Ah, you gotta love that new-lifestyle feeling. It’s great, isn’t it? Everything is bright and full of promise, energy is high, and you just feel like things are about to change. For real this time. You’ve signed up at the gym, bought all of the food needed for your meals, and this time, things are going to be different.
And it really is different. The workouts are challenging but fun and you feel like you’re getting the hang of it. On the weekends, you’re able to make healthy choices when everyone else is drinking beer and eating chips. There was that time when you ordered veggies instead of fries and you didn’t even have to convince yourself to do it. You are riding the wave and the view is fantastic.
But then, one day, something feels off. Nothing’s wrong, really, it’s just kind of a normal day of doing your healthy thing. But no one comments on it anymore, and the breakthroughs feel less exciting, and it kind of seems like your new healthy life is just...your life.
When this happens, there are usually two different paths we can take. The first is to settle in and enjoy the ride, taking pride in the hard work that has gone into creating habits that stuck. The second is to poke at it with a stick until it falls apart and needs to be fixed, which is what we usually do, by sabotaging our progress with a “cheat meal,” or unintentionally looking for drama to get involved in.
It feels weird when everything is going well, doesn’t it? Sometimes during one of those weeks when I arrive to meetings early, I don’t need to go to the grocery store three times, and there isn’t a growing pile of laundry in the bathroom, I think I must have forgotten something. Surely one of my children was supposed to be at the dentist or someone is sitting in a restaurant waiting for me to arrive. It’s unsettling when things go well. But sometimes things are going well because the strategies we put in place to improve our lives are actually working. What? Yes, it can happen.
It is at these times when I encourage my clients to take the first path.
Imagine that you are in a tunnel on a busy highway. Before you reach the tunnel, the road is loud and cars zip around you, and it is kind of stressful. Then you enter the tunnel and are absorbed in white noise. Cars have to stay in their lanes in the tunnel. The radio signal gets lost for a few seconds, and all you hear is the quiet hum of your car. It’s different, and a little weird, but not bad. Then before you know it, you’re back out into daylight, among the chaos of the highway, and things are normal again.
The weird place where life is going pretty well and your healthy habits have become rote is like that tunnel. It’s different, and a little weird, but not bad. And, it’s temporary. Believe me, there will be a time soon enough when your life gets crazy again and maintaining your healthy habits feels like work, and you wish you could go back to that time when things were boring and healthy living was easy.
Starting new habits can feel like that chaotic highway, especially when you’re making progress and seeing results every day. It’s expected for things to feel different as you travel down the road; after all, making things different is why you started in the first place!
If your habits have become your life, and you’re in that weird tunnel this week, congratulations. That’s what is supposed to happen. Enjoy that weird place. It’s not bad.
About This Blog
Each week, I write the "Healthy Heather Blog" in the Tallahassee Democrat. It is republished here in case you are not a subscriber (what???). Sometimes it is really good and other times it is just okay. Thanks for reading it regardless of your opinion!