Creating Healthy Habits in 2009

I like New Year’s resolutions. In theory. Any activity that gets people to reach for their better selves is OK by me. In practice, I haven’t gotten around to creating any 2009 resolutions until now. Two blog post got me moving.

The first is from Amy Batchelor over at Thoughts and Random Patterns. Her posting The Year of Living Alphabetically inspired me to act. In the blog Amy commits to posting a list of words each week of the year. The list of words in that first post are beautiful. If you need to be reminded of the poetic power of language, read the blog. I also liked that Amy decided to focus on her own unique strengths as a list maker. This act of embracing a skill that some might consider mundane and turning it into a super power was very inspiring. Finally I liked the concept of breaking up the New Year’s resolution so that one thing at a time happened. A lot of the work I have read on achieving goals stresses the importance of dividing the goal into manageable pieces.

The second blog post echoed this theme of doing one thing at a time. The author, Tim Ferriss, writes about Leo Babuata’s new book The Power of Less. In the post, Tim states “focus on one habit at a time, one month at a time, so that you’ll be able to focus all your energy on creating that one habit.” The post also lays out the basic rules for each month: pick your monthly goal, announce your goal publicly, and report on your success on a (ugh) daily basis.

The second post was enough to put me in action. So I am now officially announcing my intention to create a new daily habit for each month of 2009. At (or towards) the beginning of the month, I will announce my goal. I will give periodic (frequency TBD) updates on my success.

For January, I am going to start following my diet. Last April, I consulted with the talented nutritionist Alan Aragon to create a diet and exercise plan. Over the next 5 months, I lost 5 lbs of weight (with a much larger loss in fat and a significant gain in muscle), improved my diet and level of fitness. The diet made a huge difference in how I looked and felt.

The diet was also reasonably easy. The “structure” of how many meals to eat in a day and what to eat in each meal was defined on a single sheet of paper. To follow the diet, I just kept a food diary by circling what I ate on the sheet of paper. In the event that I deviated from the recommended meal, I just wrote it down.

Sounds simple right? I was until I changed jobs and cities.

So it’s time to start again. This means I will do the following:

*each week print of 7 days of Alan’s diet
*each day of the week circle my meals on the sheet and note any deviations.
*report on how I am doing every Monday

That’s it.

I’m keeping my first goal simple and inconsequential per Tim Ferriss’s recommendation. I know I can keep this goal because I have done it before. The real challenge is publicly announcing that I am on a diet and promising to report on my progress. That feels really weird to me. Once I feel more comfortable with the methodology, I can look at bigger challenges.

In closing, thanks to my muses for inspiring me to play the goal game in 2009. And thanks to anyone who reads this for holding me accountable.

Happy New Year!

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  • Joel. Cut it out! Healthy habits suck if you want any kind of life really worth living. Give it up and begin leading an unhealthy life. So much more fun.

  • Joel Kehle

    Susan – That was 2009 – so last decade. 2012 will be much more interesting!