Tag Archives: health

How to change your life without willpower

You can make permanent, deep change in your behavior easily, without willpower — even break alcohol addiction, like writer Edith Zimmerman did — if you change your underlying belief about yourself. www.thecut.com

This sounds like bullshit, but I can personally attest it to be true. I’ve done it three times: When I quit smoking, when I lost weight and kept it off, and when I started exercise. In each case, I changed my underlying belief about myself.

I was a heavy smoker, already up to 3 packs a day when I was 30. I quit smoking a million times before it stuck. I hated myself for smoking. I exerted great willpower to try to quit. Then I’d start again, a minute or a few hours later, and hate myself even more.

One day I set a deadline. End of this month, I said. I had done that a million times before too. But this time, when the deadline hit, I was a nonsmoker. That is how I thought of myself.

After that, it was easy. I just didn’t smoke anymore. There was some physical withdrawal, but not a lot. No worse than a moderate cold.

Similarly, ten years ago I just decided to lose weight. I downloaded an app for my iPhone, loseit.com, and started using it to track every bite I ate. I set my calorie goal to lose 1/2-2 pounds per week. I lost about 90 pounds over the next three years, then another 10 pounds. In the last year or so I’ve gained 10 back, and I’m working on lose those 10 again.

I just thought of myself as a person who is losing weight. Then I was a person who has lost the weight, and keep it off.

Also, I am a person who has a kind of physical disability. Most people have a sort of internal thermostat that regulates what they eat, and how much, and it keeps them at a steady weight — their ideal weight or a little over. My thermostat is completely broken, so I have to consciously control how much I eat at all times. It’s inconvenient, but not a big deal.

I still do food logging with Lose It. Every bite, every day. (The app is unimportant — there are other apps that are just as good. You can even do it with pen and paper, which is what people did for literally a century before we all started carrying pocket computers.)

Finally, I went from sedentary to moderate exercise. I walk about 3.25 miles a day. Again: I started thinking of myself as a person who exercises. And now I do.

So, yes, achieving big change in your life is easy, without willpower, if you change your belief about yourself.

But how do you change your belief about yourself? That’s the tricky part. I don’t have an answer to that, though I have some ideas that I may share at another time.

Via Lisa Schmeiser’s excellent So What, Who Cares newsletter. tinyletter.com

Why Doctors Hate Their Computers

Digitization promises to make medical care easier and more efficient. But screens are coming between doctors and their patients. [Atul Gawande] www.newyorker.com

Thoughtful article about problems that ensue when digitization imposes top-down centralized command on front-line workers.

Reframing: The Secret Tool for Loving Exercise [Lose It blog: The Secret Ingredient]

You can get more exercise and get healthier by training yourself to think about exercise as something you enjoy.

This sounds like hippie bullshit but it works. I stumbled on it (so to speak!). I used to hate exercise; somewhere along the past 10 years — after I started my exercise program — I began to enjoy it.

If we get a few packages, great, I get to go up and down the stairs a few times! Hotel’s three-quarters of a mile from the convention center? Great, I get to have a nice walk twice a day!

Indeed, a couple of months ago I decided I was spending too much time exercising, and gave myself permission to skip the after-dinner walk, and also skip my daytime walk up to 2-3 times a week. I have stopped walking after dinner entirely. But I’ve only skipped the daytime walk two or three times in that time. And I think every one of those times I skipped was because it was either raining cold and hard, or I was recovering from a bad cold, or both. I seem to really like that daily walk, and find the time to do it no matter how busy I am otherwise. This would have been alien to me 10+ years ago.

Defending the indefensible

Prop. 7 looks to change daylight saving time in California (CBS8.com)

I’ve become a convert to the Daylight Saving Time/Standard Time switch. Sure, it’s a problem for a couple of days – but it maximizes daylight for the maximum number of people. Year-round DST means kids going to school in the dark and getting hit by cars.

We should spend more of the year on standard time, though – six months of each, as used to be the case.

Link

How to Get Better Sleep (and Need Less Every Night)

Reducing the amount of sleep you get is harmful. Most adults need 7-8 hours of sleep a night. There’s no way around that.

