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Time to look at your habits…are they supporting you, or not?

I have a friend who used to eat biscuits all the time. He loved biscuits, especially those chocolate-coated ones, and chocolate-chip cookies. But he was overweight, he was out of shape and he knew that he was eating too much sweet food, and he was heading for obesity and likely type-2 diabetes. He also knew that eating three or four biscuits every morning, and then three or four biscuits every afternoon, and sometimes another three or four biscuits in the evening, was making all the rest of his food taste bland, so he wasn’t eating his veggies. He knew he was in danger of letting his ‘biscuit habit’ or ‘biscuit addiction’ take over his diet entirely, to the detriment of his health.

So he changed. he started eating a banana as his mid-morning snack, and an apple as his mid-afternoon snack. If he feels the need for an evening snack, he’ll eat some raisins or sultanas.

At first, this wasn’t easy. Day one was torture, he hated it, he felt grumpy, someone (himself) had taken his biscuits away and he was not a happy bunny. Day two was hard too, a repeat of day one. Day three was hard, but the voices in his head were just saying the same things they had said the previous two days, so it was nothing he hadn’t heard before. Day four wasn’t as bad, and by day five he started seeing that the completion of his first week was in sight…he started to believe that he could do this.

Habit forming

Day six and seven weren’t too bad, it was the weekend, he was distracted doing other things. By the time day eight rolled around, he felt renewed conviction, he had done one week, he could do another. Gradually, each day it got easier. Soon one week had become one month. One month became two months. After that, he recalls passing three months but then he’s fuzzy on how it got to a year, he just knows that it did.

That’s the funny thing. Reading a great little book called The One Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan, I have learned that it takes, on average, around 66 days for a behaviour change to become a habit. It can take anything between 18 days and 254 days, but 66 is the average. That’s just a couple of days over two months. A habit is the point where it no longer requires willpower for something to happen, it’s become habit, you just do it and it feels normal, it feels fine.

Change your life

For my friend, it changed his destiny and changed his life. Four years later, he is now 60 pounds lighter, he goes to the gym five days per week and runs at the weekend. He eats plenty of fresh vegetables, he isn’t fussed about sweet foods any more and he never touches biscuits. It all started with day one, changing his buscuit habit for a fruit habit. He’s probably added 20 years to his own life from that one small change.

I have other friends with good habits too. One friend gets up every morning and goes for a jog. It might be a mile, it might be eight; it may be dark or it may be light; it might be raining or there may be a beautiful sunrise, but he’s out, whatever the weather. Another friend changed a four-a-day cola habit for a lemon-water habit. Another friend changed a ‘Friday night is beer and a take-out’ night habit, to a ‘Friday night is quieter down the gym’ habit. All are glad they did, all enjoy much better health now.

So the question is, what do you do that is habit?

What things do you do that are habits that are not supporting your health goals?

And what could you change? What new habits could you put in place to nourish your health and take you forward?

It all starts with day one…then after that, every day gets easier.

What can you change, starting today?

To your good health!


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