' Habits can help or hinder you in so many ways. We get set in our routines, which can be good, but also bad if those routines aren't serving us. Eating cake after every meal or binge watching Netflix and not getting enough sleep every night isn't good. Brushing your teeth every night and taking your vitamins probably serves you better. So why is it so dang difficult to nurture habits that are helpful. I feel good when I go to water aerobics, but it's so much harder make that routine stick than shoveling in cake. Cake is easy. Maybe that's why that habit sticks.
I think that as human beings we are genetically wired to seek the path of least resistance. Our primal brains want us to conserve energy and get fat so we can survive the lean times more robustly. Except in our current culture, the lean days aren't coming. I've heard before that it takes 21 days to form a habit, but that's a little too under-complicated. Sure, you may be able to commit something to memory like taking your vitamins, but it can take much longer to really change your routine. We are creatures of habit. Our brain holds fiercely to the things that have been ingrained in us, our psychological coping mechanisms. And, I think that is the real reason it's so hard to change.
I'm not just trying to eat less cake; I'm trying to override the desire to soothe anxiety, stress, and fear with food. I'm trying to avoid situations that are potentially uncomfortable or painful by taking my mind off of it with Netflix. I'm addicted to the high three slices of cake and six episodes of CSI can bring. I know it sounds melodramatic, but there is plenty of research to suggest that I'm on to something here.
Doe this mean that I just give up on healthy habits and go wallow in a three layer double fudge cake? Tempting, but no. It means that I just keep on trying, even if it's like wrastling that bear I'm always talking about. That's one of the reasons I write this blog, accountability. I haven't written so much lately because I get busy and tired and then I start thinking that maybe it's not worth it, but it is. It so is. Sitting down this morning and clicking away at the keypad has made me stop and think about a few things. First, the chocolate cake sitting in my fridge (hey, habits don't change overnight) and about taking my vitamins.
Sometimes you just have to will yourself to go against your primal brain and try something different. And one day at a time, one thing at a time you start to form a healthy habit. You just keep doing it over and over until one day, you're taking your vitamins and you don't even remember a time when you didn't. And you just keep putting one foot in front of the other. Every time you fall off the wagon you get back on, until getting back on the wagon becomes as natural as eating cake.
I'm a blogger and educator breaking through stigmas and helping women find their voice.