Day Twenty-One: Habits

I woke up on time today and got right to my exercises. Today, I moved up to 30 pushups. Those got pretty rough near the end, but I was able to keep pushing. Up and down, up and down. Then I moved on to the 115 crunches. Those were pretty good today actually. Up next, was the big jump of the day to 180 squats. That is 20 more than I did the last time. However, after I finished the first 20, I told myself that I knew I could finish because I already did 160. Another 160 couldn’t be that bad. And it really wasn’t. Finally, I did the 30 second plank. It was not that bad either. Plus, Olivia came and laid underneath me, so I had no choice, but to stay up. I mean that, or crush her under my weight. 🙂 She is still alive and well right now, so I did stay up successfully. It was not nearly as difficult as I remember being when I first started.

For breakfast, I had eggs mixed with taco-seasoned ground beef. This is my favourite breakfast food so far. The falvouring is excellent and just meshes well. I do need to find some type of veggies or fruit to have in the morning, but so far, nothing has caught my eye.

For lunch, I had chicken with taco seasoning, spinach, cherry tomatoes and raspberries. Plus some more spinach. It was quite filling and I still was not hungry by 6 PM.

My Whole30 email today is about habits. A lot of people think that it takes 21 days to form a new habit, but according the email, new research shows that it can take a lot longer than that for habits to be broken and remade.

“Now, don’t go getting all discouraged! When you took on this challenge, we hope it was with the idea that it would change your life. Not change the next 30 days of your life. Not change your year. Change. Your. Life. And it probably goes without saying that whatever habits you had before you started the Whole30 are pretty long-standing—years, maybe even decades-established.

So with that in mind, remember that building new, healthy habits takes time. And patience. And dedication. And awareness. But when those good habits finally stick, and you’re able to function in healthy-mode practically on autopilot, that’s where the life-changing really happens. So keep up the good work.”

The Truth About Habits

  • The Big Man (Shaquille O’Neal ) once said, “Excellence is not a singular act, but a habit. You are what you repeatedly do.” (Actually, he may have paraphrased Aristotle here, but the sentiment is the same.)
  • The actual definition of a habit is: a behavior pattern acquired by frequent repetition or physiologic exposure that shows itself in regularity or increased facility of performance; an acquired mode of behavior that has become nearly or completely involuntary.
  • Habits have three parts: the cue, the routine, and the reward.
  • About 40% of the actions that you take each day are not the result of conscious decisions, but of habits.
  • It takes, on average, 66 days to form a habit.
  • It can take up to 8 months for a complicated habit to take hold.
  • Most habits run through three checkpoints—30, 90, and 365 days—before they become truly automatic.
  • Missing a day or two here or there does not reduce the chance of forming a habit.
  • The first few days of your new habit are the most important to be diligent about


Break an Old Habit

When we start doing learned behaviors on auto-pilot, that’s a habit. And once a habit is formed, our brains stop fully participating in decision-making, which is great for streamlining life—and not so great for making significant changes.

While the Whole30 is the best tool for breaking persistent cravings and reestablishing a healthy relationship with food, the habits behind your cravings and behavior are stubborn, and not easily overwritten. Today, we’ll help you identify the cues for your cravings (what’s bringing them on) so you can more effectively work to change your habits.

Sometimes, cues are easy to identify and change. (If every time you drive past Dairy Queen, you get a craving for ice cream, well… that’s not rocket science.) However, most cues incredibly subtle, making them impossible to spot, and impossible to target for change. The key to identifying your cues lies in a simple worksheet. Journaling your behavior is the fastest way to spot hidden trends – if you know what you’re looking for.

Almost all cravings come as the result of one of five factors:

  1. Location (Where are you?)
  2. Time (What time is it?)
  3. Emotional state (What are you feeling in this moment?)
  4. Other people (Who else is around?)
  5. Immediately preceding action (What what were you doing prior to the undesired behavior?)

Think of one current habit that you’d like to change. Maybe it’s food-related (I always eat some kind of fruit-based “dessert” after dinner); maybe it’s lifestyle-related (the first thing I do when I get home is turn on the TV), maybe it’s technology-related (I check email on my phone way too often).

Now, devote one week to completing this habit worksheet, designed to help you identify your individual cues. At the end of the week, ask yourself, “Do my cues have anything in common? Can I change something to avoid this cue, or increase my awareness around this cue such that I can easily change my routine?”

As with the Whole30, awareness is key when changing habits. Use our habit worksheet to help you spot the triggers for your bad habits—after all, that’s the first step in changing them.

Build a New Habit

If your habits are going to make you, then you’d better choose your habits carefully, right? This whole healthy living thing isn’t just about breaking old, unhealthy habits… it’s also about creating new, healthy habits.

Here’s what we know about habits, from the research—the early days are the most important for creating a new habit, but you should expect at least two months of hard work and dedication before they really settle in.

Here are some tips for creating new, healthy habits:

  • Determine your S.M.A.R.T. goal before inviting feedback from others. Being clear of our personal direction minimizes the pressure of committing to another person’s vision of your life.
  • Use visual cues. Start with a list of the benefits or desired outcomes you envision when you successfully establish the habit. (Remember our visualization practice?) Post this list somewhere visible as a reminder of your commitment to yourself.
  • Free your space. Rid your home, office and other areas of any poor-habit supporting items. Minimizing temptation bolsters the energy we need to avoid automatically returning to old habits.
  • Celebrate the “small wins” and the “big steps.” Recognizing progress at different stages helps us to acknowledge and enjoy the process of change while remaining on task to accomplish our habit goals.

Source: Eddie Miller, creator of the “Inside-Out Philosophy”

Ready to tackle something new? Here are some ideas for new habits to work on now that you’ve gotten the hang of this whole eating thing.

A Bad Habit’s Last Stand

extinction burst

You’re so close to finishing your Whole30. You’ve nearly banished your cravings, and it’s been easier and easier to pass up desserts and sweet treats—even the Whole30-approved ones. You’re practically a healthy-habit-machine these days! And then…

Your brain rebels. You get the worst case of cravings you’ve experienced to date. You’re practically sitting on your hands to avoid raiding the pantry, and you cannot believe that this far along into your program, your Sugar Dragon is breathing fire right down your back… again! What’s going on?

The science-y term for this phenomenon is “extinction burst,” and the good news is that this is totally normal—expected, even. And if you know it’s coming, you can brace yourself for it.

Any time you quit something cold-turkey (as you do when you give up old habit-foods during your Whole30), your brain will make a last-ditch effort to return you to your habit. Once you become accustomed to reward, your brain gets really upset when you can’t have it. So when you expect a reward and nothing happens (it’s after dinner… dessert must be coming! But wait… it doesn’t come? What’s going on!) your conditioned response starts to fade away… and your brain freaks out.

This is actually good news. It means that you are on the brink of giving up that long-term habit (dessert) for good! Your brain is going through one last-ditch effort to keep getting that reward, so the cravings come back in full effect. But you are smart. You know they’re coming, and you’ve prepared for this. You have strategies in place for dealing with cravings and boosting your willpower.

You will resist… and kick that habit to the curb. Winning!

Source: You Are Not So Smart, by David McRaney”


For supper, I had curry chicken and spinach. I also tried to make brussel sprouts, but I overcooked them to a crisp. Oops. Well maybe next time. Then I brought Olivia to pick Ashleigh up at the bus station. Such an adorable reunion.

Until tomorrow.

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