My Boys Weekend

I spent the weekend with my boys. All by my lonesome, no mommy in sight. Alli left Thursday morning and didn't get back until last night after both of the boys went to bed. In that time, I had to get them both to daycare on Thursday and Friday and then keep them fed and entertained all weekend. Luckily, some friends invited us to meet them at the Botanical Garden on Saturday and we had a birthday party that I had forgot about on Sunday. So the entertainment portion of the weekend was pretty much taken care of.

Every adult I came across was like, "wait, your by yourself...with both of them...all weekend?" People were treating me as if I was one of the Avengers. I was surprised at the level of praise I was getting (don't get me wrong, I deserve and will accept all praise hoisted upon me). I mean they are my children.

Now this isn't going to be a post about parenting double standards even though I did get the feeling that if Alli & I switched roles this weekend she wouldn't have gotten the same treatment. It's a post about the parenting stress and stress in general.

Parenting really boils down to, like I said above, keeping them fed, entertained and well rested (which will play a part in their entertainment). It doesn't seem like it should be hard. We spent the majority of weekend either home or in places where they could run freely. Easy enough right? Well that becomes, I haven't seen Graham in 15 seconds where is he? Or what's in Charles' hand....no no don't put that in your mouth. Then feeding: with one it was "oh my god, I wish you would just focus on eating" and with the other it was "oh my god, you've eaten so much you can't still be hungry".

I found myself living for nap time. Not for the peace and quiet it afforded but so that I could take a nap myself. Even that was ruined that too as one would invariably not sleep long enough or sleep too long. Yes even sleeping too much is stress inducing: is everything ok, is he sick....

The point is life is full of stressors. Everyone always talks about the stress of that big project at work. You should talk about those. You should also realize and recognize that your everyday life couple be, and probably is, stressing you out.

Consistent Actions are the Key to Success

This morning I was talking with a client. Along with training with me in person, he's a member in my 28 Day Online Challenge. We were talking about his results from the last challenge. They weren't as good as they could have been so I mentioned that he had taken a few liberties during the challenge. I know this because a major part of the challenge is to report everything that you eat. So I knew he when he was off the plan simply because those would be the times he wouldn't report what he ate (to be fair, sometimes he would just forget). Anyway, we continued to talk I mentioned how he didn't report anything over the weekend. I don't remember exactly but his answer was along the lines of "we didn't eat as we normally do". To which I replied "yes but you still ate."

See to be successful at the challenge the key is consistently recording what you eat (and doing the workouts...). The act of recording your meals itself won't make you lose weight but if you consistently do it means you're probably doing other healthy things that will help you lose weight.

The consistency is the key. Studies have shown that people who eat breakfast every day or walk 10,000 steps in a day tend to weigh less. Neither one of these alone is the reason the people who do them weigh less. The people who do them usually incorporate other healthy habits into their lives or (perhaps more importantly) avoid bad habits.

For instance, 10,000 steps is about 5 miles on average. If you walk that far in a day that means you have less time to be sitting and being inactive. If you eat breakfast every day, you'll be able to skip the donuts in the break room.

Consistency doesn't just work with the 3 examples that I've given either. You can insert any action and you'll see results. It has to be an action though. The more specific the better. Taking a picture of everything you eat, eating breakfast everyday and walking 10,000 steps are good examples because they tell you exactly what to do and when to do it.

I have another round of my 28 Day Challenge beginning on 11/19. For more info you can click here you can comment here or email me at dwayne@startinglinefit.com.

Timetables might be stressing you out

This morning as I was getting to the subway the digital arrival board said the next train would be arriving in 4 minutes. As I got about half way down the steps, I realized that there was actually a train in the station that I was about to miss. No big deal, the board said the next train would be arriving in 4 minutes. Except when I actually got into the station, the 3 digital boards all displayed different arrival times for 2 different trains. None of which matched the outside board. So which one to believe?

Ultimately, it didn't matter which was right because none of the wait times were so long that I would've considered an alternate route. So I did what I would've have done any other morning: I stood there and waited.

The only difference is that I was upset this morning. I was mad because the stupid board told me there would be a train in 4 minutes. Then the subsequent boards played with my emotions by saying it could be as long as 7 minutes or as short as 1 minute. I would've been better off if all of the digital boards were turned off (which has happened before). That way I wouldn't have had any expectations and I would've just waited.

That's what I used to do before station improvements that included digital arrival boards. It was the good ol' days of playing subway roulette: you get to the station and hope to god you won't be waiting longer than 5-10 minutes.

Now I'd be lying if I said I wasn't impressed when I saw the arrival boards at my local station. It would no longer be a guessing game, I would know exactly when the train was going to arrive.

