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3 tips for habit development

Sunday, March 03, 2013

As we blog about habits this week, and I have read already many blogs about habit development, I thought to share some experience I gathered in the past two years.

1. A SMALL ACTION goes a long way
Think about a small action to form a new habit. Instead of 1h exercise, just stick to a 10 minutes. Instead of eating healthy meals, stick to eat an apple every day. Once the small action is established in your daily routine, you can scale it up.

>Last year I decided to brush teeth immediately after breakfast, to clean away the food taste from my mouth, and reduce hunger. It sounds like a very silly, and small step towards a healthy lifestyle. However, it had great benefits - it closes the meal, prevents further hunger, encourages me to stay away from food for longer (instead I drink). And, it's great for my teeth!

2. TRACKING is key
I experienced that if I track daily whether I did my new action or not, it increases my success rate to double. It can be different ways of tracking, in a paper diary, on an A4 sheet on the wall, in a smartphone app, or here in SP.

>I have friends, who's natural tendency is to play with Excel sheets in their free time. I don't have this built-in data eating desire, but I realized that tracking improves my success rate, so I do it. Usually I stick a paper on the wall, so I can see it every day.

3. Use a DEFINED PERIOD to form the habit
I see that I need approx. 1 month to arrive to a level when I have almost zero resistance to do my new action, so I usually do 30 day periods. During this period, I do the action no matter what. After this period, if I don't like it in the end, I abandon it, but during this period, I contract myself to do it anyway.

>When I started with running, I decided to get out to run every day for 10 minutes, no matter what. Now, I don't run every day, I think it's healthier for me to run every other day, or to make 5 day strikes and then 2 days off. However, to get into the habit of running, for 30 days, I ran every day. I remember I was on a business trip in Germany during that 30 days. Our meetings finished very late, and by the time I had time for myself, it was already 1 am. I was the only single person in the dark streets, and I only ran 10 minutes exactly, not a second more, but I did it.

Today we went to Lassnitzh÷he, and made a 2h walk in the neighbourhood. The sun was strong, it was fresh, and the air was amazingly clear!

Do you have some tips for habit development from your experience?
Please share it here, I would be happy to hear about it!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CAROLLEE57 3/4/2013 9:35AM

    Thank you for the Tips!

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NUOVAELLE 3/4/2013 2:50AM

    Great advice on new habits establishment! Experts say it takes 21 days to really establish a new habit. I believe this is too simplified and it depends on how many old habits you have to fight in order to practice your new one!
Thank you for the tips!

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LESLIE_2B_LESS 3/4/2013 12:09AM

    Good ideas - for 1 I always brush my teeth when I first wake up... so that after breakfast thing doesn't work. I can't eat if I don't brush first. Are you talking about doing it a 2nd time?

Tracking is of course a very good thing - I find I do so much better when I commit to tracking.

Good idea to put a time period on the goal!

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NOTSPEEDY 3/3/2013 11:08PM

    Great ideas. Thanks for sharing.

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DOINITRIGHT2012 3/3/2013 7:28PM

    Excellent Blog, and thanks for stopping by mine. I use the desktop to track on SP, but I have a "Body Minder" journal that I have been handwriting things in so I can take them with me to my medical appointments. I do have a tablet, and I love to get on it while I'm on the treadmill, but it does a horrible job with searching foods. Time wise, the desktop is more efficient.


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TPETRIE 3/3/2013 6:18PM

  Thankyou for sharing.You had some great tips. Also I hope you enjoyed the spotlight yesterday.

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FITFOODIE806 3/3/2013 5:49PM

    Great blog! I love the thought of you running at 1am. That's dedication!
My advice is to be specific. Set a measurable goal. I will drink more water. Or, I will exercise more. They are too vague. But, I'm also a numbers girl, so this has worked well for me.

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MELBBART 3/3/2013 5:22PM

    Great advice!!

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JEFEIST 3/3/2013 5:16PM

    I appreciate your insight. Would you compare new habit forming to goal setting - at least in the area of being SMART?

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BLUEROSE73 3/3/2013 5:01PM

    It looks so beautiful there. I am glad you were able to get out and enjoy it.

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EMMACORY 3/3/2013 4:41PM

    Thanks for sharing your tips. They contain much wisdom. I'll be using them.

