Exercising victorious! Next week, sleeping!

Merry Christmas everyone!

I have good news! I have successfully built a habit of exercising over the last 46 days. It was supposed to be 45 days, but I forgot to tweet on day 45, so I didn't notice that I had passed the 45 day mark until after I had exercised on day 46.

The habit is pretty well ingrained at this stage. Starting around day 25, it became more of a compulsion. Now I barely think about it before starting. I call this a huge success. In fact, today Alex and I agreed that we'd sleep in. I got up at 9 to feed the cats, and it was hard for me not to start exercising at that time.

Given how well it went, I'm going to start a new habit on January 2nd, getting to bed on time. Here's how it's going to work:

  • I will have an alarm set on my phone for 10 pm.
  • When the alarm goes off, I will get to bed as quickly as possible. If I'm not at home, that means I start going home immediately.
  • Before 6PM on a given day, I can exempt myself from the alarm by tweeting on @egerlachhabits. If I do that, I must turn the alarm off and set an alarm for 6 pm the next day to remind me to turn it back on.

So, here's the full plan:

  1. Timeline: January 2nd until February 15th.
  2. Trigger: 10 pm alarm on my phone
  3. Habit: Get to bed as quickly as possible.
  4. Obstacles
    • "I just need to finish this"
    • "I'm in the middle of watching this"
    • "Alex won't be going to be for a bit"
    • "Five more minutes won't matter"
    • "I really need to get this done for tomorrow"
    • "I don't need to be up early tomorrow"
  5. Support structure: Primarily, it will be my wife. She's the one whom I'm with every night. I will be tweeting about this on @egerlachhabits, though, so if you want to follow and ask me why I'm not in bed yet, I'd appreciate it.
  6. Feedback: This will be a tough point, because I won't get much. It will be the absence of negative feedback (being tired in the morning) that will be the most beneficial. I will be building on this habit though, and that's where the positive feedback will come in. I think I'll restrict myself to playing Scrabble for when I'm in bed. That will work.

This is going to be a tougher one for me. I'm really good at procrastinating going to bed, and there's no inherent, immediate positive feedback. I'm going to have to build my own positive feedback. But I think I'll be able to manage it. Follow @egerlachhabits on twitter if you want to find out how it's going.

Habits: Exercising starting Monday

So back in June I wanted to start exercising as my first habit development. I was all gung-ho, but there was one obstacle I didn't foresee. I had to undergo two surgeries over the course of July and August, leaving me unable to exercise for three weeks total. That destroyed my drive to exercise.

Now I'm done that, and through my crazy Halloween season, so I'm going to start up exercising again! I've picked Monday as my start date. Those of you who know me well might know why. I just wanted to announce to the world that I'm starting up again, and if you want to keep me to task, follow @egerlachhabits on Twitter and let me have it if I don't tweet saying I've exercised each and every morning!

Septoplasty: Acheivment Unlocked!

Warning: Some of this post might squick out the faintest of heart among you. No gory details, but enough that might make you say "Ewwww!" once or twice.

About five months ago, my snoring got so bad that my wife insisted I go see a doctor about it. The doctor sent me for a sleep study, which found that my snoring wasn't apnea, and referred me to an Ear, Nose, and Throat specialist. The ENT took one look inside my nose and throat and said: "You've got a Deviated Septum!" As a result, my palette and uvula have enlarged, which flap around in my mouth while I sleep.

So today was the first of three special days. I got my deviated septum corrected! Huzzah! Surgery was easy, but it will have some negative consequences on my short-term life (though it should be very positive in the long run).

So today I got up at 5:15, had nothing to eat or drink, and headed off to St. Mary's Hospital for 6:30 (three hours before my surgery, as instructed). I got into my "preparation bay" (number 23!) around quarter to seven.

Alex and I got to listen to the day surgery ward nurse deal with a guy who hadn't read any of the instructions or filled out half of the forms. He showed up with his rings on (a big no-no), and they had to cut one off. They also had to ask him a bunch of questions that he should have already answered. Oh, and did I mention that he got in at 7:30 for a 9:00 surgery? Geez.

At about 9:45 I got wheeled into the OR and was put under. One of the cool and spooky things about general anaesthetic for me is I lose the time I'm under. I'm not sleeping, I'm just gone.

So I woke up at about 11:45 int he recovery room, where they removed 6cm long nasal packing from each of my nostrils. Kind of amazing there was that much in there!

After having my nose dressed, I was brought back into my "preparation bay", where Alex met me. I had to have my dressing changed twice (one hell of a nosebleed!), but after about an hour I had recovered sufficiently to be sent home! Home by 1! Woo!

