Making New Habits – 21 Day Challenges

So…earlier this year, I decided that I wanted to have my New Year’s Resolution more than a bunch of goals that I would accomplish (or not) and then forget about.

I have decided that instead of doing a bunch of things, I wanted to become someone.

I’ve been haunted by this idea. I know that it is good. There are times when I mourn for what I think that I used to be. I feel like right now, I’m not the best version of myself.

Here is a picture of me with the family a few years ago (before Sasquatch and T-Rex)

Summer 2008

It is honestly hard for me to look at this old picture. I’m happy that we have our two new little ones, but I’m not happy with what I’ve become in the meantime. My body has been trashed, and I have had a tough time getting it back together.

It seems like other problems have stemmed from that. I’m a big believer in the whole mind-body connection. I’ve been more stressed and depressed, and it shows – especially in my thighs!

I know that my weight isn’t my show of worthiness, but I have a closet-full of clothes that I can’t wear, and when I see myself, I feel like I don’t see myself. I feel like I’m not as happy, creative, loving, or funny as I once was…so, this year, I haven’t wanted to do things, I have wanted to become someone – the new old me.

So…year after year, I try to make changes. On January first I tell myself that I’m going to eat well, never eat treats, exercise 90 minutes a day, read the scriptures an hour day, sketch every day, read every day, write every day, do meaningful activities with the kids daily, spend more time with my husband, catch up on family history…you get the idea.

So – I make all of these crazy goals. I expect to start doing them instantly and I fail immediately.

I have forgotten the principle of learning and becoming:

“For behold, thus saith the Lord God: I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom; for unto him that receiveth I will give more; and from them that shall say, We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they have.” – 2 Nephi 28:30

The Lord knows that we learn and change a little bit at a time. I have tended to forget this – which brings the insane resolutions and quick failures.

So, this year, I made resolutions. I have set the time frame – that I want to do these things by the end of the year, but that each change will be introduced throughout the year – when I’m ready to take a step. For example, I can’t expect myself to eat really healthy in one day. It is going to take a longer time to change these bad habits into good ones.

OKAY!

So – I’m making little habit changes. I’ve heard that it takes about 21 days to make a habit. I have no idea if this is true or not, but it seems like a good place to start. I’m making small changes and concentrating on only one thing for 3 weeks.

For the first three weeks, I concentrated on drinking at least 8 glasses of water every day. It started pretty difficult. It is hard to do something completely different. At first, I didn’t really want to drink so much water, I kind of had to force myself. After a few days, I realized I was thirsty all the time. Interesting – I had deprived myself from water for so long, I think that my body didn’t know what to do at first. After about 2 weeks, I was finally used to it: drinking. It wasn’t a struggle. I had to go to the bathroom more, for sure, but I felt good – knowing that my body was working better, that my organs are functioning, and they are getting the water they need.

For the next 3 weeks, I decided to eat at least 2 servings of fruit and 3 servings of vegetables every day. (Total: 5 servings). This has been pretty hard. At first, it was really hard. I’m addicted to sugar, and I wasn’t really excited about taking the time to eat things like fruits and veggies. I didn’t cut out sugar, though. I still ate whatever I wanted to whenever I wanted to – with the understanding that I had to eat at least 5 servings of fruits/veggies.

Now – I’m in the third 3 weeks. I’m working on cutting out sugars during the week. I’m definitely a sugar addict. This three weeks, I’m allowing myself a small serving of chocolate every day. On Saturdays or Sundays, I can bake with the kids, but eat moderately – like one or two cookies…not a batch. I’ve been going back and forth on what this goal should be, but I think that this is it. Kicking the sugar habit is really hard. Even though I might write about it more later, but I’m starting it today. (I knew I wouldn’t be able to do it earlier this week because of Valentine’s day).

I don’t know what my future goals will be. I will know what they are when I get closer to finishing the current goal. I don’t want to overwhelm myself, I just want to focus on what I’m doing right now.

Oh yeah – I’m still drinking water, eating fruits and veggies. Just because I’ve gotten through these small goals doesn’t mean that they stop. In fact, I hope that these things are always a part of who I am. (When I’m sixty-three, I want to be able to say to you, “I’ve been eating 5 fruits/veggies and drinking 8 glasses of water every day for the last 30 years).

I want to become healthy, happy, creative, funny. I want to be the best woman I’m capable of being. I know that Heavenly Father sees my full potential. I want to be able to live up to it.

So, I’m starting small and working on it a little at a time.

