Week four of “Operation: Try Not To Die From Working 13 Hours a Day and Sleeping 6 Hours a Night” is almost complete. I think it’s a catchy name, no? While absolutely nothing has actually gone according to plan in this whole shindig I have managed to still lose weight through these weeks. I hope that will continue for the next eight as well.

Despite the apathy that seems to be devouring my soul and my jealousy of anyone who actually has a life… (emo much???) I am making it through and trying to keep a good attitude.

I think that I equally hate the schedule and love the money. No, I don’t mean like Ebenezer Scrooge love the money, I mean like I can pay tuition, bills, and get new pants love the money.

All sentiments aside, I am still losing weight and I think that I can give like 98.6% of the credit for this to the fact that I have been working on building habits. Rather than the attitude of “I’m going to do healthy stuff today” I’ve though long and hard about the habits I need in place to make lasting changes. It was a way of controlling my future self. The Kendra of February and March were conditioning the Kendra of May, June, and July so that I didn’t have to think about my choices.

When you work to put habits in place you have to work less in the future to keep them in place. It becomes natural to grab the cottage cheese (yes, even that shit) when you are hungry. My habitual conditioning means that I don’t have the inclination to touch the candy basket behind me. It doesn’t cross my mind and I don’t have to struggle with it because I’ve conditioned myself. I struggled through four weeks with no sugar so that I could break the habit of reaching for sugary things.

I think that habits get a bad rap. When you hear that word do you think of positive behavior patterns or do you think of the things you need to quit?

How did I start these habits? Bribery, extortion, and blackmail.

Bribery: Kendra, you can have a new headband if you don’t touch the candy basket…

Extortion: Kendra, you can only have fruit if you are going to workout today…

Blackmail: Kendra, if you don’t have lunch today I’ll make you eat cottage cheese later…

They are quite effective methods to creating habits but at some point the “positive reinforcers” (bribery, extortion, and blackmail) need to fade away and allow the action to stand on its own.

Now, I know that someone out there is thinking, “Umm, not healthy…” and maybe my specific threats aren’t. I know that fruit shouldn’t be limited like that but at the time I was still working it back into my diet after temporarily eliminating it so that I could get over sugar cravings. I don’t limit fruit now and I have it as often as I feel like having it. I also now eat cottage cheese with out feeling angry about it. So, things change. The point is that I used these things at the time because they worked. I also learned to get out of bed at 6:00am by listening to a song I was obsessed with and couldn’t resist singing along to. Use whatever works for you.

The same methods work for breaking habits too but remember that you will need to replace a habit with another habit. You can’t just leave a gaping hole where one habit once was. The mental energy has to go somewhere.

So, what healthy habits are you building? How do you go about it?

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