Thursday, December 8, 2022


(Habits: I mean the good and bad practices you follow. Not the kind nuns wear. That would be a little weird.)

After a lifetime of trying to wipe out my bad habits, I've pretty much given up on that.

Is eating sweet stuff good for me? No. Am I going to change that now if I haven't in the last 50 years? Also no. So instead of that, how about working to make sure I eat reasonably healthy food otherwise. Overall, it's a win and I can stop worrying about whether eating that chocolate is "good" or "bad".

So my current goal is to find and encourage good habits. 

Twenty minutes, three times a day

This is the whiteboard above my desk:

Yeah, it's not very legible. Whiteboards are hard to write on.

It's Thursday morning and there are an awful lot of squares without Xs in them, but we'll ignore that. Over on the right is the "Exercise - 20 minutes" grid. A few months ago, I added this so I would prioritize getting up and moving. Twenty minutes, three times a day.

Note that it doesn't say "Run" or "Bike". It just says "Exercise - 20 min". That was deliberate. I know myself. If I don't put a time limit on it, I will keep extending it — "yesterday's run was 2 miles, so if I don't run more than that today, I'm failing." It's obvious that can't go on forever, and eventually I either hurt myself or just can't face going out to beat the previous record and stop completely.

So I made it easy on myself. Some days I don't feel like doing much, and on those days, walking around the neighborhood for 20 minutes counts. Some days I garden. Twenty minutes is a fairly easy chunk of time. Even if it's raining or late at night, I can pedal leisurely (or not) on the exercise bike in my living room.

And it works. My blood pressure is consistently lower by 10-20 mmHg when I do this. And it's good for my mental health, too.

Use that early morning time for good

This habit is a little harder for me, but I'm trying. Instead of spending those moments when I'm lying in bed still half-awake to think about all the stuff I haven't done, I work on plot problems. That way, when I get to my desk after feeding all the little people, I'm ready to go. (Writing first thing in the morning is another habit I find helpful.)

Still looking for more

Do you have a positive habit that has been helpful?

Obligatory Picture

This is from the sidewalk in front of the cemetery.


Richard Crawford said...

I try to get up early every day: 6 am on work days, 7 am otherwise. Sometimes I fail. It's good for me when I do, because I can get things done in the mornings. Also, I do take my meds every day, and that's certainly helpful.

Theresa B (of Nebulopathy) said...

Those are both good ones! I would be tempted to sleep in more often if I didn't have kittens in the tub.

Sherck said...

I love it! It's probably good to stick to just a couple, at least for a while. I tried something like this in a journal rather than a whiteboard, and I was definitely trying to do too much, so I never really focused very well.

I was like yeah, I'm going to do Morning Pages, and write for 30 minutes, and read for pleasure for 30 minutes, and brush my teeth and call my mom. And I'll do this one thing for work that's important but not urgent EVERY DAY, and also this other thing for work that falls in the same bucket. And get 10,000 steps, and also do a little yoga. And meditate too. And play the piano. And practice singing.

Theresa B (of Nebulopathy) said...

That's a really good point. Plus, it absolves me from trying to work on more good habits, so win-win!