Behavioral change

Eating has often been a strategy for me when being in a stressful situation. For several years I managed to choose other strategies for handling e.g. stress and then, again, for the last six months, I am back into the destructive habit of overeating.

Since one of my best friends is a runner, I have the opportunity to reflect upon our different choices. When she is in stress, she goes to the gym or for a long intensive run. When I am in stress, I eat.

The question that thrills me the most at the moment is:
What is the crucial fact(s) that make you choose one or the other of the strategies and turn it into a habit? Is it just coincidences? A friend asks you if you want to go for a run and then you get hooked? Eating your first chocolate bar craves the next one and the next one?

Reading the book The real happy pill by Anders Hansen has made me discover a whole world of new understanding of the brain and the benefits of physical exercise.

However, my question of why you make one choice or another, is yet to be answered.

Is it maybe also a question of how you look at yourself? Exercise is achievement, a way to show oneself and others what you can accomplish (e.g. a marathon).

Eating sweets is for me connected to hiding and hiding within a body that gets bigger and bigger. Nowadays I don’t feel that much shame anymore for my eating and can look at it with more curiosity, all in the aim of finding healthier habits and with the love and compassion for myself that I once did not have.

One story about a depressed woman in Anders Hansen’s book illustrates very well the connection between physical exercise and self-confidence. One of his previous patients cured her depression with physical exercise. Not only did she get in better shape and in a better mood. Her self-confidence grew stronger as her change became a result of her own achievement.

How long does it take to change an almost lifelong strategy? How long will I need to exercise until my body prefers 30 minutes on a bike to some comforting grams of sweets?

Is physical exercise or eating sweets just a question of habit or also of identification? If I start to see myself as someone that exercises, someone who loves to move, will that change how I see myself in a more general perspective as well?

Maybe habit and identification go hand in hand and by starting (already three days ago!) with physical exercise, identification will follow.

I will make the strategy of physical exercise my own…

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2 reaktioner på ”Behavioral change

  1. Dear friend,
    Thank you for your blog post and for sharing your thoughts! As a dedicated runner, I would say that it is both a habit and an identity when I exercise. However, the main reason that I run is because I love it; it makes me feel good and alive!
    They say that it takes approximately 6 to 8 weeks to change something or to learn a new habit. Of course, you have to be persistent and my fist advice is to have a plan and/or a goal. I could be e.g. to plan to sit on the bike for 30 minutes 3 times a week. When you manage to actually do that for a period of time, then increase either the time on the bike or the number of sessions per week.
    Have a realistic goal which could be that in 2 months, you want to be able to bike for 1 hour. When you reach the goal, reward yourself – not necessarily by eating something delicious but it could also be to buy a nice piece of clothes that you like. Be good to your self!
    For me, exercising is as natural as brushing your teeth, eating and sleeping. But it wasn’t always like that. It didn’t take me long to get hooked on running (in Paris 1998) but it took me much longer to like going to the gym and lift those weights…but now I like that too and feel a need for it as well.
    So, have patience. Set realistic goals and don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t fulfill them immediately. It is better to sit on the bike for 10 or 20 minutes not going on the bike at all. Habit or identity – just do it 🙂

    Gilla

    1. Dear friend, a very late thank you!
      I have not made any plans or goals yet. That will come in some time. However, I often wake up in the morning with the feeling of ”Half an hour on the bike would be a nice way to start my day…” and then, as you say ”Just do it”. And yes. It gives me a good feeling of being alive as well! It’s like if my body were slumbering for long and starting exercising has joyfully waken it up to a longing for more vitality.

      Gilla

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