I’m thinking of becoming one of those fancy lifestyle gurus, with a blog that tells you, the ignorant reader, how much better your life would be if only you did as I told you.
I think my whole life has been building toward this point.
Why am I suddenly so confident? Easy! I have changed my diet, changed my daily habits, and I have successfully lost a small amount of weight! Multiple times! Follow my can’t-fail plan and you too could have my limited, barely measurable success!
First, get a dog that wakes up at 5 am. When June went through this phase, I had a whole new part of the day that was suddenly available to me.
Then, make sure you live in a world where the news is so bad that reading the internet from 5 am to 8 am stops feeling like fun. I believe they call this “doomscrolling” now and it is very bad for your mental health.
Then, lose interest in anything else that used to be interesting to you – writing, photography, movies, books. Only then, my minion, will you be ready to start a half-arsed exercise routine while all civilized people are still asleep.
This guy knows what I’m talking about.
if we want something to happen in our lives we have to structure our reality in a way that creates the most natural flow. Our actions and ways of thinking will always follow the path of least resistance. If we try to rely on willpower alone, we aren’t likely to get very far.
As with so much in life, when it comes to exercise, there are benefits to setting a low bar. I take much solace from fitness advice such as this:
“basically all movement counts.” And anything — any movement at all — the expert says, “is better than nothing.”
I make it my habit to move occasionally now. This is my exercise regime: not being comatose.
I read something online and I swear I just spent 30 minutes trying to find it again…but it’s gone. So, just to be clear: this is not my idea. But it’s a really good idea. And it’s helping me. So I want to share it with you.
The idea is counterintuitive. It says, if you’re trying to give something up, then don’t run away from it. Don’t try to block it off from your imagination. Run toward it.
At least in your mind. Don’t sprint to Dunkin’ just yet.
Think through the whole thing. How the experience would feel. Honestly. And then decide if you really want it. I can see how, with this one, people’s mileage really will vary.
But, for me, it works. I imagine the cake I want…the bag of candies…the pile of cookies. Sure, the image is intoxicating. I can smell the sugar. I think of a cinnamon bun and I want to be in my favorite bakery right now. With a mask, obviously.
But then I think it through. First, after the first three bites, is anything really worth breaking your healthy habit for? Does it remain something you really want to eat? After a couple of bites of cake, I feel over-full, my mouth a sticky, sugary mess. I don’t enjoy it as much as I enjoy thinking about it.
The smell of cake is better than anything but the first bite of cake.
So maybe I should let myself have a bite of things I’m mostly trying to avoid. I don’t know if my will power could deal with that. And that would leave a whole lot of cake uneaten.
It works also with spending money – I imagine having the thing I’m obsessing with on Amazon or the Apple store. Does it change my life? Do I actually read/listen to/use that thing more than a few times? Honestly?
I’ve stopped drinking because, for me, drinking was never that enjoyable. It was sociable. It was easier to grab a beer when everyone else did, rather than ask for a Coke or a coffee.
But I thought it through. The consequences of drinking alcohol. And I decided that, for me, there was no point in doing something potentially harmful that I didn’t actually enjoy.
But I still drink coffee. Because, for me, this has value. We all get to make that choice. I don’t want to go to bed not being able to look forward to my first coffee the next morning.
I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking – but I love cake. When I imagine cake/booze/shopping/fighting in underground naked fight clubs, it’s uniformly awesome.
And, madam, I sympathize.
I feel this way about butter shortbread biscuits. The good ones. The ones with tartan on the packaging. When I think through eating a plate-full of those, only positive feelings fill my soul.
And sure, eating a shortbread finger every now and again would be fine. But as many as I prefer to? That would be a problem for my ultimate goal: to lose weight, to be fitter and, ultimately, to live forever (and, so far so good on that last one…).
And that’s what, currently, saves me from losing my self-esteem in a packet of Walkers Shortbread. If I eat one of those, then that’s part of my exercise routine that I’ve wasted. Remember: all I’m doing is really reducing my sugar-junk-food habit. I still eat the occasional pizza, the occasional barbecue, the not-so-occasional bowl of pasta. Adding sugar back into my diet could be the tipping point that stops the scales from moving slowly to the left and instead pushing them further to the right.
I have until the end of the year to show my doctor that I can be a grown up and manage my own life. The opportunity to maybe, finally, get a positive reaction from that man feels better than any food tastes. Except pizza, barbecue and, yes, Walkers Shortbread.