41 days ago I started on a quest to cultivate a new habit: to eat a healthy diet that will stick with me for the rest of my life. Is that even possible, I wondered? I didn’t want to go on a ‘diet’ and count calories– it is so cliché to be an almost 40-mom trying to get in shape. But I was tired of my thick midsection, tired of my frumpy clothes, tired of feeling tired. More than anything I was tired of thinking about food. I was tired of thinking about my relationship with it. I was tired of thinking about being “bad’ with some Chinese food or being ‘good’ with some carrot sticks. I was tired of trying to fit myself into a Paleo box, or a cleaning eating box, or no-carb box. When did eating become so judgy? I am good at overthinking things that bother me; food is no exception.
This time however, it was more than a diet. It was more than just losing weight. It was more than just exercising regularly. But I knew that if I threw the term ‘lifestyle change’ out there one more time, I was going to start losing some Facebook friends. So in the rare spirit of not over-sharing, I’ve kept more or less mum on my diet/lifestyle change/ new habit. Now that I’ve reached 41 out of 66 days, I do want to do a check in.
Why 66 days? Science tells us that it takes 66 days to establish a new habit. This seems about right, since most my attempts at diets/lifestyle changes/exercise regimes/ writing schedules/you-name-it fizzle after about three weeks (the much touted 21 day mark). Committing to something for three months though – that kinda scared me – in a good way. I knew from past experience exactly what I was up against. I knew my initial enthusiasm would wane and old cravings would come back. I knew that I could exercise hard and feel great three days in a row, only to want to lie dormant on the couch (with a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos) on Day 4. My inner-self has no rhyme or reason when it comes to eating and exercising. I just had to accept it and figure out how to deal with it.
Enter Jack Canfield (who is not, sadly, paying me to endorse him) and his Successful Principles. I love a good a self-help book and JC is great. Being too cheap to buy the book, I listened to the Success Principles on YouTube and signed up for JC’s 10 Day Transformation course.
The best take away from the course was an exercise called Transform Your Excuses into Action. You list the changes you want to make (Lose weight) with the excuses that have been holding you back: I have no self control/ I don’t have time to cook healthy meals that taste really good.
Next you have to assess the role that you have played in causing the undesirable situation: I don’t take the time to prep healthy meals, and I don’t budget enough money for healthy groceries each week, and I don’t try to learn many new healthy recipes, I get bored doing the same exercise over and over.
Finally you write out what you are going to do to change the situation: Increase my vegetable consumption to ½ too ¾ of each meal, add weight training for variety, make healthy foods a priority on the grocery list, try out at least four new recipes a month.
Taking ownership of why I wasn’t able to get the results I wanted was so incredibly liberating. It is much easier to wallow in self-pity, or even self-loathing, than to stand up and do something about it.
More than half way to my goal of 66 days, I feel like I am right where I should be. There have been some setbacks and some “bad” days (more on those in another post), but right now I am happy with my progress. I eat better than I ever have, I’ve lost some weight, my relationship with food is better, I am better at being mindful when I do eat. There are still 25 days to go and I am excited to see where I am at on April 23. More importantly I am excited to see where I will be, long after my 66 days are up.
Do You Have Any New Habits?