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2014ISTHEYEAR 3/3/2013 4:28PM

    Great blog with some great tips. Thanks for sharing with us!

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ALDEBARANIAN 3/3/2013 4:26PM

    Thanks. Very helpful.

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    emoticon blog !

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LYNNIERN 3/3/2013 4:13PM

    Excellent blog and some really great, practical and easy to initiate tips. The picture is beautiful also! emoticon

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POPSY190 3/3/2013 4:12PM

    This is a terrific blog. The steps you take to form a habit and then to decide whether or not to continue are practical and useful. emoticon emoticon

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Saturday's habit check-ins

Saturday, March 02, 2013

This week we write about habits every day in the Winter to Spring 5% challenge.
So here it is about Saturday! Some of my habits that I formed in the past to years, and I follow now, and how I did today.

Daily exercise - 30 min running, speedrope, warm-up
Track exercise - the run in Endomondo
Learn POSE method of running - did POSE exercise before the run
Exercise together - we did together with my fiancÚe

Shopping healthy - in the shop it was "the thing to do". If I look back how I was 2 years ago, it is amazing - we returned home with a big pile of salads, vegetables, portion controlled, and low cal food.
Eat salad/veggies every day - I made a big salad for us with Ruccola, bell peppers, corn, apples, lean ham, cheese
Healthy snacks - granola bars, banana, dark chocolate
Track calories - I tracked first part of the day in SP, the rest maybe tomorrow.
Keep calories in budget - I can only see tomorrow, I think it will be only "just-in"
Weigh myself in the morning - done
Wash teeth after breakfast - skipped :-(

Daily meditation - just comes now
Eat 8 cups of water a day - done, but includes 2 cups of Roiboos tea, and 2 cups of Twinnings tea, not pure water
Sleep 8 hours - done
Drink tea, coke, coffee only in the morning - done

Blogging - I didn't blog weekly or daily lately. This week is the time to come back!
Weekly weigh-in for 5% challenge - done
Check-in to 5% challenge forum - done
Comment on blogs - still to do

Funny thing is, for most, I really have to think about them. Which means, they are truly habits!

The most recent habit is daily meditation, which I formed in December/January this year. It's still in the phase when it needs some attention. Today, it is again the last thing I do. I prefer to do it first thing in the morning, then it's for sure in, and I don't have this struggle against my tiredness, late evening, or just "how long this day was". However, doing it in the evening makes a wonderful closure for the day, and makes my sleep better.

This is a pic from today! Here in Austria, it's spring, but the snow holds on strong from last week. A little snow just makes it more exciting, doesn't it?

How was your Saturday habits wise?

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CAROLLEE57 3/4/2013 9:34AM

    Great Blog Very inspiring! emoticon

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-AMANDA79- 3/3/2013 12:22AM

    What a beautiful scene! Glad to hear you are exercising with your fiance. I am trying to make exercising with my kids a habit!


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LESLIE_2B_LESS 3/2/2013 11:57PM

    Great blog - thanks for sharing! emoticon

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LYNNIERN 3/2/2013 11:22PM

    Excellent blog, I really liked the comment "I really have to think about them. Which means, they are truly habits!" and your daily meditations. emoticon

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GREENGENES 3/2/2013 9:35PM

    Great set of habits. I love the picture. I sure miss my time in Germany and walking through the woods to work during the winter.

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KMICHA 3/2/2013 9:21PM

    You've got the plan, Oliver . . .And you are disciplined enough to follow it!

PS Congrats on the Engagement . . . . recent?

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MISSLORI5 3/2/2013 8:56PM

    Oliver, that is a great blog! You are such an inspiration for the rest of us! I have been at this for 3 years and I'm still not as disciplined as you are-it's just great that you have allowed so much to become rote in your life! I also applaud your desire for daily meditation, as it is what keeps us healthy on the inside as well as the outside, so go for it, and may you and your fiancee continue to be good examples for each other! emoticon

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GETSTRONGRRR 3/2/2013 8:43PM

    Good job Oliver....lots of good habits!

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POPSY190 3/2/2013 7:45PM

    Your blog made me think about healthy habits that I had forgotten about, like the shopping, because they truly are habits! Thank you for that! And it has given me ideas for tomorrow's blog!

