Monday, April 30, 2007

3 Tips to Maintain Healthy Habits

This weekend I was looking forward to a great time. I had lots of stuff going on and the weekend just sort of got away from me. On Friday night I got absolutely slammed with work and it turned out that I really didn't get out from underneath it until Saturday night. To add insult to injury, I was experiencing a bit of discomfort from a muscle strain in my back that was presumably from working out on Friday night. Truthfully, I am fairly timid when I exercise and I am surprised that I hurt myself, but then again, it was bound to happen sooner or later, right?

So I've taken a break from exercising for a few days but now I am out of my routine. And just like anything else for me, once I get into a routine, the inertia of it all makes it simple for me to continue. But then again, once I find myself outside of it, it is hard to recover. But I've recovered before and so I am going to get back on the horse again.

Similarly, at one of my jobs I made a financial mistake which cost me some inertia. I decided to stop my 401k contributions for a short period of time. And during this time I said that I was going to pay off my credit cards. But deferring or pausing or stopping your retirement contributions in order to pay down debt just doesn't make sense to me now. And I don't know why it ever did. (maybe it was those predatory interest rates?)

At any rate, before I started rambling --- the point is that I really need to guard my inertia when it comes to developing good habits. So my strategy is this: eliminate excuses before they become convenient outs.

My Three Tips to Keep Exercising --

1. If you don't have time to do something like exercise -- go on the offensive and get things done ahead of time. I try to do work, clean, etc so that I have no excuse not to do it.
2. If you don't want to do something but really should, doing it right when you get home might be the best thing. For me, I find that this is the ideal time. I haven't totally transitioned into "me" time yet, so I don't feel quite so resistant.
3. Smaller increments are better. The habit or "inertia" is what you are guarding, not the actual act. Therefore I'd argue that 3-20 minute sessions of exercise are better than a single 1 hour session because 3 develops more of a habit over a week. So that is what I try to do. Plus 20 minutes doesn't seem like a burden.

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