Building health habits – in action

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about habit building: 5 good reasons to stick with your new habit commitment.

Very easy to give advice.

Much harder to take.

I do think practising what you preach is only right. Authenticity is a core value for me. So I’ve been busy in my home lab forming healthy habits.

This first healthy habit I’ve created sounds easy and theoretically it should be, but it involves two exercises I find very challenging, but I also know will greatly aid my need for more physical strength. Press ups and an excruciating core exercise from my Darcey Bussell Pilates for Life DVD.

Like most people I’ll cheerfully do what I love and I’m good at. And I’ll avoid what is hard for me. Once upon a time – 20 years ago, now I think about it – when I was a kickboxing obsessive, I could do press ups for hours. I’m still on my knees doing press ups today, but I’m doing them and that’s what counts. Every morning I do two minutes of each. Press ups and the Darcey killer core moves. As many as I can in the time set. 

So it’s just four minutes. Should be easy, right? Oh you’d be surprised… And I record the total for each day. My goal is to do 10% more each week.

Here’s what I’ve learned so far…

1. We’re not All the same. Pretty comfortable with this revelation. I am now just over two weeks into my new healthy habit practice but I’ve done it every day, although it doesn’t feel like cleaning my teeth yet, in terms of being a daily ‘must’ so there’s definitely time yet before I’m wedded to my new habit yet. 21 days to form a new habit? And the rest…

2. Failing isn’t failing, it’s just another rung on the ladder. I’m still on track with what you’ll probably think is a pretty lame healthy habit, but when I do fall off the wagon, knowing one slip up does not ruin everything will keep me moving.

3. Not all habits are created equally
I think I’ve been pretty canny here. I’ve tied this habit into my morning routine. I must do these two exercises before I do anything else (except go to the loo. I’m a midlife womn, let’s be sensible here). It’s the rule. No cup of tea. No sneaking onto Instagram. Before anything. End of.

Surprisingly, this is working. Oh my mind will resist, but once I’m down there with the timer going, I’m off. Because it’s just four minutes isn’t it. No excuse.

4. Your circumstances for giving up can be different
Certainly I’ve noticed mindset is everything. When I began, the first burning sensation in a muscle struck me as a reason to stop. What I’ve now come to realise is your mind is highly protective and this burning sensation is just your body telling you it’s working. Pretty soon that burning sensation moves from one muscle group to another; from triceps to pectorals… just keep going.

5. Tell yourself you love it, even if it’s a lie
When the burning (I’m now calling it ‘warrior heat’ because that makes me almost welcome it… almost) kicks in I repeat to myself over and over ‘I love this, I love this’. This, of course, is absolute bull, but apparently if I keep that thought out of my head and bang on with the ‘love’ mantra it becomes easier. Conversely, my brother’s cat died in her sleep last weekend and as soon as I think about that my arms nearly give way. Do not think sad thoughts when you’re doing your healthy habit, especially if you don’t want to face plant.

6. Measure and record
If I wasn’t recording these numbers I would have had no idea how quickly I’m improving. It’s truly satisfying, to see the numbers go up. The 10% increase goal is sneaky because it’s never ending. And I’m blowing it out of the water so far. Mind you, I’m only two weeks in.

Am I obsessed? Not quite. I haven’t got the mindset right yet, but I am enjoying the challenge and I feel stronger already.

So does that healthy habit advice hold water? Undoubtedly. I’m looking forward to the day I wake up and discover I ‘have to do’ my 2×2 minute bursts and then I’ll know where my habit-forming sweet-spot is. More updates to come.

Enjoy finding yours.

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