior change knowledge and to embark on a journey of improving those skills and what that actually looks like in someone’s life. If you want to learn the science that I’m basing all of my decisions off of, if you want to learn the actual processes that I’m following and the tools that I’m using, then you need to join Change Academy.

So, with that out of the way, I’m gonna do our first question!

So, this question is from S, and she says: 

“How do you approach a habit that has great value and is helpful but also really bad sides, like a 50/50 thing? For example, tracking steps for me. Good side: really motivated to moving more, the house is cleaner, I love tracking stuff. Bad side: obsession with looking at the number, difficulty to concentrate when I forget the tracker, neglecting strength training or stretches.”

So, in this case, the first thing, honestly, that comes to my mind is that I don’t really have habits like this. For me, I don’t think that I can pinpoint something that I have tried to implement in my life that had a 50/50 scenario. I know, at one point, tracking was that for me. So, tracking my food was that for me, and whenever I tracked my food I got really obsessive over what I was putting in my mouth, and I kind of was in an on or off mentality. So, I was either on (I was tracking my food, I was eating super, super healthy) or I was off (I was no longer tracking my food, and I was not eating a vegetable for days, going crazy on the weekends, that type of stuff).

Anytime that you have a reaction like that to a particular habit, like anytime a habit triggers any sort of obsessive tendencies, number one, that’s something that you would want to take to therapy. Number two, if it’s possible to avoid that thing, just avoid it. So, if I had a habit that was like if I was obsessive about my step tracker in a way that I thought was negatively impacting my life, I simply wouldn’t use that as a habit. I simply wouldn’t use that as a method of tracking.

For me, when I did have that obsession with tracking, what I did was I enrolled in therapy and I enrolled in nutrition coaching, and I specifically worked with a nutrition coach who I talked to her about that. I was like, “Hey, listen. I want to track because I want to make these body composition changes, but I don’t want to be on this off-and-on rollercoaster all the time,” and she was like, “Okay.” And so, she actually helped me, over the course of several months, get to a point where my relationship with tracking has changed. One of the things that she had me do — which I’ll include because I loved — but she was like, “I need you to at least eat 30% of your calories from what you consider to be junk food.” She’s like, “I want a list of all of the things that you have mental biases against.” And so, I wrote down all the diet culture-y stuff that I had learned (this was years ago, by the way) like, “Oh, bread is bad for you. Donuts are bad for you. Cookies are bad for you.” And then she was like, “Okay, I want to see one or multiple of these foods in your diet every single day.”

And so, that completely transformed my relationship with tracking, and now, I track my food pretty much all the time. I mean, I can stop if I want to, if I don’t feel like it. If I’m on vacation, whatever, I don’t do it, but for the most part, I track because I have no mental drama about it.

So, the answer is if I have a habit that is 50/50, I make one of two decisions. One, I let it go, I decide it’s not the right habit for me, or, number two, I make a strategic decision to get support with whatever the bad side is of that habit so that I can work through it and I can cultivate a new and happier and healthier relationship with that particular behavior.

That is today’s episode! If you have questions, please go ahead and submit the form via the link in the description in the show notes, and I’m excited to do more of these episodes in the future! 

PS: if you are on a journey to become a better you, and you want to learn the tools and techniques that will actually help change your life, make sure you check out my Change Academy Membership. Each month, we do a 1.5-hour workshop on a different psychological topic, but we also provide resources like journal prompts, worksheets, and trackers. We host community events and more. If you’re struggling to close the gap between knowing what to do and actually doing it, this membership was built for you. Go to www.karinn4.sg-host.com/change-academy to learn more!


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Hi, I'm Karin

I’m a funfetti flavor super-fan, a loving dog mom, a PhD expert in mindset and behavior change… and I’m here to help make personal development and transformation a process that’s actually fun.


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