Will Starting New Habits on the First of the Month Help Them Stick?

The short answer from my experience is… maybe. But keep reading! As usual, there’s more nuance to it. As many people in hte West know, we make New Years resolutions on January 1. But why is that? Well, the social pressure and fresh start of a new calendar are powerful motivators. But according to the an article in Womens’ Running, the fitness application I use, Strava, “…analyzed more than 31.5 million fitness records from its users. [It] found that the second Friday in January is the fateful day when most of our annual commitments start to crumble.” That’s not so great. Taking the excellent suggestion of “10,000 steps a day” Sorryless, on March 1 I re-started some habits that didn’t last into February. And since they didn’t make it the full year, I’m doing it again as of November 1. Move over, January 1, we’ve got 11 other months with a nice simple number for a fresh start.

Stretchy bands look easy but can be deceptively hard

I began some daily habit streaks back on January 1, 2018 — walking, not eating grain flour products, writing at least 30 minutes. Although I missed a walk or two, I more than made up for it. I’m going strong on the no-flour rule, especially since discovering almond, lentil and other “flours” that are not as quick to turn to sugar and thus fat (so goes the thinking; how true it is, I can’t say. It does keep me from eating as many cookies, cakes, tortillas, sandwiches, etc. that are in front of me).

This year, I began reading, practicing flute, using MyFitnessPal every day, and doing resistance bands regularly. I’m still going strong with the reading, but the other three dropped off after different periods of time. So I re-started with a different focus, like for flute it’s 15 minutes a day, not 30 minutes three times a week. That’s actually increased my time and made me a daily practitioner since March 1. I also began eating a daily salad, and save for one miss, I’m still at that one (even though I keep promising to quit if I haven’t had it by a decent hour — no dice there, as yet).

It’s the MFP and resistance that gave me the most trouble. I lasted a good five months with them both, but eventually let them go. I wasn’t seeing significant progress with weight loss, and I was doing the bands too late to be sustainable. Plus getting sweaty right before bed and going to sleep with sore arms wasn’t smart. But as of 11/1, I’m back at them both. I’m not going to get very upset if I miss a meal or a day of MFP. In my mind I’m going for 30 days, but realistically I’ll be doing well to record a meal per day.

Today’s salad came out blue but is green and red… oh, that’s why!

My Garmin watch and app automatically adds my calories burned to MFP, which means that I can eat more and stay under my calorie limit. This is a problem because to me that means I should eat more. Muscle loss is a real problem as we age and I tend to not consume enough protein. But I also eat more carbs and things like frozen Greek yogurt which has sugar. As for the resistance bands, a few times a week for 10 minutes doesn’t seem like much. If I start small and notice some improvements I’m hoping that I’ll naturally want to continue and do more.

Other habits I want to start include: tracking all of my expenditures, really working on my sleep schedule even if it means I have to take melatonin or something stronger, and swimming indoors once a week or more. I’m sure there are other habits I can and should be doing, but hey, I’m a work in progress. My lottery tickets are usually defective (though I won $8 and $3 last month), because they usually say NOT A WINNER. So I still have to create some income streams, aka get some jobs, freelance hopefully, which could torpedo many of my practices.

In that case, I’ll have to learn to be satisfied with regular rather than daily habits. That’s still progress, and life is a series of highs and lows, plateaus even, not a line constantly trending upward. I don’t know about you, but I’m like you, and you’re only human, Here are some relevant song lyrics from Only Human (Second Wind) by William Joel. (The video begins with a bicycle.)

Invented by the people who think boring AF data entry burns calories
Don’t forget your second wind
Wait in your corner until that breeze blows in
Though you feel your heart break
You’re only human, your gonna have to deal with heartache
Just like a boxer in a title fight
You got to walk in that ring all alone
You’re not the only one who’s made mistakes
But they’re the only things that you can truly call your own

Don’t forget your second wind
Wait in your corner until that breeze blows in

Billy Joel, 1985

So, will my starting this on the first help me keep doing these habits? I’ll let you know in a month. It’s worth a shot even if it doesn’t become daily or regular is my point, though.

Do beginning new habits on certain dates work for you?

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