“What you crave is not the habit itself but the change in state that it delivers”James Clear (Atomic Habits)
I’ve just started reading the book Atomic Habits by James Clear. I came across this line in chapter 3 and I stopped dead in my tracks. That understanding for me is what enabled me to give up smoking and to begin and sustain an intermittent fasting lifestyle. This week it has been 7 years since I gave up smoking and I have officially lost 5kg’s and dropped a dress size in less than 2 months. Both achievements required a change in mindset in order to effect a change in habits and achieve a desired change in state.
In order to change my mindset, I asked myself: “what did I do before I developed the habit?”. The reality is that I didn’t always smoke and I wasn’t always fat. I realised that I had started smoking for a particular reason but the habit embedded itself for very different reasons. Reasons and beliefs that I created that actually were not true. I just used them to justify my behavior. The same is true for why I have remained fat for the last 6-7 years. The fact of the matter was that I wasn’t always this way and I didn’t have to be this way any more. Once I acknowledged and accepted that, I was well on my way to kicking my bad habits to the curb!
Let me not lie, I still find losing weight harder than giving up smoking. That desire to snack is way harder to kick than the desire to smoke. I thought I loved smoking but my love for smoking was nothing compared to my love for snacking. The truth of the matter is that I was never a snacker when I was thin. I became a snacker because I wanted to emulate the behaviors I read about in magazines. I wanted to be able to say that chocolate and wine was my “fix” in times of stress for example. Reading a book used to be my fix and it worked perfectly for me but noooo, I had to fix what wasn’t broken because I wanted to be someone I wasn’t, and it got me fat and unhealthy.
I am happy to report that I have gone back to reading as my fix. I am in my happy place when I have a book open in front of me. I am in my happy place when I am learning and “exploring” through books. I don’t need anyone in that space and I don’t need snacks or cigarettes there either. I am blissfully me. Now if only I can remember how I used to occupy myself while thinking and working before I developed the habit of snacking. Maybe I just chewed on a pencil 🤷🏽♀️. What is that change in state that snacking delivers that I crave? I’m sure I will crack it soon enough. Maybe the rest of the book “Atomic Habits” will help.
At the end of the dusty day, I guess it’s quite clear that I developed bad habits trying to be someone that I am not. Why? It never occurred to me that I was perfect as I was. I didn’t appreciate those moments when I was happy and kept trying to create a cooler version of myself that I thought people would love more. Well that hasn’t worked😜. So I am going back to being me. To doing the things I have always loved and tough noogies for those who think it’s uncool. I love me! In the words of Susan Cain:
“The key to everything: give yourself permission to be who you really are.”
Well there you have it. I started writing about changing habits and ended with a declaration of love for myself. Lol! In all serious though, how many habits have you developed trying to be someone that you are not just because society made you feel like the “original“ you was uncool? Give yourself permission to be who you really are. Who knows, some of those bad habits might just fall away of their own accord. Besides, you are cool as you are.
Let me get back to my book. Thanks for meandering down this lane with me. I hope it helped you unpack some things about yourself and why you do the things you do like it did for me. Stay grounded. TTFN