Herculean Habits: Regular Routines or the Struggle of Streaks?

This is one of those nights when a sensible blogger who is not feeling well skips writing; instead, she/he/they takes a bath, drinks some sleepy tea and reads, or gets under the covers early. Lucky for you, I never claimed to be sensible. (I also didn’t say whether that is good or bad luck. It’s your call if you’re feeling lucky, punk. Well, are you?) Anyway, I’ve been writing daily since January 1, 2018, either in this blog, a journal, or my memoir. It would be easy, but not at all simple, for me to just skip a night. But so far, no matter how badly I might feel, I write. So, here goes un poquito blogito.

This dude does a lot of other daily habits, in case you’re new here. If you’re not, you know I do the following stuff every day:

  • practice yoga – 30 minutes (8 years as of this Xmas)
  • walk – 30 minutes (4 years minus 2-3 days, plus a bunch extra, as of 1/1/22)
  • don’t eat grain flour – all damn day, 99.5% of my diet (4 years as of 1/1/22)
  • meditate – 5 minutes (3 years sometime in March)
  • bicycle – 30 minutes to occasionally 6 hours on my birthday (2 years, 1 month, 9 days)
  • read books – 30 minutes (1 year as of 1/1/22)
  • foam roll – 5 minutes (1 year as of 1/1/22)
  • practice flute (11 months as of 1/1/22)
  • eat salad (10 months minus 1 day as of 1/1/22)
Photo by Kampus Production on Pexels.com

It’s been pointed out to me that it would be fine if I took some days off of some or even all of those habits. That might be the logical thing to do — from the viewpoint of reasonable and regular routines. But since starting the struggle of the streaks in 2013, up to and including more habits this year, it’s been difficult to come up with a good reason to interrupt them. But not every habit sticks. As my attempts at using MyFitnessPal, doing resistance band workouts, and swimming have shown, if I don’t make a habit a streak, I tend to give it up. Recent attempts to bring those back have failed yet again. Hey, I’m only a dude — a work in progress, just like you.

In comparison, though, I have a friend who walked every day for around 10 months, after my example finally inspired him. He had to travel, and being out of his routines, he quit. He hasn’t been on a walk since. It’s all or nothing for that dude, emphasis on the nothing. That’s his choice and karma. I sort of get it because I’m the opposite; I do all the things. When I missed a couple of walks a few years ago, or one salad this summer, I got back on the horse the next day, with no melodramatic self-recriminations. I do experiment with variations, and as mentioned, try new things. It really does take herculean effort, though.

But at some point, some things are going to break. Or maybe all at once. I actually thought that day might be yesterday, because I was feeling extremely poorly for the second night in a row. I was actually out running an errand, getting in my daily 15 miles on a bicycle, so it was either suffer through it or find a bus with a bike rack or phone a friend. I made it home, took a 20-minute power nap on the yoga mat, then proceeded on with my remaining activities. Who knows what it is, probably a combination of fatigue, maybe allergies, something I ate, something I took, stress, or all of the above. Not dead yet.

The point being that a reasonable dude would just cut off most or all of the activities, or do them earlier in the day. Science is stacked against us, though. Did you know that will power is like a muscle, and it tires out as the day goes on? Just when you’re trying to resist that bowl of frozen Greek yogurt, or popcorn, or Jerry Seinfeld’s nighttime bowl of cereal, that part of your brain you need to say no is checked out. And as I learned from a recent book I read about sleep, the 10 pm – 6 am modern industrial schedule is, pardon the pun, manufactured, as in unnatural.

Do you know what else I learned? People used to get up for an hour in the middle of the night to visit with roommates or neighbors, cook and clean, or have sexy time. Much of our sleep patterns are derived from our genetics. I remember when my brother and I were kids visiting our maternal grandparents in the desert. Our grandmother would be perched on her hand-upholstered Queen Anne chair, book in one hand, cigarette in the other, burning the late night oil. It always made the notion of reading slightly forbidden and thus exciting for me.

Speaking of Seinfeld, that whole Don’t Break the Chain idea was allegedly his — writing a joke a day, no matter what. He disavowed it, but I still think it works. Until it doesn’t. Maybe life will force a change and all my streaks will come screeching to a halt all at once. So be it, I’ll have had a good run (or ride or walk…). If I’m still around and able to re-start some of them, I will. Or maybe the New Year will be a good time to reevaluate. Tomorrow is never guaranteed. And come January 1, maybe I’ll make some changes.

If I were you, I would advise you to make your habits regular, not streaks. If you’re backsliding, phone a friend if you’re lucky enough to have one who’ll do the activity with you — or at least bug you to do it. Otherwise, you may end up like me. With some pretty impressive accomplishments which mean nothing to anyone else which are healthy in physically, but are often quite exhausting mentally. Although stopping or reducing my habits aren’t going to solve problems like being un-young or under-tall.

Well, there you have it. A blog I didn’t want to write, but it needed to be said. And not in my journal and the book but its own thing. For me, for now, streaking has it’s place. But I’m like Jason Alexander as George Costanza said, “I’m not like any other guy you’ve ever met.” And it’s like what Keanu Reeves as Neo — in what for me along with Daniel Craig’s last turn as 007, James Bond in No Time to Die — is the most anticipated movie of the year, Matrix: Resurrections. Someone who must choose the blue pill or the red pill.

Choose wisely.

Every morning about this time
She get me out of my bed
A-crying get a job

After breakfast, everyday
She throws the want ads right my way
And never fails to say
Get a job

Sha-na na-na, sha-na na-na na (ba doo)
Sha-na na-na, sha-na na-na na (ba doo)
Sha-na na-na, sha-na na-na na (ba doo)
Sha-na na-na, sha-na na-na na, ba
Yip yip yip yip yip yip yip yip
Mum mum mum mum mum mum, get a job
Sha-na na-na, sha-na na-na na

-Get a Job, The Silhouettes


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