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Where I think about habits

by John on August 15th, 2012

The past couple of weeks have been relatively rough for me. As much as I abhor it, I’m a creature of schedule — I do best when things aren’t novel. In fact, I almost strive for a routine. A routine means that it’s easy for me to make good decisions as to what to eat. A routine means that I’m sticking to my schedule for when to work out. A routine means that I’m getting regular sleep.

These past few weeks, well, I haven’t had a routine.

It started with the vacation to the beach, where they kids ended up far from their routine — they slept in bed with a grown-up every night. Since then, well, they’ve nearly demanded that they sleep in bed with Duffy & me. Normally, I sleep through a lot, but toddlers crying for milk at 3am and/or kicking me in the head, well, that’s difficult to sleep through. And sleep gets lost.

Then, there was the ankle injury (which is still in an issue, but is getting better every day, and I’m no longer walking with a huge limp). I went from working out three mornings every week, and over three lunches every week to not working out at all. Someone on Twitter reminded me, yesterday, that I could be swimming (running and cycling are, simply, too much strain on my ankle, and even stuff like push-ups and sit-ups have been causing a fair amount of discomfort), and I’m really mad at myself for not thinking of the idea myself. Still, though, I had a habit of working out. And it was really working for me — I mean, I felt like I was supposed to work out. My body expected it. Now, well, I don’t.

Then there was BlogHer, which was tremendous — but that included copious amounts of snack food, and cheese, and cheeseburgers, and liquor, and squee’ing, and booze, and more cheese. And, of course, my kids spent more time without their routine.

And then Duffy went on her little getaway, which was well-deserved . . . but I gave up any semblance of trying to keep a routine . . . life became, on my end, little more than just “get to the next thing, and hope nobody is maimed in the process.”

My morning workout turned into hitting the snooze and staring at the ceiling (because my body absolutely refuses to let me sleep once the alarm goes off, something that I still haven’t figured out in the pre-dawn times that my alarm goes off). My breakfast routine has turned from a a few handfuls of peanuts & raisins during a conference call to a few cups of coffee. My lunchtime workout has turned into me driving around Harrisburg, seemingly at random, not wanting to give the impression that it’s ok for me to be seen in the office (because my coworkers are in the habit of me not being around for lunch). My regular afternoon habit of drinking water until I was little more than a fluid recycling station has turned into a few extra cups of coffee.

Somehow, I have managed, mostly, to lay off the booze at the end of the night, but every night finds that task a little harder to do.

Basically, I see myself in a bad spiral — I had worked so very hard to get into creating habits in my life . . . good habits. I worked myself to making the things that made me better into priorities, and I scheduled around them. Alas, now, it’s “work” and “whatever the fuck else happens to need to be done right now.” I need to re-establish those habits.

They say it takes two weeks to turn something into a routine . . . and I feel like I’m starting from scratch, but my foot is at a point where I feel that I can do this. So, I’m going to focus.

  • I’ll set the alarm for the time that I will wake up — not a mere suggestion as to what I might do.
  • I’ll re-introduce swimming to my morning workout routine, and choose that, rather than an empty lying back down, for those times that I’m dealing with an injury.
  • I’ll keep gum on hand and chew that through the afternoon, rather than relying on cup after cup of coffee to keep myself going.
  • I will find time to write. Every day. Even if I’m not posting here. Dammit, I want to finish my musical.

Hopefully, with that, everything else will fall into place. Hopefully.

  1. Yes, yes, yes. I’m in a similar boat my friend. The workouts are suffering b/c of my children’s sleeping patterns and on and on and on.

    I do hope the swimming works out for you because it can be a year round go to exercise and SO GOOD for your body.

    May I also recommend apples. I read a tiny article a few months ago that suggested eating a fresh apple has the same effect as drinking an 8oz cup of coffee!

    Also, serve yourself a slice of acceptance and back off. Summer does this to all of us. …and then, get on a plane and come kick my ass (and maybe empty my liquor cabinet by any means necessary).

    • You know, it’s funny – the reason I’m reluctant to swim is because it’s a 15 minute drive to the pool, and that’s 15 minutes that I can otherwise be working out . . . in my mornings, if I allow myself to stop moving, I have a hard time finding the motivation (seriously, I’m tempted to just sit in the sauna instead), but you’re right – I need to start doing swimming, often.

      And, really, on that apple thing? We’re about to enter into honeycrisp season, so I’ll be testing the hypothesis.

      Though, to be honest, I’m not sure if I can remember the last time I only had 8 oz of coffee.

  2. I’d have abs and beach guns and my novel would be out if I could keep a routine. It is impossible with a wife, three daughters, a real job, and the work writing/blogging takes.

    I think we should just do the best we can, keep booze in the house, and commiserate with each other for support.

    bottoms up, John

  3. As long as there is SOME squee-ing still involved…

    I think your plan is fabulous.

    (But apples? Really? As good as coffee? I just might have to try it. And if all else fails, there’s still the booze.)


    • As long as there is booze, well, I think all is ok in the world.

      And I’ll tell myself that for a long, long time.

  4. I need to be less busy. Busy keeps from working out or eating healthy. It makes me to tired to make good choices. Busy means I’ve gained 6 lbs and I don’t want those 6 lbs! So you get a routine and I’ll get less busy.

    • Yeah – I could do with “less busy” as well.

