If you have been following my blog, you may remember that I promised myself in early August that I would go to the gym every day for 90 days and make that a non-negotiable part of my life. Well, I have so far completed 47 consecutive days of going to the gym and exercising pretty strenuously for at least 30 minutes while there. If I get there late at night, it may only be the 30 minutes of cardio on the recumbent bike, treadmill or elliptical, but if it’s a reasonable hour, I will incorporate about 30 more minutes of weight training.
Success in this area for me is so much more than the number on the scale. I’ve gotten back to eating a normal amount of food and not eating in the evening. I am getting better quality sleep, possibly due to the exercise and I’ve been exercising. I have started to feel these new, or more accurately, old and renewed, habits taking hold of me.
I read a book called The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. In it the author tells us that a habit consists of three components. First comes the cue, then the action, then the reward. The cue is telling your brain to take the action, you then take the action and you reap the reward. To put that into a real life situation, think of this. If you are a stress eater, say you have an argument with your partner. That’s the cue. It triggers you to take the action. The action is to eat a pint of Häagen-Dazs (or your drug of choice). The reward is you have temporarily anesthetized yourself from the argument. But then of course you start to feel lousy about eating all the ice cream. At this point you’re on a roll, so you figure what’s the use and go on to whatever else is in your path. The cue is, you’ve already done the damage, the action is to eat more and the reward is more numbing. It’s an endless cycle that becomes habitual. But just like you formed this habit that doesn’t serve you, you can replace it with one that does.
When we form habits, there are neural pathways in our brains that are like roads. Each time we practice the habit, the pathway gets deeper. When we start to form a new habit, another neural pathway is formed. The old one remains but if we continue to practice the new habit, eventually it will become as deeply entrenched as the old habit. However, even though we form a new habit, the old pathway can easily be followed again if we fall back into old behaviors. That’s why it is important to work on the new, healthier habits as much as possible so it’s less likely that we will fall back into old routines. It takes work but you can indeed, teach an old dog new tricks.
Forming new healthy habits takes work and can sometimes be frustrating. I am taking it one day at a time and doing my best to improve on a daily basis. Last night I went to NYC for a program that was on the upper east side of Manhattan. I walked from West 33rd St. to East 50th St. It was a beautiful night and it felt amazing to do that. I used to walk all the time but about a year ago I injured my foot and it seemed to take forever to heal. I used that injury as my excuse to stop exercising since I was exercising when it happened. But here’s what happened to me…I walked about 1.5 miles each way and my foot was fine. I was a little sore this morning but that may have been because I had to run a little to make it to the venue on time and to make my return train after the program.
I’m no different from most people. I can be derailed by almost anything but I am getting back up and moving forward. If you choose to join me on this journey, I hope I am able to impart some nutritional and lifestyle wisdom. Even though I may have gone off the rails temporarily I can still share some of my first hand experience as well as my acquired knowledge and training to help you make the right changes for your best life.
It’s a new day…what changes will you make to start a new habit?
As a health coach, I work with women who are facing serious health challenges like heart disease, metabolic syndrome and diabetes or who have been diagnosed as having a precursor to a serious health issue such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol or high blood sugar. I help them make food and lifestyle changes so they can get healthy, live longer and enjoy a fuller, happier, more energetic life. If you would like to have a free consultation about the health challenges you have and the improvements you would like to see in your health, click here to schedule a no strings attached call.