Monday, October 25, 2010

Forming Healthy Habits

I've been doing this 8 week challenge for 4 weeks now and I've been observing how my habits are forming.  Some form without knowing it, some with much effort, some with continued prodding.

Each week we get a "free day," which originally I wasn't fond of.  In my black/white thinking, I imagine that if a goal is worth keeping, it should be kept continually, not with a day off.  So at first, I wasn't planning to use the free day unless there was some big occasion or extenuating circumstance (like my surgery last week).  But at the end of the first week, I thought maybe a free day wasn't so bad of an idea.

As the weeks have passed, I've seen that the free day is the most telling of all in observing my new habits.  If I'm able to stick to a goal without thinking about it or even wanting to stray from it on my free day, then the healthy habit has been formed.  If I'm hoping to escape that goal or forget about the goal all together, then that goal is still not a habit -- just something I'm working toward.  (And if I'm wishing I had another free day the day after a free day, then I'm in big trouble, which is how it was after the 3rd free day).

Here's how I'm doing with the developing these 10 healthy habits: 

Exercise 45 minutes -- I love to exercise, but have found myself entering slumps of apathy since we moved here a little over a year ago.  I usually work out an hour each morning, but I've found that if I miss a morning due to disturbed sleep or a busier morning, I'd never make it up like I used to.  I'd also be satisfied (not truly, but motivationally) with 3 or 4 days of exercise if the week was crazy.  So I knew this goal would help me get back to the mindset of 6 workouts a week.

I'm there.  Even with my surgery, I did a great Cathe interval workout the morning of my surgery, had my rest day the next day and have either done yoga or some light treadmill walking (or a combination) for my 45 minutes since.  It's back in my brain and even on my free day yesterday, I was eager to get my 45 minutes.  I'm sure once my body has healed and bends better, I'll be back to an hour.

7 Hours of Sleep  -- This goal was actually one of my biggest concerns because I tend to get more like 6 hours of sleep a night.  But my body is falling into this pattern better.  I'm not staying up as late and I'm taking naps when I need them in the afternoon.  Feels great.

Drink 64 oz. water  -- I knew this wouldn't be a problem.  I always drink tons of water.  I'm sure I get that much before noon every day.

No Sugar -- This is about the only reason I look to a free day.  I do like baking.  I alter my recipes to use unrefined sugars and whole grains, but I know that my brain wants to eat just as many healthier cookies and brownies as I would with refined.  I also have a weakness for the variety of Clif bars.  I can eat 3 or 4 Z bars quite easily.  So I've cut back on having those in the home.  Same with the good soy ice creams . (Soy Creamy from Trader Joe's is as good as the best brands and is 1/2 the price).  I know if I have those in the home, I"ll want to eat them.

The habits that have been helping are not buying the Clif stuff or Soy Creamy and are to tell myself that if I do bake on my free day, I can not have any the next day.  That was always the struggle before.  I'd bake quite a bit, then would eat it for the next few days.  That ends up being about 1/2 of my life.  This way, I'm eating it that one day and none else.  Somehow it isn't a struggle.  Nice to see.

No Soda, Junk Food, Fast Food -- I've worked on this so much the past several years that it's not hard for me to stay away from these processed foods.  Yay for that!.

2 Fruit, 2 Veggies -- I could eat a dozen fruits effortlessly every day.  Not so with vegetables.  As much as I love my veggies, I have to tell myself to make them and eat them.  Yesterday was my free day and I realized at the end of the day that I hadn't eaten even ONE vegetable.  When I don't think about it, it doesn't naturally happen.  This I need to work on more and more until it's as natural as the fruit habit.  I've been eating fruits throughout the day since I was a little girl, so I have some catching up to do.  But I have time. And I will say that I do just fine on days that I eat out.  When I look at a menu, I always go for the veggie sandwiches or entree's.  It's at home where I need to prepare the food that I don't do as well. 

Stop eating at 8:00 p.m. -- This was actually my trickiest goal.  I had to set the buzzer many times to remind myself and once had some orange juice without even realizing it after 8:00 (thankfully, I realized afterward that it was my free day and I was safe from losing that point).  But after these 4 weeks, I'm finding that it's not so hard.  I'm aware of the clock and am doing fine.  Last night on my free day, I didn't want to eat anything after 8:00.  I was done.  Made me happy to see how well I'd adjusted to that goal.

Write in journal (or blog) -- As much as I love to talk and write, I have had to remind myself to do this one.  We've been out of town a few weekends and our computer was all trojan-d up for a few days, so I haven't always blogged, but I have written in a notebook or even on spare papers I could find so that I was keeping this goal.  I used to keep official journals in high school, college and early marriage.  That habit has died.  So I'm hoping this will bring it back a bit.  Another 4 weeks will tell.

Read Scriptures or other Uplifting reading -- I'm doing so much better with this one than I was before.  I used to wait till the end of the day to do this and would end up missing it or cheating myself on the time spent.  Now I do it early in the day and relish it.  So wonderful.

Act of Service/Kindness -- This goal seems to be more in the noticing of the act than in the doing because I'm always doing something as a mom or a friend.  And the noticing benefits more than I realized.  It's causing me to pause, realize what I'm doing, why I'm doing it, and to enjoy the process.  It's that living in the moment.  Being present.  Quite nice.

Guess that's it.  The two goals that I don't seem to have as habits yet are the vegetable eating and the not having sugar at all.  I do want to eat more vegetables every single day, but I may allow that sugar goal to include a day every week or two as long as it is confined to that day and the sugar isn't processed and unrefined (headaches and fatigue galore!)  I'll update again at the end of the 8 weeks.  TTFN!

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