Habits – To Be or Not To Be

Creating a system to implement new habits has fascinated me for a long time. I think I have found the answer for me…

I am fascinated by habits. I am curious about how we create them and more importantly, how we make them stick. My fascination started 9 years ago when I became a non-smoker and was I was given a copy of “The Power of Habit” by Charles Durhigg. This was where I first leaned about keystone habits. Keystone habits are rountines/habits that lead to other actions because of them. As an example, exercise is often a keystone habit as it can lead to a change in eating habits and sleep routines.

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True behavior change is identity change.

James Clear (Atomic Habits)

I have been on a quest to become healthier for a while now and to be a writer. But I suspect that therein lies the problem. “Being on a quest to”, “trying”, “attempting to” – all of these thought processes never actually get you there. I have actually cut the word “try” out of my vocabulary. There is no such thing. Either you do or you don’t. So my word for 2022 is “Action”. I act and I do. Oh and the word healthier is probably part of the problem. Either I am living a healthy lifestyle or I’m not. I’m sure you can see where I am going with this.

The thing is that in order to become, you first have to be rather than become first in order to be. In other words , you have to tell yourself that you already are so that you take on the behaviour of that which you aspire to be. So in order to adopt healthy habits, I have to keep telling myself that I am a healthy person. The day after I made the decision to be the person I aimed to become, a clip of David Goggins popped up on my instagram feed talking about being the person mentally in order to adopt the habits of the person you want to become. He gave the example of a motivating yourself to run in the rain at 5am even when you have no desire to. He says you need to tell yourself: “This is who we are now”. That made perfect sense to me. So far it is working for my goal of writing every day. I have now written every day for more than 33 days straight because this is who I am now. I am a writer. I have so many other commitments every night but this is the one that I have enjoyed the most. To be honest, I am ususally dog tired when it is time to write but I do it anyway because…yip, that’s right,…this is who I am now. For the record, my last writing streak was for 7 days so this is very impressive for the old me. For the new me…this is my new normal. As for being a healthy person…well…I’m not quite there yet.

So this is my goal for 2022, to decide on what it is I want to achieve and be it. I am under no illusions that this will not always be easy but I know that if I am doing it for all the right reasons, I will definitely enjoy the journey. Watch this space and I will keep you updated on what’s worked and what hasn’t worked over the coming year.

Losing weight is harder than giving up smoking

Disagree with me if you must but I promise you I will take up smoking again if it meant losing the weight and then giving it up again.

Yip.  This is coming from a person who loooooved smoking.  My cigarettes were my companion.  They gave me something to do with my hands when I was nervous or angry.  They kept me sane.  I enjoyed my smoking rituals… a cigarette with coffee and my thoughts before the day began and a cigarette after a meal as examples.   I loved smoking. It was a part of me.  When my son came along, it became apparent that my beloved cigarettes had to go. So I made the decision to stop. I bought Allen Carr’s easy way to stop smoking. Read it and, when he said go and smoke your last cigarette, I did. That was 6 years and 11 months ago and I have never smoked another cigarette since. I thought I would die on day 3 but I didn’t and that was that. Don’t get me wrong, The first few weeks were hard and I miss smoking every day but all I had to do was to make a choice to stop lighting up that cigarette and putting to my lips.

I put on 20kg once I stopped smoking due to a medical issue that cropped up and just general over eating to compensate for the lack of smoking. The problem then became, how to lose weight. Now, let’s be frank, losing weight is not a simple thing. It takes making conscious choices every single day to lose the weight and once you succeed to keep it off. It requires walking away from indulging in all your favorite foods that made you fat in the first place. It requires choosing to exercise often enough to make a difference. It takes a completely different mindset about that which you cannot live with out…yes, I mean FOOD!

My doctor and dietitian keep telling me the same thing…you have to plan your meals so that you don’t fall into old patterns. Planning is not one of my strong points and now they want me to plan my meals. I know they are right but gees louise! If I had to plan around giving up smoking I would never have made it. In fact, I still enjoy a moment with my thoughts and a cup of coffee in the morning but I just don’t have a cigarette. I still have coffee after every meal but no cigarette. There was no lifestyle change. Losing weight requires a complete change in lifestyle and that is no easy feat. That takes real commitment!

So, now that I have that off my chest, the experimentation begins on on what that new lifestyle that I want to commit to looks like for me. My doctor has given me times when I can eat so now I need to spend the time to research:

  • What foods I need to avoid and what I can keep.
  • Recipes using these foods that I might enjoy (I have yet to master the art of creating my own concoctions in the kitchen. Thus far all have been disasters 🤦‍♀️)
  • Planning meals for the week. I never know what I want to eat for dinner in particular from day to day as a general rule and now I have to decide for a whole week upfront. This is probably the biggest challenge for me.

Ok. My doctor has set me a goal of losing 10% of my weight by July. Challenge accepted. I also need to improve my fitness levels as he will be putting me on the treadmill at my next check-up. Lawd help me! At least I am aloud the odd cheat day. That should help keep me sane. It’s going to be an interesting 2020 but I am looking forward to being a fitter, healthier and thinner somebody at the end of this year. The bonus will be if I can get my sugar levels down and get my diabetes in remission. This is my ultimate goal. I have got this though. It’s time.

Well, wish me luck as I embark on this journey. Any tips and tricks you have to share are always welcome.

Have an awesome 2020! Don’t forget to like and share if you enjoyed the read. Bye for now.

Chocolate cake
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