New Habits – 새로운 습관들

My husband and I have been trying out some new habits this year, and though progress takes time, I think we’ve both come a long way since the beginning of the year.

We are both trying to eat healthier, and I’ve been trying out new recipes whenever I can. This year alone I’ve learned to make shepherd’s pie, chicken pot pie from scratch, chicken noodle and vegetable soup, butter chicken curry, Korean chicken soup (삼계탕), Kimchi pancakes (김치전), and a few other random things my husband’s taught me.

I’m not from a family of cooks. In fact, quite the opposite. I grew up on canned corn and hamburger helper (which comes in a box). I used to hate cooking but I’ve learned to enjoy it and to not be afraid of making mistakes. I’m also a picky eater but this year I’ve learned to eat quite a few things I used to despise (i.e. tomatoes).

We also signed up for a gym membership at the beginning of the year. We had to take breaks sometimes when we got busy because he could only go to the gym at night after work, and sometimes he gets home at 11pm. We also had to practice the dance for our wedding, so we’ve delayed our membership period a few times, but when we do go, we always feel better. The main thing we both wanted out of it was to feel obligated to exercise.

I used to despise exercise and Junkyu’s never been a sports enthusiast. In high school, I was required to play a sport every year with my school, and I had P.E. class once a year, so I was in decent shape even though I hated every minute of it. Growing up, I played soccer, basketball, softball, golf, tennis, and I rode horses every summer/fall. In high school, I could run a mile in under 7 minutes and I ran a 5k in 33 minutes.

Running was my worst enemy, though. This year, my goal was to get into running to see why so many people willingly do it (sometimes at 5am!) When I first got on the treadmill this year, I think I could only run for about 60 seconds until I felt terrible. Now, I can run for about 10 minutes straight and I exercise at least 30 minutes a few times a week. I wake up earlier and eat breakfast with Junkyu (a habit we both enjoy but didn’t start until recently) and sometimes I do an at-home workout such as yoga or zumba. Sometimes, though, like today, I go running after breakfast.

I live in a great area where a bike/pedestrian path runs through most of the city under the traffic along a stream that feeds into a river. The path is peaceful, lush with trees and grass and wildlife all around the paved path, and the sound of the water running over the rocks is calming. I pass people on bikes, scooters, with dogs, etc. and whenever I choose to run or walk or bike on the path, I also feel my mood improve.

I read a book a few years ago called The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor about creating good habits for yourself. I remember reading the section on exercise and shaking my head. I didn’t want to wake up every day to go exercise, even though the author talked about how many benefits there were and how it was better to go in the morning than at night, when you are tired or have other things you’d rather do.

Now I completely agree with him. When I get home from work, all I want to do is eat dinner and relax. I hate getting home and feeling guilty because I have to either get up and go to the gym or skip it and feel like I shouldn’t have. Thankfully, I have a job that starts later in the day, so I don’t have to get up at the merciless hour of 4am or anything.

Another thing I’ve started doing is making the bed each morning. I heard somewhere that it boosts your mood and makes you feel as though you’ve accomplished something already in the day. I do feel better once it’s done, so I’d recommend that to anyone who wants to start with a small habit that doesn’t take a ton of effort.

I’m also getting back into my writing and I study languages every day with Duolingo or Memrise. I’ll talk more about learning German in another post, but I’ve really come to enjoy the part of my day that I dedicate to learning it. Next year, I’ll have to take my final Korean class with KIIP, but for now I like having mornings all to myself.

I also just got back from America with a huge stack of books and a few comic books that I want to read. I usually spend a lot of time watching YouTube or Netflix, but sometimes I do crafts when I watch TV to feel a little bit more productive. However, I feel like I’m always finding ways to be productive and I also want to learn to just enjoy time spent doing nothing.

I’ve starting writing in a 5 year one-line journal which has been really fun! Every day there is a prompt and you write in it every day for 5 years. It will be really interesting to see how my answers change in that time. It’s another habit I’ve picked up that I look forward to each day.

Fall is my favorite season because it feels like the beginning of something. I used to start school in the Fall, so I always feel optimistic and giddy about new clothes, new friends, and new things to learn. I hope I’ll keep up my new habits as the year goes on.