Here's the thing though, on average I still wait the same 5-10 minutes. There are those lucky times when I get there and the boards say "1 min" and I feel great about myself (as though I had anything to do with it). Then there are mornings like today when the boards are just completely wrong. It really screws up the whole commute.

The arrival boards took a situation where I would've been content with just waiting it out and literally added a time expectation to it. The problem with the time expectation is that I have no control over it. There's nothing I can do except wait. Now my mood gets affected by this thing I can't control.

Now I'm only telling you about this because this is what I see a lot of people do when it comes to their fitness. They want to know how long it will take to see results. The general answer is probably in the neighborhood of 4-6 weeks. If I tell you less than that you'll get excited but those results probably won't last. If I tell you more than that you'll want shortcuts to make it go faster.

The fact is most of us would be better off just worrying about the things that we can control. Things like making better food choices, being more active and getting more sleep. After that it's about making sure you're continually making progress.


Are Customs Stopping Your Progress?

"The despotism of custom is everywhere standing up to human advancement." - John Stuart Mill

So a few things before I get started. First I don't remember where I got this quote from but I saw it, thought it was good and wrote it down. Also I don't know who John Stuart Mill is but I feel like I should (I would guess something to do with the American Revolution), so if you know help a brother out.

Now that I got that out of the way, I find this to be right on the nose. How many times have you found yourself grabbing for a snack simply because it's snack time? Or have you gone out for drinks just because the rest of the team was going? The list can go on and on.

Customs make life easy. Customs eliminate the need to think. Customs are/have triggers. It's 3pm, 3pm is snack time, grab a snack. What you weren't hungry? Too late, you already ate the snack.

Without customs we would have to sit and think about the pros & cons of every decision that we are making. Customs save us time and energy that could be used at more important times.

For the most part this is a good thing. Until it's not. When you're trying to lose weight 3pm snack time becomes the enemy everyday. It's an enemy that you either have to fight or avoid. In this case avoiding it might mean making it so you can't eat snack; can you move that meeting to 3pm? Fighting it could be being prepared with a "healthy" snack instead of going to the vending machine.

In the case of the bad customs the first step to changing them is recognizing them in the first place. That's the thing about customs though, they're hard to pick out. Remember the point of a custom is to not have to think about them, they're automatic.

So how do we change the bad customs? The first step is you have to take account of your day. This means you have to be able to say what you did during each hour of every day. Give yourself a week to track everything you do throughout each day. After a week you'll start to notice patterns of both good and bad customs.

The next step is to look for the triggers. We already talked about 3pm being the snack trigger but there are other types of triggers. Triggers can be people like that annoying co-worker or situations like happy hour just because it's Friday. Figuring out your triggers will allow you to plan round them.

This leads us to the last step. The last step is used the info you gather from accounting for the week and finding the triggers to make a plan. Your plan should take into account all of the triggers, good and bad, and the flow of your typical day. Try to replace bad triggers with good ones and figure out ways to actively either fight or avoid those bad customs.

Give this a shot. What customs, good or bad, do you notice in your own life. What are you going to do increase the good and decrease the bad?

The Curse Of Choice

I'm in charge of taking GHB, my 3yr old son, to school every Thursday morning. On a good day it's a race against time for me to get showered & dressed, get him fed, bathed and dressed and for us to get out the door on time. Last Thursday, I overslept. I'm not sure what happened but it happened. All the stuff listed above still had to get done but it had to be done in half the time.

The solution to this problem? I started taking away options. I usually let him choose things like what he wants to eat for breakfast and what he wants to wear to school. On this particular morning it was here's your breakfast and this is what you're wearing.

See when he's given options it can add precious minutes to tasks that shouldn't take very long. (To be clear everything with a 3 year old takes longer than it should.) For him options lead questions and distractions.

This is isn't the case for just him. It happens to all of us. We tend to think of having options as a good thing but they can be a hinderance. Particularly when we're presented with too many options.

Like I said options lead to questions, it doesn't matter if you're 3yr old or 30. No one wants to pick the wrong thing. So when you have a bunch of options, now you've got to investigate each one to see which one is the best.

The thing is there usually isn't that much difference between options, especially once you get beyond three or four choices. Most of the time it's more beneficial to limit your options to 2 or 3. Then pick one of those 3 as quickly as possible.

Don't spend too much time trying to figure out the best one. Any benefit of finding the best choice will usually be negated by the time loss trying to make the perfect choice.

This goes for all the choices you have to make, whether it's wardrobe choices like GHB or healthy lifestyle choices like what to eat or what exercise to do.


Environment > Will Power

Environment > Will Power

My point is that the environment you put yourself in is going to have a huge impact on your actions. Your environment is the physical space you're in but also the people/things you surround yourself with. People set goals and decide to change all the time but they often fail to consider their environment. If you fail to consider environment, (eventually) you're going to fail.