How to Make a New Health Behavior Part of Your Identity

Has anyone ever told you: “You are what you eat.”?

Is this really true? Will you literally look like the guy in this video if you eat poorly? Likely not – but there is some truth to this saying…

As Aristotle so famously said: 

Motivational Quote by Aristotle: "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act but a habit."

This cycle describes the cyclical nature of mindset, behavior, habit, and results and how these influence a person's identity.We are what we repeatedly do… This means that our habits, (yes, even our health habits) are part of our identity.  Identity is who you are as a person.

In a previous post, we reviewed the cyclical interaction of mindset, behavior, habit, and results. Let’s complete this diagram by adding the term “Identity” to the middle as is suggested by Aristotle’s above quote.

So if our behaviors are such a big part of who we are as a person, what do you want your behaviors to say about you?

Your identity is who you are as a person - like a fingerprint - your behaviors are a unique part of who you are. What behaviors do you want to define you?

Below are just a few examples of how healthy habits can be part of a person’s identity:

  • I am a healthy eater.
  • I am a runner/dancer/hiker/yogi/health nut.
  • I am confident in my own skin.
  • I am the kind of person who takes care of my body.
  • I am the kind of person that never misses a workout.

Complete the following activity to reflect on the identity you would like to adopt in terms of your health and fitness behaviors.

Table to be used to reflect on what health/fitness habits you would like to become part of your identity

Using Self-Reevaluation to Stick to Your Goals

The activity you just competed is known as self-reevaluation. It is a strategy that can help us to shift our mindsets in order to make a change.

Self-reevaluation helps us think of ourselves in a different way. It helps us remember that our behaviors are part of who we are, and can help us stick to the ones we want to make a part of ourselves.

For example – next time you are faced with a decision about whether to do your workout, or you are faced with a temptation – such as that ice cream cone on a hot day – ask yourself: “Is this consistent with the identity I want to adopt?”

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