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When does something become a habit?

Friday, February 15, 2013

I know that people say you have to do something consistently 21 times in a row for it to become a habit, but does that apply to exercise? Diet changes? Because I feel really good about where I'm at and what I'm doing, but each morning I still have a moment of thinking it would be easier to go back to my old habits.

For me, I think when I've lost 10% of my weight, then I'll know I'm really doing this. Right now I'm down 16 pounds, 10% is 30ish. I'm still not weighing myself except on Sunday, and this week I am going to have six days of working out, which is great! Last night I did the recumbent bike instead of the treadmill, to see if it bothered my back any less than walking was earlier this week. I also found that I worked harder on the bike, and lots more sweating, which I think is good. Plus I got to read my book, so it was a win-win.

The best part of Valentine's Day this year is that I didn't eat any sweets. No candy, no cookies, no cupcakes, nothing. And it wasn't that hard. I also have some colleagues who are super supportive of my efforts, and they won't even offer those kinds of things to me, and when there is a lot of temptation around, they aren't offended if I don't stick around. That alone feels amazing! Plus they are starting to think they should make some of the same changes. One is trying to cut back on soda, and another is working on cutting back on sweets. They even come to me to confess their guilt when they give in to a craving.

A weird thing happened yesterday though when I mentioned not having had any sweets to a friend. They encouraged me to give in sometimes. But why? Just because it's Valentine's Day? I'd rather save those treats for days when I'm out with friends, or traveling, but not just another work day. Is it possible that I'm being too strict about my food choices? I have no idea. I just know that I have found something that is working for me. I will have to continue to branch out with foods, and I know that I'll be challenged in the future, but while I am at home and have control over my food, I'm not going to give in to any cravings or temptations just because it's Tuesday or something. That was my old way of dealing with life. Not any more.

Happy Friday everyone!!
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  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CHENRY1173 2/18/2013 5:58PM

  I totally agree with your statement about eating a treat just because it's Tuesday! Good for you! You're doing great!

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NEWRUNNER2 2/16/2013 3:48PM

    Thanks so much for your GREAT post! It sounds like you're on the right track!

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Speaking for myself on the "habits" issue, I agree that doing something over and over again many times makes many things become much *more* automatic. However, that doesn't mean that they're completely automatic. For example, I've been counting calories consistently for a couple years and I still have to decide every morning whether I'll follow the habit or let it go.

Regarding being "strict" or not about the chocolate, it seems more like you've chosen to "save" those things for something really special. I think there's a big difference. You've made the choice to be careful about what you eat on the days that you can. You've also realized that there will be special days when you'll make other choices and you're good with that.

And by the way, your supportive friends seem extremely awesome! Thank them for me.

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DALID414 2/15/2013 3:51PM

    I've heard the #21 thing too, but it's more like 21 days.
I don't think you're being too strict, you're changing the way you think about certain foods. If eating them just because isn't worth it to you, it isn't being strict, it's being smart. A friend of mine would say 'No thanks, I know what it tastes like' to sweets and foods she was staying away from. Do what works.

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JACARD 2/15/2013 12:05PM

  Oh, and on the habits point -- I have a hard time with that idea. I can do the same thing every day for 4 months but when life happens that habit flies right out the window and I need to do all the work all over again to get back there. Not just food -- all sorts of other healthy habits as well. Doing it for a while makes each day easier but it does not make it my default.

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JACARD 2/15/2013 12:04PM

  I wouldn't say you're being too strict. I fully agree -- save the treats for when they count -- not just because the calendar says a certain date.

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