90 Day Challenge: Why are healthy habits so easy to break?

Posted by: Rhonda Shrum

Jogging is great for you but hard to get going....

hab·it (noun)

An acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary.

We all have many habits in life; some good, some bad. The bad ones seem to come with ease; I mean, how swiftly we can fall into the habit of eating pizza and chips for dinner, or watching TV all night instead of folding laundry? But the good ones, the ones we REALLY want to stick–those, unfortunately, take more effort to ingrain. I’ve heard that it takes 21 days for something to really become a “habit,” and from my experience, that’s pretty generous. I might need more than 3 weeks to say “this is something I do everyday, without even THINKING, it is involuntary.”

A few short weeks ago, the notion of putting on serums and creams every night was so foreign to me, I actually had to set a reminder on my iPhone to do it. I grunted and groaned but I did eventually begin to get used to it, and even began to look forward to the clean, smooth way I felt after it was all done.

But then, I got my first chemical peel, and my fledgling habit almost went right out the window.

The experience of the chemical peel in and of itself was pretty much a non-event. The one I chose for my first time was simply a Level 1, so there was no actual “peeling” involved. In my imagination (which is pretty vivid) I was envisioning thick layers of gummy materials all over my face, being peeled off in one big hunk. In reality, the peel I got felt more like rubbing alcohol being applied to my skin with a piece of gauze. Simple, easy, no big deal.

In actuality, though, it is a pretty big deal, and therefore I was told to stop using the heavy-duty skin products for a week while the chemical peel did its skin-enhancing job. Admittedly, I was as stoked as if I was in fifth grade and just found out I had no homework for a week. I could go back to slacking!

The funny thing about it, though, was that I had sort of gotten used to feeling good, and stopping felt odd. Sort of. I missed the feeling of feeling clean and fresh and healthy, but I didn’t miss the routine, and I didn’t miss it enough  to re-start a week later with gusto. I had to reset my iPhone reminder, pep myself up again almost as if I was starting over from scratch. Even though I had halfway formed the habit, it was still very, very easy for me to take that break, and hard for me to start back up. If I had waited just a few days longer, it would have taken even more effort to get back on the horse.

Why do these healthy habits take so much effort, even when you enjoy how you feel afterwards? It doesn’t matter how great I feel after jogging, it’s still hard for me to get up in the morning and hop on the treadmill. Apparently, beauty and skin care are not much different from exercise. The benefits are great if you just force yourself to stick with it for at least 21…or 90…days. I just have to remember to keep my eyes on the goal, just like I do at the gym. Healthy skin, looking five years younger…it’s worth it, I promise.

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