Back in January, I started in on an exercise schedule with monetary penalties for missed workouts. In February, I added a restriction against late night snacks. I’m happy to report that things have continued to go well, with nary a missed workout or unapproved nosh. I haven’t been able to motivate myself to bank any extra workouts, which probably says something about the process, but overall, I’m satisfied with the progress I’ve made.
About halfway through February, I got really gung-ho and started thinking about adding all sorts of new rules – I could go to four workouts a week! Or give up sugar in my coffee! – then stopped myself. What I realized was that adding one new rule per month gave me the time to build good habits, and that if the plan is for this to be my new normal (as opposed to being a temporary program that would end once I reached some goal), then it doesn’t matter if I take it a little more slowly – I’ll get there eventually. If I stick to the plan of adding one new habit per month, then each should be easy enough to add into the mix without having to feel like it’s a struggle.
In January I built up some endurance, and a little muscle mass, but didn’t lose any weight. In February, I started losing a little weight, but still less than expected (maybe 4 lbs?). Given the amount of cardio I’m doing, it seems clear that diet should be the next area of focus.
For March, the rule I thought would be most impactful would be to start eating healthier lunches at work. The buffet is too tempting, and it’s too hard to moderate – far easier to simply avoid the worst offenders. So, starting in March, I will cut out meat (not including fish or broth) and fried food from work lunches. Also, no more snacks from the “snack wall.” Standard penalties apply.
I feel as though a lot of my bad habits don’t have a lot of weight behind them – they’re momentary impulses, not bone-deep addictions – they just don’t have any counterbalancing forces. It’s galling to be at the mercy of impulses that are mostly the product of boredom, convenience, or an orienting response (mmm, chocolate…). Creating these public rules and penalties has been a very effective tool for beating them so far, but I don’t want to get cocky – like any workout regime or diet, I’m sure they can be derailed. Let’s see how March goes.