A habit by any other name

A few years ago I hit the big 4-0. I didn’t have issues with this much because my pragmatism tells me it’s just another year on the calendar. Nothing to get all wound up about.

It also happened to be the year I weaned my last child. Little did I know the impact the combination would have.

A habit by any other name

I coasted for about another 18 months and then I started to put on weight like I hadn’t since the freshman 15 25. This development was not so much fun, so I did what any red-blooded American woman would do. I tried diet after diet after diet.

Did they work? Sure they did. As long as I followed them to the letter. I could drop 10 pounds in about three weeks by eliminating carbs or combining the right foods or counting points. But as soon as I went back to something that remotely resembled “normal” then the pounds came back and brought friends.

My problem was, I needed something doable for the long haul.

If you are waiting for me to whip out the before and afters or start spilling my success secrets you will be sorely disappointed. Believe me, there is nothing I would rather do. Sadly, this is still a work in progress for me and will be for a while.

It did cause me to stumble on something that has been a little life-changing, though. It all started when I finally purchased the No-S Diet book.

I had toyed with No-S before. The entire diet is on the website, so I had always avoided buying the book in my earlier No-S attempts. I really don’t know why I splurged this time, but I am glad that I did.

Because it is about so much more than losing weight.

The Everyday Systems series is about habits, and No-S is just one of the habits that author Reinhard Engles has outlined. He actually has quite a few more. No-S was my entry point into the idea of how building small, simple habits can be life-changing.

Like Aristotle, Engles feels that building habits also build virtue, but he also understands the depths of human frailty and gives some great tips for helping to be successful with habits. I have been using these tips to build a few habits of my own throughout the fall.

  1. Name that Habit – First each habit should have a metaphor or a “brand.” This makes the habit easy to remember and gets you emotionally attached to the habit.
  2. Each habit should be stupid-simple – Eliminate all decision-fatigue from your habits by deciding what the rules for each habit is ahead of time. Keep those rules simple and easy-to-follow for greatest success.
  3. Use easy tracking – Track the success of each habit with one simple metric, days on habit. Trying to complicate things by tracking more metrics (like calories or points) will only set you up for failure.

There is so much more to read at Everyday Systems or in No-S about how this system of habit building works, but I thought I would share the habits I am currently working on with you to show you how I am using the system.

No-S Diet – This is the only habit I do where I use Reinhard’s branding and rules. Somedays I am perfectly compliant. Other days I struggle. I have got it down to where I am eating the right amounts so I am not overly hungry between meals. Going forward into the new year my focus will be on portion control and not fooling myself into overeating. After that then I am going to start focusing on the number of snacks and sweets I have on N-Days. Its a process.

John 1:1 – This is my early-morning prayer habit. My story for this one is based on scripture “In the beginning was the Word…” So in the beginning of MY day then I should be with God as well. I choose one thing I am supposed to read each morning.

Load A Day – A load a day keeps the laundry monster away, right? My rule for this one is to complete a load of laundry all the way to putting the items away each and every day Monday-Saturday.

Moove and Groove – This is my exercise habit. 15 minutes of activity as measured by my FitBit (love that thing). I can do this with a walk outside, exercise video, etc. I am actually doing more than this because I am doing a lot of FitBit challenges with friends right now, but I am not going to increase this yet. I am going to give it another 30-60 days to let the habit become ingrained, and then I might bump it to 30 minutes.

Early to Bed and Rise and Shine – These are two habits that I am still forming. I am trying to figure out what my rules for these will be, so they are on my mind, but not being followed consistently right now. Mostly I am trying to decide if I need hard and fast times for each or a window such as bed before 10:30 and up before 6.

Right now I am tracking all of my habits with an app called Habit List. The app is simple to use. It allows me to choose which days I want to do each habit and does not “penalize” me for the days that I have chosen in advance to not include the habit.

For each habit it gives me reminders that I can set and info on my current streak and my longest streak in doing the habit. Marking a habit complete is as simple as clicking on the habit name each evening.

I am not making resolutions for the new year. I am forming habits instead, and I love the success I am having with this.

Since Nov. 1 I have lost the total of one pound. Most people wouldn’t consider that a success but considering I made it through Thanksgiving and most of the Christmas season not gaining and doing this in a way that I can sustain for the rest of my life — I am putting this in the success column. I look forward to seeing more results in the new year.

What are you going to work on in the new year? Would a habit help?

Just me

What I did on my vacation

I lay in bed a couple of weeks ago contemplating my upcoming vacation, thinking about what I wanted to do with my extra time (as if a mom really ever has “extra” time). That’s when it struck me.

What I really wanted to do (like with desire) was start a blog.

So weird. Because my “day job” is blogging. (Ok, technically my day job is homeschooling, but work with me here.)

What I did on my vacationExcept my day job isn’t so much blogging anymore. It’s become podcasting, and product development, and content marketing, and book writing, and customer service. And I love it all, but sometimes I really miss the blogging, you know? Not to mention my site has niched down so much that it only makes sense to talk about homeschooling in that space anymore.

And sometimes there’s more to my life than homeschooling — am I right?

In true Pam-fashion I hemmed and I hawed. I told my bloggy friends. They reacted with disbelief, surprise, advice. And then I just bought the URL.

Sometimes you have to just do something because you want to.

And so I am here. How often will I be here? I don’t know. What will this space become? I don’t know. What am I going to talk about? Ah, that I can do. I don’t typically write deep, meaningful things. That’s just not my style. What I will talk about is family, life, gadgets, scrapbooking, photography, books, food, habits, exercise (or lack thereof), running a business, working from home, systems, the dailiness. And more.

I will be honored if you read. I will be thrilled if you comment. (Pssst: If you’re on the homepage, you have to click to the post page to comment.)