Shifting habits is hard. Getting them to stick is harder still.
Sometimes you write long well-intentioned blog posts about your renewed energy to go on daily walks and it’s not until a year has passed and a baby’s been born and seven blissful but exhausting months have come and gone since then that you realize that the energy for your morning constitutional fizzled out sometime last fall and dear god, you need to get out of the house in the morning and get walking, and for heaven’s sake, not just to the stinky subway for your forty-five minute commute, but to someplace with a bit of green, and maybe a view, and where you can gulp something approximating fresh air! Just me?
I’ve been on a lot of walks lately. The mornings this week have been cooler and misty, the kind with fog so thick that entire buildings disappear from view. After nursing Silas and gulping half a cup of coffee and squishing myself into my sports bra and tying on my sneakers, I help Faye with her shoes and we stumble out the door and down four flights together. She’s usually been in her pajamas, which seems just right to me for early morning strolling. And they’ve been very early mornings. In order to get the walk in before James and I need to leave for work, and before Silas needs to nurse again and go down for his morning snooze, and before I convince myself to stay put and unload the dishwasher, we start out before most neighbors are even awake. Those we do see are mostly on bleary eyed dog walks. If we take the route through the park, we pass a few more running enthusiasts and sometimes I’m inspired to jog a bit while Faye flails her legs back and forth and shouts, “Exercise, exercise!” from the top her lungs, which has the two-pronged result of making neighbors smile and my pace quicken.
I’ve been reminded this week how much improved my days are with a bit of morning exercise, but mostly I’ve been reminded that habits take time to shift and longer to stick. This is the part where perhaps you’re expecting some sage advice on getting habits to stick and, well, I don’t have magic trick, but I do think a general attitude of try, try again is more helpful than you’d think. Because even if you don’t quite manage to shift a habit the first time or the second time or the tenth time, that doesn’t mean you can’t take another stab at it. Even a year and baby later, there’s still time to remember to take your morning walk.
(PS. As a low-key commitment to myself, and in a nod to an original favorite blog series from my very earliest blogging days, I’m going to start tagging some shots of my morning walks around our neighborhood on Instagram. Just in case you’d like to see some of what I’m seeing in those early morning hours and just in case it makes the habit stick.)