Archive for August 20th, 2010

About 10 days ago, I posted my morning mindfulness routine. It was a somewhat humorous look at the way I’m going through my mornings. My wife enjoyed the post but said that it made me appear to be a bit OCD. While I do have a routine I’m nowhere near OCD. I don’t feel that I have to do my routine or the house will explode or those I love will die. I’m also not compelled to follow that routine to the minute. However, it is good to have a routine because it slowly turns into a habit. One of my goals is to develop long term lifestyle changes. The way that I do that is by making something into a routine. Everyone is different but I have learned for myself that this is the best way for me to transform something I’m trying to change.

One of the benefits of having a routine and then having it become a habit is that it leaves you with less choice in a matter. For me, as long as exercising is a choice between staying in bed or getting out and moving around, I will choose to not exercise some mornings. Once it is a habit, I remove the choice and will just do it. I’ve begun to get that way with the foods that I’m eating. I no longer have an inner debate about whether to go get a salad or go the the burrito place down the street for lunch. Sure, I miss the burritos but I have begun to make a habit out of getting the salads so it’s much easier for me now.

Ritual and routine are helping me to shape who I am becoming. There are times when I don’t want to exercise but I do, times when I don’t want to meditate but I do, times when I want to eat junk but reach for fresh fruit instead. This is Zen, this is meditation, this is practice. As I continue to grow and transform my lifestyle I am opening up to life. Through my ritual and routine and habits, I’m living a better life than when I drifted through aimlessly while eating everything that came across my path. Often we think of ritual and routine as fetters or hindrances but for me, they have been liberating and given me freedom. It’s one of those paradoxical things that doesn’t make sense until you experience it for yourself. I highly suggest you try it.

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As I was exercising and getting ready this morning, I was thinking about how different my lifestyle is now than it was just a few months ago. I have made a lot of changes and they’re really paying off. I’m trying to make a list of things I do now that I never did before.

  • Enjoying multiple salads a day – previously I’d eat a salad every few months and rarely “enjoy” it.
  • Cooking tofu and being happy with the results – I’d had tofu before but never prepared it. I certainly didn’t eat an entire meal of it.
  • Exercising 45 minutes a day – before, I’d never get exercise.
  • Meditating – the thought never would have crossed my mind before. Now I look forward to it.
  • Eating little/no meat – I used to have Tony Bourdain’s attitude toward vegetarian/vegans.
  • Vegetarians, and their Hezbollah-like splinter faction, the vegans, are a persistent irritant to any chef worth a damn. To me, life without veal stock, pork fat, sausage, organ meat, demi-glace, or even stinky cheese is a life not worth living. Vegetarians are the enemy of everything good and decent in the human spirit, and an affront to all I stand for, the pure enjoyment of food. The body, these waterheads imagine, is a temple that should not be polluted by animal protein. It’s healthier, they insist, though every vegetarian waiter I’ve worked with is brought down by any rumor of a cold. Oh, I’ll accommodate them, I’ll rummage around for something to feed them, for a ‘vegetarian plate’, if called on to do so. Fourteen dollars for a few slices of grilled eggplant and zucchini suits my food cost fine

  • Counting calories – I used to always try for the high score. Now I keep them down to 1200/day
  • Using the stairs – Going down/up 52 steps from my parking space to the exit of the parking garage used to be a nightmare. Now I do it easily.
  • Eating vegetables I never ate before – I’ve learned to love a lot of new things. It’s amazing what flavors are out there.
  • Living below 300 – I never thought I’d see a weight back in the 200’s ever again.
  • Watching my salt intake – I never gave a second thought to sodium before. Now I am watching it as closely as calories.
  • Ignoring sweets – I was a sugar addict. Ice cream, cake, cookies, brownies were all my friends. Now, I live without them.
  • Giving up caffiene – I still can’t believe this one. I was a caffiene addict of the first order. Coffee, soda, energy drinks, mints and more. If it was caffinated I’d try it. Now, I don’t have caffiene at all because all of those caffinated things act as a trigger for me to want to eat. The headaches and withdrawl symptoms were bad at first but now I don’t miss it.

I know that there are more things that I’m doing now so I’ll be adding to the list as I realize that I’m doing new things or living differently. My goal was to make these things permanent changes so that they become my new lifestyle and I have had a lot of success with that. This morning I really didn’t feel like exercising but I did anyway. When I was done, I was glad I had done it. Before, I would have stayed in bed and slept. Now, I’m committed to new habits and ways of living so I couldn’t just sleep through the time that I have set aside for myself. Who’d of thought that I would change so much?

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