Habits or How Often I Brush My Teeth

I am a creature of habit. I like routine. At the same time, I embrace change and find it invigorating.

I am a walking paradox.

But today I’m talking about the habits. According to Wikipedia (yes, I go to the best sources), a person doesn’t have to think about a habit, they just do it. I’m a prime example of this.

Each night before bed, I do the same three things in the same order. I wash my face, brush my teeth, then put on my face cream. Every. Night. One night, for some strange reason, I brushed my teeth first. No big deal. (This is a habit, not a compulsion.) I moved on and washed my face. But then I brushed my teeth again, completely unaware of what I was doing until I’d finished.

These are the moments I worry about my sanity, but hey, my teeth were really clean.

Another example. I take the same route to work almost every day, but at times, I change the pattern. Why? I have no idea. Last week I realized I could revert to my former route, and skip a couple lights. At first, I had to remind myself not to take the first exit, but now it’s part of the mindless routine to keep on driving to the next one.

So what’s my point? (I do have one, promise.) I am in dire need of exercise. I have back and knee issues, a diet any doctor or nutritionist would find worrisome, to put it mildly, and like many people, I could stand to lose some weight.

Again, according to Wikipedia (and an article printed in the European Journal of Social Psychology in October 2010), an activity needs to be repeated for a minimum of 66 days on average to become a habit.

So, two months. I’d need to undertake some kind of exercise for two months before it becomes a habit. Something I do without thinking about it.

Hmmm… That sounds like a lot. I have exercised regularly in the past, with Pilates being my exercise of choice, but I had more time back them to fit one more activity into my day. In other words, I wasn’t writing, nor did I have deadlines.

Bottom line, I have to make a choice. Take action to turn exercise (other than walking the dog) into a habit, or continue to do nothing and suffer back and knee pain, and buy new pants. Sigh.

I’ll be honest and say I don’t see myself taking up exercise any time soon. But the will is there, and getting stronger. That’s something, right? (Lie if you have to.)

Do you exercise? Do you have to force yourself, or is it a habit you don’t even think about? Indoor or outdoor? Gym or no gym? Alone or with an exercise buddy? If you’re like me and don’t exercise beyond dragging the pooch around the neighborhood, have you thought about doing more?

4 thoughts on “Habits or How Often I Brush My Teeth”

  1. Jen says:

    Terri,For me there is one key…find what you enjoy. For at least 2 yrs I tried many types of activities and quit all of them, thinking “I don’t like exercise any more I guess”. Then I tried a step aerobics class at the local YMCA and enjoyed it enough that I have been doing it consistently for 7 years now. I then realized the elements I needed: an activity somewhat like dance, music with a fast enough pace, having other women to exercise with made it a lot funner for me, and I also needed the structure of class. I was an “exerciser” all along; I just needed to find the right one!

  2. Terri says:


    That’s wonderful that you found the right fit for you. I’m still looking, but have to be honest and say not very hard. At least not yet. I did try a step class once. Loved it! But I didn’t know at the time that I had a hidden knee injury. One wrong twist and my left need swelled to as big as my thigh.

    Haven’t been able to do any kind of step/jazzerize/aerobic exercise since.

  3. Cindy W. says:

    Terri, I came to your blog because I had to tell you that I LOVED Meant to Be. So, let me do that first. I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED, Meant to Be. Sigh, I can’t wait to read the next book in the series.

    Okay, now to exercise…I’ve been doing Pilates-Fusion for about 1 month now. I kind of “stumbled” into it. I started doing Barre (ballet) workouts, and I liked them just fine. I exercise at home, too lazy to go to the gym. And I remembered this instructor that I really liked, Ellen Barrett, she does Pilates. So I looked her up on YouTube, and she had a couple of full workouts on YouTube, so I did those. And then I purchased 4 other DVDs, and I’ve been alternating them every day, except on the weekends. She motivates, she inspires, and she keeps it light.

    Pilates fusion is the only exercise that is calling me right now, so that’s what I’m doing. It’s not too hard on my back. It’s just hard enough on my legs and rear. And my arms are looking more toned. I feel great, invigorated. I haven’t felt this great in years.

  4. Terri says:

    Thank you, Cindy!! Both for loving my book and letting me know, and for the heads up on Pilates fusion. Pilates is the only thing that has ever worked for me, but didn’t know about the fusion part. And I’m going to look up Ms. Barrett.

    I seem to be eating my way through the month that my daughter is out of town. Doughnuts, cookies, and Pop Tarts have become daily treats. Add Mac & Cheese for dinner and I’ll be as big as a house in no time.

    Must make time for Pilates! Also, I can’t wait for everyone to read book 2. Don’t tell book 1, but I think book 2 is a little better. 🙂

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