Changing course is easy. Never reverting is hard.
Half way through the year and I find myself teetering on the edge of relapse. Some old habits are creeping back into my daily routine. I’m trying to fight them off. As part of that effort, here is a reminder of what I set forth to quit, start and substitute.
Being Ignorant – In this information age there is no legitimate defense for prolonged stupidity; you are a Google search away from insight and intelligence. Therefore, immerse yourself in books, online articles and videos focused on the long term effects of diet (good vs. bad) and exercise (regular vs. none). If nothing else, you’ll be smarter and preemptive guilt will help you avoid indulging late night cravings or spending the night in front of the TV.
Excusing Neglect – Tired. Overweight. Dispassionate. Lethargic. These things are not okay and should not be tolerated. Stop rationalizing your current state under the guise of more pressing and important concerns—spouse, kids, work, house, finances, etc. Your performance in all these areas is directly affected by your mental and physical health, so don’t ignore your daily diet and exercise requirements.
Eating Sweets – Most often sugars provide nothing than empty calories and momentary gratification. In exchange for this you incrementally give away your waistline and long-term health. It’s a bad deal. Give them up. Completely. It will be one of the hardest daily changes to maintain, but will pay out big over the long term. To ease your pain, allow one exception each day: a 30 calorie 85%+ cacao chocolate square.
Mindless Snacking – Whenever hungry outside of meal time, force yourself to wait ten minutes before heading to the kitchen; odds are the desire will pass. If it doesn’t, go ahead and snack on fruit. And after dinner, no eating. Period.
Creating Accountability – Establish clear consequences (positive and negative) for your behavior. Whenever possible, make them visual and emotional. Weigh yourself everyday and display it on a Post-It stuck to the bathroom mirror. Use smaller plates and dish at the counter rather than the table so you have to physically get up for more food. Publicly track your exercise activity, books consumed and ideas generated. And don’t leave yourself an easy return to the past—throw out or donate clothes once they become too big or oversized, pay the fee and update your drivers license photo and weight, and blog about your successes and failures.
Thinking Big – Work on building or creating something bigger than yourself. Don’t worry about accomplishing it, just focus on the pursuit and know achievements will follow. Identify others with whom you can partner, collaborate and create. Give away your ideas, especially to those who are more capable of implementing them. Maintain an innovation wall. Practice edge craft. Plan, book and reserve your next vacation at least 9 months in advance. Create a life list.
Exercising – Incorporate at least 30+ minutes of physical activity into your day five times each week. Elliptical is fine, but mix it up; do some running, basketball, swimming and weight lifting as well. In addition, adopt a daily routine that includes stretching, sit ups and push ups.
Productive for Busy – Get things done and ship everyday. Identify fixed commitments, tasks that cannot be delayed without rapidly increasing penalty (cooking, exercise, If it can be completed in under two minutes, do it. If not, list it. Don’t browse the internet during lunch. Instead, watch one TED or BigThink video (20 minutes and your out). Limit email checks to three times a day—morning, lunch and 30 minutes before end of business—and advise everyone of this schedule and your cell number. Blog everyday for at least 30 minutes and publish whenever a post is 90% finished; if you work on it for more than three consecutive days, move on to a new idea.
Nutrients for Calories – Mind your portions, but don’t starve yourself. Instead, swap out high fat, high sugar and low nutrition foods for lean, nutrient rich superfoods. Consume more fruits and vegetables. Lots of them. Don’t skip breakfast. Drink unsweetened iced tea in place of soda; cut out red meats and use portobello and shiitake mushrooms in their place; snack on frozen grapes and fruit smoothies rather than ice cream. Be sure to start every morning with a cup of green tea, a hard boiled egg and some fruit with non-fat yogurt and a little granola. And supplement one of your meals with a capsule cocktail that includes multivitamins, fish and flax oil, turmeric and curcumin.
Books for TV – Instead of ending the day falling asleep on the couch in front of the television, conclude by reading a book in bed. Trade out mental sedation for intellectual stimulation. And when you do want to watch something, do it while on exercising.
There are many more things to quit, start and substitute, but this list will do for now.