Thursday, January 19, 2012

Habits

I'm reading an intriguing book called "Brain Over Binge." I'm not a binge eater, but wonder if the principles in this book can be applied to the act of simple overeating. I often eat mindlessly and compulsively.

I'm on a chapter that discusses habits, and the author talks about how, when you do something often enough, it becomes a habit; almost second nature. This is because neurons can change in your brain. They form new connections that become stronger each time you perform a certain action. Likewise, unused synapses will weaken -- essentially breaking the habit.

I want to get rid of my bad habits and start new, good ones. I'm not sure yet how long it takes to form strong enough connections in my brain that exercising every day will become a good habit, or how long it will take the synapses governing my bad habit of compulsive eating to weaken. But I'll let you know.

9 comments:

  1. Interesting. I've been thinking about this stuff, too, for similar reasons. I've cut back on booze, and I'm watching my food intake like a hawk. This week has been shockingly easy, considering how much I usually graze/snack all day. It's making me wonder ... is it just because of where I am in my cycle? Will next week go back to me being super hungry at 3 p.m.? Am I shrinking my stomach? Does cutting out booze really affect my hunger levels that much?

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  2. I used to be a binge eater and it took a good ten years of therapy for me to change that habit or sickness, whatever you want to call. But then again, I'm a slow learner.

    When I quit smoking it was the first month that was the hardest, then it finally eased up after three months.

    I used to get up at 4:15 every morning to work out but now I can't even get up at 5:30. I need to make it a habit again.

    I find it all gets easier with repetition. Then it becomes the new normal.

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  3. SM - Sounds like my own inner monologue! It's really never-ending.

    Mandy - That is really amazing that you were able to overcome that. Now I admire you even more, if it's possible! It's comforting to hear repetition creates the habit ... Now to begin the repetition. (Also: 4:15?! Good God.)

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  4. My mom always used to tell me that it takes about 20 repetitions to become a habit, so give it 3 weeks. Sounds reasonable, eh?

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  5. Speaking of F@#$ing habits. I really don't want to go to the gym tonight.

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  6. mcaldera - I've heard different theories on how long it takes! I wonder if there are any studies that reveal how long it really takes for a habit to take hold. Maybe I just haven't gotten to that part in the book. :) Three weeks ain't bad though!

    Hubs - I'm so impressed with you babe! Wish I was as motivated.

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  7. yeah ive read once you do something 21-23 days in a row, it will be habit. but if you break it, you have to start ALL over. its weird, but i did that with putting on sunscreen every morning, made an awesome habit of it and then skipped a couple days and that was that. i havent been able to 'remember' or 'care' to do it afterwards.

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  8. The comments I've read here have me intrigued. Seems like about 20 repetitions will turn something into habit. I want to test this theory...

    Impulses and habits are weird things. Ungh.

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