I signed up to a gym this week. I’ve always loved taking classes – zumba, body pump, boxercise, spinning. It is an old GOOD habit that I let drift off my daily routine over the last couple of years as I developed the BAD habit of Wine O’Clock. Combined with self-medicating with wine – I am now looking at a good few extra pounds that creeped back on.
I am determined to get back into the healthy gym habit.
Habits .. what are they, changing them, creating new ones
I was picking up a prescription at the pharmacy. There were various pamphlets about health and mental issues – and there was one on drinking problems.
I go to this pharmacy regularly – and I like the lady who runs it. I held up the one on drinking when I was chatting; and I shared with her about choosing sobriety and how I just celebrated 90 days.
We chatted about breaking habits and also forming new ones. I mentioned that I wanted to build up and have a firm habit of regular gym sessions.
She said it takes 21 days to form a habit. Interesting. Hummm. So, when I got home, I googled to get a bit more insight into this concept of building a solid habit. Seems the 21 days concept is a little simplistic. In fact, most professionals scoff at that number and say it really is more complicated then that.
A further bit of digging and I found interesting insight into first what a habit looks like, how to change a habit – and how to form a new habit.
How habits work
A motivational speaker who seems quite sound – James Clear – wrote that every habit you have — good or bad — follows the same 3–step pattern.
- Reminder (the trigger that initiates the behavior)
- Routine (the behavior itself; the action you take)
- Reward (the benefit you gain from doing the behavior)
How to break a habit
CNBC reported on an apparently scientifically proven 3 steps to breaking a habit
1) Supercharge your willpower — Willpower is another word for self-control; research suggests your amount of willpower depends on your thinking about willpower. If you think there is no limit to the amount of willpower you have, then there isn’t.
2) Dig into your bad habit — Psychiatrist and addiction expert Judson Brewer says that by becoming very mindful about what you are doing and why you are doing it, you can interrupt the existing feedback loop that keeps a bad habit going.
3) Try “I don’t” rather than “I can’t” — Saying “I don’t” is empowering and suggests a self-imposed decision. Using “I can’t,” on the contrary, suggests being constrained by external forces.
How to form a new habit
Eight steps suggested here
Step 1: Focus on One New Habit
Step #2: Form a new habit? Commit for a MINIMUM of 30 days.
Step #3: Anchor Your New Habit to an Established Habit
Step #4: Take Baby Step
Step #5: Make a Plan for Obstacles
Step #6: Create Accountability for Your Habit
Step #7: Reward Important Milestones
That’s all pretty breezy top level stuff .. there are a lot of great motivational ideas out there.. but I wanted to start thinking about the mechanics of habits. And from there changing my habits – and creating new habits.
Which brings me to my new habit to form… physical exercise. A major, major part of feeling better about yourself – and one that every book, blog post and medical insight I read says should replace that old bad habit of drinking.
And now, since I’ve been to the gym today, I’m going to reward me – and you, with a little ditty from Frank (there’s always time for Frank!)