Thoughts on changing habits

images-57I built my house 9 years ago on the culdesac of a quiet street of just 12 homes. My house backs up to the canal that carries irrigation water for hundreds of miles along the base of the Rockies on the Wasatch Front. I have illegally run thousands of miles next to this canal, since Utah has no trail system so we’re left with few options.

This summer, they piped the canal with a billion-dollar federal grant.  Then they put a through-street over it.

Until this happened, you could only turn West at the top of my street, and go far out of your way. Even if you wanted to go East, you had to turn right, wind through a junior high school, and double back up towards the mountains. Everyone in Utah knows, the mountains are in the East.

So I’ve calculated how long it takes, taking the new through-street, compared to the old, out-of-the-way route. Going right, the old way, it’s 1 minute 35 seconds, to arrive at Main Street. That’s the straight shot to the gym,  the kids’ high school, etc.

Going left? Only 1 minute flat.

So why is it, that every single time I leave my house, I turn right?

It’s infuriating!

Entrenched habit. It’s far more powerful than I want it to be. I WANT to go the faster route! But I get in my car, and I’m on mental auto-pilot. I’ve driven this route thousands of times, so I start thinking about

–what I’m going to do at the gym

—some issue one of my children is having

–my to-do list for the day

……and BAM, next thing you know?

I’ve turned right and am wasting time and gas driving through the junior high again.

images-58I literally go the wrong way 90 percent of the time. I am determined, this month, to completely break myself of this habit.

But I’ve been reflecting on how powerful HABIT is. How significant, and even powerful, it can be when we break a habit in favor of something better. Some things we do not because we want to, or even like it or are addicted to it, so much as that it’s simply the default path. It’s what we know.

I’m going to learn to go left—after 9 years straight of going right. I will I will I will.

Matthew would tell me to pull my ever-present ponytail elastic I keep on my wrist, and then release and snap my wrist, to cause myself pain, every time I go the old way. Pain avoidance is one learning technique. It isn’t my favorite.

What old habit are YOU determined to change this year?

12 thoughts on “Thoughts on changing habits

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  1. You turn right? I’m turning to the fridge, whether hungry or not, and putting too much on my plate still, even after loosing over 100 lbs! These are two habits that need to be change for me!

  2. I’m
    Checking your blog every day because I’m so excited about your detox…! I guess that’s not a bad thing :-/

    1. Katlyn, I think we’re a ways out still. I’m done with my part, and the manual and quick-start guide are going to press. But we’re waiting for it to be all put together on the site. Because of the new-site launch and many, many details we’re still working on there, our web development is our bottleneck to progress these days. Thanks for your patience! Coming soon!

  3. I am going to start running again – so I will leave behind the bad habit of being lazy!
    and I am going to have a green smoothie every day. I am good about drinking them but I want to drink one every day! They are so good for you.
    Thanks for inspiring me and helping me start my journey into gardening. I grow my own greens now thanks to your inspiration!
    you’re the best!
    Melanie @

  4. To break free of my sugar addiction by adding more and more plant based foods into mine and my family’s diet. Instead of focusing on what I “can’t” have, I will simply push it out with the goodness of real food. This has been a long road (4+ years following you), but things are starting to click—finally!

  5. Hi Robyn. I have a question about eating this way– I struggle with terrible IBS– and I know that you say that eating this way will help stomach problems, but if I eat anything leafy or cuciferous veggies or whole grain, my symptoms are terrible. I get terribly bloated for days, and my digestive system slows down a lot. Sometimes, I even throw up spontaneously. I talked to doctors about it, but they only want me to be on meds, and I want to actually get well. What do I do, if I can’t anything but potatoees and applesauce without being sick?

    1. Jules, that is a complex question best answered by a good holistic practitioner with access to blood tests, history, dietary habits, etc. But let me say this: if cruciferous vegs and grains cause you gastric distress, don’t eat them. Like I said, a holistic practitioner will work with you on SOLVING the problem, different than the M.D.s who want you to eat chemicals. (That’s all the tools they have in their toolbox.) Please do several habits in Step 8 of 12 Steps to Whole Foods to heal your degenerative gut conditions. Very, very important.

    2. Jules, I agree
      by all means do not eat what makes you sick. Our family has been going to a Naturopathic Doctor for a good 5 years now with much help all around. And just because those foods make you ill right now, once you get yourself back up to par you will more then likely be able to partake in them at a later date. It’s all about baby steps but you can do it!

  6. I find that most habits aren’t a one-time decision. Like keeping a journal habit. I started, then forgot, then life got busy, then remembered and started again. Many times. Eventually though, after coming back to it enough, it’s mine. New health habits for this year? Eating to comfortable satisfaction (not more, not less), getting to bed and lights out by midnight. Happy New Year!

  7. Well, in the last month I’ve managed to integrate steps 1, 2, and 3 into my life. The next thing I need to tackle is to create a reliable exercise habit, which has proved difficult over the past year because my boss turns my schedule upside down every #@$&ing month!

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