Nearly everyday, at different points in the day, I make the same three decisions.
1.I decide to try and prepare more of my own food and be more nutritionally aware.
2.I decide to run – or go to the gym, or workout to a video, or take a walk, or whatever my exercise of choice is at the time.
3.I decide to do a better job of cleaning my house.
Clearly, these are important goals in my life, and even though I make the same decisions almost everyday, it feels like I never make any real progress towards the goals. Here’s a recent example:
About 2 months ago I decided to begin the Couch to 5K program. I’ve always wanted to be a runner and there’s no real reason I’m not. So, everything went great the first week, and the second. By the third week, I was feeling confident enough to tell a few people what I was doing and to start thinking about running an actual race just to prove to myself it’s possible.
Week four, though. Whew. Week four kicked my ass. In a big way. The first day of week four was so hard I didn’t complete the recommended running/walking times. I thought I was going to puke by the end of it. Still I looked forward to running and felt a sort of loss on days I didn’t. By the end of week four, I could do it without thinking I might die. It felt great and I felt great and everything was going according to plan.
But I never started week five. I don’t know why, but that is my pattern. After following any fitness program, regime, diet or whatever for about a month, I just stop – totally proving that the theory it takes 21 days to create a habit is bunk.
It’s the same with both of the other decisions, too. I will clean the whole house, feel a sense of peace and contentment and vow to do a little everyday so it never gets so bad again. But it does. Every single time, in fact. I might keep things neat and clean for a couple of weeks, or even a month, but unfailingly we find ourselves living in the midst of clutter and chaos again.
And cooking. I love to cook, and have a horror of getting food poisoning from a restaurant. There are only a couple I trust at all. I’m a huge supporter of CSAs, farmers’ markets, locally grown food and eating food as natural as I can get it. I know how to bake bread, soak and cook all kinds of beans and even how to can or freeze most kinds of produce. Yet, I end up eating out more often than I will ever admit. And if I’m being honest, there’s no harm in eating out, so long as it is in moderation. Eating out should be left for the times when you have a big occasion coming up (perhaps a birthday, or an anniversary). Sure a home-cooked meal would be nice, but then you have to worry about washing up, so sometimes it’s just easier to go out to a place like francisca restaurant and just treat yourself. There’s nothing wrong with treating yourself to some nice food. However, if you find yourself eating out too often, then you need to learn when to say no and cook food at home.
Now, after reading about all those lapses in discipline, don’t imagine I don’t have any will power. I put myself through college on sheer will alone. I’ve done lots of things that require a hefty amount of perseverance. So, I’m at a loss as to explain why these three relatively easy habits are so difficult for me to maintain. After all, two of them are habits that I really enjoy – running is awesome, and homemade, healthy food rocks. Cleaning I can’t really say I like doing.
Do most people have things like this that they struggle to do regularly? Even things that are enjoyable? Why?
“Not enough time” is not a valid excuse in my mind. We all have time to do the things we care most about – especially me and especially now.
These three goals are important enough that I am not going to give up on them – I’ll just keep trying different things until something sticks and the habits form properly.
This time the experiment will be to make a six month commitment to do only one of the three. I’m going to begin with week three of the Couch to 5K program and will report back on how it worked in December. Wish me luck.