As 2017 came to an end, I decided to go on an information diet:
- No more than two servings daily of news in any form – once in the morning and once in the evening.
- No more than 10-20 total minutes of news a day.
- At least one daily serving of “healthy” information, which is anything that is uplifting or educational with respect to a favorite topic (for me, typically fitness – meaning food, mobility, or mindset).
The last six weeks of 2017 were hectic times, and I was off my game.
Momentum is interesting, isn’t it? When it’s heading in a good direction, it’s bliss. Workouts go well, and sleep comes easily. No odd cravings. Patience with testy teenagers is a reality.
When momentum shifts to a dark direction, it’s a different story.
The last part of 2017, I found myself dragging on the way to the gym. My interest in veggies, which I normally enjoy, was low. I gave into temptations to eat cookies Stella bought (AGAIN). I was struggling to get out of bed in the morning.
I felt a little lost, to be honest.
I ran over my schedule in my mind. Yes, work had been unreasonably busy, but that’s not unusual. I’ve seen it many times before and managed fine, if imperfectly.
One difference I had to confess: at some point in the last few months, I developed an obsessive little news habit. I have a handy news app on my phone, and after customizing my feed, lots of interesting stories were coming my way.
Let’s face it – the news has been so WEIRD lately, right? It’s oddly addictive.
With my news app, I found myself checking my phone more often than normal, almost all the time. I know a lot of people do that, but historically I’ve tried to minimize phone time so I can pay attention to whatever is happening around me. It’s a key way I manage stress, maintain important relationships, and get things done.
Thanks to my app, though, spare moments were increasingly filled with news. With any amount of down time at work, I’d scan my feed.
It wasn’t just my phone, either. Some evenings, I’d turn on CNN at dinner, with the intent of watching for 15 minutes. But then somehow the gym didn’t happen.
The worst was bedtime. It’d be 10 pm, when I’m normally winding down, and before I knew it, 11 pm was in view. And I had done nothing but scroll and read, scroll and read, for an hour.
Of course, it’s easy to rationalize this behavior. Ahhh, but I’m staying informed! I’m learning! There’s so much going on and I need to keep track of it all!
Yeah, I do think it’s important to know what’s going on in the world. Especially now. BUT. We have to recognize a few realities:
- Time is limited.
- It’s possible to get the gist of current developments – for example, that we’re undergoing a huge shift in viewpoints on sexual harassment – without monitoring the very latest of individual sagas.
- News is addictive and appeals to the worst in us – fear, anger, outrage.
- Tiny decisions that seem inconsequential in the moment add up.
The last one is especially important for fitness.
My latest read was The Compound Effect, which teaches that all decisions, good or bad, add up over time. As a result, the tiniest of decisions will gather steam and create serious results far greater than the sum of the individual parts.
Like investing, but for your butt. Or your blood pressure. Or whatever your fitness focus happens to be.
One of the examples in the book is the way a single penny can grow. If you were to invest one penny and double it daily, it’d take eight days to get over $1. Fifteen days would pass before breaking $100.
But then, somehow, on day 30, you’ve got over $5 million.
It’s an extreme example, but we all know the very real power of compound interest when it comes to financial investing. For most of us, our retirement savings are relying on it.
So why don’t we believe in the compound effect when it comes to fitness?
My silly little news habit shows the compound effect in action. Going to bed a little late makes it just a bit harder to get up. Which leads to a more hectic morning. Which leads to a less productive day. That day is made even less productive by monitoring the latest political saga.
A less productive day means more stress. Not just due to the time lost, but because the content of the information alone is depressing. For an emotional eater like me, more stress means that Stella’s annoying cookies beckoned and I answered the damn call.
Love the girl, loathe the cookie habit.
Anyway, the point is that one small thing leads to another, in very little time.
It’s interesting that we talk a lot about eating well, but what about the way we consume information? The ability to consume information mindfully is also important.
Information consumption is so important that I’ve included it as a Fit Life Essential – meaning it’s one of those key tools for making fitness a lifestyle. I’m currently compiling a collection of these tools (102 so far!) and will publish them on Fit Energies, so stay tuned. You’ll hear me talk about this project as Project Splendid Shelf.
In the meantime, have a peek at what’s on your information plate. Is it supporting your goals or hindering progress?
ABOUT FIT ENERGIES: Knowledge is kinda like food – we need juuuust the right amount to thrive. Too little and we falter; too much and it’s hard to focus on anything but sitting on the couch. Ironically, the fitness world suffers from a terrible case of infobesity.
Fit Energies is on a mission to find the sweet spot by collecting the most essential info, skills, and strategies for fit living. To inform, to celebrate, to inspire, to remind, but most of all, to be useful in our shared quest to eat well, move often, and navigate life’s little adventures with grace.
Join the fun, get the backstory, and enjoy exclusive insight, tools and content here =====> http://bit.ly/Fit-energies-signup