The Chainlink

A very long time ago, I was a smoker. I was in college and I really struggled to quit. I had a wake up call, dealt with some bad health issues related to smoking and that was it, quitting was much easier and right before my senior finals, I walked away from smoking for good. I had a little help - it was a book I read that helped me rethink how I approached smoking. I would have a "thinking" cigarette when stuck in the middle of writing a paper. I'd have a "taking a break" cigarette for my study breaks. I'd also have a post-meal cigarette. Once I realized I was ingrained in smoking, it was easier to deconstruct how I approached each "break" and redirect it to doing something else. Breaking a bad habit took about 30-45 days to become a more permanent change.

I think the same can be said about starting a new, good habit. I use biking as my release, my reward when I have time at the end of my work day, when the weather is good. Now that I work from home, it hasn't been the daily routine but rather, when I am not feeling guilty about breaking away to ride my bike. 

Day #3: One of the few days I managed to get outside (with Shay) and despite the 25-30 mph headwinds, it was glorious. The sunshine felt so good.

I get distracted by the dogs, social media, to-do lists, etc. and getting the time to get on my bike isn't as much as a daily habit as I want it to be. Getting in 100+ miles is harder than it used to be. I decided to do the #30daysofbiking to kick-start my RAGBRAI prep miles and dreamed of riding my bike in beautiful, sunny weather to lunch or for coffee or on nice long rides. Due to some really bad April weather, that hasn't been as much of the case as I hoped. At first it felt a little more like a chore because much of my days are on the bike trainer and now I start my day thinking about riding. How do I want to split it up? Am I going to push in a harder gear or do an easy spin? How many miles do I have in me? 


Inside for lots and lots of bike trainer time

It's become more and more of a joy I look forward to - not a distraction keeping me from work but a way to take a break, jump on for 5 miles for my faux bike commute and jump off to begin working again. Five miles here and there during the day adds up. Every night I sleep better and every morning I'm more motivated. It took about a week to fully accept the groove and start getting hungry to increase more miles every day. 

Day #9: Snow on the ground last weekend led to a fun trip to Ray's MTB park. I have a goofy grin on my face because I finally did the pump track the right way. A super fun way to fit bike time in for #30daysofbiking.

Twelve days into it, I'm excited to finish the 30 days and feel good about the new habit I formed - no matter what, being on my bike is a part of my day and I can easily plan my day around it. I'm also very excited to see the weather improving and look forward to getting more miles outside. 

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Interesting. They say nicotine is one of the most addictive substances known to man. Congratulations on kicking the habit. Now, as far as starting new, beneficial habits, a good friend of mine said all you need is 2 weeks. If you can maintain the regimen for 2 weeks, and you're still enjoying it, then guess what, you've developed a habit.

Humans are very adaptable creatures, much more so than we give ourselves credit for, which is one of the main reasons we've become the dominant species on the planet.

The laws of natural selection don't favor the strongest, the fastest, the fittest or even the smartest. They favors the most adaptable.

Thanks, that's nice of you. Thoughtful words. :-)
Honestly, I quit smoking over fifteen years ago but it always serves as a reminder of how strong we can be if we put our mind to making a change. So starting a good daily habit reminded me of changing a bad one. I think it's easy for many of us to forgo getting on the bike if you get busy during the day or the weather isn't cooperating or another reason. If you aren't commuting, it becomes an extra challenge to figure out how to work it into the daily routine. I like the concept of 30 days of biking in April because it has me thinking about it every day and figuring out how I am going to work it into my day. I realize many Chainlinkers commute by bike (as I used to do) so it might be less of a challenge for a bike commuter because you've already built it into your daily routine. 

 

I smoked in college and never found myself to be addicted to the nicotine. It was very easy to quit since I never developed a habit of constantly lighting up. Maybe habits are harder to quit than "addictions". Perhaps maybe I am addicted to cycling because I ride 6 days out of the week. Nah! It's just a good habit of saving money and keeping my senses in this car sick world sharp.

Congrats to Yasmeen on adapting some better habits.

I am a regular bike commuter and have managed an unbroken thirty days of biking in April twice in the last several years, and am probably on my way to completing it again. For me, the part that makes it achievable is making the decision to do as many errands as possible on the bike.

Thanks! Great advice. 

I don't set goals and don't obsess about riding every day.  If the weather is awful, I don't ride.  But I have chosen to live in a place where I can do everything on foot in bad weather.  If there's no ice or hurricane winds, I bike to do all my errands, often making excuses to ride much farther than necessary :-)  In other words, I have integrated biking and walking into my daily routine, rather than having it as a recreational activity that I have to make time for.  This way of living made me 30 lbs lighter than in my previous life as a suburbanite.

I didn't have to work to create a good habit; I just moved to a place that made healthier living possible.

I have obsessed before, but decided to stop.  From April 2014 to October 2015, I bicycled outside every single day.  There were a few days were it was a silly ride around the block, and once in -30 wind chills were it was a ride around the parking lot.  I do feel your advice is spot on for forming a true habit.

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