Implementing new habits


A few months ago, I turned 47 and I noticed things started to go south. It feels like like my body is slowly breaking down. See, I have never developed a habit of working out regularly and I think I am now starting to pay for it…

One of the areas I have been working on with my coach is getting a handle on my health and I’ve made significant progress. To be honest, I’ve never enjoyed working out and I’ve never been patient about waiting for the results and I lose steam. However, I’ve been working out in the mornings about 3-4 times a week regularly for the past 3 months. This is the first time ever in my life I have been this consistent. But, I also feel like I am in a constant battle to keep my new habit. Little things throw me off. For example, my boyfriend came to visit me the last three weeks and it was scary how quickly I gave into my old habits one more. I feel like I have to start from scratch. That means 5 am will come really fast tomorrow morning 🙂

As I was thinking about why I was slipping back I remembered a book I read a few months ago called The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. Here are some of the things that struck me as I re-read through the passages I highlighted:

For habits to permanently change, we must believe that change is feasible

I got this one covered. When I look back at the changes I have already made, I know change is possible. What I am still working on is making the habits and the changes stick.

Unless you deliberately fight a habit – unless you find new routines – the pattern will unfold automatically

That makes sense to me. I think this is a battle I will have to fight for as long as I have developed new routines that are so well engrained into my daily life, that nothing can throw me off. I find that lately, I fall back into my habit of looking for reasons why or why not. There should be no such option. I should just do because I know how good it feels when I do.

To change a habit, you must keep the old cue, and deliver the old reward, but insert a new routine

My old cue: not working out
My old reward: well… as I’m thinking about it, I’m having a hard time thinking what could have been my reward. I guess the old reward could be that I derived (on some level) a certain level of satisfaction at not working out. I didn’t sweat. I didn’t have to struggle through the workout. I suppose my reward was feeling comfortable. I traded the immediate comfort for the long-term benefit of not being winded and being stronger physically, emotionally and mentally.
My new routine, I have one in place: waking up at 5 am to get my workout done and out of the way. I may not enjoy it yet, but I do enjoy the benefits:

  • I am creating a new future for myself
  • It gives me energy
  • I feel accomplished when I’m done
  • I am more in control of my food
  • I don’t have to worry about it the rest of the day
  • It helps me control my weight
  • I feel disciplined, proud, capable and like I can do anything
  • I’m going to look great
  • It helps me wake up
  • I get to see beautiful sunrises
  • I feel more confident
  • I’ll be able to get a new wardrobe
  • It reduces my aches and pains

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