Recently I wrote about the extra weight I gained following a few days of poor eating, which lead to me to consider if I’m dealing with a habit or a behaviour. There is a distinction between these words in that one suggests an ongoing issue that is hard to stop or curb because a new attitude or response has yet to be learned or mastered. The other suggests poor choices made occasionally even though the perpetrator knows the difference between right and wrong. I know that I make poor food and exercise choices occasionally, but for the most part I am make pretty good choices. But at what point is it a habit or just behaviour? Or is it really such a simplistic binary choice? Knowing that I had to be more diligent to lose the wieght I gained, I cut back on portion sizes, ate better snacks, and drank more water. The result was an appropriate drop in wieght. Within a few days, I was back to where I was before exams. Yesterday I had pizza and my lunch. Clearly this is an example of poor eating behaviour. Today, I was back to healthier meals — and only one lunch. As a whole, though, I believe healthy eating is a habit in our home. It’s just that we make poor choices occasionally.
My family has pretty good food and nutrition behaviour. We eat healthy food and we do not eat junk food. As a whole we also have good active living behaviours. But does that mean exercise is a habit in our household? This is harder to determine. We walk the dog. My wife and I go for regular walks in the community. Our children are all involved in a variety of sports. I feel like this means we have good behaviours with regard to , but it isn’t a habit. We all like to sit down and read or watch a movie. We don’t belong to a gym. I still feel like I have to force fit exercise into my day; it just isn’t a natural decision for me. I feel guilty when I chose to go to the basement to exercise or go for a run (when it’s nice out) instead of spending time with my family even though they don’t mind when I make the time for me. Yes I do encourage my kids to run with me, to sign up for races together, and coach their teams, so I know they understand that my wife and I value being healthy and active.
We are a busy family of five. My wife and I have jobs that do not allow us to take time off whenever we want, but we are rewarded with the majority of our summer off. While we do have evening events are various points in the year, we rarely have to bring home work in the evenings or weekends. Given the demands of work and getting kids to their various activities, we are slowly making our healthy active living behaviours into habits. At the very least we encourage our children to be active and we model this behaviour where possible. As much as I try to fully embrace what my sister-in-law says about the simplicity of making time to exercise, I have to remember that it has taken me over 40 years to get where I am and I’m not going to change everything quickly. Changing the mindset of my behaviour will be a gradual process. What is most important now is that I am committed to making the changes so my new behaviour becomes a habit.