3 Months to a New Habit
Saturday, July 23, 2011
They say that it takes 30 days to create a pattern of behavior and 90 days to create a habit.
This is so true for me. I started getting random thoughts of quitting this 17DD plan that I am on, yesterday. Not just cheating - I was thinking about other diets to try. Now, this is completely irrational; because, this diet is working for me. I lost 30 lbs. That's more than I have lost in years. I feel better. I have no cravings and no hunger. I have more energy. So where were these thoughts of quitting coming from?
I looked at the calendar this morning. I thought that I had started the plan in May, but I actually started April 23rd. That's exactly 3 months. My Waterloo.
Starting a new diet follows a pattern for me. In the beginning, I'm excited. I'm on my best behavior andtry to follow the diet faithfully. At the same time, I want it to be easy. Most of the time, I never make it past the first week, if I encounter any difficulty. If I start to see immediate results, I'm happy and more determined. Next comes the "honeymoon" stage where I'm still seeing results, the diet is still fairly new and not boring, and I'm still making every effort to be 100% compliant.
Then I begin to be complacent. I gradually stop doing what made me successful in the beginnning. Old patterns begin to emerge. If I haven't quit before then, they peak at the 3 month mark. I start looking for the easy way again. I typically sabotage myself, before giving up completely. I start debating the merits of the diet I'm on, especially if I hit a plateau. In this case, I thought that a 10 lbs loss per month wasn't good enough. I had planned on losing 12 lbs. per month. I start bargaining with myself. I tell myself that I've been doing so well, that I don't need to follow a diet. I can eat healthy on my own with no plan, or one that I design for myself. Before I know it, I've not only quit the diet, but I've gone back to my old eating habits and gained back every pound that Ihad lost (and more). It's not just dieting. I do the same thing if I have a new hobby or interest. I'm excited for about 3 months and then my attention wanes. I quit and I may never do it again.
At least in the past, that's what happened. Not this time. This time, I know that it's totally up to me. The 17 Day diet is a good one that I should be able to stick with. It's not the diet - it's me. Sometimes it's just overwhelming to be aware of how long it's going to take to lose this weight and be fit. How can I gain 10lbs in one week, but it takes one month to lose it? I have to realize that it's not going to be easy, but it's doable. It's all on me. There is no easy way and I just have to "suck it up" and do it.
To get through this 3 month hurdle, I just have to start practicing again, what helped me to begin this diet - self hypnosis and specific visualizations. I have to read my list of triggers again and follow through with what I wrote down to counteract them. I have to look at my vision board. I need to reframe my thoughts from a negative to a positive i.e. instead of giving in to bad habits at the 3 month mark - it is the date that I made a new pattern of behavior (dieting) a good habit.
I have to utilize Sparkpeople. I posted on my team message board that I needed support and in my status and I'm blogging. The support I get from my Sparkfriends is really what will propel me over this hurdle and help me keep pressing on.
Already, friends responded with words of encouragement that brought tears to my eyes. They reminded me to look at the big picture - to look at what I have accomplished so far. Instead of being discouraged that I only lost 30 lbs., I should be proud that I made it to this point and lost 30 lbs. I should remember how much better I feel, and think about how much better I will feel, when I'm at my healthy weight. To keep in mind it's not a sprint, but a marathon, that I can win. With friends like that, how can I give up? I CAN DO THIS