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Establishing Powerful Habits- Designing Your Identity ft. Monica Thibodeau

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When we want to be disciplined in something, we need to be creating an environment in which it’s easy to be disciplined.

Monica Thibodeau


Monica Thibodeau

 Our guest this week is a National Board Certified Health and Wellness coach and has worked within the corporate wellness field for 6 years. She studied Clinical Exercise Science at Grand Valley State University and recently started her own private health coaching company, The Habit of Health. Monica Thibodeau works with people just like you, one on one, to effectively use your habits to take your health to the next level with minimal effort. Monica is a helper, hiker, dog lover, sunset watcher, and the self-proclaimed Habit Queen.

Find Monica on

  • Instagram & TikTok- @monicathibs

Direct link to Monica’s scheduling calendar for coaching-

Episode Highlights

“We tell ourselves the damaging stories throughout our lives, like I’m not a morning person or I’m messy so I don’t make my bed and these beliefs form our habits. What comes out of our mouths, comes into our life.”- Monica Thibodeau

In coaching the first thing we talk about are beliefs because “beliefs are the foundation for your habits”, explains Monica. She believes your deep rooted limiting beliefs are what’s holding you back. What do you believe about yourself that doesn’t feel good, feels heavy, negative, that you want to get rid of? You can let go of any belief, it just takes some awareness, exploration and intention to kick it to the curb. 

When it comes to behavior change, start by asking yourself, “who do I want to be?” Get clear on the vision of who you want to be and detach from the outcome (i.e. I want to be this weight, I want to run a marathon). Monica explains that outcomes are just things and that it’s more compelling to attach to the type of person who does these things. The key is forming a new identity around these things. “Your identify needs to be able to change and continually adapt”, Monica argues. 

The first step is to peel back the layers and ask yourself what do I want? From there ask yourself where do I need to start? And the most crucial part- find your why. Why is this important to you? Monica believes that the key to overcoming your barriers is to start with your beliefs. You don’t want to wake up at 5 am, but you want to be a morning person- what would a morning person do? If you want to become that type of person, you need to identify and get specific on that type of person, Monica explained. You need to ask yourself, “what habits does this person I want to become, do?”. Monica also explained that, “our brain is always going to do its best to not contradict itself… if you start to tell yourself things, even if you don’t believe them to be 100% true, chances are you’re going to get there.”

Monica argues that it’s important to note that “forming any new habit will feel uncomfortable at first. When something feels unnatural or uncomfortable it’s you learning years and years of this past identity, past behavior. Let go of the all or nothing mindset.” Monica encourages us to approach anything new from a place of curiosity and to not beat yourself up when something doesn’t work. Give yourself some grace. Your identity is always changing/evolving and when you know that this is an ever evolving process, it takes the pressure off. Start with the least amount of effort required and just do a little baby step first, explains Monica. Figure out what works for you by approaching it as an experiment. You’re not committing for the rest of your life, you’re just experimenting for a week or 2 and then reflecting on how it went.

Monica is a firm believer that the most successful people are the ones with the best habits. She believes that the key to effortless sustained success lies within your habits. You can’t rely on motivation, it’s unreliable, Monica explains. “When we rely on our habits, we’re relying on an automatic response that we’ve created, we’re putting the power in our hands”, says Monica. It’s empowering vs. limiting, she further explained. Monica believes that we don’t need more motivation, we just need some momentum. Just do something, just start. “Habits are the key to outsmarting motivation- we give motivation too much power”, Monica argues.

She explains that “the difference between power, disciple and motivation is rooted in addressing your habits… Motivation is simply a desire to do something… Get clear on how do you want to feel because motivation comes when your clear on your why… Ask yourself, are my actions getting me to what I desire?… Stop looking, you have this within yourself…” Willpower and discipline go hand in hand, Monica believes. She compares them to a muscle. We use our willpower and disciple from the minute we wake up and by the end of the day they’re fatigued. This is why it’s so important to do new and uncomfortable things (like building a new habit, doing a new behavior) first thing in the morning when our willpower and discipline muscles are fresh.  When it comes to strengthening those muscles, Monica encourages us to think about our environment. We must put ourselves in the right environment to be successful. “If you’re in a committed relationship you’re not going to be at the bar every night surrounded by honeys”, she argues.

