Life is an endless journey of honest self-evaluation, and self-improvement.
Most of what I write on this blog is really for myself. I literally even write posts thinking, what would I want to hear when I was 22, or what did I need to hear when I was 15, or what topic will be most important to me when I'm 45.
And the reason I care so much about self improvement is not because I want to show people what I'm doing, or start some cult, or tell everyone the right way to live... it's because I know how good I feel when I live healthy versus when I don't and I want everyone else to experience this in their own way.
Also I know how unhealthy, and unproductive I am when I fall out of the routines i enjoy and lately that's what I have been doing.
It's crazy the difference..
What I'm doing wrong:
Lately I haven't been getting to bed as early as I like and definitely not waking up early.
Been getting poor quality sleep. (partially due to lack of routine, and from diet.)
I was not eating time-restricted, consistently enough. (Usually about 11am-9pm)
Eating large portions. (This causes blood sugar spikes, which lead to blood sugar lows and feeling tired and sluggish. I can eat a lot without feeling full so it's important I focus on eating less. I feel best when I eat smaller portions, which is probably a normal meal for others.)
I was not journaling consistently. (Usually morning and night)
I was working out sporadically. Sometimes a couple times a week, sometimes once a week or less. (Usually I feel best getting in exercise early each morning, and bonus work later in the day when I feel like it)
Too much dairy. Increased inflammation and dry skin from dairy. (I have less dry skin, less blood sugar spikes, and overall feel better when I avoid dairy.)
I have not been using my planner and writing things down consistently. (Usually done each morning, and i carry my schedule on a piece of paper all day to write reminders and review tasks as needed)
Not being proactive. (This blog is a perfect example, usually I write several posts in advance so I can select which ones I want and so I can have back ups in case I don't take the time to write some days.)
Not spending enough time with family. (Usually I spend at least a few hours a week with relatives just talking, playing games doing whatever and lately i have not made the time to do that.)
I am certain there is way more but while I don't want to bore people with something that reads like a dear diary post, I do care about being honest and I want everyone to understand why I am so obsessed with this stuff.. because it is truly an endless pursuit of improvement, and I am in need of it as much as anyone.
How to reset, when you fall into bad habits:
While I had been noticing my bad habits creeping in, I didn’t take the time to reset.. but i got lucky. If you are in the Northeast.. You know there was a good storm that knocked out power and helped me get a much-needed reset. A few days without power helped me eat less junk food, stay away from electronics especially at night, and get to bed around 8pm and awake around 5am consistently.
You might not always have the good fortune of getting your power wiped out for a few days.. but you can utilize some of the same tactics.
Vigorous exercise is always a good start.
Normal daily exercise is great but occasionally you need some work that is intense, difficult, and pushes your body. This is always a go-to when you feel bad habits creeping in.
Cutting sugar and most carbs is next.
Often when you’re in a bad funk you are off balance just sort of doing stuff.. Not being strategic, not thinking through things, and life sort of drags you along. To counteract this you have to work hard to keep your own blood sugar stable enough so you don’t feel sugar highs of hyper energy, and the sugar lows of lethargy, tiredness, strong hunger. If you can avoid sugar and carbs and eat more healthy fats you will get much more stable energy.
Drink more water.
Especially early in the day. This is always important for health, we need lots of water. And when you start eating healthier and or exercising more water is needed ever more. After sleeping you should start your day with water early and often to get the body functioning correctly. This will help wake you up, get your digestive system moving, and keep you from running to grab sugary, carb-loaded breakfast foods. Also when you are thinking of grabbing something unhealthy a glass of water might be all you need to think twice, feel full enough, and wait until you have something healthy to eat.
Spend less time with electronics.
An increasingly difficult practice, it is frustrating how much we use electronics throughout our day. A few days without power reminded me how great I feel when I get time away from these things, and reminded me to make this a habit more often.
Spend time with friends & family
You need to have strong relationships in life, and you need to spend time on them. This doesn’t mean you need 50 friends or that you need to talk to them every day or week, but you should have time with them at least every few weeks. Spending time with friends and family is a great way to forget any bad habits, relax, and have fun together.
And most important, as much as you possibly can, stay away from all artificial light.
This means when it is bright out you wake up, and get to work and when the sun starts going down you wind down, and get in bed early enough so you can sleep well and still wake up at or before 6am.
How to prevent from falling back into bad habits:
Leverage good habits
When I sleep well, I am excited to get up. When I eat well and exercise I am eager to be even healthier. When I work out, I want to push myself further. When I read I want to take in even more information. A lot of bad habits just stick around based on momentum, but you can swing it the other way if you start doing small good habits.. And then leverage those to keep doing more.
Again, this blog is a great example. I could have tried writing a post every sunday and thursday right before I post them the next morning but that is setting my up for failure. Instead I write out several posts in advance, and then try to write a few more a couple times a month. This way if I want to write I can at any time, but if life intrudes and I can’t write sunday or thursday I’m not missing any posts or scrambling to get something out. This is my system for writing, so I do not slip up again and miss posts.
The same can go for drinking more water as a healthy habit. I have a medium sized reusable water bottle so when I am stuck in an office I still have to get up and refill my bottle regularly. So I am reminded to drink more each time my bottle is empty and I am forced to get up and move around to get more water. The added bonus is how often I have to go to the bathroom from drinking so much water, I use these walks as small breaks to stretch move around before getting back to work.
The same can go for working out. If you join a class or work out with a friend or friends this is a good way to systematize your work outs so it isn’t just relient on you to go or not to go.
Fun, not work
Notice I said systematize, not plan strictly. A system is a process you can rely on, that is repeatable and consistent. A strict plan is.. Basically useless. It adds more stress and anxiety to something that is supposed to be fun. If you make exercise, being healthy, or any good habit into work.. You probably won’t enjoy it. I have no strict workout plan, and i don’t have a map drawn out for what foods to eat.. Now some people like the help and that’s fine, but be careful to not turn something you enjoy into another chore. Chores are annoyances, and can be disposable.. But if you love and enjoy healthy habits you’re less likely to slip up.
Appreciate your work
I’m not talking about planning cheat meals, or cheat weeks or whatever.. I mean taking time to think about what you are doing and why. Along the same lines of not turning habits into chores, you have to remember why you are exercising and eating well, sleeping well and so on. Ask why you are doing these things. Ask what you get from maintaining the healthy habits you enjoy, and most importantly what do you stand to lose if you stop any of the healthy habits?
So I have been off to a good start. My sleep is much better, I’m eating better, waking up early, reading, exercising and doing all the things that make me feel good. I hope some of these tactics can help you when bad habits start creeping in so you can stop doing what makes you feel bad, and spend more time doing what makes you feel good.
That’s all that really matters anyway.
Learn more on this:
Article: 13 Life changing habits - Ryan Holiday
Video: How to build self-discipline
Video: Tedtalk - A simple way to break a bad habit