It’s June, the middle point of the year. 6 months have passed since we rang in the new year, full of energy, hope and optimism. This year, we promised ourselves, is going to be The Year Of A Better Me. Remember the motivation?
If you’re like me, I have a vague recollection of that high-spirited enthusiasm for revamping myself. As I’m writing this, I’m struggling to recreate that passion that was overflowing on 1 January.
Motivation is fleeting. It doesn’t last. It is a fickle, unreliable companion for the journey towards lasting change.
The humble habit, on the other hand, doesn’t leave your side. Once formed, it sticks around, through thick and thin (no pun intended). Even when I’m sick, it keeps me mostly on track, whether it’s about clean eating, exercising, or meditating.
I have been sick lately, and I’ve not been able to exercise for many days because I’ve been laid up in bed and too weak. It’s okay. For the past 6 months, I’ve been teaching myself to listen to my body, to push myself when I am up to it, and to slow down when I need to. On the eating front, I’ve been eating a lot of fruits, drinking a lot of water, and consuming soupy lentils and lightly seasoned fresh vegetables.
All of these acts are learned – I actually don’t like fruits (I don’t like anything sweet, even Mother Nature’s bounty), I used to forget about water for hours at end, and I was a big carbs consumer, with rice comprising 70% of my plate. But, because I focused on incorporating them more and more into my lifestyle, painstakingly each day, the habit has taken shape. So, when I’ve fallen sick and am at the mercy of my whimsical brain, the habits have formed the guardrails, preventing me from falling off the cliff even at my most vulnerable point.
I’ve lost some ground on my fitness, yes. However, I would have lost a lot more if I didn’t have these good habits in place. When I pick up my routine in the next day or so, I will have have lesser ground to recover, all thanks to my habits.
If you’re trying to eat better, get more active, get more sleep, be less stressed, you will achieve all of those goals if you’re patient with yourself. Bite-sized changes, not big leaps backed by frenzied motivation, are the key. What’s worked for me: Eat one bite of rice less every week and one more of veggies. Before you know it, your plate will look different – more veggies, lentils and healthier meats, lesser carbs (don’t cut out the carbs completely, though. We need them too). Do one additional exercise or set for 2 weeks, then add another. Sleep 15 minutes earlier, to start with, then another 15 minutes earlier for another week or two, and so on. Change happens incrementally, lasting change that is. That’s what counts.