By Jeff Yurek
Spring is a time of renewal. For many, New Year is used as motivation to make improvements in their lives. However, spring has always been the time when I change my routine, or develop a healthy habit. It feels more natural to me; maybe because it coincides with nature coming alive again!
Former American Olympian Jim Ryun once said: “Motivation is what gets you started and habit is what keeps you going.” People have different ways of finding motivation. The question is how do we then form the positive habit to improve
Most people say it take 21 days to form a habit. However, a 2009 study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology showed that it takes anywhere from 18 to 254 days to form a new habit and, on average, it takes 66 days for a new behaviour to become automatic. The key is to not become discouraged if you fall off the rails and not give up early. Persevere and reap the benefits. The new habits must be realistic and associated with everyday routines. State your intentions and let family and friends know, so they can hold you accountable to the change.
If you want to start a new healthy habit, make it a simple one; deciding to run a marathon after being a couch potato will likely lead to failure. In my experience, simple routines lead to success.
• start your day with an 8-ounce glass of water,
• floss your teeth,
• substitute French fries for a salad, or
• take advantage of spring weather and go for a walk.
The most important step is to make your new habit realistic and part of your routine. My wife and I started walking on local trails during the pandemic. Our favourite is Springwater; however the walking trails at the Yarmouth Natural Heritage Area outside Sparta come in a close second. For me, it was a tough change. I had low energy, I felt stressed out and my morning snap, crackle and pop were my joints re-aligning themselves as I walked to the kitchen to begin my day. There was no way I thought a hike would be beneficial. Thankfully my wife held me to account to schedule my early mornings hikes. We started slow, around 3 kms, two to three times a week and progressed up to 15 kms every day.
Once a routine had set in and time had passed, I started to welcome the daily walks. Not only was I able to spend quiet time with my wife, but I also noted an unexpected change physically. My morning snap, crackle and pops disappeared, energy returned and my stress felt relieved.
Let’s use nature’s rebirth as motivation for a healthy habit in our lives. Let’s give it time and be persistent. Our family, body and mind will thank us for the positive change.