Lent seems to be all the rage at the moment…funny that, given the time of year!
I kind of get a bit pissed off with all of the smug people going on about giving up chocolate, or crisps, or cheese, or alcohol. I am not sure who it benefits really. I don’t – it makes me feel inferior.
Instead of giving things up for Lent – how about committing to adding something to your life. Like a new positive habit. We spend so much time trying to stop doing things…maybe it’s easier to start doing something?
I wrote ages ago about developing positive habits and I thought it might be useful to reiterate that message. I am certainly not committing to giving anything up at this time of year…other than my New Years Resolutions perhaps!
Developing positive habits is crucial for my ongoing success and for anyone else trying to make positive changes to their life. In fact I need to develop some, or pick them up again, given the struggle I am having. Some will tell you that it takes twenty one days to develop a habit, a myth that was promoted by a plastic surgeon who noticed that it took amputees twenty one days to adjust to the loss of their limb. He also therefore wrongly concluded that major life changes can be adjusted to in this timeframe!
A psychological study carried out in 2009 (Lally, et al) consisted of people who wanted to make a positive change, such as eating a piece of fruit with lunch, or going for a fifteen minute run each day. On average, the change they wanted to make became automatic after sixty six days, but overall, the changes examined in the study took anywhere from eighteen to two hundred and fifty four days to become automatic.
Realistically therefore, in order to change your behaviour and create new, positive habits, it is going to take over two months of daily repetition to achieve this. Some habits are obviously harder to break or develop!
Habits are strange things. I have a couple that I would rather stay private, but what the heck?! I love to pick my nose! I used to cut off every split-end I could see…my desk used to be covered in hair trimmings everyday! I cannot touch handles in bathrooms once I’ve washed my hands…I have to use a paper towel, open the door and prop it open with my foot, and then throw the paper towel in the bin! I used to love peeling wallpaper off the walls as a kid and blamed it on my little sister! I am obsessed with facial hair and have a mirror and a pair of Tweezermans in my car for daylight chin hair plucking sessions (this one is courtesy of my PCOS…damn you facial hair!).
Finally, I was absolutely obsessed with ‘my chair’! It is a wonderful oversized armchair with lovely fabric; it was huge and probably that only chair that my bum hadn’t got wedged in at some point. If anyone sat in it, they got the ‘look’; if my other half sat in it, he got told to move straight away. I developed bad habits in that chair, mindless munching of crisps and sausage rolls, and I managed to develop new positive habits in it…’over-tweeting instead of over-eating’! And then I threw it away as it was a symbol of my fatness!
I got talking to a couple of ladies at my Slimming World group a while ago. We were talking about eating and smoking habits, and the things we do to try and hide them. For example, I used to go to McDonalds DriveThru and order a couple meals for me, but in order to ‘fool’ the server I would say “Ooh, I’ve forgotten what he wanted…can I just get another BigMac meal please?” Who was I really fooling, the poor git on minimum wage working their backside off dealing with plonkers like me all day whilst earning a university degree (there’s some stereotyping for you!), or me, the poor git spending my hard earned cash making my backside bigger and giving them a laugh?! I used to do this in shops when buying chocolate bars too; I would actually put my hand on my head, look puzzled, and say “Damn, I’ve forgotten what they asked for!” whilst selecting at least four bars for myself. Shameful!
One lady in class didn’t want her grandkids knowing she smoked. She would tell them that she was going to put the rubbish out and would then pick up the fake bag of rubbish she kept for this purpose, and head out to the wheelie bin. It was on the umpteenth occasion of peeking out from her hiding place behind the bin that she decided to quit smoking! She put on weight after giving up, and is at Slimming World to lose this weight. She is the first to tell you how hard it was to give up smoking, and that not a single day goes by when she doesn’t want one. But she will also tell you that she finds it far easier to stick to Slimming World than it was to give up smoking!
Another lady used to hide her smoking habit from her Mum, and would sneak out at night with her lighter and cigarettes tucked down her cleavage, out of sight! She would smoke at the bottom of the garden, in the dark, and make sure she picked up every butt, throwing them over the wall to ensure her Mum didn’t find them in the bin. One year, when it snowed, she was dropping them on the floor and losing them in the snow. Upon waking one morning to find that the snow had melted, she ran out into the garden barefooted to quickly get rid of the evidence! The things we do to hide our habits ‘eh?!
Amongst my family there are some strange habits too. A cupboard fully stocked at all times with rows of tinned spaghetti, baked beans, chopped tomatoes, macaroni cheese and tuna; three cans high, cupboard deep and labels all facing forwards. A bathroom with towels so neatly lined up that a spirit level would struggle to find any unevenness! Cushions on the sofa evenly spaced, equally plumped and all at the same angle. A cupboard drawer full of unopened post due to a severe phobia of opening bills! We have a mustard and salad cream sandwich eater, and a clean food eater. Clean food in this case is food that doesn’t touch any other food on the plate…salad, beans and jacket potato are okay, as is a roast dinner, but spaghetti bolognese is a big no-no as the food is all mixed up! We also have a toilet roll and washing powder hoarder, who is currently stressing out because their stock isn’t at the level they like it to be. Family members, if you’re reading this, you know who you are!!
So what positive habits can we develop? I think completing a food diary is essential regardless of whether you’re having a ‘good’ or a ‘bad’ day. Seeing a record of your food intake can stop you in your tracks if you aren’t following the plan, and if you think you are but aren’t getting the results you’d expect, then your consultant can help pinpoint why. I like taking pictures of what I eat and including them in my blog, as it’s making me far more conscious of ensuring that I do have my superfree food and ensuring that I don’t go over my syns. I do genuinely take pics of it all…I don’t sneak extras as I’d only be cheating myself!
Working towards your Body Magic awards, or for non Slimming World-ers, just finding an activity that you enjoy, and doing more of it…as long as it’s not eating crisps…is a great way of getting fitter and losing weight. Doing it slowly and gradually also means that you don’t feel that you’re really having to work at it. The change in my fitness level has astounded me, and I don’t think I could let myself give it up even if I wanted to! I feel happier, healthier and far more mobile than I ever have.
Drinking more water is an easy one. I try and have at least two litres a day…and have done this for a long time really. I don’t often get spots and have clear and wrinkle free skin! Just keep a bottle of water handy and sip on it throughout the day. My water habit means I can save my HEA for cheese and not milk, as I don’t drink tea or coffee now. Cheese toasties ahoy!
I will stop ramming my habits down your throat now…just as I have done with the sausage rolls to myself! Needless to say, you will all have your own little habits to overcome and work on. Just don’t try and tackle them all at the same time…little changes…little steps…they will get you there in the end. Right, I’m off to pick my nose now…
Thank you for reading,
Weight Loss Bitch xxx
P.S. I lost 4lbs this week!