I am a creature of habit. My routine, for better or worse, is relatively the same every day. If not for my wife, I would probably never be inclined to rearrange the furniture in our house!
Well, as I am part of the Ultimate Black Belt Test (ultimateblackbelttest.com) in 2018, I feel that it is necessary to look at a few habits that are not serving me well and make some changes. I don’t doubt that many of us are in the same boat and would like to be inspired to change some less-than-productive habits, so to throw out a little inspiration, here is my list of 5 habits that I will be focused on integrating into my daily routine:
1) Spend less time on my phone.
Seriously, how many of us get sucked into that never-ending abyss that is Facebook or YouTube?! I oftentimes find myself mindlessly scrolling through the same old content hoping for something magical to pop out and grab my attention only to realize an hour later that I’M STILL SCROLLING! I’ve become conditioned to pull out my phone when I sit down, and when I go to bed, and I’m afraid to know how many times a day I actually look at it wondering if there’s something new.
The eye opener: One day my daughter brings me my phone and says “here dada.” I instantly thought, ‘Do I really have my phone in my hand so often that my 2-year-old sees I don’t have it and thinks something’s missing?’ That’s not what I want her growing up seeing, and I certainly don’t want her to have her nose in her phone all the time!
The new habit: The phone gets put on the mantle when I get home and plugged in for the night when I go to bed. My hope is that I will engage more with my family and use that time for something more useful, like reading that book I’ve been meaning to read!
2) Read more often.
Speaking of that book I’ve been meaning to read, it’s called ‘Grit’ and was written by Angela Duckworth. I was into it for the first chapter, but the allure of the sci-fi book series I had started last August took over and I ended up finishing the last three of those instead. Now, I love these books and being able to imagine far-off worlds and creatures only my mind will ever see, but those aren’t moving me toward my goals, and those are not the books I’m talking about reading more often.
The eye opener: I was clearing off my nightstand and ‘Grit’ was under a small pile of things including my e-reader. Not the start I had planned to the year, to say the least.
The new habit: Do what successful people do. Set aside time in my day, even if that means getting up earlier than my family, to read, either from a book that inspires me to action or from articles and blogs that add to my skill set.
We would all do well to take even a few moments a day where we can focus our mind and spirit on some deep inner peace. With the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, we rarely take the time to just sit in silence and recenter ourselves. I have to wonder just how much of my own stresses are created in my mind and are really the result of running from task to task without a break.
The eye opener: It’s been building …. that familiar feeling that I am doing a lot, but not really accomplishing anything. This is an important step forward for me. If I can recognize early on when this is happening, then I can stop and reassess where my focus will bring me more productivity and, in turn, a feeling of accomplishment rather than the feeling that I am always missing something.
The new habit: Mindfully taking time each day to allow myself to be silent and still. To simply be. My wife an I will be setting up a place in our house that we can shut the door and shut out all the noises of life and mindfully refresh our sense of being.
4) Daily yoga.
Honestly, I never thought of myself as someone that would benefit from anything other than lifting heavy objects or smashing things with my brute force, but in the short time I actually focused on yoga, I felt as though it was helping to lessen the impact of my own old injuries and I found that I could move around a little easier and with less effort. The yoga program my wife and I were following was created by former pro wrestler, Diamond Dallas Page, aka DDP Yoga (ddpyoga.com). This may sound like a strange combination, but it was created with him and the people he was trying to help in mind; other former wrestlers and athletes who had abused their bodies and were in serious need of a program that would help them regain the strength and flexibility to lessen the physical and emotional strain of the daily pain they were feeling. Why we weren’t consistent, I couldn’t tell you, but it’s time to change those old ways.
The eye opener: Along with a long list of other expectations, the Ultimate Black Belt Test requires daily exercise and training. January was a month where I pushed myself to train at times I didn’t want to and to assess what exercises and activities were going to be unwise to continue. I’m finding that I’m not recovering as fast as I used to, and that some exercises are going to need to be spread out over the weeks and months instead of being done every day. I’m sore, yes, but more importantly, I’m feeling pain and tension in places I should be mindful of so as not to train to the point of injury.
The new habit: Incorporate daily yoga practice. I know how this helped me in the past, and I’m sure it will help my flexibility and ease some of the daily aches and pains.
5) Stay on nutrition plan 7 days a week.
Now, I’m certainly no expert here, but I’ve tried a few things in my life, some with success and some not so much. Honestly though, did I really give it my all on those ‘unsuccessful’ attempts? Regardless, I am where I am and that place (mentally, physically, emotionally) is a result of all the action, or lack thereof, that I’ve taken up to this point. I can tell you that I have stayed pretty close to my current routine about 75% of the time since last August, with the exception of the holidays, where I would say it was more like 40%-50%. I have been following a ketogenic focused eating routine where the nutrient focus is on the majority of my daily caloric intake coming from healthy fats. I’m down over 40 pounds and counting! But more importantly, I’m feeling much better overall, and my recent blood work all came back in the normal ranges (more on that in a later post).
The eye opener: This is probably the 3rd week that I noticed my slight weekend indiscretions have left me with bloating that takes me about 3 days of the following week to get rid of. In my mind, these days are being wasted, and seeing the numbers go up and down like that can be discouraging.
The new habit: For the month of February, I plan to stay on task for the entire 28 days. An important attitude shift is that I am not punishing myself for not being consistent 100% of the time, but rather reminding myself that, to make it to my goals, there will be several times that I will need to look at my current actions and ask if they are bring me closer to those goals, or slowing me down. Progress feels good and makes me want to keep going .
So, those are my 5 top habits to focus on for the month of February. On the topic of habits, I’ve been reading articles written by James Clear (jamesclear.com) that relate to where I am in this part of my journey. Mr. Clear is an author, photographer, and weightlifter who studies successful people and works to communicate what he’s learned about what factors shape our successes and failures.
If you’d like to know how I’m doing on any of these habits, please don’t hesitate to ask. My goal here is to live transparently and to lead by example and, hopefully, inspire others along the way!