Longmont Uber runner Beth Risdon – author of the famous “Shut Up And Run” blog has this advice for starting – and cementing – new healthy habits. Remember, KISS.
My son, Sam, was home from college for the weekend. He likes to come home because he misses me so much. Or, maybe it’s because I feed him and provide him with a bed that has clean sheets (I think he told me has not yet changed his sheets on his college bed – I mean, it has only been three months since he got there so it’s not like they’re dirty or anything. It’s not like there’s B.O. and pieces of skin and drool all over them or anything).
Anyhow, I asked him if he was working out anymore. He used to go to the gym pretty regularly. He said, “No. It’s just so hard to get over the hump mentally to get started again.” And, I completely know what he means. The thing is, that’s precisely why I never take a significant break from running or exercise. Because I’m afraid if I’m gone too long and I get out of the habit, it will be that much harder to start up again.
What I’ve learned is that there are two things in life that are really tough (well, there are many more, but these are just two of them): breaking bad habits and starting new, healthier habits.
Take drinking wine, for example. I am very much in the habit of nightly wine drinking, for better or for worse. I know it’s become a habit – a way I reward myself. A glass while I cook dinner. A glass to accompany me when I watch “This Is Us” (although I probably get even more emotionally manipulated by that show when I’m drinking). I know I could stop my nightly drinking (but why would I want to?), but it’s the breaking of the habit that is so hard.
If you’re old enough, you remember that we didn’t used to wear seat belts. Like, not ever. Then it became the law and the norm that you had to wear a seat belt. Buzz kill. There go all of the cross country road trips where we would lay down in the back of the station wagon on the old plaid blanket from the garage. Anyway, at first putting on a seat belt was such a pain in the ass. You had to make a conscious effort to do and you felt so restricted. But, now that it has become a habit? I do it so automatically I don’t even know I do it. Bingo! That’s the point of this post!
Running has become that way for me. Just part of my life and my routine. Kind of like drinking wine and brushing my teeth (not at the same time). I don’t run everyday, but I do run about five days a week and don’t feel like myself if I don’t do it.
So, how do you create a new habit or break a bad one? (I’m going to use the example of someone who wants to start drinking more water every day because their pee should be the color of Crystal Light Lemonade and it looks like Guinness, but you could apply this to running more, drinking less wine, cutting back on coffee or not eating sweets). I call this the “The Slacker’s Guide” because it doesn’t require a ton of imagination or creativity. Even your college kid can do it….
Click here to read the five key steps to making a new habit stick.