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Good Habit = ZERO willpower

Monday, March 04, 2013

Sometimes, when I talk about my habits to people, on what I have developed over time, and how is my day looking like today, I often get a comment on my strong willpower.
And about my discipline.
And how much attention I give during the day to live healthy.

And as I listen to these compliments, resistance builds up in me more and more... and I just don't know what to do with a compliment on my willpower. Or on my discipline. As I don't do any of these on an average healthy day!

In the contrary.

I do these activities completely in brainwashed, unconscious, auto-pilot, non-thinking way.

Do you think I could focus to do a list of 20+ healthy things on a day?!
I could lift a spaceship like a Jedi knight with all that willpower...

And that's the whole point of it:
It's a habit, because it doesn't need willpower, or discipline, or focus.
HABITS HAPPEN AUTOMATICALLY.

Of course, it needs energy, time, commitment to develop actions to happen habitually, without thinking. However, it's not that much, and habit development itself is already an automated process for me.

When I develop a new habit, I only focus on ONE single thing.
Usually it less then many people do around me, as they love to multitask and focus on many things to change at a time. This process didn't prove to be successful for me - when I focused on several things at a time, I had to focus on those things ALL the time.

Now, I just focus on ONE thing at a time. Then it becomes a habit.
Then I don't focus on it anymore. And I focus on the next ONE.


My practical advice:
Try this experiment.
If you have 5 new actions you wish to do (... I know it takes courage to wish only 1 thing, so I assume you have five), and you have one month; instead of focusing on all 5 things during the whole month, just focus on 1 thing, for 1 week. Then the next week, the next one. Yes, it's 4 weeks in a month, so you probably need to drop one of the 5. :-) If you decide to try it, let me know, I'm curious about your feedback!


Monday = New week, new possibilities!

This week my focus is BLOGGING, everyday!
And that's the only focus I have! :-)

I'm inspired a lot about your comments on my blog, thank you a lot!
And happy habit development for everybody!



Let's get moving!

What do you focus on this week?

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SIMONEKP 3/6/2013 10:53AM

    great tips

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JEFEIST 3/4/2013 10:57PM

    So, you asked what I meant about comparing to starting a new habit as compared to setting a goal SMART.

My leadership classes a couple of years ago told us this - "Goals need to be
S - specific
M- measurable
A - attainable
R - realistic
T- Timely or Time Measured

So what do you think?


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WIZKEY 3/4/2013 6:33PM

    Love to read your blogs, Oliver. I like the idea of adding in new habits one at a time.

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KMICHA 3/4/2013 6:19PM

    Oliver, you are so right. These things become automatic; they become habits. We I first began exercising in the mornings, it was a killer ( about 15 years ago)! But forcing myself to get up and do it everyday soon became a habit, but the really great thing was when it was so much a habit that I began to wake up before the alarm went off and I was excited to get up and get moving! Now, if don't exercise in the mornings, my whole day is off. You are doing great Oliver! Congratulation on your many successful changes in lifestyle!!! emoticon

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POPSY190 3/4/2013 5:33PM

    There's a lot to be said for cumulative methods. Good advice here.

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ALDEBARANIAN 3/4/2013 2:33PM

    *Sigh* Discipline seems like such a nasty word these days. It carries so much emotional baggage with it. I think maybe people who say a person has a lot of discipline are accusing them of abusing themselves in some way, and also excusing themselves for living a less healthy lifestyle.

I think maybe it's really just about making choices. After all, if I'm feeling down for a day or two, and I exercise because it makes me feel better, I'm not really disciplining myself, I'm picking a non-drug, non invasive, healthy way to feel better. And maybe having a little fun, too, depending on what I do for exercise, and who I do it with. After all, it's my life I'm living, not someone else's.

I'm glad there are so many positive, thinking people like you here on Spark People to travel with. :)

Comment edited on: 3/4/2013 2:36:55 PM

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MELBBART 3/4/2013 10:44AM

    I'm glad you're focusing on blogging, because I like reading them! emoticon

I think focusing on one thing REALLY helps. Thus, why these 5% challenges are so helpful for me. Even the water challenge, which I'm always really consistent about, is always helpful.

