In my last blog post, I explored Gretchen Rubin’s “No Finish Line” and how a finish line can influence permanent habit formation. This time I want to further explore how this strategy of having no finish line has changed how I plan to eat/drink right and move consistently.
Just because I consistently “do” an action, doesn’t mean it becomes a permanent habit. That “finish line” marks a place to stop. And stop for me means I don’t have to do it again. In the case of weight loss, that meant repeating the lose-gain cycle every couple of years. When I decided that this vicious cycle had to stop, I changed how I “did” weight loss. Losing and maintaining my weight had to be a lifestyle transformation, a permanent way of eating healthily. And that change had to be forever — no decision making, just do it. How many times did I make “the diet” the temporary habit I allowed it to be? Way too many times to count over that last two decades.
In fact, this summer I saw this start-finish line played out. I decided to use an elimination diet to detox and identify food allergies/intolerances. Starting was easy, just follow the plan. Then came the re-introduction of foods — remember, I am an all-or-nothing person, so this is hard for me. Five weeks into the reintroduction phase, I had identified a true allergy to cashews (never showed on any blood tests) and confirmed intolerances I already knew. Then I decided to continue to slowly reintroduce foods while I was vacationing — this didn’t go so well. One treat lead to complete self-sabotage. Regardless that I felt amazing while restricting my foods, I haven’t been able to restart the process. That “finish line” in the sand allowed me to leave the “diet” in the land of temporary. Today, I’ve allowed foods into my food choices that I know aren’t the best. I keep thinking I will try the whole thing again, but I haven’t found the intrinsic motivation. My body is reacting in unkind ways to certain food choices, so my motivation may come from desiring to feel healthier, vibrant and energized. Basically, I still need to work on this to remove the decision making and create a sticky habit of making better food choices that give me energy and vitality. I’ll keep you posted on my progress.
Rubin further explains, “The reward for a good habit is the habit itself…Continuous progress is the opposite of a finish line.” 
I like how Rubin explores the “no finish line” behaviour by suggesting that “if-then planning from the Strategy of Safeguards to decide, in advance, how to proceed after hitting the finish line—perhaps by continually setting themselves new goals…or by deciding what the everyday habit should be.” 
So, with my new running habit, I want this to be an enjoyable part of my weekly routine, a habit that gets done without decision-making. I successfully completed the Thanksgiving Walk-Run for Alzheimer’s — at my own pace, none the less — but unlike normal, I planned what I was going to do next to continue moving forward. I discovered that a fun race helps me to keep going — besides the natural high energy and excited motivation from an event is contagious — so I have signed up for another race. My next race/goal is the Santa Shuffle Fun Run and Elf Walk in early December for the Salvation Army. This will allow me to improve my distance, run more and walk less. My goal is to run the whole 5K. And it is only 46 days away — doable goal, yes. Want to join me?
Do you have a goal or habit you want to explore or simply start? Hesitate no longer. Instead start fresh and use this beginning to start a new habit of eating more healthfully, move more or another “habit” that you want to make permanent.
Becoming a healthy you means take the first step. Are you ready? Don’t hesitate. Take action. I’m here to support and guide you.
Email email or call Brenda to arrange your free 20-minute Discovery Chat.
Rubin, Gretchen. Better Than Before. Doubleday Canada, 2015.