Route 66 – What does it take to create good habits?

There are some amazing body confident campaigns going on in social media right now. Clemmie Hooper, midwife, mum of 4 and author of How to Grow a Baby and Push it Out@mother_of_daughters, inadvertently kicked off a massive swell of solidarity by sharing some of her post-children body worries, and there was an amazing rally of women loving the body they have and sharing and celebrating on Instagram.

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Another Instagram influencer, Natalie Lee aka @stylemesunday is championing body positivity with her Warrior Woman campaign through her blog and on instagram, which aims to get women loving themselves again, in her words: “to inspire mums to celebrate their uniqueness, share their struggles and experiences, and to show that there’s no such thing as perfect and anyway perfect is boring.” So true!

We’re conditioned to be dissatisfied with the way we look, and as I get older I really understand how disempowering this is, and such a pointless waste of time. I look back on pictures of myself pre-kids where I was toned and fit of body, but my mind wasn’t confident and clear enough to embrace and celebrate it. What a waste!

Over the past few years since having Maurice I’ve started so many different different plans for rekindling my mojo and possibly shedding a bit of podge so that I feel more vital and bouncy: Green and Lean, the Supercharged ClubMind Body Bowl. All amazing programmes, which I’ve learned a lot from. But I’ve never stuck to anything long term as I allow the daily trudge of children to give me a loophole for old habits and let me off the hook. I’m exhausted, they’ve been properly challenging today, I haven’t been to the supermarket to be organised, I deserve this extra glass of wine, I’ll just finish this pasta as they haven’t, I’m too tired to go out for a run…

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I listened yesterday to a podcast with Suzy Reading talking to Mandy Lehto about Willpower, and self care. Willpower – that elusive and powerful beast, that evaporates at the end of a long day when a bottle of wine is calling you. Suzy had some amazing tips about how to capture and harness your power of WILL in ways that don’t make you feel like you’re failing. Small chunks adding to your will power bank so you’re not constantly feeling like you’re withdrawing and ending up bankrupt.

She talks about honouring your future self with how you want to feel, rather than constantly serving the instant gratification of your depleted frazzled self.

I read somewhere in my research for writing The Supermum Myth that in order to create a habit the human mind generally on average has to repeat behaviour 66 times in order for it to stick. For me, I tend to lose puff after the first week or so of a new vitality plan.

Improving willpower is the surest way to a better life. Mandy Lehto looks into this more by talking about how hard it is, how we have to work through discomfort in forming new habits, like a wriggly reluctant toddler we’ll have to hold it down to get it in the habit buggy by making it non-negotiable. When it’s non-negotiable, it doesn’t deplete our willpower. As an aside, I once said to Maurice aged 2 about something I wasn’t willing to let go – choosing battles – road safety, brushing teeth perhaps, etc “it’s not negotiable little man” and he said adamantly “it IS A GOSHADLE!!”. This is what your comfort zone will try to say to you.

Try not to let your comfy habits kick up a fuss and wriggle out of new practices by simply not giving them a loophole. Be consistent, plan, creating rituals. Non-negotiable. It’ll feel unbearable, then uncomfortable – then you’ll feel unstoppable.

But look after yourself and your willpower as you do your toddler: are you hungry? Tired? Look after these details mindfully and commit every day to microhabits of positivity and self care change. Small details: I will breathe for one minute everyday. There will never be another day when I don’t breathe mindfully. Set up the bare minimum and ultimately – clever this – you’ll naturally do more as you feel better.

All change is hard at the beginning, messy in the middle and gorgeous at the end.

So I’ve decided enough is enough of being lily livered, self-sabotaging and low of mama mojo. I’m committing (and accountability is a BIG thing) and sticking to the little but often 66-day idea. Every day for 66 days I am going to MOVE MORE, do just a little bit more Pilates, some meditation, some breathing, positive mental tools, gratitude lists. And after 66 days this will be so ingrained into my behaviour that it will be harder to let it go than to carry on.

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Who’s with me?! Every day I’ll be checking in on the baby steps challenge. For 66 days! That sounds epic. But it’s just 66 days of noticing life a bit more.

Today: this morning I woke up and despite feeling lethargic and tired and wanting to sleep in while the boys watch Paw Patrol, I got out of bed and put on my running clothes. It helps that it’s a gorgeous day, but I’m off out for a walky-run to charge up my energy levels for the day and start off on the right foot.

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I’m excited about my 66-day reboot! Let me know if you fancy joining in. Let’s get our kicks on Route 66…

xxx

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