Why is it so hard to change bad habits? I know what I need to do. I know how to make healthy food choices. I know that exercise is important. I know these things. But do I DO them? Nope. Why is that? Why don't I make the changes I know I need to make in order to accomplish my goals? Why is it so darn difficult?
Tonight I had a meeting and I didn't get out of there until 7:30. I was planning on getting a salad for dinner. I was looking forward to eating a big salad. I really craved a salad. But when 7:30 rolled around and I started eyeing the tin of cat food that was sitting on a nearby desk, thinking that I was hungry enough to go for a little Fancy Feast (I mean, it's FANCY and it's a FEAST. How bad could it be?), I started rethinking my salad idea. By the time I got to the drive-thru, I was so hungry that I ordered a lard sandwich with extra butter and a side of gravy, an order of fries, and of course, the requisite Diet Coke. I mean, I was hungry, people! Who wants to take the time to chew on field greens when they're emaciated? I want a cow! (And I don't even like beef!)
Another time I eat garbage is when I'm overwhelmed. I work well under pressure. I like being busy. When my calendar is full of commitments, I buckle down, organize everything and get cracking. No problem, right? But I've found there's a fine line between busy and overwhelmed. When I start to cross that line, I shut down. I no longer prioritize and take care of business. I can no longer break projects into smaller chunks and get it done. I sit there like a deer caught in the headlights, not knowing what to do. So I do nothing at all. I don't know where to start, so I don't start at all. Instead, I reach for the pretzles, or chips, or ice cream, or nachos, or cookies. OK, fine - I reach for all of the above. Hey, I keep busy that way, right? Well, my mouth is busy anyway.
I read somewhere that it takes 3 weeks to break a habit. It does make sense, I suppose. It takes time to retrain our brains. If only we could replace a negative behavior with a more positive one for 3 weeks (only 21 days!), it might just become more natural to us. If we could just replace that half hour of TV in the evening with a brisk walk around the neighborhhood, maybe after 3 weeks, we'd start to look forward to our evening walk instead of Seinfeld reruns. Maybe if we could manage to reach for celery sticks instead of cookies every day for 3 weeks, we'd naturally gravitate toward the vegetables without thinking too much about the cookies. I'm not saying that it would become "easy" to make the healthy choices, but maybe it would become a little easiER. Perhaps?
Who's with me? Who wants to try to ditch a negative behavior and replace it with a healthier one for a mere 3 weeks? I'm going to give it a try. Starting tomorrow, of course. There's a piece of cheesecake calling my name right now.
Or I could just follow Brooklyn's diet...
For breakfast, I could eat a piece of string cheese left in my high chair from yesterday's lunch.
For lunch, I'll throw my chicken fingers on the floor, I'll push my corn off my plate, and I'll use my fry as a spoon to scoop up and eat 2 1/2 cups of ketchup.
After I've had my fill of ketchup, I'll eat chocolate sauce until it drips from my face.
For an afternoon snack, I'll eat 2 M&Ms I found on the sidewalk.
Then, for dinner, I'll look at my plate and scream, "I don't wan' it!" repeatedly until someone takes it away from me.
And for dessert, I'll follow Joe around until he breaks down and gives me bites of his ice cream.