From keystone habits to some compassionate advice
As you all know, I do one post to be published every Sunday. I usually get down to writing the first draft on Thursday so that by Saturday night I have the 3rd or the 4th draft ready for publishing on Sunday.
This week I thought I would write about "keystone habits". And the thing with me is, once I start writing about a topic, I begin to pour my entire heart out on it. And so it was with the keystone habits post. I began with what they were, how you could go about creating them, steps to take, do's & don’ts, an entire list of ideas on habits you could look at cultivating in the area of "health and fitness", etc. So by Saturday I had this somewhat of a thesis ready on 'keystone habits'. Except that when I re-read the post, I felt a little pompous to be preaching about habits. I had to pause and re-examine my intention for the post. My intention has always been to help people. And now I was beginning to question myself if I was really doing that? To answer that I had to put myself in the shoes of my reader, who probably had nothing to do with fitness & might not even have so much of a health consciousness (although I doubt the latter would entirely be the case as this newsletter is all about "health, wellness & personal growth" but still I don't expect all of my readers to breathe "health & fitness" the way I do).
I began to reflect on my younger days, as an advertising professional (before all this ‘health & fitness' consciousness came into my life). My work hours used to be something like 9 am - 11 pm (yeah, you read that right). Most weeks, I would just wait for the weekend to arrive so I could wake up really late, eat my favourite comforting foods (no regards to nutrition ofcourse) & relax (exercise definitely did not figure in the list of things that got me to relax).
And if anyone at that time where to talk to me about keystone habits in health or how to eat more of the healthy foods, exercise & be fit, I think I am pretty sure I would have asked them to buzz off.
So last evening I had to make the difficult decision of choosing not to publish my thesis on habits (I still have the draft, in case you are interested), and instead write from my heart what I would really like to say. And here it goes :
If you are someone who is struggling to exercise or eat healthy with whatever kind of lifestyle you currently have, then, I hear you. I have been in your shoes and I am not going to give you any gyan on habits. I am sure there are enough books out there from ‘Atomic habits' to ‘Tiny habits' to what not & I am sure you have probably already read a few of them. And I will not scream "consistency brings result" (which it does, but you don't need to hear that now) like the other fitness trainers are doing or as I was about to do, before this idea of putting myself in your shoes struck me.
Instead, I will recommend you explore two new perspectives to play around with & see if that puts you on the path to better health.
Perspective 1 :
Instead of setting goals such as “I will exercise for 30 minutes a day", set an intention, "to find joy in movement".
Set aside 5 minutes to explore this idea. You could go for a mini walk with or without headphones, Jog round the block , or play music and move to it (just see how that feels), or explore any other movement style you are familiar with. Notice what feels good for your body and mind.
Increase the time for movement when you feel like it. Until then stick with 5 minutes. Reinforce your intention to do it for the joy - not for the health or disease prevention. And see where that takes you.
Personally, even though I have enough movement magic in my life (by virtue of being a fitness professional), I still like to set a timer for 10 minutes now & then during the day, whenever I have the time and listen to my favourite music as I walk. It's like having my own mini party ❤️
Perspective 2 :
Cultivate a deep intimate relationship with the food on your plate just as you would with people.
To build good relationships with people in your life, you need to :
A. Get to know them :
Who are they? What are their likes/ dislikes, values/beliefs, do they support you & help you grow into a better person?
B. Spend time with them
And to create new relationships with new people, once again you need to :
A. Get to know them :
Who are they? What are their likes/ dislikes, values/beliefs ? Do you share a wavelength & are they good influence for your growth?
B. Spend time with them to strengthen the relationship
By doing a reflection like this, you come to know who to spend more time with (people who are a good influence & support your growth) and who to spend less time with (people who are toxic for your well being).
Apply the same idea to the food you put onto your plate & eventually your body.
Ask yourself questions like, where does this food come from? who prepared it? how was it prepared ? what does it do once it's inside my body? does it support my long term health & well being?
An examination of this kind will turn on your consciousness to choose more of what serves you & less of what doesn't.
Also you know that to strengthen a relationship you need to give your time to it. Apply the same principle to the food on your plate. Spend time with it, giving it your complete attention and presence. Don't multitask eating with watching TV or staring at your phone. Give your food your undivided attention. Savor it, explore the color, smell, taste, & texture of it.
For now, just explore these two ideas & let me know if it makes any difference to your life. Drop me a mail with your story. I would love to hear about your journey 💞