Instead of applying a new resolution for 2020, I’m trying something different. I want to create a new habit.
I got the idea from a book called The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, by journalist Charles Duhigg. The author cites scientific research that tells us where habits come from and how they are hard-wired into our brains. One outcome from this research is a formula for breaking bad habits and creating new ones. According to Duhigg, science tells us that you can’t really get rid of a bad habit. However, you can substitute a healthier routine and thus improve the habit.
I will apply the formula to my own situation in creating at least one new good habit:
1. Identify the routine. While I did not gain weight around the holidays, I got into some bad eating habits that played havoc with my digestive system. Holiday sweets, too much diet coke, very little fruits and vegetables made me….well, a little “uptight and out of sight.” One bad habit has been to nibble on some leftover sweets late in the morning, after I have finished exercising at the gym. I’m always hungry at that time.
2. Experiment with rewards. I’m going to start by adding at least one piece of fruit to my diet for now. I am extremely fond of apples, and during this part of the year, the markets offer some tasty varieties. I love the flavor and crunchiness of a good apple, and I love to see them displayed on my kitchen counter. So I pulled out a really pretty pasta bowl, went to the market, and bought some apples:
After swimming 12 laps today, I came home feeling hungry. Instead of grabbing a candy, I grabbed an apple. It was very satisfying as a mid-morning snack! And I got some fiber in my system. Oh, and while eating the apple I watched enjoyable videos on my computer.
So here’s a summary of Duhigg’s habit loop:
- Cue: Mid-morning hunger.
- Routine: Go to the fruit bowl and eat the apple.
- Reward: The taste and crunchiness of the apple is satisfying, especially while watching enjoyable videos.
I’ll let you know how this new habit is doing. Meanwhile, I’ve successfully continued another new habit I started a few weeks ago: Drinking a glass of water when I get up in the morning. Before, I slaked my morning thirst with coffee. But I find that extra glass of water works well into a morning routine:
- Cue: I’m thirsty in the morning.
- Routine: Before I have my first cup of coffee, I drink eight oz. of plain water.
- Reward: I’m no longer thirsty. I feel relaxed and refreshed.
I’ll let you all know how these new habits are getting along throughout January. Meanwhile, look for new recipes on this blog starting next week!
Reference: The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, by Charles Duhigg