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The healthy habit diaries: the final entry

November 20th 2016 / Ayesha Muttucumaru Google+ Ayesha Muttucumaru

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Our 66 days are up. Did we succeed and make our new habits stick? Read on to find out

66 days ago, the GTG team decided to accept the challenge to try and make a new healthy habit stick. From the daily to the weekly, our aims ranged from meditation to gratefulness, a digital detox to a water influx and it proved harder than anticipated with many ups and downs along the way.

Whether in September or as we look towards the new year, many of us would have made or may be wanting to take on a new healthy habit. However once accomplished, how do we maintain them and make them stick? According to clinical hypnotherapist and GTG Expert Terrence the Teacher, strength in numbers and reminding yourself how far you’ve come make for the most valuable of helping hands. Here’s his four step action plan for making sure your new mindset makes the transition from short to long-term.

1) Keep on rewarding yourself

“Most habits are created and formed by the three steps - routine, cue and reward. By continuously rewarding the new habit, it will get anchored as a positive experience in the subconscious.”

2) Connect to a group

“Beliefs grow out of communal experience. Sharing your new way of being with a group that supports you will strengthen your commitment to the new habits.”

3) Remind yourself daily why you took on the new habits

“It is good to look at your reason for changing. Reminding yourself of a positive outcome is very motivating. Do it every morning and set yourself up for a great day.”

4) Reset your goals

“As you take on new habits, you will change. When we change, we often find our goals change. For example, you might start out wanting to lose 5kg. Once you have lost that amount, resetting your goal will help to validate the new habits. Some people might want to shift some more weight or now want to keep the weight off. Staying clear about your goals is a powerful tool.”

MORE GLOSS: The healthy habit diaries - entry 1

Susannah Taylor, Editor-in-Chief

Healthy habit: stop wasting time on social media

“I’ll be honest, doing a digital detox hasn’t been easy. I feel I’ve fallen off the wagon and got back on it many times over the past few months, but that just shows how utterly addictive our digital devices are and it is symptomatic of the way we live now.

“What has worked? Well I really don’t spend much time on Facebook any more AT ALL. When I feel like posting up a rant about the Chiltern trains, Donald Trump’s rat hair or whatever, I quite like venting off on there, but I don’t really look at much else. Have I missed anything? Not at all. I have also been trying not to look at my phone too much in the working day, which is strangely liberating and I feel I can concentrate much better on the task at hand and get more done. Am I able to block-look at my emails twice a day? Am I hell. Get The Gloss is a daily website and things need to be done immediately so I’m finding that particularly hard, but this is an ongoing mission I am going to try to tackle because it is ENDLESS.

“What else have I failed at? Instagram, I can’t help looking at Instagram. I love/hate it with a passion. I love creating images and posting them up, but I hate the way that little red dot draws you in to check who has liked it. Why do I care? I also love looking at everyone else’s images and I know it’s because of Instagram that I barely need to read a fashion magazine, a cookbook or go to a shop ever again - it’s all on there to inspire us from the comfort of our sofas. However, I hate the way it draws me in and loses me down a rabbit hole for a while. But maybe I shouldn’t see this as a bad thing, visuals are my thing and maybe it’s giving my overworked brain time out, (what’s more I just started up an Instagram account for my illustrations.)

All in all I’m very pleased I’ve attempted this mission. I am sleeping better with the phone out of the bedroom now (and I’ve got my husband to put his away – he leaves it an inch outside the bedroom door but I’m working on making this a metre) and I’ve generally become more mindful about how insane our fascination with the 4 inch by 2 inch square in our hands is. What’s more I don’t take it to the loo with me any longer – realising that this alone was utterly ridiculous (come on you do it and it is) is a breakthrough in itself.”

Judy Johnson, Online Editor

Healthy habit: to do something creative once a week

“While I’d say my ‘habit’ was more of a hobby that I wanted to take up, either way I have failed at doing something creative once a week; it never became something regular that I planned into my diary like I wanted it to. Time really has not been on my side recently - it’s been a busy couple of months and even a week off for a ‘staycation’ with my family, where usually I’d devour a few books and pen some writing ideas, rushed by in a flurry of auntie duties and catching up with relatives; taking an evening for myself just wasn’t possible.

