Blah and a Book Review of Better than Before

Probably not a great title to a blog post. Especially a blog post on a blog that is supposed to be about health. But I need to be honest.

I haven’t written here in a month. Things haven’t been going great. Stalled mostly.

I mean, I’m still doing good things. I went on a long walk the other day – 14 miles with about 3500 ft elevation gain. It was beautiful and spontaneous, actually.

But I’ve been waffling with my diets. Not with actual waffles, but I might as well be.

Anyway – I read Better than Before, by Gretchen Rubin. I have mixed feelings about the book.

I’ve read several books about habits. I’m fairly intrigued with the concept of habits and how we form them. I’ve read the Power of Habit among other books on habits. I heard about Gretchen Rubin’s new book on habit several months ago (maybe a year ago?), but never got around to checking it out.

I hate to say it, but I had already read The Happiness Project, and while I liked some of the concepts in it, I can’t say that I was really stoked about everything she said. So, I figured that I didn’t really care about reading this new book.

But then I was at the Library, and I saw it, and well – when it’s free, why not? I checked out the book, without much commitment to actually reading it. I figure that I’d check it out.

And. I kind of liked it.

I wasn’t really obsessed with all of the personal stories. That’s just me, though. Despite some of the stories, I felt that there was some value in the book. I read through the four tendencies. In some ways, I resisted labeling myself because I hate labels, and I kind of refuse to believe that I am one of them. But as I continued to read the book, I became more intrigued on which tendency I fell into. Perhaps then I’d be able to apply the other strategies to my own life in the right way.

So, I read through the tendencies again, and I couldn’t really decide which one I was – I’m a mom, so I believe that every mom is an “obliger” to an extent. I’m a Mormon, a practicing Mormon, so it seems like I’d be an “upholder” in some way. “Questioner” also stood out to me because I ask a lot of questions. I also felt kinship to “rebel” as I hate being told what to do and have made many decisions precisely because I’m either supposed to or not supposed to do something.

I found the four tendencies quiz on Rubin’s website, and found that I was “Rebel.” I didn’t really want to accept this label, so in my mind, I just thought “whatever.” I was feeling nice and relaxed on the couch, and I wanted to keep sitting there, so I kept reading.

As I proceeded, I remembered that these labels aren’t actual labels, but are tendencies. So it just means maybe a way that I might tend to act. It isn’t an end-all assessment of who I am.

With a more open mind, I embraced my “rebel” tendency and continued to read the book with this lens. As I mentioned before, I could have done without many of the anecdotes and personal stories. I don’t mind Rubin, but it was also getting a little much for my taste. However, I can see how this book would be helpful for people, so I don’t want to be too difficult on it.

I’ve been thinking about my “tendency.” I’ve been thinking about the other traits (abstainer/moderation, sprinter/marathon). This book didn’t give me much scientific insight on habits, but this book did help me to find a new way to apply the strategies of habit formation.

For me, because of my personality, it is all about identity. This makes a TON of sense. I’m not going to get into that now because it is too personal and annoying and stuff. But it makes sense to me. So I’m going to experiment with this as I continue on with my goals to have better health.

***

Oh – one little illustration. For weeks, I have wanted to walk from my town to a nearby town. There is a mountain between the two towns. There is a road and a pass you can take. For months, because of weather, this road has been closed.

When the road opened, I drove the road with my family. It was amazing and beautiful, and immediately I knew I wanted to walk this same road. It would be a long walk, but beautiful and worthwhile. I love big projects.

So, I announced that I was going to walk it – either the coming Saturday or some following Saturday (depending on the weather).

Once I announced it, I started to feel uneasy. I don’t particularly like being committed to things, but whatever. I looked at the week forecast, and it was rainy. Phew. I had an out.

Of course, on Saturday, the weather was great. But by then, I had talked myself out of it. I figured I wouldn’t go. But I knew I wanted to go on a walk. And I knew I wanted to walk this road to the next town, and I’d do it sometime. Just not this day.

Even though I didn’t want to do the walk, I wanted to walk longer than normal. Saturday is my day to get away from homeschool and all of my other obligations – if just for a few hours. I didn’t eat breakfast, I don’t usually before my walks or runs. I did take some water. And I started my walk.

I felt like maybe I’d like the option of choosing to walk to the neighboring town, so I started walking the road that leads to it. Without a commitment either way.

And I walked. I walked up the mountain quite a way, and I figured I’d make it up to a trail head that is part of the way up on the way to the pass.

When I made it there, I realized I had been walking long enough that I might as well walk to the pass, but I didn’t need to keep walking after that if I wasn’t feeling up to it.

I made it to the pass. The walk had been so steep (starting at 5600 ft and ending at 9000 feet – it was hard at times), that when I made it to the pass, I could see two valleys – one on either side of the mountain. It was such a special moment. Such a rush. I figured I might as well finish my walk.

And I did. I accomplished what I wanted to do. It clicked to me. I am who I am and I can do what I want. I don’t need to pin myself down. I don’t need to make elaborate schedules (unless I really want to). I can just think about my goals, who I am, and then let them happen.

I know that some of my goals will require more work. But I feel like I might have a tool that will help me in an effective way.

ok. blah. end.

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