Forming Habits Seize the Day

Carpe DiemEvery day is a gift and we all have a choice to take advantage of that gift. I keep saying that I’m going to get some ink with my favorite mantra: CARPE DIEM. While the tattoo hasn’t happened yet, I think we have constant reminders around us to seize the day.  Reminders to stop putting things off, to do the things we want to do, be the person we want to be or the parent our kids deserve.  Today is the day to make a choice to start healthy habits, not dwell on past mistakes that weigh you down but focus on living.

Change is hard, especially for those of us that are stubborn and resist it. Developing habits doesn’t just happen overnight.  It takes work, and a lot if it.  Using my favorite mantra, I broke down how I try to develop habits.

Commit to it.  Obviously the first step and it usually takes awhile for me to get here.  It might be a decision to eat healthier, work out more or use your time better.  Whatever it is you’re working to improve, you need to make a commitment to yourself and write it down.

Announce it.  I used this to kick my soda habit.  Using social media for good, I announced I was quitting.  I knew that putting it out there meant that anyone who saw me buying or sipping it would call me out.  If you want to run your first 10K, commit to it and announce it to your family and friends.  They have a way of helping keep us accountable, without saying a word.

Repeat it.  The old saying that it takes 21 days to develop a habit, unfortunately, is not the case. The time will vary, it could take less than 21 days but usually takes much longer.  For all of us, the more often we do something, the faster it becomes a part of life.  If you are trying to eat ‘real’ food the more often you eat real food, taking in fresh, clean food, the more you crave it.  It becomes the ‘norm’ the more often you do it.

Positive Reinforcement. Make sure you have some.  Life is short!  If you’re trying to walk every day, find a friend that makes you laugh and go have a good time walking.  Set a goal to go to the gym 3 times a week for a month and then reward yourself with some fun workout gear.  The rewards don’t have to be big, just little incentives to keep you excited and ideally not something with calories.

Exceptions, don’t make them!  Until it’s a habit, do your best to make no exceptions.  With my diet coke, I knew that if I allowed myself a small soda every couple of day, I wouldn’t break the addiction.  Exceptions are really just excuses.  Be firm with yourself and it will pay off.

Daily Reminders.  There are a ton of apps out there to keep you on track, whether it’s diet, exercise or getting organized.  I’m completely old school with my running.  I write my mileage in sharpie on my calendar but I also love list and home organizing apps to keep me focused on improving the chaos of three boys and their Wonder Dog.  Test different ones out and then use what works for you.

Imagine.  I’m terrible at this but I know some of the most successful runners visualize their race.  One of my favorite cycle instructors really keeps you in the workout with his use of visualization. For me, I think I hold back in this area to prevent disappointment.  I don’t expect enough of myself because I don’t want to fall short.  I need to get out of my comfort zone and imagine great and I’m sure I’m not alone!

Expect Imperfection.  I try to eat healthy MOST of the time. I love the 80/20 concept.  I try to eat clean 80% of the time and allow some ‘treats’ for the remainder.  I’m an emotional eater and know that I’m weak during stressful times.  It’s too easy to have a slice of cheesecake, feel like a failure and give up.  I’m guilty of this more times that I’d like to admit. I’m working to accept the blunder and move on, not let it derail my efforts.  Don’t allow one bad decision to send you into a downward spiral.  Stop the cycle and get right back on board.  Recommit and use it as a learning experience.

Make it Part of You.  You are the only one with the power to change you. Make your habits part of you and they will become second nature.

I love that we can start every day over again.  New opportunities every single day to take advantage of, don’t waste those gifts.  I might not have my tattoo YET, but I know I’m a work in progress and doing the best I can to seize the day.  Every day is a new opportunity to start over, live the life you want to live and be the person you were meant to be.  CARPE DIEM.

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