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passing on some excellent tips for keeping up habits

Monday, July 08, 2013

These tips are excerpted from the wonderful Zen Habits blog, with one addition of my own.

The post is called How to Keep Habits going during Travel, /
, and I sure wish I'd read this before going on a long-weekend camping trip this weekend!

Fortunately I didn't binge, but my portions were too large, and I wasn't eating mindfully. I keep having to learn this lesson over and over again: I have to make a plan, I can't just jump into things (even small events/changes) and except my non-existent willpower to kick in, hah!

Anyway, here a few things excerpted from the Zen Habits blog (and if you haven't heard of Zen Habits before, it's not a religious Zen place or even really that zen, except in how to apply the practice of mindful living across all areas of life). There's lots of more tips on this blog so check it out!

1. Think ahead. It’s no good to say, “I’m going to stick to my exercise [or eating] habit on this trip” and then hope you do. That’s like a New Year’s resolution — those guys never come true. Instead, figure out an actual trigger for your habit. Set up a reminder. Prepare your stuff the night before. Have an accountability buddy.

2. Hold loosely to your expectations. Habits like exercise depend more than you might think on how much energy you have. If you are exhausted from walking and sightseeing, you might not be able to exercise like you do at home. This takes a flexible mind.

3. Try to do the minimum. Keeping with your flexible mind: if you normally exercise for 30 minutes, try 5-10 if you’re pressed for time or low on energy.... It’s better to keep it going with the minimum, than to only do it if you have the time/energy for the full session.

And here's my own addition to this list:

4. Review your plan to avoid overeating/binging as often as possible. Write it as a calendar note on your phone and set alarms every hour if you need to; since I was camping and didn't want my phone around, I could have posted my Plan on the car's dashboard on the camper's door or even an abbreviated version/acrostic on the back of my hand! (I use the HALT acrostic - am I Hungry or Angry, Lonely or Tired?) or HOW (honesty, openness, willingness) or "I will break the bars" as a reminder of Ezek 34:26, God's promise: "I will break the bars of your yoke" (e.g. addiction)

My general plan for events that aren't part of my regular schedule is something like this:

1. Let my support know that I'm going to be facing extra challenges.

2. Ask for accountability for SPECIFIC things, not a general "I'm going camping this weekend and I'm not going to binge". More like, "there will likely be s'mores at the campfire tonite, and I'm going to plan to have just one (or one equivalent treat). Check with me when I get back about those s'mores." Or: "I can have one junk food snack if other people are snacking, but after that I will switch to fruits or veggies and water"

3. IF A CHANGE in plans occurs, I will re-write my plan as necessary instead of winging it!

4. I will do ONE of the following each day: read one or two pages of Overeaters Anonymous material; write one paragraph about temptations I'm facing/have faced; call/text two people (not possible during camping, but I could check in with my husband and my kids - they know about my eating craziness even if they don't fully understand it)

5. I will remind myself as often as I can that I have a mental predisposition to justify unhealthy eating behavior and that I need to actively seek help for resisting my natural tendencies instead of "going with the flow". Seeking help can be as simple as admitting my weakness to (Higher Power) and asking for strength outside of myself.

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    1779 days ago
    Excellent advice!!
    1779 days ago
    "I will remind myself as often as I can that I have a mental predisposition to justify unhealthy eating behavior and that I need to actively seek help for resisting my natural tendencies instead of "going with the flow"."

    This really struck a chord with me! Thank you for sharing!
    1779 days ago
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