Benjamin Chapin: "The Power of Habit: Change Your Habits. Change Your Life." 2nd ed.
One of the realizations I have come to on the basis of my various diet experiments has been that even though there are always mysteries and the perfect diet may be challenging to pinpoint for each person - the biggest obstacle to becoming healthier is bad habits.
There were certain foods that I knew were bad for me but I kept returning to after my strict diets to 'treat myself'. I realized too that it is not a willpower problem - as I could have forced myself to stay away from those foods. On the contrary, it is a problem with enjoying one's life. If you force yourself on a strict diet for a month, two or three, like I did, you gain certain benefits but you may also spend all your day thinking about what you can eat, preparing foods, shopping, trying to juggle social events so that you can still stick to your eating plan, etc. In short, dieting can take too much of a control of your life, and be too time-consuming.
So eventually you weigh the pros and cons and decide that you have already gotten many benefits from the diet and now it's time to take a break and enjoy your life. Of course then the old addictions kick in and it's hard to return to the strict eating again... probably because it wasn't a very good and sustainable way of living in the first place.
This book is an eye-opener because it teaches you to map a route to success by identifying and replacing those very bad habits first. You will get better results while enjoying your life and being excited about small challenges every day, together with steady progress towards your amazing, life-changing goals.
Habits are ingrained into our subconscious minds and tied with very complex and deep feelings of joy, satisfaction, identity, fears, comfort, etc. They are formed by a whole lifetime or many months and years of repeatedly doing the same things over and over again. They have become automatic and your body and mind rely on habits to function - they resist change. Habits should not be taken lightly.
Below is a brief summary of some key points of realization from Benjamin Chapin's book: The Power of Habit.
This book is appropriately titled since habits are extremely powerful. I have only picked some of the suggestions I found most interesting in the above book for this summary but much more has been written about habits in this book and in many others.
Riding a bicycle was difficult until it became a habit. Speaking a language was difficult until it became a habit. And the same with walking, writing, Kung Fu, flying a plane, snowboarding, tight-rope walking, using computer software, sailing a boat, etc. The habits that become easiest and most enjoyable are those that are repeated daily, or very often. Choose an exciting goal you want to achieve now and map out the route to how to get there, in small steps. That way you can enjoy the process and you are much more likely to succeed.
If you try to change a habit too suddenly or too quickly, your body and mind will resist.
According to different reports, to form a habit usually takes about 30 or 40 days, although it may depend on the person. It was an important realization for me that to improve your chances of forming a new habit it is best to do the same thing everyday at the same time!
Take pen and paper, list the habits you want to achieve, and then map out one of them, and how to get there day by day. Pin the map for the first habit on the wall and archive the long-list away. Only tackle one thing at a time. Enjoy the progress. Make it fun!
Waking up at 4am was a very exciting idea for me, maybe because it seems like a very difficult challenge and I seem to like challenging myself (with not always very good results so far but the new approach outlined in this book should help). I have recently started thinking that if you are not naturally tired and ready for bed by 9pm-10pm, you either woke up too late or you are taking too many stimulants or energising supplements. I will draw my first map right now and see how it goes :)
For more information about Benjamin Chapin and his books, visit: www.benjaminchapin.com
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