The Bad Side of Good Habits

It’s taken me a lot of time. effort and an indescribable amount of will power and discipline to establish and maintain the good habits which are the four main pillars of this blog, and in some ways a good chunk of my life: Biking, Walking, Writing and Yoga. I am approaching six years of daily yoga (yes, you read that correctly), four years of bicycling an average of 13 miles per day, two years of daily walking, and two years of daily writing, Let’s not forget two years of eliminating almost all processed grains. As 2019 winds down, the pressure to come up with New Years resolutions for 2020 looms large. So I’m reflecting on the nature of habits because sometimes, what seems good may sometimes also have a bad side.

I recently resolved to do better with my oral hygiene by flossing every day for the month of November. Hopefully I’ll keep going after that.There’s a teeth cleaning appointment coming up and I didn’t want to hear the lecture from the hygienist. I’ve had a lifetime to make it a daily practice, but when I was a kid my brother and I weren’t allowed many sweets, so we didn’t have cavities for a while, and we could get away without flossing. But flossing before brushing is clearly better for your teeth, and oral health may be related to your heart health.

So how can something that’s good for you have a bad side? Well, floss tends to stick between my teeth and fray, and sometimes even gets stuck. If I haven’t done it in a while the gums bleed and it hurts. It’s also not fun, a little bit gross and is yet another chore to do at the end of the day when I’m tired. Granted, these are first world problems, because many people don’t have access to even clean water, much less toothbrushes, toothpaste and floss. But if you can, it’s good. Except when it’s bad.

I may have already missed a day, but at least I’m on the right path. It’s not without effort though I try some tricks, like I leave the floss out so it is harder to ignore. It may take several tries, but I expect I’ll eventually make it into a daily habit or at least git ‘er done most days. It may be irritating, but it’s worth it. I also tried to document all my expenses every day, but that didn’t last at all. I probably need a cell phone application to make that much quicker.

Here’s another deceptively bad habit masquerading as a good one: making my bed in the morning. I got into this some years ago, I don’t recall how or why. But I like the feeling that if the rest of my room is in disarray, at least my bed is made. However, science says that leaving your bed unmade kills more dust mites. The psychological boost you may get from establishing that little bit of order in your bedroom could lead to problems like asthma.

You would think that bicycling is all positive, right? Well, not always. Recently I was dealing with a saddle sore. It was uncomfortable but tolerable. Did I stop riding? Hell no! Have we met? I’m A Dude Abikes, I ride through all kinds of weather, aches and pains. But then it became downright painful. I took measures to treat it (antibacterial and zinc oxide creams plus lanolin-based pre-ride lotion), and backed off riding slightly. Other times, clearly I’ve needed to rest sore knee joint or my tired brain that’s just sick and tired of biking. Muscles also need time to repair themselves.

Following a healthy eating regimen remains my biggest challenge, like many Americans. I may bike my ass off, but it’s still there. I’m fit (for the bicycle at least), but am still overweight, aka a fathlete. This is for a variety of reasons, some in my control like sleep and sweets, and some not like genetics, environment, and the stressful nightmare of daily news that is the current future ex-US president Tinyhands Orangehead. The struggle is real.

One year I lost quite a bit of weight using a calorie tracking application and a Mediterranean diet book. Having to plan and record every single thing I put in my mouth was very time-consuming and really annoying. Going home for the holidays and other social outings with friends while not being able to enjoy forbidden foods were very isolating experiences. Ultimately both the diet and the tracking were unsustainable, so I opted to quit.

One year, I added 30 minutes of meditation after yoga. That’s what yoga is for after all — to prepare the body for contemplative sitting practice. But I often would fall asleep or obsess over problems. It was stressing me out and cutting into my time for my televised stories, reading, cleaning, or whatever. After 12 months, I chose to stop that, too. That made me a way, Way, WAY happier dude!

I continue my daily walking, yoga, and writing this blog or my book (now editing and rewriting the first draft) despite days when I simply am exhausted. I think I missed one day of walking during SXSW last year but I was generally walking 10,000 steps a day or more. Plenty of days I walked double the usual distance, or I took two walks. Many days I write for more than 30 minutes. Recently I thought I may have missed one day but since I’m often up after midnight, technically I have kept that streak going.

This preoccupation with not missing a day can be a bit much. I fear that if I skip one day that might become two, and then three, and before I know it, a week may go by without walking or writing. It’s a bit extreme, this #Don’tBreakTheChain idea, and someday I may have an accident or illness and will have to live with a regular practice which allows for being human. Until then, in pursuit of better health, I am often missing out on social activities, sleep or both, which is not healthy. I can be proud of these accomplishments but they do come at a cost.

For now, I’ll keep on keepin’ on, and see where the road takes me. I hope you’ll make it a habit to read my blog, and if you aren’t, click on the Follow button at the bottom right to sign up by email if you aren’t on WordPress. A Dude thanks you!

What are your experiences with the bad sides of good habits?

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9 thoughts on “The Bad Side of Good Habits

  1. I once had a meditation app on my iPhone. It had a lot of really wonderful guided meditations and thought exercises that I enjoyed, and it did help me improve my mindfulness habits. But it also recorded each day you used the app as one day in a “streak” (similar to the Duolingo language app, if you’re familiar). Eventually, not missing a day and breaking my “streak” became more of a priority than mindfulness itself! I still struggle to maintain a consistent mindfulness practice on my own (getting better) but I’m glad I ditched the app!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Sheree. You’re right, all things in moderation. Including sometimes, moderation itself! I do push myself hard, so we’ll see how it goes and what I do after the new year. I don’t seen a reason to stop, but regular may be more realistic than daily especially if and when I get a full time job again.

      I’m listening to the Lounge Show on Koop 91.7 on Tune In that plays old kitschy and jazz vocals including French songs sometimes. It just occurred to me that your name in French is Cherie!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It is indeed something which always gives the French a bit of a chuckle. Whenever I’m out riding, many on their bikes will call out « Salou Cherie » I generally have no idea who they are.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. The yoga is impressive. Hell, ALL of it is impressive Dude.

    I obsessed over my Fitbit for a long time, needing to get that daily 10k. And then I curbed myself and took it off one day. Since then, I’ve been good. Missed daily goals? No worries, I’ll make it up.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I appreciate that, M. I j ust wish I had better results. It’s more realistic to be regular like you say, and not even worrying about making it up sometimes.

      That 10,000 step goal was purely arbitrary and made up by somebody. We do our best and hope for the same.

      I wonder how long I’ll keep it all up. I’ll have to not let myself get disappointed if I have to skip a day.
      It is tough some days and a full time job could derail alot.

      Also, I need to add a pun about nun hats. Keep on truckin’!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It was a process for me. I was the kind of obsessed that if I had a low step day and was at say, 8,000 or so steps . . I’d walk. Even at 11 at night, just to get the goal.

        I think it requires more disciple to skip and come back.

        I know right? I’m always like . . I’m worshiping this particular number why?

        Build a regimen to fit yourself then. Whatever it may be, it’s better to have something than nothing.

        Hahaha!

        Liked by 1 person

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