What New Habit Can You Start?

On January 2nd, my husband and I were telling our girls about how we were going to do a health challenge for the next 75 days. After we finished explaining the details of the challenge, I suggested to them that they should join us. I told them they could pick one thing they wanted to do for the challenge and if they completed the 75 days, then they could get a reward of their choosing. The only stipulation was that the task had to be something they were not currently consistently doing. After going back and forth, Danika decided she was too busy to commit to anything right now, but when Sloan heard there was going to be a reward for completing the challenge, she jumped on board. For her 75 day challenge, she chose to drink 50 ounces of water a day. Now, this was going to be a challenge for her! Prior to this, Sloan hardly drank any water. There were many days when I would ask her how much water she had drank, she would look at the floor and then back to me and quietly say “nothing”. I would then proceed to remind her about the benefits of water and encourage her to drink it throughout the day. Sloan would placate me when I’d talk to her about it, but the next day would be the same. So, when she chose to drink water, I thought it would be perfect for her.

As the challenge began, I would remind her each day to drink her water because she would always forget. Then since she’d forget, she would have to slam all her water in the evening. However, as time passed, she no longer needed the reminder. Drinking water started to become a habit for her and something she no longer had to think about. Sloan even went on a trip to Minnesota with her grandparents and remained committed to the challenge. Her Nana told me even on one of their late nights, Sloan told her she could not go to bed until she finished her water. So, there they sat on the couch at 11:00 p.m. while Sloan finished.

As the challenge progressed, I was continually more and more impressed with Sloan’s commitment. Going from drinking barely any water during the day to consistently drinking 50 ounces of water each day was incredible. As the challenge was wrapping up, I asked Sloan what benefits she saw from her water drinking. We both agreed that the condition of her hair had improved, and it was much thicker than it had been previously. In addition, through our conversation, she indicated her digestion was working better too.

On March 17th Sloan completed her challenge! After thinking about it for 75 days, Sloan finally decided on a sweatshirt for her reward. I asked Sloan if she was going to keep up her water intake now that the challenge was over and she said she was not sure, but did say that she would probably want to drink more water now that she was used to it.

Watching Sloan over these 75 days, there are a few things we can all learn from her:

  1. We all have the ability to start a healthy habit, even if it is something we are not currently doing at all. Sloan went from drinking no water on a daily basis, to drinking 50 ounces of water consistently.
  2. Your “why” for changing your behavior needs to be motivating, that way you continue the behavior no matter how you are feeling or what situation you may be in. In Sloan’s case, her “why” was to receive the reward of her choosing. In your case, your “why” could be better health, feeling confident in your bathing suit on the beach, or going on a hike with your husband without getting out of breath.
  3. Consistency is required to build a habit and to promote change. By drinking water day after day, Sloan developed the habit of drinking water so it was something she did and not something had to think about anymore. In addition, Sloan would not have noticed the positive changes in her body had she only drank water occasionally instead of everyday.

So, my question to you is, what habit can you start?