The Habit That Stopped My Winning Streak
Just because it worked for other people doesn’t mean it will work for you. Habit #6 is a fail.
I was cruising right along in my 30 days of starting a new habit every day. Writing? Check! Planks? Check! Laundry, prayer, and grazing on veggies? Check, check, and check. Enter brushing my teeth after dinner to prevent evening snacking. Insert sound of record scratch here.
I blame it on the red wine.
I had come across this diet hack in numerous locations and it made perfect sense. All evening the minty fresh feeling in your mouth reminds you the eating day is done. What I had not reckoned with was my evening glass of wine.
Most evenings at some point between 7 and 10 pm either my spouse or I will turn to the other and say, “Would you like a glass of wine?”
The other will respond, “Sure, that sounds nice. Thanks!”
We play this game most evenings always reacting as if the thought of wine is a surprising treat, an indulgence rather than a habitual nightcap. Whoever brings it up is the one who gets up and goes into the kitchen to pour the wine.
“Thank you so much!” is the standard response from the person receiving the wine. It’s a way to feel cared for and cherished or caring and cherishing depending on which role you happen to be in that evening. One of those little rituals that grow up over time in couples together for years, serving to cement the relationship and keep it solid.
Which is a long-winded way of saying, you’ll have to pry my nightly glass of red wine from my cold dead body.
Enter the toothbrushing habit. If I headed upstairs to brush my teeth immediately after dinner clean up everything would have been fine. But brushing teeth before drinking red wine makes no sense. Best to wait until after I have that wine.
Sounds good, except it turns out I savor and stretch out the consumption of my single glass of wine as I sit on the couch next to the man I have known and loved since I was 18. The cares of the day fade and the comfort of this bonding ritual set in as the alcohol relaxes my body.
Getting up to brush my teeth at this point would break the spell. I can’t make myself do it. I failed this habit on the very first day.
Really, I told myself, as I snuggled on the sofa empty wine glass in hand, the point of the habit is to prevent snacking. I don’t need to brush my teeth early necessarily as long as I don’t snack.
The guidelines I had set for myself in my habit formation journey were positive habits only so I was breaking the rules. Still, it seemed like the best compromise. I changed the habit in my spreadsheet to say, “no after-dinner snacks.”
I was quickly reminded why I had chosen to only focus on positive changes for my challenge. Previously, I had gone to bed without snacks more often than not. Once I set the new habit as my goal my evening snacking may have decreased by a small margin but now every evening I desperately wanted a snack.
Telling myself I couldn’t snack made me crave snacks much more. I caved a couple of times a week. Worse, whether I succumbed to the snacking desire or not my evening was tainted by the forbidden longing for snacks.
This habit is out of here. I am happily breaking my perfect streak and declaring myself 5 for 6 on habits I will continue long term.
For more reflections on a long marriage you may enjoy these stories:
Should the Bill and Melinda Gates Divorce News Freak Out Long-Married Couples?
If it can happen even when you have money