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DNRAE1 3/2/2013 7:27PM

    What wonderful habits! Great job, Oliver! I really enjoyed Austria when I visited this past November. It is a beautiful country!

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JOYFULSPIRIT920 3/2/2013 6:53PM

    Great habits!
Hmmm... I ate well & within my calorie range. I got my run in - 3 miles of intervals.
Working on my healthy habits too :)

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BEATLETOT 3/2/2013 5:40PM

    Oliver, you're so cool!

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ALDEBARANIAN 3/2/2013 5:19PM

    Looks beautiful.
Great habits. Very inspiring.

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Chilly check-in from Austria (20 sec)

Monday, February 04, 2013

Just an energetic hello from my daily run!
Enjoy the snow under the pine trees!
See my post below on meditation for "relaxed" input!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:


    Yay! Great blog, it is good to see and hear you!

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TRAVELLER3 3/2/2013 8:27AM

    How wonderful to see and hear you. Looks like a great day! emoticon

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KMICHA 3/2/2013 7:47AM


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LILY_SPARK 2/4/2013 6:50PM


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    Hi Hakapes,

It was nice to see and hear you.

Have a nice week! emoticon

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ALDEBARANIAN 2/4/2013 6:29PM

    Nice video blog. I enjoyed hearing you talk, and seeing the scenery. :)

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EASTENDCLAM 2/4/2013 6:14PM

    I ALWAYS feel it so good on you for getting out there!

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LISAINMS 2/4/2013 4:06PM

    Beautiful run!

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SLENDERELLA61 2/4/2013 3:42PM

    Love to see you outdoors! Run happy!!

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DUSTYPRAIRIE 2/4/2013 1:15PM

    I've got to get the speakers working!

Have a great week!

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CJJANISS 2/4/2013 12:29PM


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Meditation - heading towards 90 days

Sunday, February 03, 2013

I started an experiment in December, to have a daily meditation session. Usually in the evening, sometimes both in the morning and in the evening.

I see this is an often overlooked part of healthy living: recovery. After overhauling my nutrition and exercise habits, it was a straightforward decision to start experimenting with recovery, by which I mean sleeping, resting, meditation, having massage, relaxation and similar activities.

After successfully passing the 30-days, I liked it a lot, and decided to continue for 90 days, and see.

Funny, before, it looked so much effort - another 15 min to squeeze into my day.
Now, I notice it is less and less effort to do it, and it's slowly becoming part of my usual daily activity. I'm starting to doubt I could do without.

In my previous post, I shared some "inbetween" learning. Now here are some post 30-day trial learning:

1. It was good that I set a shorter time (15 min) vs the optimal time for meditation (I would have gone for 30 min as optimal). This lowered my resistance to "I do it anyway" level, and helped me on those days when I was tired, or busy.

2. I re-live these feelings in many of my 30-day trials.
- The first couple of days are easy and full of excitement.
-Then it becomes difficult, and seems to be a lot of effort to keep on going.
- Then after 10-15 days, it starts to get into more comfortable.
- After around 30 days, I arrive to a "neutral zone". If I want, I can keep on doing it, or abandon it, if the outcome is not so interesting.

3. I see more and more the positive things even in otherwise "not so nice" events. I feel grounded.

4. Now, an occasional miss of meditation for a day has little effect on my overall motivation to do it. In fact, I'm looking forward to it much more then not.

5. My girlfriend became interested, and started to join me after some time.
Now, we often do it together.
It's in a way both "me" time and "us" time.
I never planned for this before, and this a real surprise benefit.

Here's a shot of our our Sunday hike:

I received so good tips on my previous post, thank you a lot!
I would be happy again for any tips, ideas, experiences on meditation (even if it's a repetition - then probably it's even more interesting).
- How you do it?
- How often, and for how long?
- What benefits did you notice?

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ON2GOALS 2/15/2013 8:54AM

    I love the way you are incorporating the whole person, body, mind and spirit, in your healthy maintenance. emoticon

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    Meditation is awesome. I usually do it on a daily basis for 12-20 minutes. The website www.meditationroom.org has some awesome meditation "rooms" where they play meditation music. What I like about it is that the music fades away after the 12-20 minutes making a soft transition when the meditation time is done versus setting an alarm and being startled at the end of it.

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-AMANDA79- 2/3/2013 11:49AM

    Glad you are enjoying your meditation time!