      My problem is, if I’m less busy . . . while I’m more tempted to work out, I’m just as tempted to eat. One thing that I’ve noticed, even when I’m too busy to make my way to the gym, is that if I’m busy enough, I don’t snack. And snacking leads to the dark side.

  5. I’ve just come across your blog, and this post resonated with me. I am also a creature of habit. My wife loves spontanaeity (how do you spell that?), and she mostly thinks I’m a buzz-kill for always wanting my patterns, for wanting expectations to be met, to have routines to look forward to. I know routines are good for kids, but I have to admit that I’m a little over-the-top about it; a lot of the routines in my family are for MY benefit. But they DO work for me. When I sleep and when my daughter sleeps I’m a lot more likely to make it to the gym, too.

    • For a time in my life, I actually was more likely to head to the gym if I didn’t sleep, if only because I knew there was a better chance of me sleeping, that night, if I worked myself hard.

      And yeah, the kid routines are certainly for my benefit, despite what I say in my head.

      Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  6. Gatorbelle1980 permalink

    As much as I hate to admit it, I function at my optimum when on a semi-rigid schedule.. Diet, exercise, work, clean house, stress etc.. All are affected when my schedule falls too far out of line.. Even weekends can crash me.. I get up at 6am, regardless.. But if I don’t hit the ground running then, write off the whole morning.. It takes me forever to get it all together again…

    • I’m actually to the point where I fear sleeping in, because I can’t bear to look at a day that I’ve gone a good portion of the day “doing nothing” (even if that nothing is wondrous, wondrous sleep).

      The more rigid my schedule, the better a chance I have of making healthy decisions . . . until I get to a point where I feel like a robot, and then will do something to intentionally throw off my schedule . . . but that does much more than just add some humanity to things.

  7. I have a great routine! Staying up too late, getting up with the child, far too much ice cream, not a whole lot of exercise.

    Yeah… um. Maybe I should try a new routing.

  8. I have always been crazy about routines and schedules. Mostly my own (related: this week I was diagnosed as OCD, so that explains a lot). I very easily fall into a routine and it is VERY difficult for me to change it up. That is why going back to school brings on severe anxiety every single August. This year it’s especially bad.

    BUT…going back to school also brings a new routine for me. One that is healthier because it is more rigid, if that makes sense.

    Anywho…I will be cheering you on as you try to bring back the healthy routine!

    • Yay for cheering! And I understand . . . don’t know if I knew you were OCD — I thought you were just, well, um, established in your routine. And were happy with that.

  9. You sound just like my husband – though my impression is that your track record for follow-through is rather better. 😛 But I love being reminded (since I need routines too) that it’s always a good time to resolve to do better, and although the struggle to be your best self is never over – it’s never lost, either. Good luck with this round!

    By the way… I linked to your blog as a Very Inspiring Blogger Award nomination, for being a such good read as well as a rare (daddy-blogger) find:
    Feel free to take a look and play along if you like!

    • I’ve been so behind in my blogging (especially in comment follow-up) that I’m only catching up now. Thank you for the nomination, though!

      So far, so good with the plans. Mostly. Every day might have a little slippage of routine, but I find myself back on track soon enough.

  10. Mine is suffering, too, and my brain suffers when that happens.

    Let’s make it a back-to-school challenge. Or something. You know, without school or prizes.

    • I fear my routine is doing well . . . just that work is a HUGE portion of that routine. How are things holding up on your end?

  11. “and squee’ing” Yes, much squee’s were squee’d and fun was had by all.

    As much as I love my summers off, I absolutely love the routine the school year provides. My body, life, and mental-well-being benefit from knowing what will happen next and actually have that happen.

    You’ve got a good plan laid out. Now STICK to it. 😉
    but dude…gum instead of coffee?? That’s just masochistic.

    • In the afternoon . . . gum instead of coffee in the afternoon. You’re not as old as I am, but an afternoon coffee is just dangerous for me. I think I’ve missed entire nights of sleep because I thought I could drink coffee like I did in college.

      Much like there are many parties that I’ve missed because I thought I could drink alcohol like I did in college.

  12. I need a quick in the ass too and I have no excuses. I am still doing weekend warrior type stuff, but my day to day routine has gone to shit. I know you’ll get back to your healthy habits, you’ve worked too hard!

    • Yeah, when push comes to shove, I know I’ll be “back” to whatever it takes to get myself healthy.

      But damn, I’ve had some episodes of poor choices for my health lately.

  13. I think it’s normal for the end of summer to feel crappily routine-less for people. I know it does for me! I’m looking forward to getting back in the swing of things with a routine and a more healthful lifestyle come fall.

    • Just curious how the end of summer has affected you & your clean-living ways…

  14. I hear this big time. I enjoy the break in routine that comes with summer but there is a point when it all falls into madness. And I never see it coming with enough lead time to head it off at the pass. We are one week away from routine. I’m looking forward to it.

    • You know, right now, with the kids at my kids’ ages, I can’t picture an actual routine at home . . . it’s just a state of madness all of the time. Which has its marvels, and scares me.

  15. i haven’t had a routine since before I was married. it BLOWS donkey balls. The non-routine, I mean.

    Sigh, here’s to your Two Week Adjustment period.

    • I kid you not, in the months leading up to my own wedding, I had my days planned out completely . . . I lost almost 100 pounds and was really, really happy.

      I, honestly, don’t think I’ll ever be able to get back to that established a routine again . . . and I’m ok with that, but things were really good then.

  16. I feel like you had a different point with this post, but now all I can think about is how much I want some cheese.

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