New habits

A nail is driven out by another nail; habit is overcome by habit. Erasmus

Last week, I decided that I was going to integrate new healthy habits into my daily routine in order to help with my anxiety. Apparently doing 40 minutes of exercise every day is as effective as taking anti-depressant and since I am not keen on medication, I thought it would be high time I started looking after my body in order to help my mind. However, I have tried this countless times but I usually give up at the first hurdle.

Breaking bad habits is extremely difficult, especially when they are long-term habits. I often see that with some of my students who are trying to improve their English language skills. The students who have been the longest in the country, are the ones who find it most challenging to use grammar accurately. Someone who has been saying: “two times I’m coming to college a week” for over ten years, will find it particularly hard to modify.  We call this a fossilised error – an error that students can correct when paying attention but still make when they are not. It can be permanently corrected but it takes focus and perseverance.

My bad habits are fossils. They are set in stone and tough to break. So, instead of breaking them, my intention is to replace them by good habits. So both habits will co-exist for a period of time, until the good habit takes over. That is my theory and now I need to see if it works.

In the past I have failed because I wanted to achieve too much, too quickly with an approach that was too drastic. Consequently, I have chosen a softer method this time round. Instead of going to the gym every day for one hour, I will exercise in the comfort of my home. Instead of running, I will do a brisk walk (I initially set out to jog but started developing shin splint and coughing my lungs up after 5 minutes, so I thought walking would be a good start). I set myself some SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely) goals. 6 days a week, I will wake up at 6.45 am,  do a 25-minute brisk walk, followed by a 25-minute workout. I will train a different part of my body every day and rest on Sunday.

 So here is my plan:

  • Monday – glutes
  • Tuesday – chest
  • Wednesday – quadriceps
  • Thursday – back
  • Friday – hamstring and calves
  • Saturday- biceps and triceps

Last week I managed 4 days out of 6, because after training quadriceps on Wednesday, I suffered from DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscular Soreness) for three days. The key to success, however, is not giving up even after a few setbacks and this week, I intend to follow my schedule throughout. As for the bad habits (such as smoking and drinking excessively), I expect that they will slowly disappear replaced by the new healthier ones.

Now, I need to wait and see if my theory will prove accurate. I certainly hope so…

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