Don’t Just Change Your Habits – Replace Them

Good morning! I hope your day is off to a nice start.

I made a commitment to myself at the beginning of the year. I don’t call it a resolution, because in 1998 I resolved to never make a New Year’s resolution again. It’s the one time I’ve been able to follow through beyond January 10, and I’m not about to give in now.

So, this one is technically a commitment. Okay, it’s more of a pipe dream, because so far I haven’t done a single thing to accomplish this goal. One look at my waistline and you’ll be able to guess what it entails. I want to start eating healthy and lose some weight. You know, in the sense that “some weight” can be interpreted to mean “something around 100 pounds.” Give or take a few.

I’ve promised myself I’d make these changes since a few weeks after Moses parted the waters. I’ve made that vow every time my pants slip below the biggest part of my belly and head for the floor. I’ve said it every time my lower back spontaneously combusts from standing in a checkout line. Okay, I say it every time I have to bend over and tie my shoes. Some days I’m happy to just sit up.

And, don’t get me wrong. I am trying. Well, I intend to. You know, right after the potato chips and Twizzlers are gone. I had oatmeal for breakfast yesterday. Does that count? I mean, come on. Any time you can get somebody this big to skip the bacon and eggs for a single serving of oatmeal, that should be worth six pounds by itself. How many healthy things do I need to eat?

I have good intentions, and I know the things I need to do. I just have trouble putting it into practice. It’s like the guy who goes into McDonalds and orders two Big Macs, a large order of fries, an apple pie, and a diet soda. If you think I’m joking, you should see me make a salad. It starts off healthy. But by the time I’m done adding eggs, bacon bit, cheese, and creamy dressing, it might as well be a hot fudge sundae.

It all comes down to habits. Years ago, I lost almost forty pounds by making small changes over time, changes I could live with for the long haul. There were some food substitutions, like egg whites instead of whole eggs, rye bread instead of white, and meal bars instead of fast food. Throw in a little portion control, and the pounds started slowly coming off.

What happened? Well, my new habits gave way to old ones. When my youngest granddaughter was born, we spent the better part of a week going to the hospital every day after work, and it was dinnertime, and there was a Wendy’s on the way and … well, you get the picture. Within six months, my all that “lost” weight magically reappeared.

Anybody who thinks habits are hard to form has never given in to a habit they’d previously broken. I smoked cigarettes for 23 years. And, like most things I do, I didn’t smoke just a little. The day before I quit, I smoked three full packs. And truly, that’s been the one bad habit I broke without ever going back. Quitting was easy. I did it six times.

The last time was 23 years ago, and so far, I haven’t gone back. There’s one simple reason. I know that, for the rest of my life, I’ll be a chain-smoker in remission. And one cigarette is all it would take to undo two decades of success. Habits are that strong. They’re like an ex-girlfriend you can never seem to shake. And all it takes is a single text message to get the whole thing started again.

Breaking an old habit isn’t enough. We have to form new habits to take their place. And the new habit needs to be one that doesn’t leave us feeling empty or deprived. If I were to give up fried chicken forever, that decision would be doomed to failure. It just isn’t going to happen. But I can use an air fryer instead of a deep fryer. I can cut it down to one piece instead of four, and monthly instead of weekly.

The first step is identifying the unhealthy or counter-productive habit we want to change. Then we have to find something to take its place. And it doesn’t even have to be a direct substitute. Like putting away the leftovers after a meal instead of leaving them out for a grazing. Taking a walk instead of an after-dinner drink. Or reading a book instead of surfing the internet.

Habits are simply our default response to a given situation. But defaults can be changed any time they no longer support our needs and needs change every time we dare to dream. Match your habits to your needs, and every dream becomes that much more attainable.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2021 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

2 thoughts on “Don’t Just Change Your Habits – Replace Them

  1. Yup, it’s all about creating habits or losing them. Our life is habits anyway, and habits make the man, so it behooves us to take stock of what our good and bad habits are. Thanks for this post!

  2. Thanks Stuart! You’re right, we’re more creatures of habit than we’d ever like to admit. So it’s just a matter of forming the right ones. Thanks for reading and responding.

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