But you can take steps to sleep better, and therefore spend less time in bed — including no screen time within an hour or two of bedtime (and that includes ebook readers), which will be hard for me.

By Alan Henry at Lifehacker.

What It Feels Like to Die

Science is just beginning to figure it out, writes Jennie Dear at The Atlantic:

“Roughly from the last two weeks until the last breath, somewhere in that interval, people become too sick, or too drowsy, or too unconscious, to tell us what they’re experiencing,” says Margaret Campbell, a professor of nursing at Wayne State University who has worked in palliative care for decades. The way death is talked about tends to be based on what family, friends, and medical professionals see, rather than accounts of what dying actually feels like.

James Hallenbeck, a palliative-care specialist at Stanford University, often compares dying to black holes. “We can see the effect of black holes, but it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to look inside them. They exert an increasingly strong gravitational pull the closer one gets to them. As one passes the ‘event horizon,’ apparently the laws of physics begin to change.”

What does dying feel like? Despite a growing body of research about death, the actual, physical experience of dying—the last few days or moments—remains shrouded in mystery. Medicine is just beginning to peek beyond the horizon.

What’s going on in the brains of people who don’t need much sleep?

Scientists study the brain activity of people who claim to be able to do just fine on five hours or less sleep per night. Research finds that these people might be more efficient than the rest of us at performing the memory consolidation that sleep provides. They might also be falling asleep for a minute or two at a time when things get boring. And maybe these short sleepers are just kidding themselves about how they function well on very little sleep.

I need more sleep than I’d like. Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday nights I got four to five hours of sleep per night, and suffered for it. By Thursday and Friday I was a wreck. Last night I slept eleven hours and today it feels like my brain is packed in cotton.

(David Pescovitz, Boing Boing.)

Going nuts

Husbands often go crazy when on business trips (see for example: Don Draper). I am no exception. Like, when I’m at home I stay away from diet soda because of its questionable health effects and because Julie says it makes me spacey. But right now I’m drinking a 20-ounce Diet Coke.

It’s just a short step from here to underwear on my head.

“I’m newly sober and dog-paddling through the booze all around me.”

Hellaciously excellent rant by Kristi Coulter, who says women need to drink to live in the world created by and for men:

Do you remember the Enjoli perfume commercial from the 1970s? The chick who could bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, and never let you forget you’re a man?

I blame that bitch for a lot. For spreading the notion that women should have a career, keep house, and fuck their husbands, when the only sane thing to do is pick two and outsource the third. For making it seem glamorous. For suggesting it was going to be fun. And for the tagline she dragged around: “The 8-Hour Perfume for the 24-Hour Woman.” Just in case you thought you could get one fucking hour off the clock.

Plenty more where that came from.

I’m drinking less and less as I get older. It’s not a moral or health choice. I’m just more aware that I don’t like it most of the time. And I’m more aware that much of the time I used to drink, I was just drinking to fit in. Every now and then, I do like a nice beer or a glass of wine or a martini or Jameson’s rocks. But I often go weeks or months without partaking, and don’t miss it.

Matcha is an alternative for people who get too jittery on coffee

Shayla Love, The Washington Post:

Matcha is green tea leaves crushed into a fine, electric green powder. Whisk the powder into warm or hot water, and it dissolves into a frothy drink.

In a regular cup of tea, tea leaves are just steeped in water, but when you drink matcha, you actually consume the whole leaf and the nutrients it contains. Drinking the whole leaf provides the antioxidants and health benefits, Sheth says, at higher levels than other superfoods such as like acai berries or goji berries.

At the same time, another component of the leaf, the secret behind the mellow matcha buzz, helps prevent the shaky coffee feeling: L-theanine.

“L-theanine is an amino acid, and studies have shown it provides a stress relief; it produces a calm feeling in our body,” [dietician Vandana Sheth] said. “But it doesn’t make us sleepy. When you combine that with the caffeine that’s in the matcha, you’re feeling more focused, you’re feeling alertness but without that jittery feeling when you consume a lot of caffeine from coffee.”

Now I’m curious to try matcha. I’ll see if I can find a local source.