Friday, January 2, 2015

Your Face is Gonna Stick Like That: Forming New GOOD Habits

by Sofie Couch

I am taking the liberty to dub this, 2015, “The Year of Good Habits”. Who says it’s the “year of good habits”? I do. It is my decree. There was no act of Congress, (and heaven knows they couldn't get it off the ground), so without further preamble... (drum roll, please)… “2015 is THE YEAR OF GOOD HABITS!!!!”
And look at me getting it off to a great start by writing my blog days before it’s due!

Woman Reading a Letter, Gerard ter Borch
I’ve been reading a lot about healthy habits, and one thing keeps recurring: it’s easier to start, than to stop. Do not let your face get stuck like that. So this is my focus. I hope, every month, to present to you, one healthy new habit, some hints on how to establish it, and a personal progress report. Nothing flashy. Baby steps. And we'll just see where we land by the end of the year.

And for the month of January, I'm promoting two new habits: HYDRATION and daily reading. What, you ask, does that have to do with Sweet Romantic Comedy - the stuff i write? Well, I plan to make reading a major ingredient in the secret sauce for successful habit formation.

21 Days Myth
There are a lot of promoters out there of the "it takes 21 days to form a habit" school of thought. I was all set to promote the myth when some reading on the subject suggested that the 21 day method is great for side-bar articles in cheesey women's magazines, but doesn't come with a lot of peer-reviewed evidence. Instead, some other habit forming motifs began to come to light. Habits come about as a result of Quotas and Goals, Visualization/Planning, Looking Back v. Looking Forward, and Mindfulness. (All of this, I heavily paraphrased from as well as other sites and articles discussing habit formation.)

Quotas and Goals
They may seem, on the surface, like they're the same thing, but think of it as a size issue. Quotas are the baby steps that lead you to goals. Goals are the big picture. (My goal for this month is to drink a glass of water before and after every meal and two more besides  while simultaneously rewarding myself by reading a novel (or two or three) by one of my favorite Sweet Romantic Comedy Authors. My quota is to drink 8 glasses of water per day. More on quotas in a bit.)

It's the reason those cola ads are so effective. You are shown a picture of an ice, cold glass of Xola. You hear the phfttt of the pop-top. You hear the glug, glug, glug. You see the Xola being poured from a can into a glass of ice - the sort of ice that's really fun to crunch. (Stop salivating.)

I have set up a special Pinterest page in which I'm posting the imagery for my monthly goal - reading and hydrating this month. I hope you enjoy it and feel free to follow any of my other pin-boards. (Gotta love Pinterest). It's all geared toward visualizing -  a cool mountain stream, your water conveyance of choice - glass, canteen, your own two hands... Turning on the kitchen tap and cold well water, a jug of filtered water if you live in a city. Ice or no ice? Which novel will I keep at the ready for reading while I drink my water?
Young Woman Reading a Letter, Jean Raoux

Planning - it's really important if that new habit requires more than turning on the tap. So if you like your water with a twist of lime, plan ahead and buy your limes, slice'em and stick'em in the freezer. No excuse for not having your glass of water with a little planning. Plot a course for always keeping a novel on hand as well. (I have more than a couple stored on my e-reader.)

Looking Back vs. Looking Forward
That's important in everything. It's like the difference between making a "to-do" list every day and feeling a failure when you don't accomplish everything on your list, rather than looking back over the course of your day and making a list of everything you did accomplish. Looking back creates a win-win situation. But doesn't this negate the aforementioned quotas? Well, kinda. Those quotas are a a suggestion, but I'm not gonna beat myself up over not getting in all 8 glasses.. Even if you forgot to drink your 8 glasses of water, you can look back over the course of the day and revel in your success in having consumed 6 glasses of water, swallowed a bunch at the pool, and the couple of gulps you got when you turned your face up in the shower. S'all good. And 64oz. of water per day is probably insufficient for a person of my, er, girth, so more is good. A glass before and after every meal is a quota. Eight glasses is my goal. Looking back allows me to celebrate what I actually accomplished.

Girl and Boy with a Bladder, William Tate
This is the reward part of the habit. When you drink your glass of water, it helps to be mindful of what you're doing, how you're doing it, and all that the habit is doing for you. Hydrating improves the look of your skin, burns fat more efficiently, detoxifies your body, etc. It reinforces that habit as a positive thing that is worth repeating. Pretty soon, you begin to associate the habit with positive thoughts. And for me, drinking water is going to be further rewarded by reading a little bit of one of my favorite Sweet Romantic Comedy authors with each glass consumed. 

Progress Report:

I drank three glasses of water while writing this blog! And now that my quota is met, I'm going to reward myself by settling down with one of my favorite authors, a glass of water on the bedside table, and a very full... oops. Gotta run!


  1. LOVE THE TITLE and I hope my faces freezes just like yours. I have been trying to find a way to drink more water and change some eating habits. Maybe I'll hold you up as my motivation and get started too.

    So here are some other resolutions for us - Find a way to have diet food taste like a Big Mac, make a billion dollars, start our own publishing house and launch it with our very own Avaloners.

    Happy Healthy 2015 and Mega sales to you!!

  2. Hi Sofie--
    Oh, I like your Pinterest board. I, too, love water but 8 glasses is a lot. You give nice tips for drinking more. Good luck with your goals and I'll look forward to all your good habit posts.

  3. A new good habit each month - great idea. Maybe I could substitute ice cream for water? Or, better yet, I could lose one bad habit each month. (Good bye, ice cream.)