Pressing Pause

My peak writing time always seems to be between 3-5:30 PM.  I don't have a "scientific" reason why. But it's usually when my afternoon coffee is flowing, I've just pigged out(?) on salad, and I'm riding high after deadlifting the equivalent of a smart car (I wish!).

Unfortunately, it tends to be the least writing conducive part of my day.  I'm either training myself during that time or I'm heading back for the second half of my workday. On good days and weeks, I can usually eke out 20 minutes of writing. But many times it's nothing and I can't help feeling guilty.

For my fellow grammar and English nerds.

For my fellow grammar and English nerds.

I've thought about taking a different approach: taking a few weeks off from writing every year until my schedule settles down. By pressing the pause button, it'd release my guilt when I can't get much accomplished, and who knows, maybe I'd find a different hobby outside of strength and conditioning (but probably not).

Yet, I always come back to the same arguments: 1) with no kids and minimal liabilities, this is the calmest and easiest life will ever be for me!  And 2) writing is a craft that you can only improve by, you know, actually writing.  As a result, I always decide to forge ahead regardless of how slow it might be.

Of course, I'm not just talking about my own writing schedule - I'm giving a glimpse into how most people think and act when it comes to changing their diet and exercise habits.  

With busy lives, we'd rather leave the hard work of exercising and eating right to when we're able to devote more time to it.  I, too, have been guilty of dropping healthier habits in the name of "stress" or "time management." But as John Berardi of Precision Nutrition points out here, that approach doesn't teach us to navigate everyday life and keep a healthy lifestyle. Instead, it encourages the "all or nothing" approach which too often gets us nothing, and rarely gets us all.

Ruh roh.

Ruh roh.

As an example, there can be value in a strict 30 day diet to build awareness or rule out food intolerances.  But when people are finished with their diet, they often struggle where to go from there.  Too often, they encounter some backslide to their previous habits and to fix it, they carve out another 30 days where they can repeat the cycle. Continually being on or off the wagon isn't the healthiest for our bodies or our relationship with food.

That's why the best time to start healthier habits is right now.  Barring certain circumstances, life never tends to get less busy.  And there's no better way to learn and teach yourself when you focus on small habits you can sustain over the long haul.  Ordering a side salad with lunch, not using Facebook at night, or taking a walk are all small changes that will help over the long haul.

The same can be said about exercise.  Dan John's motto of "Train little and often over the long haul" is not nearly as sexy as "The 6 Week Brotastic Biceps Blastin' Workout" or "21 Day Fat Furnace."  One will teach you habits you can use when life isn't conducive for gainz, the others will not survive long.

Still, I'm often reminded of one of my favorite sayings, "How long it takes you to get in shape is usually a good indicator for how long you'll remain in shape."  I couldn't agree more.