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The Meditation Experiment

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

For long, I wanted to make daily meditation part of my life.
Finally, I started a 30 day trial on 18th Dec. It looked like an easy enough - difficult enough challenge to keep my focus on healthy life during the holidays.

I calibrated it for 15 minutes, which is less then my ideal goal, but my focus now is to establish the habit of doing meditation. When I am regularly doing it, and find the time for it in my daily schedule, I can scale it up to be longer.

So far, I am on track every day, and very happy for the results.

Some benefits that I already see:
1. If I do it in the MORNING, my day has an energized and in focused atmosphere. Somehow I work more on the things that matter. Strangely, my hunger is less, and I have more wish to go out for exercise.

2. When I do it in the EVENING, it is a great way to close down the day, and wind down all the happiness and stress from that day. My sleep is much better afterwards.

3. Having a healthy lifestyle goal in FOCUS makes other challenges that show up much easier to deal with. Somehow, if I pay attention to this one, automatically I have more "energy" to do the other things right, too.

It feels great just to do meditation every day.
If it works well this way for the whole 30 days, I will experiment with doing it both in the morning and in the evening, making a frame for my day.

I wanted to this for years, and was wondering why it happens now, and not before. Some funny facts I found:
1. There is a nice warm carpet now in the room, which invites for sitting, kneeling, laying down on it.
2. I found my watch which can make only one "bip" when the countdown timer finishes. So I have a gently transit out.
3. Winter and especially "dark" December fosters looking inside.
4. As in maintenance mode, my nutrition in general is on track, and my exercise is on track. So I can start to improve the third big area, rest/recreation.
5. I went to a 4 day silent retreat in Dec 2012, which boosted my motivation to start this trial. I expected it would boost it, so it was a good decision having done it!

This is a look-out tower nearby. It was near freezing conditions, and the heavy fog blocked all visibility. It was a really funny to walk in this "white air mud". Everything was so silent and calm.

Are you doing meditation?
How you do it? (Time, place, format?)
Or are you doing any other type of recreation/stop in the morning or the evening?
Any tips are welcome!

Happy new year!

A friend of mine recommended this podcast on meditation.
Looks good!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SLIMBOT 1/4/2013 4:29PM


Comment edited on: 4/8/2014 1:51:25 PM

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PEPPYPATTI 1/3/2013 6:21PM

    Way to go on your meditation. I find it hard as I have ADHD but I usually set aside 5 minutes in the morning to just focus on breathing.
emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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GREENGENES 1/3/2013 3:47PM

    Meditation is not something I have tried but it sounds like a good idea. The podcast sounds like it would be very helpful. Thanks!

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KRISZTA11 1/3/2013 4:45AM

    Thanks for sharing your experience,
and I'm glad it is going so well!

I did meditation (20 minutes every day, sitting and counting breaths) for several weeks when I started SP and the effects were similar.
I stopped doing it when I started running regularly, and the morning runs had the same positive effect on my mood and energy levels.

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BEATLETOT 1/2/2013 8:12PM

    Oliver, you are always such an inspiration, doing things I wish I'd done or should do or want to do! I love your experiment and your insights thereof. Cheers!

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FLPALM 1/2/2013 4:32PM

My form of meditation is PRAYER! Now this may sound different but everyday....
my routine is:

Get up, take morning vitamins, have breakfast, clean up, then SIT DOWN and READ, yes READ, my prayers! It takes time, and even though, I know them, by reading them, it makes me FOCUS on the WORDS, "talking to GOD" my higher power. I have several booklets, prayers that I read.

When I do this, I feel ENERGY, FOCUSED, and a CALMING EFFECT, of Serenity, to CHANGE what I can do, ACCEPT what I can not, and the WISDOM to know the difference....and yes, even though I am NOT part of a well-known organization, the good feeling is what I use.

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HHB4181 1/2/2013 1:50PM

    I am not, but like you, I've been wanting to for a while....

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HEALTHYKIM101 1/2/2013 11:45AM

    Maybe I should look into this.....thought provoking..... emoticon

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    emoticon emoticon emoticon

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SASSYDREAMER 1/2/2013 9:12AM

    Very cool goal. I like hearing about this!

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I_WILL_ROCK_125 1/2/2013 8:45AM


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