What are you doing to become a better person? Do you have any tips on how to create and keep good habits?

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10 Comments

  1. Lisa S

     /  February 19, 2012

    How did you get into my mind? lol This is exactly how I feel! Just this morning I committed to tracking all I eat. It has been a hard thing to do. I typically eat well, but I’m addicted to sugar. If it’s in the house I will eat it. My bad times are after school around 3-4, and late at night. So I started with small steps. No eating after 8pm, and tracking what I eat. That’s it for now. Then when I feel confident in those two things I will pay more attention to consuming more water, and walking more.. I too will not deprive myself of eating what I want..just will become more accountable. There I committed myself and shared it with a friend. πŸ™‚

    Reply
    • Thanks, Lisa.

      Those times of day – especially the afternoon are horrible for me, too. Lately, I’ve been trying to eat something like raisins (they count as fruit) around 3-4PM – it helps with the sugar craving and doubles as a fruit…

      And good luck with your new commitment! I know that focusing on one thing at a time has been really helpful for me so far this year.

      Reply
  2. Wow. You are awesome. I have been a believer in the “step by step” rule instead of overwhelming myself with everything all at once, but you know… I don’t think that I have been “improving” much lately. I have been pretty much keeping up the status quo, and I guess that because my status quo has been pretty high for the past year or so (not perfect, but I’d say for the most part pretty good) I have plateaued in my personal development. I can’t remember when the last time was that I made a meaningful goal to change something about myself and then actually followed through with it.

    You have inspired me to do this in my life. And hey – if we do this every 3 weeks for the rest of our lives, we’ll probably end up being perfect, right?

    Here’s to perfection – three weeks at a time!

    Reply
    • Thanks! Yeah I like it – perfection, three weeks at a time sounds like it could be the title of a book!

      Good luck also with making small changes. I think that it is a good sign if you are willing to change even when things are going pretty well. Progression is always better – and, as you suggested, leads to perfection. πŸ™‚

      Reply
  3. The 21 days to a habit is true. While on my mission, my mission president would have us write down on a paper words to recite to ourselves everyday. Thoughts you want to change about yourself, like “I love to drink water, I know that drinking water is good for me…. but of couarse ours were mission-related. By the end of the 21 days we had those thoughts IN us.

    Reply
  4. I love this comment, in fact, I may have to blog on it soon. For me, this year, I want to develop discipline, and I want to love it. Like – while I was doing the fruits and vegetables, I tried to make sure I was not saying, “ugh…salad for lunch again.” Instead, I kept reminding myself how much I love salad. It really helps, and when we’re doing something good, it is easy to see the connection between how these positive changes make us happy – so they are easier to love even if they are hard.

    Reply
  5. Congratulations! You’re doing great things already and you’re only a few weeks in. In case you’re interested in some ideas, you might look over our website. Some of the members of our community have come up with some great ones.

    We’ve seen folks focus on drinking more water. Their experience was exactly like yours. We’ve also seen folks cut out sugars. One very cool mission that was undertaken recently (and that I think is genius) is a woman who will only eat at her kitchen table. No more snacking at the computer and no more snacking in front of the television. Anyway, if you’re looking for some ideas or some inspiration check it out (or if you’re looking for some more encouragement, start a mission there (100% free)).

    Reply
  6. Wow! You are doing absolutely fabulous! I see goals people make – like “exercise 1.5 hours a day” or “don’t eat ANY fat” and just ache for these people (if they do succede in reaching their extreem goal – they will be discouraged to find that they won’t get the results they thought they would get)! I love that your goals are SOOO healthy and realistic, and you are giving yourself time to get good at one thing before adding another.

    Many years ago I had some really bad eating habits that I broke doing just what you are doing now. I made many small changes, one change at a time and kept building on them and improving in each area over time. The results were amazing! I came to love my body and feel good about how I treat it. I also stopped comparing myself with others and developed a really healthy body image.

    These things can only happen when we make changes realistically. Unrealistic changes that are not attainable are discouraging and lead to failure. If you ever need ideas for new habits you can check out my blog post that tells what I did to become a healthy normal eater. I learned how to help people with eating disorders in a Dietetics program and helped myself in the same way. Here is the address if you are interested:
    http://corinesmiles.blogspot.com/2010/10/healthy-living-part-two.html
    My husband and I started a health blog, then stopped, and are talking about starting again. If you are interested in knowing about it when I get it back up just let me know…corinesmiles.blogspot.com
    Good luck on your journey to better health!
    Corine πŸ˜€

    Reply
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