“In fact, this task has made me realise I really don’t take time out enough (perhaps I am a self care saboteur?) to do what I really want to do. My spare time is often spent on things I either have to do or feel I should do; my mind is always busy and it’s only in those odd few moments to myself, in the shower or when I’m dashing to pick up a Pret lunch, that ideas will flow and I’ll make a mental note to do them later…only I rarely do.

“That said, I have been writing more both in my day job here at GTG and in my spare time in little paragraphs or phrases that I want to turn into something bigger; the art classes were hard to keep up (they book up fast and then I wimped out on one when my friend cancelled) but I’ve every intention of going to more. I’m also heading to the Natural History Museum this weekend to see the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition - which I’m ashamed to say is the first time I’ll have been to a gallery in London all year, but here’s hoping it’s the start of more regular visits. Most importantly it’s opened up my mind to what I could be doing with my (albeit limited) spare time; I always used to think people who had hobbies, be it sculpture or knitting or singing or beyond, were those who were already brilliant at it, and perhaps even defined by it - whereas now I see that I love being creative and can dip in and out of it, try new things and see where it takes me. Perhaps I just haven’t found my perfect creative outlet yet - or perhaps being a writer for my career is satiating that urge, given it’s my dream job. Either way I’ll keep creating, and remind myself once in a while to do something purely because I want to. That’s quite an important habit for all of us to have, I think.”

Lorna Patrick, Marketing Assistant

Healthy habit: to drink at least 6 glasses of water a day

“Well, this really was a lot harder than I thought. As you've probably guessed, I'm not quite at the 6-8 glasses of water a day I'd hoped for and actually, I'm not annoyed about this at all. For many weeks of this process I tried forcing myself to drink water constantly, ending up with many trips to the loo. If I didn't reach the daily quota, I'd be disappointed and even though I had increased my water intake to that level, the constant stressing over how many glasses I'd drunk became a bit too much. I stopped worrying and thinking about it and I just let it be, and that's where I realised how much progress I'd made anyway.

“I don't drink 6 glasses of water a day but I have upped my intake to a point I wasn't even close to before and who knows, maybe I'll get there eventually? Some days I probably do. Others not so much but gone are the days I forget to drink - and I'm so happy about that.”

MORE GLOSS: The healthy habit diaries - entry 2

Gemma Painter, Digital Marketing Manager

Healthy habit: to go to the gym three times a week

“It all started so well. The outlook was so promising. Gym twice a week? Nailed it. Gym three times a week? 60 days to achieve it? Ahhh….nope! And I don’t even mean, ‘I didn’t achieve the third visit a week.’ I mean, ‘I didn’t go at all!’ Where did it all go wrong?

“Well after the first month, it was my routine. I blamed not going on the fact that I was buying and moving into a new home and there were a lot of things that came with this - time consuming things, but even I knew that really wasn’t a prevention. It was an excuse. The second month? Just laziness...and fear.

“The laziness was there like it has always been there and, unlike the summer when it was bright and warm and I wanted to be active now, I wanted to curl up indoors in the warmth, eating comfort food and enjoying all the new TV shows the autumn schedules have to offer. The fear was affecting my routine again. I had already upped and left the comforts of North London and a gym that I had become very comfortable with, to the stretches of West London with different commuting times and the prospect of joining a bigger gym I did not know (and with a much higher membership fee!). So, if my commitment to something new over the last two months was to eat more food, spend long times sitting (or lying - it’s optional) down and be as lazy as possible, I would have succeeded immensely and would probably be accepting my OBE in my (lack of) achievement right now.

“Laziness on this scale can only last so long however, and despite the lengths I have gone to to achieve so little, the last week has seen me join the gym and go twice on two consecutive days (let’s get out the non-alcoholic fat-free, dairy-free protein smoothie shake and celebrate) with the determination to go a third time before the week is out. But, it’s not because I had a goal that I failed at and want to recover from before the time is up - it’s because I genuinely want to go, and I want to go in my own time in my own way at a speed I am comfortable with. I don’t want to have a goal to reach that must be reached in a certain time by a certain date. I simply don’t work like that. The pressure is too much. Fitness is about having happiness of the mind, and happiness of the mind keeps me mentally fit, if not physically fit, and arguably, is that not just as important…?”

