Habits and Ruts

I’ve gotten into the habit of getting dinner at work at the moment – due to tax year end (TYE) we’re pulling longer shifts and most of this week is spent working until 10pm. I signed up for it, willingly and not under duress, and this is fine with me. However, I either have to make food the night before or depend on the (admittedly free) dinner menu at work. The meals are supposedly designed with healthy eating in mind, but I have my suspicions that this simply means it is less bad for you that fried chicken, potato and bread. As a result, I buy lunch and dinner together in our Deli, where you can create your own wraps in Subway style, although with fresher looking veg and a significantly reduced price tag (I get two pretty stuffed wraps for £3-4 depending on filling). One if for dinner, eaten at my desk. The amount of free veg on offer, all of which I take except tomatoes, makes me feel like I’m eating pretty well and it’s certainly better than curries or ready meals.

I’ve fallen into the rut of buying breakfast at work too though. This is due to late nights and my chronic inability to get out of bed until absolutely necessary in the mornings. It’s cheap, so the budget is fine (£2 for a sausage in a bun with mustard and a bottle of Coke Zero to fuel my slowly diminishing addiction) but the actual food I buy isn’t particularly healthy (aforementioned sausage, bread and fizzy drink). I am getting less exercise as well, since I have less free time. I’m enforcing a strict 30 minute walk policy at lunch which my lunch-mate has accepted under some duress, but that’s probably in the region of 100-200 calories burnt depending on how long we go for and weather (mostly weather). It’s not bad, but remembering that my breakfast is in the region of 350 calories and my lunch/dinner is 1000 combined I’m on target, just.

Which means any and all snacks I have beyond one item of fruit drive me up and over. This upsets me.

My problem is that I’ve fallen into habits both good and bad, and used the good ones to justify the bad. I’d rather eat something a little healthier and more calorific at breakfast – in fact, I’d rather be eating about 1500 calories a day but I’m not good at getting out of any habit I’ve gotten into. Which is why I’ve started identifying undesirable ones as ruts.

Ruts are bad. You fall in them. You get stuck in them. You don’t want to be in a rut. The difference from a habit is clear here, and I’m hoping to cause some kind of pavlovian conditioning that drives me out of them eventually. My next issue is identifying the bigger ruts I’m currently in and getting out of them first. Sure, the smaller or less impactful ones could be dealt with first. I’d get a sense of achievement and be able to slowly build up to bigger and bigger ruts, making those obstacles easier to conquer!

Except my brain doesn’t work like that. If I deal with my biggest problems first then I can definitely deal with smaller problems, and can’t excuse myself for not doing so. Knowing that bigger obstacles are lurking just around the corner, waiting for me tomorrow, would only agitate and frustrate me; life should get easier as I achieve things, not harder.

So my next step is to identify these ruts and rate them in order – and my biggest rut is definitely not running. I don’t make time for it, and when I do, or just have time, I procrastinate or convince myself not to do it. Abysmal, utter and embarrassing failure but that’s the truth of the matter. I’m failing myself on a daily basis. So I want to get into the habit of running again, and the best time to do it is when I can’t feasibly do anything else. When’s the best time for this?

Remember that aforementioned issue with getting out of bed? Yeah, then. I need to be able to get out of bed even half an hour earlier – ideally an hour – and then, while I could write or play games, I could earn my morning shower by doing a run. Once I’m actually outside, then it’s not a problem. I’ll run. I’ll happily ground pound when I’m outside. Is that outside my flat building? Definitely. Outside my flat? One hundred percent.  Outside my room? Pretty guaranteed. Outside my bed? I reckon that’s at seventy five percent, leaning on eighty.

So objective one is get out of bed earlier. Make exercise something I have to do. If I start viewing bed as a rut I’m stuck in rather than a glorious den of decadence and comfort then I’ll be okay. Sure, this involves lying to myself, but I’ve been telling myself for a few months now that I was happy being fat. Once I figured out how to successfully brainwash myself, I’ll be fine!

But that’s what habits are; a form of brainwashing. If you can train yourself into a habit, then you get stuck in them – remember, habits are just good ruts to be in. It’s just forcing yourself from one to the other that’s the difficult part. At least, supposedly difficult; is it really so much effort to run five miles? One? To get up earlier? To climb out of bed before absolutely necessary?

I’ll let you know once I’ve done it a few times.


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