I think I'll try your strategy for tracking my food on the weekends. I'll give it a month and see how I feel about it at the end. Thanks for the motivation! :)

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KAYOTIC 3/4/2013 10:12AM

    I totally agree, I started a challenge on one of my teams last month to "do just one thing". And we got some good results! The multi-tasking, and multiple goal setting is tempting, because I think we all have lots of things we may want to improve on, but focusing on one thing really helps ingrain the habit, and that is what will carry on when the next goal is underway!

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JACKIE542 3/4/2013 10:11AM

    Great advise, that is pretty much the way I did it. Made things habits, good things, now I don't think too much about it anymore. emoticon

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CAROLLEE57 3/4/2013 9:37AM

    Thanks for the great pics and the mindset

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MISSUSRIVERRAT 3/4/2013 7:44AM

    The following is a comment I made yesterday in response to someone else's blog:

"The process of changing habits seems to me the most difficult part.
It also seems to me that the thing to do is to try to make the new, healthy habits as easy, accessible, and pleasurable as possible. Example: choose exercise that you really like (and see the potential of loving), choose healthy food that you like in quantities that your body can comfortably assimilate, add self-care/activites to your routine that makes you feel relaxed and happy. Also helps to speak kindly to yourself during the process. Once the healthy activites become a habit, then they are the new comfort zone, automatic, routine, .....the "new you."

I agree that you don't have to be what people consider perfect with new habits.
A rest day can be therapeutic. A food treat (under control and in reasonable quantities) keeps a person from feeling deprived. Changing at a slower pace sometimes is better because then you don't shock your system with new expectations. Shock to the system causes internal stress......and we all know that we don't want any more of that because that can lead to overload when things get out of control!"

It seems appropriate to add here.




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PMRUNNER 3/4/2013 7:43AM

    It can be daunting to overhaul everything at once. Taking it in small steps makes each step doable. You don't get up and decide to run a marathon, or sit down to eat a whole elephant, you do it one step or one bite at a time!

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MISSUSRIVERRAT 3/4/2013 7:37AM

    I agree with you completely. I have made a lot of progress this past month by doing the things you suggest. The effort is in repeating the behavior. That behavior becomes the "new normal" and then it just becomes the new routine that one does automatically without thinking about it. One change at a time for about a week seems to be a good plan and then one is off to a good start.

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DONNABRIGHT 3/4/2013 7:31AM

    Excellent blog!

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NUOVAELLE 3/4/2013 6:33AM

    That's an excellent advice! One step at a time will get you to your goals. Multiple steps simultaneously? You just stumble and fall! No accomplishment.
Thank you for this great blog!
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CLAIREINPARIS 3/4/2013 6:26AM

    This is so true! Each one of my new healthy habits these last 2 years I developed that way, one at a time (hiking, posting blogs, walking during the week, and more recently mindful eating). Then they indeed become habits and you don't think about them. My focus this week is nordic walking. I took a lesson before I left for meetings 10 days ago and I need to practice to reacquaint myself with it.

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WATCHMEGO! 3/4/2013 5:54AM

    Excellent post! Someone asked me recently how to get back on track and that is exactly what I told them....focus on one thing.

I also totally agree that commitment is the real "secret" to success. Motivation and willpower come and go. Commitment....well, it's there all the time!

Congratulations on your successes!

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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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PRAIRIECROCUS 3/3/2013 4:26PM

    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.

EXERCISE
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

NUTRITION
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 :-(

RECOVERY
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

OTHERS
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:

CLAIREINPARIS 3/4/2013 6:27AM

    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

    Great!

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LILY_SPARK 2/4/2013 6:50PM

    Yay!

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THEBESTISTOCOME 2/4/2013 6:41PM

    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

    emoticon

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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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GRACEFULJOURNEY 2/3/2013 3:32PM

    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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