One Little Habit
One of the best parts of college was being able to spend an hour or two in the gym each day. I was in the best shape of my life. I could eat as much food as I wanted and still fit into my pants. That was then. Things are a little different now.
Actually, they’re a lot different.
I stopped going to the gym. I can no longer eat large amounts of food without having to lie down afterwards and rest for several hours. And the button on my pants? Well, let’s just say it used to have to work harder than it could have ever imagined.
Did you notice I wrote used to?
Something happened this past December that helped me make a big change in my health and my waistline. On December 18th I received the book Atomic Habits: An Easy and Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones. Well, when I say received, it wasn’t like the author James Clear, randomly sent me his New York Times bestselling book. No, I ordered it from Amazon like pretty much everyone else.
And once I picked it up, I couldn’t put it down. Don’t worry, you are not getting ready to read a book summary. I wouldn’t do that to you and I imagine you read enough summaries as it is. But I do want to tell you how one major concept in the book helped me lose weight and feel better.
I wanted to share my story with you, not because it’s all that interesting. In fact, it’s quite ordinary and uneventful. No, I wanted to share my story with you because I imagine many of you can relate to what I was going through. Not finding time to work out, gaining some extra weight and having to buy new pants or dare I say it, try the rubber band trick (Google it).
I am guessing that many of you, like me, are exhausted when you get home from work. You know you should head to the gym or go for a run. But you don’t. You want to spend time with your family, you have other obligations or you just want to relax. I get it.
That was me. And it kinda still is. With one small exception. Or to use James Clear’s term, one atomic exception.
Let me explain.
One of my major takeaways from Atomic Habits was that little changes, compounded over time, can have big effects. This was difficult for me for two reasons.
- First, when I was younger, I used to think that a workout had to be at least 45 minutes and it had to be super intense. If I wasn’t sweating, grunting and groaning, then it’s wasn’t really a workout.
- Second, social media inundates us with videos and infomercials that make us think that if we’re not following some prescribed workout regimen then we’re wasting our time.
Well, I have since been convinced otherwise. About two months ago, I began doing 100 reps of some exercise each day. The weights didn’t need to be heavy. I have 8 lb. weights sitting next to me as I am typing this piece. In fact, I don’t need weights at all. I could do push ups, squats, crunches, etc.
Most nights the 100 reps take me about 5 minutes. Some nights I do 4 sets of 25 and some nights I do 2 sets of 50. As long as I total 100 reps, it doesn’t matter how I get there.
At first, I didn’t see or feel much difference. But after about two weeks I started to notice my pants fitting better and my body feeling healthier. It was hard to believe, but one little habit compounded over time did make a big difference.
What does this piece have to with education or being a better educator?
Not a thing.
It takes on a much more important topic.
If you feel better then you will do better.
And I promise you, you can do 100 of something every day. Try it for a month and you’ll see what I mean. It’s time we allow ourselves to feel good. Oh, and you want me to let you in on a little secret? I am interviewing James Clear in March for Teachers’ Aid. I am psyched! I can’t wait to talk to him about ways teachers can develop and stick with habits.
*On a similar note, I just published a book titled, My Bad: 24 Educators Who Messed Up, Fessed Up and Grew! While the book is not about education, I believe it will make you a better educator because it will make you feel good. I think you deserve that.