Building Habits

Habits are difficult. It is very easy for me to build bad habits, and I struggle to build good habits. The positive/negative effects of habits can be far reaching, depending on the scenario. One thing that I often struggle with is my weight. I’m not morbidly obese, but I am fat. This is due to bad habits that I’ve maintained over a number of years: stress eating, bored eating, poor portion control, poor diet, not enough exercise etc. The long story short is that I don’t do enough to monitor myself and don’t exercise nearly enough; I’m not doing a good enough job at taking care of me.

In admitting to myself that I have a problem, I talked about this with Seth on our podcast where I told him that I eat my feelings. And while I understand that a lot of people do this, it’s not a sustainable thing for me to do. There are a number of reasons why I personally wanted to devote an entire episode about it, but there were two big reasons: that 1) Seth had gone through something similar before, and has spent some time building good habits which he maintains today; 2) I needed to gain some accountability.

It kind of sounds stupid when I start thinking about it. Why do I need to be accountable to the listeners of a podcast that I do? Why do I now need to be accountable to the people that are reading this?1 Why can’t I be accountable to myself and to my family? When it gets down to it, I really need to be accountable to my family the most: my wife and sons count on me, and I need to be around for a long time to help them through life. I also want to be a good role model. So this isn’t a question of something that I just want to do: I have to do it.

One of the things that I talked about on the show was time management. I needed to set aside some time to do this. And with as busy as my life can be at times, the morning is open. It just requires that I wake up earlier. And since I’m going to the gym, I can just get ready for work and leave from there. The only thing that I need to do is prepare my workout and work bags the night before, plan my meals/snacks for the next day, and get to bed early. The more I think of this, it’s really coming down to time and task management: setting aside the time to do it, and completing all the steps.

Since we recorded that show, I’ve been to the gym at least 3 times a week; I’m now in the fourth week, and I feel like the habit is there. I’m getting things set up the night before with my bag and clothing, and getting to bed earlier. I’m not seeing significant weight loss yet, and I don’t expect to anytime soon.2 But what I am feeling is more energy throughout the day when I work out; the off days aren’t as energized, but I feel better than I did before. I’m generally feeling better with everything in life. I’m able to handle stress better. I just feel better.

I’m going to follow some of what Seth said, even though he isn’t a nutritionist or personal trainer. He’s more of a personal productivity advisor and life coach.3 I’m not setting out to hit quantitative metrics: I don’t care about tracking my calories; I don’t care exactly how many minutes I’m working out; I’m not tracking my weight every day/week/month. I’m going go by qualitative goals rather than quantitative: Do I feel better? Do clothes fit better? Do I have more energy? Do I have less anxiety? Am I building stamina in my workouts, and improving my fitness overall? If I’m hitting all of those, I’m doing the right thing. Hopefully over time, I can build the healthy habit to get healthier and more active. And if I can accomplish this and stick with it, then that takes all of the things I once thought to be impossible in my life and makes them possible if I want them to be. I’m really enjoying this renewed focus in bettering myself. I’ll keep you posted on how it’s going.

  1. Hello, dear listeners/readers.
  2. I am down 5lbs in 3 weeks, however.
  3. Seriously, he’s amazing at advice. Well, most of the time…