There’s a well-worn piece of accepted wisdom that it takes 3 weeks to make or break a habit. I agree with this, I think that’s why it’s so bloody difficult to go back to work if you’ve taken an extended holiday. Three weeks is long enough to get used to the idea of something being the way things are.
It’s week three of #fitnotshit and this ‘three weeks to make a new habit’ thing was playing on my mind. Everyone in the group has been doing amazingly but I was interested to see whether we would all be able to keep it up through the three week barrier. And I noticed something interesting; maybe three weeks is also seen as a magical marker of consistency because the novelty has worn off by now, so it gets harder to keep doing the thing you know is good for you in the long run in favour of the immediate feel better fix.
Especially as this week seems to be conspiring against the whole group in one way or another; forget the everyday hurdles of jobs, families, housework, laundry mountains and trying to find 5 minutes to yourself, we’ve had extra shit to deal with over the last 7 days which has caused issues even for a group of people who have collectively got all the best of intentions.
Three or four of us have had migraines this week and seem to suffer badly with them. In fact it was my own three day no-its-not-just-a-headache-piss-off-please episode at the end of January which prompted me to start the challenge in the first place, because I wondered if eating better and drinking more water would help.
A few more of us have had nasty virusy colds which have either stopped us training completely or caused more suffering when back at it through getting sweat all over our sore noses.
The weather has been throwing every Biblical cliché in the book at us, causing cancelled races and conditions only a mad person would willingly run outside in. Worse, whilst I opted for a DNS instead of risking sinusitis and missed the Harrow Hill 10k at the weekend those hardy souls who braved it had to run up that absolute b*stard of a hill 4 times!
I’ve been feeling a bit miffed this week, because immediately before starting #fitnotshit February I had been off colour for a fortnight following going to give blood for the first time in about 5 years, which wiped me out for a week, and then having the aforementioned nasty migraine the week after. Having then felt amazing for the first two weeks in February I started feeling poorly on Saturday and had to take three days off from any sort of exercise. Then just as I started to feel better my body decided to wake me up at 2am this morning with period pain. This is getting worse as I get older (used to be take some tablets at the start of day one and Fanny’s your aunt, now it crops up anytime it likes for the duration and, sad to say, The Drugs Don’t Work), and these days is coupled with an issue of being too warm, because ageing. So I had to make the super fun choice at 2am of ‘do I get a hot water bottle so I’m not in pain but not be able to sleep because I’m too hot, or do I avoid getting too hot but not be able to sleep because my back hurts’. All of the fun times.
On the whole though I haven’t been doing too badly this week. I’ve still been tracking, and I’ve kept to my planned water intake every day. If you put my angelic choices on one side of a scale and my demonic choices on another I would still be hovering just about off the ground with my halo only a tiny bit wonky, but I have had salty snacks this week on days which were not the weekend and I caved and ate an almond croissant this morning (I was so tired and so grumpy). Irritatingly, it wasn’t even a very good almond croissant.
But that’s what this whole challenge is about. It’s not about being perfect every day. That’s never going to be a thing, and we’d all be insufferable people if it did.
What it is about is cutting yourself some slack when you need to without giving in – just because I ate a sub-optimal almond croissant today doesn’t mean I need to get takeout pizza tomorrow, for example. Especially since I’m bringing cake to parkrun….!
But it’s ok for there to be cake at parkrun, and a bit of chocolate when we need it, and the odd salty snack. Life sucks sometimes, and when it is we need a boost to get over the hurdles. It’s just about keeping the scales balanced as you go.
One decision at a time will get us through the three week barrier! There’s a week of February left, and I’m determined to see it through.