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“Change is hard. You probably noticed that.” James Clear
Does it seem odd to you that after declaring I hadn’t made any New Year’s resolutions I keep mentioning goals and now I’m writing an entire post about better and healthier habits? I don’t know; maybe subconsciously I did make a few resolutions.
It’s probably just semantics or more likely my history of failing, but in my mind, New Year’s resolutions have to do specifically with the new year, and I want my new goals and habits to be lifelong.
When I began writing Rehearsing RetirementTM, I vowed to be completely honest with you, my readers. I sincerely believe you relate to my struggles and failures. They allow you to see the real me. Only then are you truly interested in my strengths and successes and willing to consider my ideas as options in your lives. So today, I’m embracing embarrassment and telling you the truth.
James Clear uses behavior science to help his readers build better habits, improve their health, and increase their creativity. I began reading James Clear’s weekly newsletter a couple of years ago. To be completely honest, when it shows up in my email, sometimes I read it, and sometimes I just delete it. It usually depends on my mood when checking my email – if I’m in a good mood, I read the emails and resolve to act and make progress on my goals and habits. On the other hand, if I’m already tired or checking my email as a form of procrastination, I’m more likely to hit delete. I’ve unsubscribed and resubscribed. (This has NOTHING to do with the quality of his writing!) Little by little, the tips that Clear includes in his newsletter have seeped into my brain, and lately, I’ve begun to make real progress building better habits.
So here we go! Key habits I’m working on.
- Living a healthier lifestyle
- Eating a healthier diet
- Drinking less coffee
- Getting to the gym regularly
- Writing every morning
- Using empty time
- Looking for good
Living a Healthier Lifestyle Habit
I mentioned my goal to lose weight a couple of weeks ago, so let’s start there. Since publishing Getting Healthy: A Weighty Matter, I’ve gained weight – 0.8 pounds to be exact. But in that time, I’ve also decreased my body fat percentage by 0.4, and this is good. Losing one pound a month (my current goal) will be the result of living a healthier lifestyle (a habit I’m working on building.)
Staying healthy, or in my case, getting healthy again can be a huge challenge for those of us in the Rehearsing RetirementTM stage of life. It takes time, and we’re busy.
Do I need to say that being less busy is a key aspect of living a healthier lifestyle?
Many of us, myself included, are dealing with chronic illness – more on that another time. And it’s hard to make healthy decisions when you don’t feel well. But the truth of the matter is, you won’t feel better until you find a way to get healthy (or healthier.) So, I’m taking action. Here are the healthy habits I’m building to live a healthier lifestyle.
- Eating a healthier diet – I’m doing this by reducing sweets and starches (aka low-value carbs.) I do keep dark chocolate in my freezer, and I enjoy it on a daily basis without feeling guilty. Recent research indicates that eating between 1.5 and 3 ounces of dark chocolate per day can quell cravings, improve health, and lower the risk of heart disease. I know, Hershey’s Kisses aren’t the healthiest, but at 9 kisses per 1.5 ounces, it’s a far better option than many!
- Drinking less coffee and more water – While, technically, this is an aspect of eating a healthier diet, my morning coffee habit deserves its own bullet point. There was a point in time where I drank 2 pots of coffee a day by myself. Yes, I was addicted to the caffeine, but I’ve also always loved the dark, rich, coffee flavor as well. I’m now down to 2-ish cups of coffee a day – this has been a work in progress for years. I’ve replaced the coffee with water. When I began the ‘reduce coffee consumption’ process, my doctor recommended replacing my coffee cup with a water bottle that I can refill whenever it’s empty. And it’s worked! I prefer the Contigo brand. Their (Affiliate link included for your convenience.) AutoSeal Bottle has a locking mechanism that doesn’t spill or leak. It fits in my car’s cup holder, and it has a carabiner type clip I can use to attach it to a purse strap or belt loop when I’m out and about.
- Getting to the gym regularly – This one is hard. I just don’t like to exercise, and I hate sore muscles! I think a huge part of the difficulty for me is that up until my early fifties, I was pretty active and didn’t need to make an effort to exercise outside of what I was already doing. I’ve always enjoyed dancing, and as a theater director, I did all the choreography with the casts (except the backflips.) As a bookstore manager, I was on my feet 40+ hours per week. I never had any problem getting in 10,000 steps, and bending and stretching to put books on upper and lower shelves kept me flexible. Sitting and writing for 3 to 6 hours a day just doesn’t provide the aerobic benefits of my previous positions, so off to the gym I go. Because I don’t enjoy exercise, building this habit has been tricky. Initially, each would start well.
- Monday – Get to the Gym ✔
- Tuesday – I still feel good about Monday.
- Wednesday – I’ll get there on Thursday.
- Thursday – Maybe I’ll just go twice this week.
- Friday – I’ll start next week.
This went on for far too long. Finally, I decided to track my exercise routine using Jerry Seinfeld’s method – big red X’s on a calendar. With my visits to the gym visible to everyone who walks into our house, getting there consistently was a lot easier. I’m going every other day now. Sometimes, I do a water aerobics class, and other times, I walk for a half an hour on either the treadmill or the track. While I don’t always look forward to going, I’m always glad I’ve gone.
Jack Canfield, of Chicken Soup for the Soul fame, recently said, “Nothing happens in life until you take action.” Building better habits can be a concept or a commitment. Thinking about it and talking about it (and yes, even writing about it) are all conceptual. To make a commitment, you have to take action.
What about you?
How have you made living a healthier lifestyle a habit? Or if it’s still just a concept, what’s one action you can take to make it a commitment?
Leave a comment in the box below, and let’s get this conversation going!