So now I sit on my living room floor, reclined 45 degrees, which is how I have to stay for the day. If I lean forward (when sitting or standing) I can feel the blood putting pressure on the clots. That's the wierdest thing. My nose is almost completely full of clotted blood (i.e. scab). It'll fix itself over the next few days, but it's just really odd.

The thing that sucks about this is that after keeping up my exercise for nearly two weeks, I'm going to have to discontinue. No cardio for 2-3 days, and after that weight training (even body weight) is out. I'll try to keep my cardio up, but I'm going to have to restart my exercise habit building once all of this is over... in September.

Oh well, time to find a new habit!

I'd like to thank the staff who helped me out at the hospital: Jeanette and Michelle, the Day Surgery Nurses; Bruce, who wheeled me into the OR; Jackie, the recovery room nurse; Gail, the OR nurse; Dr. Alexander, the anesthetist; Dr. Bharadwaj, who did the surgery; and everyone else who helps St. Mary's run (especially the IT guys, unsung heroes that they are).

My First Habit: Exercise

According to the method I'm following to develop habits, there are a number of things you need to plan for each habit you want to build. First, is your timeline. I've heard that 21 days is enough to build a habit, but I've also heard that 6 weeks is needed.

The second thing you need to do is identify the habit you want to develop, and the trigger after which you are going to perform your habit. The idea is to condition yourself to always perform the habit after the trigger, so once you stop the training period you'll never stop.

The third thing you need is to identify what obstacles are going to get in your way. By identifying them, you'll be prepared for them and won't let them stop you from executing your habit.

The fourth item in your plan is your support structure. Identify the people who are going to support you in your habit building. Also, every day after you perform your habit, announce it somewhere public and relevant. This will help everyone keep you honest, and just knowing that they will do that will prevent you from missing.

Finally, identify what source of positive feedback you'll have. Positive feedback is very important to building a successful habit. If you enjoy the habit you're trying to build, you're already ahead. But if not, some sort of positive feedback loop to make you want to do your habit.

I'm adding one more component to my plans: how to extend my habits. This will serve as a reference for me if I ever want to come back and revisit the habit and develop it further.

Here's my plan for my first habit:

  1. Timeline: June 15th to July 30th
  2. Trigger: After waking up in the morning and going to the washroom
  3. Habit: Perform exercises from the fitness ladder

  4. Obstacles:

    • Rationalization. I'm going to say things like:
      • "Oh, I'm late for work" or
      • "I'm tired this morning"
    • Time. I need to go to bed in time in order to wake up with 5-15 minutes to spare
    • Motivation. There are going to be mornings where I don't want to do them.
  5. Support Structure

    My wife, @flying_squirrel and @TheIronGus have graciously volunteered to be my primary support structure. If you're interested in following along and supporting me, I've created a new Twitter account, @egerlachhabits to track my habit building. There should be one-two tweets per day on that account, so it will be low-volume. I appreciate any support any of you are willing to give.

  6. Feedback

    • I'm going to enjoy doing the exercises. It will feel good.
    • Also, my muscles will tone up, and my wife will probably enjoy that, which will make me feel good.
  7. Evolution of the habit

    • There's a lot of good stuff from the American Council for Exercise, particularly their workouts.
    • At some point, I'd also like to get a metabolism assessment at Iron Heart done, but that will be when I'm ready to take my cardio exercise to the next level.

Overall, I'm really looking forward to getting started. If you're interested in hearing weekly progress reports here, let me know and I'll post them.

But right now, I'm concentrating on June 15th, 7:30 AM. My first step towards building a new habit!

Forming Habits

Well, it's been over 8 years since I've written a blog post. I haven't really had a website in years. But I suppose it's time to change that (since I'm feeling cramped by the 140-character stylings of Twitter).

I've been wanting to change a number of things in my life for the better for many years now. I think that's a common theme among human beings. I've tried a lot of different techniques, but none of them have really taken in the long run. I really think I've got a better shot this time, though. I've been reading the Zen Habits blog on-and-off for some time now, and I've enjoyed Leo's writing. So when he announced a free webinar about How to Create Powerful Habits For Life, I jumped at the chance. Of course, me being me, I only read about it a few days after it happened, so I missed it.

The real purpose of the webinar was to announce the launch of the Habit Course. I can't afford to take the course, but Leo did archive the webinar on the Habit Course site, and it explains his Simple Method for Creating Powerful Habits, which he's used to change his life. I've decided to follow his Method to try to get in on some of that life-changing action.

The first step of Leo's Method is to take the first week to plan, so that's what I'm doing. I've decided I'm going to start my first habit on June 15th. I've got my plan mostly written, and I'll post it here in the next few days.