Bare minimum foundational behaviors

Your bare minimum foundational behaviors are the things you need to be doing to keep you at your best. These are the things you could do even on your hardest day, explains Monica. For example, getting enough water, eating a vegetable, and moving your body. These are things that just doing them every day is going to be enough to get you to feel good physically and mentally. Monica believes that having your foundational behaviors in place will allow you to stay on track, specifically when your traveling and your environment gets switched up. Take for instance when you’re in a new environment, like traveling. If you know you’re going to be traveling, you can be prepared and ask yourself, “how can I make sure I’m going to have water with me?” The key is to be prepared. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. And when you do fall off track, give yourself grace. Monica argues that we change when we feel good, not when we feel bad, so guilt and shame aren’t helping us out. She also believes that when we beat ourselves up about what we did or didn’t do, we slip back into limiting beliefs.

So how do we overcome the guilt and shame? Monica encourages that in these moments, to simply reflect of what happened, ask your why it happened and moving forward what you can control to help it not happen again. And then to move on because we’re human.

Monica’s Strategies for Momentum

  1. Just freaking start– count down from 3 and move.
  2. Create a 5 minute rule, 2 minute rule or whatever minute rule works for you to get started. Tell yourself you’re going to do that thing (i.e. run) for a certain amount of time and give yourself permission to stop once the time is up (James Clear).
  3. Shrink a behavior down– make it tiny. If your goal is to run a marathon, start with running a mile (BJ Fogg).
  4. Scale it back– just do the first step. Go for a run- 1st step is to put on your workout clothes and running shoes (BJ Fogg). When it comes to gaining momentum and just starting, scale back your behavior to a micro step. Make your first step so small that it’s nearly impossible to fail at.

Habit Loop- 

Step 1. Cue/Prompt- all behaviors start with a reminder. Your environment is made up of visual cues, which are the most compelling type of cue. Monica believes that the more you set up visual cues in your environment, the better you will be (i.e. putting your workout clothes out the night before).

Step 2. Behavior- first you see the cue, then you act on it.

Step 3. Reward- Most rewards are delayed (i.e. you’re not going to eat a salad and lose weight immediately) so we need rewards to keep us going and motivated to reach the desired outcome. In the moment, we have to do something that makes us feel good. Our brain craves feeling good. When we celebrate the small wins, our brain notices that we’re feeling good and wants more of it. This is positive reinforcement- “Oh I feel good when I do this, let’s keep doing it.” Your celebration can be anything- an accountability partner, say it out loud or in your mind how great you are, smile, or dance. Figure out what type of celebration works for you- you need to do something that makes you feel good. The more you do this, the more you are wiring that behavior into your head, so that it becomes a habit.

“The answer is within your habits. You don’t need to find this magical pot of motivation to get to where you want to be. Take a deeper look into your habits and I promise it will pay off.” – Monica Thibodeau


Do your habits reflect the quality of life you want to live? Andrea and Brooke brought in National Board Certified Health & Wellness Coach and the self-proclaimed Habit Queen, Monica Thibodeau, to discuss the power of habits and why they are the key to outsmarting motivation. Exploring your habits and the type of person you want to be goes hand in hand. In this episode, Gold Ivy and Monica define willpower, motivation, discipline, and the glue that keeps them all together- our habits. Join in on the conversation that will leave you reflecting on your identity and the habits that will align with the life you want to live. 

Behind-the-Scenes Video

3 Gold Stars

1. Get real about what is distracting you and then limit those things in your life.

2. Learn how to hype yourself the *bleep* up.

3.  Be mindful about what you’re getting out of the process.

Ivy Reflections

  • What is one habit you would like to create for yourself? Name your first small step.

  • Reflect on a limiting self belief you have. What would it take for the opposite to be true?

  • Write down a potential barrier that could stand in your way of achieving a current goal you have and what you can control to help overcome it.

Piece of Gold

Shift your focus to the TYPE OF PERSON you want to be instead of the THINGS you want to do.

Monica Thibodeau

Healing Food of the Week-

Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts are high in fiber, an excellent source of folic acid, vitamin C and A, and contain numerous cancer-fighting phytochemicals. 

Healing Properties: They are a vegetable that promotes bowel regularity and prevents colon cancer. 

Fun Fact: Brussels sprouts get their name from the location of their first discovery- Brussels, Belgium.

Let’s Get Cooking!

 Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Bacon and Balsamic on a white serving platter with a gold serving spoon.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Balsamic 



Tiny Habits: The Small Changes That Change Everything: Fogg Ph.D, BJ:  9780358003328: Books

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We thank you for joining us in the fearless pursuit of self-discovery and growth and hope that you transform our lessons into your gold. 

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Listen to your truth and go chase your gold.

– Gold Ivy Health Co.

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