I had boxing with my trainer this morning. Sure was a fine way to get the morning's traffic jam stress out of my system. If I could start every day punching the bejeebies out of some inanimate object I might be a calmer person all round.

I seem to let things get on top of me so easily these days. When I get stressed I completely forget the tools and techniques I’ve learned over the years to deal with it. Tools and techniques which aren't food I mean. Just the simple concept of remembering to breathe deeply would be a start.

A year or so ago, right around wedding-planning time, I was doing my best not to sweat the small stuff, just as everyone had told me. Problem was I could no longer recognise "the small stuff" for what it was. I was running late to meet someone, the traffic was unbelievable and all the lights were conspiring against me. My frustration level started to rise to the point where I was driving like an accident statistic waiting to happen. All of a sudden all three lanes of traffic ground to a halt. Inching along I couldn't see at all what the hold up was, the road ahead was completely clear. Eventually I got close enough to see a man standing in front of all the cars, staring at his feet. My patience was having none of it. I was irrationally mad; mad with myself for not leaving earlier; mad with myself for not considering the traffic and most of all, mad with whatever the crazy mad man was doing. The cars gradually all filtered into one lane to pass him and I finally got to see what was at his feet - a beautiful, long necked, green turtle. Seeing that cute little guy being escorted in front of 6 lanes of traffic to the lake made my heart just melt. I felt all the stress drain away, my frown disappeared and a calm smile took it's place.

The turtle seemed kinda symbolic. I decided to buy a turtle pendant, a reminder to hang around my neck and tell me to smile and chillout in the face of stress. I searched for ages trying to find the perfect turtle before eventually picking up a really cute little silver one in a market in Seattle.

So how long do you think that worked for, hey? Stress free every time I wore it yeah? Hmm indeed.

I have an amazing ability to forget my great new intentions however big or small. Just yesterday I got to my very last mouthful of dinner before remembering my good intention to focus on chewing properly. Just when that last, giant, semi-chewed bite of steak was getting stuck in my throat I was prompted to remember the article I'd found so fascinating and planned to put into practice.

Props, distractions, written reminders, knots in string... none of it seems to work. Sometimes I must admit I secretly believe I'm actively chosing not to remember. Numerous times I've gone out and binged and then afterwards remembered my alternative intentions for such a scenario. Thankfully right now I'm remembering to eat well and I'm remembering to exercise, but what I'd really like to remember is what to do when I start spinning and getting in a tiz... oh and I'd like to remember to chew properly.

So how do you remember a new habit? How do you keep your good intentions at the forefront?


kathrynoh said...

Write it on your hand! That works for me - usually something symbolic since I don't want to write "don't be a big porky pig" or stuff like that on myself for everyone to read! Pendants etc are things you can't see whereas you see your hand every time you reach out for food.

But, of course, these things only work if you have the intention to make them work.

Hanlie said...

It's all about being present at all times. That doesn't come naturally though, you have to practice it day in and day out. It gets easier and is incredibly rewarding...

I think it may be harder for people with weight problems to be present, because we're masters of ignoring the obvious. We all live in a fantasy land in our heads most of the time, because reality is just too harsh. But it's really worth the effort to learn to be present in the moment and it will help you with weight loss!

Scale Junkie said...

Wow what a great thought provoking post. I find that the only way to make a habit stick is to do it over and over, reinforce the habit and practice it until its so ingrained and even then I still need reminders.

I think its so easy to switch off and just go through the motions of life and that is the biggest black hole for us, we need to be aware of every action we take and live in the present and be mindful.

Losing Waist! said...

Wow. That was an amazing story. Really. I have had those moments (they are usually in slow motion). It is amazing that we forget things like that. I think I forget everything everyday, almost. Resolve... techniques. Just like you said... all of my positive coping strategies fly out the window... POOF! PRESTO!

Thank you for this story.

ani pesto said...

Great suggestions, not sure I can get away with client meetings with notes on my hand but perhaps having something on my hand is better than round my neck - time to go jewellery shopping for a bracelet

@Hanlie - have you got any tips about how to be more present? I was recommended Eckhart Tolle's books but I found the advice hard to apply.