Abstinence Education

For some people, building some flexibility into their diets, such as the classic “free day” or “diet break” can help. Other people are better served by strictness. Gretchen Rubin calls these differences in personalities “Moderators” vs. “Abstainers” in her book Better Than Before. Moderators do best when they can have a small treat every day. Abstainers will eat the treat and then eat the remaining week’s treats before running out to the store to get a box of cookies or some ice cream. Moderators can also smoke “socially”. Other people will smoke one cigarette and be back to a pack-a-day habit.

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Backing Off

As we talked about in the last post, there has to be a balance of work and breaks, or you will burn out.  In training, too, you can’t go full-throttle all the time. One way to look at this is to think that the most important workout is the next one. If you beat yourself up to the point where you don’t want to return, sooner or later, you won’t come back. It’s better to intentionally taper for a week than wait for burnout or injury. To that end, the template that I’ve been using for the last month is a simple way to build in back-off weeks. I got it from Josh Hillis, but since it’s been published by Dan John here  I don’t mind sharing my experience with it.

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Activity Breaks

In my last post, I talked about Deep Work, and the concept of having a structure that supports it. Part of this was the idea that you needed to block out hours or even days to make room for Deep Work in your schedule.

This sounds great, but runs into a pitfall: working deeply is exhausting and requires one to take breaks. How do you take breaks in the context of a larger, hours- (or days-) long focused work block?

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The Promise of Deep Work


The Note to Self Podcast produced an excellent program on Single Tasking that has turned out to be one of their most popular episodes. They contend that the crucial thing to relieve feelings of overwhelm is to select a single task, then work on it until it’s finished.

Gloria Mark, one of the researchers they interview in the show, says: it can take 23 minutes, 15 seconds to recover after an interruption. (Relevant part at about 7:40 of the podcast.) She even argues that after a series of interruptions, workers will begin to interrupt themselves, increasing stress and lowering productivity.

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100 Days YouTube series

Just finished watching a great YouTube series called 100 days.

The series follows two guys who are trying to “have a healthy midlife crisis” by eating healthier, meditating, and exercising. It’s somewhat artificial in that they have hired a support crew of psychologists, nutritionists, doctors, and maybe a dozen personal trainers to help them in the process, but this is part of making it a show instead of their life. They tried activities as common as  tennis, bowling, and golf, as well as more obscure activities like obstacle courses, rock climbing, roller derby, and even aerial circus training — filming the whole mess along with reflections on their progress, photos of their food, and frequent check-ins to see how some basic metrics are going (e.g. number of pushups in a minute, heart rate both before and distance from their toes in a forward fold).

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