In my Leading Organizations class for the MBA program, our professor has repeatedly told us that it takes 21 days to form a habit. He’s said it so much, I think he must be trying to make a habit of it. I wonder how many days it takes to break an old habit? It has to be longer than that. Old habits, as they say, die hard. My case is no exception.
The MBA program I’m in has classes two nights a week, from 6:00 to 9:30. Before beginning my new “let’s be disciplined” lifestyle, I stopped at McDonald’s on the way home from class pretty much every night. Everyone knows that’s the best thing in the world to do…stop and eat greasy food at 10:00 at night. If I ate a normal person’s meal, it would’ve been better (still terrible, but better). But I don’t. I have zero self-control when it comes to eating. A normal McDonald’s meal for me includes a ten piece order of McNuggets, medium fries, large Coke, and then a cheeseburger on the side to wash it all down. It’s ridiculous. When I look at that list of food now, it almost turns my stomach. Not the food itself…I always have loved McDonald’s, and I’m sure I always will. But looking at that list is just embarrassing.
Here’s where the habit breaking comes in. For the last two weeks, since I’ve been trying to become accustomed to a healthier lifestyle, I eat my dinner at 5:00, before I go to class. True, dinner usually consists of a Lean Cuisine meal or something like that for convenience, so I’m certainly not eating whole foods like I should be, but it’s better than visiting Ronald McDonald and Co. at 10:00. The issue is, now after class when I arrive back at home, I’m convinced that I’m starving. I’m not. I have no reason to be. I just have a habit of scarfing down crap when I get home from class. Last night was a difficult night for me. I wanted nothing more than to camp out on the couch, turn on Netflix (have you seen Downtown Abbey???), and thrown back some greasy, no good food. I yearned for it from my toes. I’m sorry, but when I’m relaxing in the evening with some television or a good book, eating a handful of raw carrots just isn’t what I want. I wanted to eat some junk. But I didn’t. I looked longingly at my refrigerator, sighed deeply, and watched TV with no unhealthy food to keep me company. It wasn’t the same, but I felt victorious when I woke up this morning. Old habits still die hard, though…it wasn’t easy.
New habits aren’t easy, either. I’ve committed to waking up early in the mornings. This helps me have some time to myself (I’m an introvert, so I need some “me” time to decompress), leisurely eat a healthy breakfast, get the house picked up a little, and still have a bit of time to play with Bean and Dubs before I head off to work. I’ve decided on 5:00 as my wake-up time. Although I’ve grown to adore a quiet house and the downtime, I hate waking up early. Thinking back to my professor and his “21 days” habit mantra, I’ve decided to continue with my early wake up call even on the weekends. If I take those days off, the habit will be harder to build, and I’ll just go back to sleeping in every day (trust me…I know myself). This morning was painful. I’ve taken to keeping my alarm on the other side of the room, so I have to get up to turn it off. If I could reach it while I was still in bed, I’d just hit snooze and roll back over (again…I know myself). I trudged over to the alarm this morning, bleary-eyed and exhuasted, and thought about getting back in bed for a LONG time. I eventually walked into the bathroom, splashed water on my face, and started my day. I’m on the road to making the habit…just gotta stick with it.
Tomorrow will be a rough day. The Hubs, Bean, Dubs and I are going to Schaumburg to go to IKEA. I could live there. The problem is that it’s our tradition to eat dinner at Red Robin every time we go to Schaumburg. There are 1500 calories in a burger and fries there. 1500!!! I’ve decided to make tomorrow my cheat day instead of Sunday, eat super-healthy for the rest of the day, and above all, STOP WHEN I AM FULL (a big issue with me). Maybe that way, I can enjoy my cheat meal without completely blowing it. Even if I don’t – even if I eat a completely unhealthy breakfast, scarf down too much lunch, and then wolf down the entirety of my deliciously wonderful Red Robin meal, I’ve decided I’m not going to beat myself up about it. I’ve read a lot about the 80/20 rule. If I’ve eaten healthy things 6 days of out 7, that’s 85% of the time, and that’s something.
Now just to stay away from the cinnamon rolls at IKEA…