The most important thing is to start. But the second most important thing is to continue, even if you don’t feel like it.
The more you quit something when you don’t feel like it, the more you’ll get used to it. Quitting is a habit, like any other. The more you do it, the more engrained it becomes.
The reverse is just as true: continue doing something, even when you don’t feel like it. It will make the quitting habit fade away, if it was present, or build resilience. You’ll get over the feeling of quitting easier. You’ll start feeling like quitting less and less.
This can be thought of as consistency. And it’s one of the most important things in habit formation and habit maintenance. I’ve experienced it first hand many times, even long after a habit was cemented.
I’ve been lifting weights at home daily for more than half a year now. Not many, just one or two sets, but the fact that I do it daily kept me going easily. A couple of months ago, in one day I skipped. A single day. Well, the day after that, I felt much more inclined to skip again.
I, for one, was baffled, so let that sink in for a bit. After 8+ months of a daily habit, skipping once made me feel much more tolerant about skipping the next day. I didn’t skip, but I couldn’t believe that I had thoughts of ”eh, it won’t be that bad if I skip again, I’m really tired”.
For food it went worse; much worse and I didn’t even realised it…
I dropped sugar/junk food/sodas for more than 8 months now and I’ve been eating quite healthy for about half a year. No sugars, reduced processed carbs, veggies, fruits. At some point a while ago, at a friend’s birthday, I ate slightly worse than usual. Don’t imagine I went overboard; I just ate slightly more than usual and a bit of sweets.
Well … the next week, I ate half a tiramisu and a cannelloni — not that bad. But then, the next Monday after, I ate a lot of homemade pastry with cheese — still not that bad, but getting worse. Tuesday I ate a few more. Friday I ate 2 eclairs. Saturday I ate a homemade pizza with cheese — not that bad, but it kept the down spiral going. Sunday I ate sweets, like for real. Monday I ate 1 relatively big tart and Tuesday another one, along with another homemade pizza with cheese.
Wednesday — finally — I realised what’s happening. But that’s mostly because I weigh myself every morning and I track all the food I eat. The red alarm was rang by the fact that in 2 weeks I lost no weight. I checked my food log for the past 2 weeks, I made the connection and I decided to stop. After a few days I gave in again, but that was about it.
At no point did I realise that what I’m doing is wrong; I didn’t realise what’s happening. Not the eclairs, not the sweets, not the tarts. When buying the tarts I even thought to myself that "it’s not that bad, I used to eat two at once and this time I’ll eat one now and one tomorrow". And I believed it, I literally played myself!
Had I not kept track of weight and food, it would’ve slowly went out of control. Maybe I would’ve realised after +5 kgs, at which point it would’ve been so much harder to get back on track, if ever.
Consistency can work for you, but it can sure as hell work against you, if you’re not careful. Choose the right consistency and you’ll see progress you won’t believe. Choose the wrong consistency and you won’t even realise when everything went down the drain.