Victoria Woodhall, Deputy Editor

Healthy habit: to have a daily meditation practice

“Oh yikes, my morning meditation has dwindled from 20 minutes, to 15 to 10, to sometimes over the past month. But still I'm hanging in there and don't want to give up as the benefits are just too good to pass up. In the pre-Christmas season when activity levels at work, at home and my children's different schools hit 'peak busy', I am waking up with so much to think about, that it becomes ever harder to ignore the thoughts and not act on them for 10 minutes. It sounds ridiculous, I know; what's ten minutes? So after yet another difficult session on the mat this morning, I downloaded an app called Noisli, which plays white noise with various themes such as a crackling fire, wind, and even the ambient sounds of a tea shop. It came with glowing reviews as to how plugging yourself in can help with concentration, screening out background noise. Hopefully that background noise will include my thoughts. Either way, a new bit of kit always adds extra motivation so I'm looking forward to trying out meditation to the sound of running water and even a rumbling thunderstorm. And not giving up.”

Ayesha Muttucumaru, Senior Features Writer

Healthy habit: Learn how to ride a bike

“Am I ready to give up the stabilisers? Yes. Am I ready to sign up for the Tour de France? Non monsieur. The world of the two wheelers is now a club that’s open to me however, in the interests of full disclosure, my proficiency comes with a few provisos. More wobbly than freewheeling, parks and back gardens are best regarding my route of choice for the time being (as roads might just be a step too far). I still feel a bit like Bambi on my bike with the reckless abandon of a toddler learning how to walk - the wheels move, but sometimes the sheer elation causes me to lose control...that being said though, for someone whose sense of balance has been noticeably absent for the last thirty years, this clutz has seen noticeable strides in her coordination and the experience has made me much more confident and open to the fact that it’s never too late to learn a new skill.”

MORE GLOSS: What it’s like to go makeup-free for a month

Anna Hunter, Senior Features Writer

Healthy habit: to join a choir

“The final entry of my healthy habit diary is culminating in two massive choral performances involving Christmas crafts because those paper snowflakes don’t make themselves. Festive costume styling, intensive rehearsals and much singing along to a Dropbox part at home, which definitely disturbs the neighbours when you’re belting out an odd harmony (for that’s the alto life), have featured hugely in my evenings. The commitment levels have most definitely stepped up, but making friends, prepping for an impending/scary stage outing and the fact that there’s a weekly register definitely help with the whole habit-forming drive. Learning from the pros that lead the choir is also very motivating - from wacky warm-ups to FINALLY getting to sing a bit of a tune we recognise, observing how music is put together on a grand scale is fascinating, and very funny when things go a bit off-piste (‘strong and wrong’ is the prevailing attitude). Making the journey across London in the dark, against the flow of deadlines, isn’t always a simple exercise, but I undoubtedly enjoy myself when I get there, and the fact that the café is still open when I arrive is a bonus. Tea = game on.”

Gemma Bellman, Managing Director

Healthy habit: walking at every opportunity

“Although my walks to work may be slowing down somewhat, as power gives way to waddle (I’m 6 months pregnant now), I’m pleased to say they’re still very much a feature of my daily routine. I actually look forward to this part of my day, with fresh air, space and time to myself with my carefully curated playlist. It also helps take the pressure off mid-week gym going and relentless treadmilling as I know I’m already getting a decent few hours of fast-paced walking throughout the working week. The best thing about this new habit is I barely even notice it anymore, it’s very much become part of my routine, leaving time and space for another new habit perhaps!

“That said, less successful has been my goal to walk more in the evenings and weekends, which I wholeheartedly blame on the clock change and weather. Arriving home in the cold, dark, drizzle makes it less than tempting to turn back around and start pounding the pavement just for kicks!

“Nevertheless, I’ve still achieved my goal of walking more and, perhaps more significantly, committing this to habit - meaning it hopefully sticks - despite the impending routine switch-ups ahead!”

Sarah McGinnis, Art Editor

Healthy habit: to practice greater gratefulness

“Right so I am at the end of 66 days and I have actually, if I'm honest, found this a little stressful - the complete opposite of what I was setting out to do! It stems down to that fact that I was trying to set aside specific time or specific ways to document how I have been 'grateful,' when in fact, the whole grateful mindset is actually just a part of my everyday life. I think within the busy and hectic happenings of everyday life, I often forget that I am more grateful and more mindful than I give myself credit for. This challenge has however brought some much needed awareness back into my life, as it allows me to take note about the good things, which you naturally normally take for granted. Even through life's hurdles, it's allowed me to try and turn negatives into positives, which overall has left me in a much calmer, and I suppose, a more grateful frame of mind.”

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