It is said that ‘Habits’ good or bad take 21 days to form.
This is a short list. I am not going into great detail about each task/habit.
I just want to give an insight into habits I have been building for the past month (well 2 months).
Yes I cheated. I didn’t start in January I started Feb 1st
This is a Journal (more for personal documentation) of these habits. Take from it what you will.
TL;DR –I’ve been building and testing habits. Trialling out various life style strategies over the past 2 months. Below I talk about the perceived benefits of each, why I did them, how I feel coming out of it and whether or not I will continue with them. I cannot summarise them all in a tl;dr but will list them here for the lazy: 5AM Wake Up, Intermittent Fasting, Physical activity every day, 20 minutes reading, Cold Shower, To Do List, Daily Goal.
While I am young I want to experiment with my life style, habits and daily routine as much as possible to find what I enjoy most and what is most optimal for me personally.
I love experimenting with different things especially when it comes to what my body and mind can handle (man that sounds slightly alcoholic/drug abuse like). I am currently open to all ideas and things perceived to increase willpower.
Below are the Habits I have been building since February, and why I have been performing them.
THE EARLY BIRD (5am wake up)
Self-explanatory. For a month I woke up every weekday between 5am and 5:30am.
Not a new concept. Basically to get the most out of my day. It wasn’t too challenging once you get a few days in, and I’m not normally a morning person/have difficulty getting to sleep.
Wasn’t completely foreign to me either. Have had to wake up early for Water polo trainings during High school, Outward Bound, and again when I was working as a brick layer during the university holidays.
I have discontinued doing this, however may start it up again in April (Jury’s out though). This was not pleasant to do while starting to fast (next habit) as I was awake for many more hours before I could eat.
FAST THEN FEAST (Intermittent Fasting)
If you have not heard of Intermittent Fasting by now you probably have been living under a rock for the past 5 years (or at least I read about it 5 years ago). Intermittent Fasting is basically fasting for the majority of the day and eating all of your calories during your select/desired ‘Feeding Window’ (which means the hours you have allowed yourself to eat between). I will make an in depth post on the science and all of the positives of Intermittent Fasting (IF) in a future post as it is something I have become quite passionate about recently. I am actually continuing to follow a loose model of IF and want to challenge myself to keep it up for the rest of the year.
Anyway, basically I have been fasting every day until 2pm or later (usually break it around 2:30-3:00) when I break my fast. I am not strict with my finishing time but do try to finish all of my food by 10pm giving me a rough 8 hour feeding window.
‘IF’ is used for appetite regulation, insulin sensitivity and regulation, increasing natural GH (Growth hormone) levels, weight control, fat loss and a lifestyle way of eating. With debatable studies into other health benefits ‘IF’ can be an appealing lifestyle (as opposed to diet).
I did this not for a health perspective or a losing weight perspective but as a discipline test to see if I could do it. Fasting through hours of hunger (especially when you wake up at 5am) is a challenge. Not going to lie the first two weeks were hard but now after two months I don’t feel hunger pangs at all. Oftentimes I find it is past 2pm and I have no desire to eat yet. I will be continuing this, maybe even for the entire year. We will see.
PUSH PLAY (Kiwi’s will get this joke – Physical activity every day)
Do I need to mention the benefits of this? No you are bombarded with them every day, you know you should be more active already.
I understand this frequency (everyday) is not possible for all people’s lifestyles and I do not mean that I am weight training 7x per week. Not at all.
For my physical activity I am walking for 45+ minutes every day (during the week I do this when I wake up at 5am). I am weight training 5 days a week – I will go through what I am doing exactly in a future post HINT: Not a Brosplit! I play social sport one night per week and do activities with friends on the weekends that I am not working out of town. TBH I am very lazy when it comes to cardio and besides the walks (in combination with resistance training) for my heart health I have no desire to do anything additional as I am not training for any event or sporting endeavour that requires me at optimal cardiovascular fitness – subject to change.
SWORD AND THE WHETSTONE (at least 20 minutes of non-fiction book reading each day)
I don’t want to harp on about how good reading is and the whole “OMG of course I read! You don’t, well you really should” so I’ll get right into it then. If anything I would say this is the 2nd most important task.
This was not something new to me I am reading all of the time as I’m sure many of you are too (on the internet, news, blogs, fiction/fantasy books, comics, references and research for uni). I actually started this around the same time last year and cranked out four books in a month which was pretty cool as I don’t consider myself a big reader (of books). Last year is when I started getting into the whole non-fiction/self-improvement genre and was reading but not for a set time each day.
This has been one of my favourite tasks as I do enjoy setting time aside for reading and have read some really awesome books in this time.
I would highly recommend trying this out and buying a few books you are interested in. Not gonna lie building your own library collection gives you a little sense of achievement. I will continue with this habit unless ‘life’ gets in the way, I’m not too fussed about if I miss a day or two but I want to aim to finish at least one book every fortnight.
REFRESHING MASOCHISM (Cold Showers)
Basically have been taking a cold shower every day.
The documented benefits of doing this are minor cold acclimation, which causes your body to pump blood to the extremities and increases circulation. It is said to help with circulation, skin health and rejuvenation (with minor boosts to GH and testosterone levels). On top of that mentally it is a good challenge of discipline and will power, helps to build a ‘Just Do It’ mind-set.
I will continue to take cold (or contrast) showers, maybe not every day, they aren’t bad at all and do give me a little rush.
WHATS IN THE BOX?!… I mean List (To Do List for each day)
This is not something new to me. I have been writing daily to-do-lists for the past two years. I find it helps structure and organise your day, keeps you present to that day and moment and you get to physically write out what you need to accomplish so that you are reminded.
It also goes hand in hand with the next and last habit.
I will be continuing with this.
CHAMPION OF THE DAY (Daily Goal Setting – Winning Mind-set)
I have been writing on my daily to-do-list my goal of the day. The theory behind this is to give me one achievable goal to accomplish by the end of the day. It can be as small as finishing a work task, writing a blog post (heh), or hitting all of your sets at the gym. The theory behind this is that small victories and accomplishments add up each day. Completing things and achieving goals builds up you confidence and nurtures a positive winning mind-set (or so I am told).
This is easy enough to do and I shall be continuing it into April.
NEW HABITS FOR APRIL
I have two new habits I want to add to my list and experiment with for the month of April.
1. Daily Stomach Vacuums (an exercise) and 2. A short Daily Run.
I’ll give updates on the progress in 30 days time.
What are your goals/habits you want to build on this next month?
All the best!