Day 104 - How to Build a Habit

This scrolling picture circle in the
shopping area of the CBD
July 20th, 2015

Sleep late on occasion is great. I was up until 2:30am, powering through the double-posting objective of setting everything up until the return date. I'll have to edit a couple more as a buffer, but everything’s looking good. To be honest, I liked having the delay between events actually taking place and being put online because people who were in it will either forget to check, or won’t be bothered as much by something that was unexpectedly included. Like an emotional buffer. So now I'm stuck between a few options of either a) not telling new people about the blog, b) censoring what I say so as to appease people, or c) post what I would normally say and deal with the aftermath. I'll probably end up doing the third because it will be the biggest pain in the ass and make me get better with conflict and fallout. Probably. Further, I'm not sure many Chinese people will bother even trying to read an English blog, even if they're a character in it.

I made my breakfast of lentils, tuna, and tomato sauce with a side of cruciferous vegetables and black coffee. Puttering online, I'm simply procrastinating gathering my things to head to the gym. One of my main obstacles to setting up the gym habit was how damn inconvenient it was. A 10 min walk is easy, but a half hour voyage is not. 

On the topic of habits: 

Some of you, like me, may find it really difficult to start new regiments of exercise, nutrition, or anything really. I think the problem most people fall into - myself included - is that we want to do an overhaul all at once. “I want to quit smoking, drinking, and eating fatty foods," "I want to start getting up early, exercising regularly, and eating more vegetables.” This approach is a surefire way of falling apart within a few days.

First time coming across these guys in Russel Square
According to Psychology Superstar, Roy Baumeister, in his phenomenal book Willpower (great suggestion by Liz): willpower is a finite resource, fueled by glucose. When you eat shitty food, it gets burnt through super fast, then you're left even weaker than before. Eating low Glycemic Index (GI) food will help you maintain more willpower throughout the day because it's a more steady supply of glucose for the brain. This is where I would suggest starting: instead of cutting out all the junk, start incorporating more beans and green vegetables. Equip yourself with the weapons you need to fight the good fight. Once equipped, keep doing it until it’s a habit. Take it one bite at a time, rather than eating like a duck.

You probably have other goals than just eating healthy. Yes, I know you want to lose that belly fat and that swimsuit season is upon is. As I've mentioned before, do you want a slower progression that will stick or a fast progression that will quickly fizzle? 

Another facet of how habits work is that they require little-to-no willpower to maintain - once installed. Again: No matter how difficult it is to start, habits become autopilot once set up. Setting up the habit will take the most work, but once it just becomes something you do, it will be just that. Once established, keep chipping away at the habits you want. It’s slower, sure, but you'll actually be taking the steps toward your final goal. I suggest starting with adding vegetables, then hitting the gym regularly (I found everyday was easier to maintain than anything else - consistency really hit it home), then not drinking calories, followed by cutting down on processed sugars, and, finally, adding High GI carbs. This is what I found most helpful for moving toward my fitness goals, though it’s still a work in progress. Let me know what works for you, and I'll incorporate that in! If your goal is something other than fitness, I'd still suggest starting with nutrition to give your mind what it needs to will yourself to do whatever other tasks you want.

Some Weird Finger-wristed Hand
I was about to leave when Lee wanted to play a game with Bangladeshi Shaf and friend, Manish. The other two can't, though I see this as a good opportunity to connect more with Lee, and I do enjoy the game. After one game came another, which was about to be followed by a third, but I excused myself to go to the gym. I want to make them dinner as thanks for letting me stay at their place, and the gym is close-ish to the grocery store.

I'm back to heavy weights now, which I think I’ll cycle between normal-pace, heavy and slower-pace, medium for the next bit. After grocery shopping, I message Ella to say I'll make them dinner… but they've already eaten and are cutting down on their food in an attempt to lose weight. Damn it, let me feed you! This is the second day I tried making it for them, but they eat so early and places close even more so on Sundays.

On a side note, I've decided to get some pay back on Yuzu’s landlord. I'm not sure how, but it seems like most of the residents are fed up. I also know that they probably won't do anything for fear of getting kicked out or not getting their bond back. Once they're gone, most people don't look back… so… enter me. I won’t touch this until I get back from Bali, but the plan is to see if I can lodge a complaint of some sort, or make it as easy as possible for the residents to do so. Hopefully it causes him some headaches.

Some people believe in cosmic karma. You do good, you receive good, and likewise for bad, by some cosmic justice system. Not me. I believe in a non-cosmic karma where being an asshole attracts assholes into your life, and when word gets around that you're an asshole, bad stuff tends to happen from unseen angles. I will be one of his unseen angles.

Just another grocery store meat
Back at the place, I eat half a dozen eggs and all sorts of vegetables. What fun! The rest of the house (minus Russian Denis) are gathered around the soft glow of Lee’s laptop to watch Chinese dramas. It’s funny that they do so much together, and admirable.

After cleaning up, I set back to studying mandarin. I keep putting it off and really need to buckle down. Ferriss’ idea that it only takes 3-6 months to become conversational if you learn the 2,500 most common words and basic grammar is so appealing that I figure it'll be easy. I am, however, overlooking that work actually has to be done to get there. Let’s get down to it. One thing learned today: the days of the week, starting with Monday up to Saturday, are just numbered. “xīngqí” then 1-6 are the respective days of the week, and for sunday you just insert the word “day” instead of a number. Easy way to remember it… if only I could remember how to count.

Lee keeps trying to help me with the grammar and does help for the most part, but Shimou is AWOL and better at the nuances of each language. I'm still grateful for the help, and he seems to enjoy the role of teacher. Another funny tidbit: “Canada” is “Jiā ná dà” which translates to “add take large.”

Current Listening: "Reapers" by Muse

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