They say it takes 21 days to form a habit. After taking a long hard look at my life, I realised all the bad habits I developed in my 20s were catching up to me and if I was going to make it to 40 or 60 in one piece I needed to make some real lifestyle changes.
So over the past three months, I’ve started eating clean and hitting the gym 3-4 times a week, and joined a netball league (so if I slack off the gym I at least get one evening of activity in). Food has especially been a struggle for the past couple years since I found out I was Celiac; cutting out everything with gluten in it has been quite the challenge (switching in gluten-free pizza for regular pizza is still bad for you, and it gets expensive!) and really the start of the journey to getting my health back on track.
I’m proud to say though I’ve stuck to my new habits so far. Have I fallen off the bandwagon? Sure. Cheat meals sometimes become a Cheat Day (and all my ‘cheats’ still need to be gluten free, for the record), but I just get back on track the next day. I sprained my ankle during a netball match and while I couldn’t do my usual workouts for a couple of weeks, this time around (this is my fourth sprain)- instead of stopping altogether- I did workouts that helped speed up the healing process (after consulting with a physiotherapist).
It’s interesting how the shift in mindset- from “all or nothing” to “it’s a bump in the road”- has helped me stay on track. I think that’s a really important part of developing a habit; changing the way you think about what you’re changing.
Having a support group is also really important. Over time I’ve come to realise that we can’t really do everything on our own. There’s no such thing- even the people we see as successful have had help. And that’s ok! So I’ve surrounded myself with people who are positive and motivating. If I’m feeling lazy, I’ll message one of my friends and they’ll say something like, “just go, put in 30 minutes, and get out”, and that would be enough to get me going. If someone is making things harder for me- and we all have those friends who would be like “come on, it’s just one piece of chocolate”- I’ve learned to call them out on it, and they usually don’t take offense and actually become more supportive. The good ones have been so supportive that they send awesome gluten-free recipes my way whenever they come across them.
The past three months have also made me realise that my past attempts at this weren’t genuine. I never fully committed because I didn’t truly believe that change was possible or didn’t see instant results (which, in hindsight, is a ridiculous expectation). I’m nowhere near achieving my goal by the way- I know people who have made leaps of progress in the same amount of time- but I feel stronger and more energetic, and that’s good enough to keep me going.
I still have a couple more habits to change, one of which I believe I have kicked. But more on that in another post.