Despite being fairly good about maintaining a healthy diet, I’ve been doing a few things wrong recently. These activities haven’t been helping me out, I definitely don’t feel like I’m winning at life right now, so I figured I’d share my experience in the hopes that someone else might benefit from my situation. Hopefully this will also keep future-me from falling into this trap again. So what have I been doing wrong? Well, there’s a few things:
Not Getting Enough Sleep
This is my achilees heel. I’ve had a problem with not sleeping enough since my early twenties, but I can see that the roots of the issue stretch back well into my childhood. When I was a kid, I always felt that there were magical gatherings going on at night. I thought I was missing out on all the awesomeness in the world by being forced to go to sleep early. For some reason, I always had this idea in my head that staying up would reveal to me the secrets of the universe in some strange way. I made sure to stay up late every night I could so that I wouldn’t miss out on anything. I guess I thought it would improve my life in some weird way. In reality, all it did was make me grumpy, left me feeling run-down, made me more likely to eat bad snacks. Plus, it always left me prone to getting cold more easily. I’d have problems regulating my body temperature and so I’d be sitting in a room full of people in shorts and t-shirts wearing a sweat shirt and long pants, shivering and grumpy. No victory clasping there.
I haven’t completely gone back to my old habits, but, I’ve been staying up late working on projects and just generally using my sleep time as a pool of extra hours to drain for my other activities. Those hours are valuable in their own right and shouldn’t be siphoned off for other activities.
One of these days, I’m going to die. My body is going to completely shut down, the light will drain out of my eyes and face and my body will just lie there, a cold, empty husk.
That sounds weird and strangely macabre, doesn’t it? Regardless of how it sounds, It’s absolutely 100% true for absolutely all of us. We are all going to die, it’s inevitable. We can’t do anything about that, but what we can do is take care of our bodies by making sure that they get enough exercise. “Use it, or lose it!” is one of those old sayings that has a surprisingly large amount of truth behind it.
Being active helps you reduce your standing heart rate, keeps your lymph system pumping, and just generally helps with your mood. There’s only one tiny downside to exercising: it takes actual effort.
That’s generally an easy thing to overcome if you change your perspective. I, for example, need to stop thinking of exercise as a “chore” and instead think of it as a vital part of this hobby of mine I call “keeping myself alive as long as possible”. Making it enjoyable by actually participating in fun activities is preferable to just mindlessly running on a treadmill. Even taking a jog on a nice scenic path improves the jogging experience ten fold with the added benefit of beig able to soak up all those good nature vibes from the flora and fauna. (Awesome, I just used the words flora and fauna in a blog post not related to a renaissance fair!)
Eating Crappy Food
I like eating delicious things. It’s not the center of my life, but in times of turmoil (which right now is certainly one of those times in my life), I have often taken comfort in bad food: cookies, ice cream, candy, soda. All things greasy, sugary and delicious.
That stuff was killing me though. It was leading me down a path towards Type-2 Diabeties other health problems. At my worst, my weight had ballooned up to over 220 pounds. That’s no bueno for a guy who’s only 5′ 11″.
Now I’ve got a job as a software engineer at an awesome place that offers free snacks for all the employees. They literally have soda machines in every building that spit out free cans of soda. While I haven’t relapsed to the point of drinking soda again, I have taken a few too many snack breaks when I was pressed for time or just in a bad mood. Plus I’ve been eating at “regular” restaurants again instead of the healthier restaurants that I normally frequent. That means that my intake of salt, sugar, and corn has increased dramatically, to say nothing of all the dyes, MSG and gluten I’ve been ingesting. After eating such a “clean” diet for the last several years, I’m now very allergic to alot of that stuff and I can feel the detrimental effects almost immediately.
So what’s my solution: a lifestyle reboot!
Regular sleep schedule
I’m fortunate enough to now have a job that doesn’t require waking up sporadically at 2AM. That means a more reliable sleep schedule at night. I need to set a a scheduled bedtime for myself and stick with it! Additionally, if I need to get an extra hour or two in for some activity or project, I need to wake up early insted of staying up late. That way, I can get’er’done and I’m more likely to be able to stick with my bed time since I should be a little more tired than usual because I woke up early. #winning!
I’m a big advocate of bodyweight fitness, so that means settign aside dedicated time (getting up on the morning or exercising in the evening) and making fitness a priority. If I don’t make it a priority, it won’t get done. Between my new paradigm of making health my epectation and the reinforced behavior of making it a habit, I should be much more likely to get this done too. I’ve been lurking on the BodyweightFitness subreddit and I think I’ve almost got my weekly routine mapped out.
No More Crappy Food
Willpower. I’ll be honest, alot of my crappy food intake has been from just going to restaurants with other people for the social interaction. If I improve my social life by making a conscious effort to attend social functions and try to bring more people into my circle of friends with similar priorities, I should be able to soak up all the social interaction I need without feeling compelled to go to restaurants just to socialize. That way, I can take my lunch to work, save money, eat healthier, and even get a little more work done on personal projects over my lunch hour.
So that’s the framework I’m going follow. Do you have a framework you’re thinking about implementing? What have you found that makes you most successful? Share your thoughts in the comments section! Thanks!