15 Great Excuses Not to Form the Fitness Habit

Leo Babauta writes:

Lots of people know they should be getting fit, but they can’t seem to find the time to form the fitness habit.

And while I understand this completely — I was stuck in overweight, unhealthy mode for years — I think it’s useful to take a look at the justifications we give ourselves to put it off.

I put things off because I didn’t have time, or energy, or I had too many family commitments, or not enough motivation, or work kept getting in the way, or I didn’t feel good enough to run, or I was sick, or other people would make things difficult, or I didn’t have the money for a gym membership … you get the idea.

But I’ve learned to kill all the excuses. Or to put it less violently, I’ve found loving ways to let them go and embrace the joy of a fit and healthy life.

I did it with six kids and a wife, a full-time job (and now my own business), a ton of family and work commitments, freelancing on the side, building a blog on the side, while writing various books … and so the excuses were ultimately meaningless.

Why might you be putting things off? Let’s look at the justifications, and try to blast them.

Full story at:  » 15 Great Excuses Not to Form the Fitness Habit :zenhabits


The Beginner’s Guide to Unschooling

Leo Babauta

Leo Babauta (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Leo Babauta writes today about a topic that interests me because we homeschool two of our boys…

There’s nothing I get asked about more as a parent than unschooling, and nothing I recommend more to other parents.

It’s an educational philosophy that provides for more freedom than any other learning method, and prepares kids for an uncertain and rapidly changing future better than anything else I know. My wife and I unschool four of our kids, and have been for several years.

And yet, as powerful as I believe unschooling to be, I’ve never written about it, because the truth is, I certainly don’t have all the answers. No one does.

The beauty of unschooling is in the search for the answers. If anyone had all the answers, there would be no search. And so what I’d love to teach unschooling parents and kids is that the search is the joy of it all.

But I’m getting ahead of myself: what is unschooling? Why should you do it? How do you do it? What should you read? We’ll talk about all that today.” Full story at: » The Beginner’s Guide to Unschooling :zenhabits.

There are many reasons to homeschool, but the think that caught my eye in Leo’s post is this: unschooling “prepares kids for an uncertain and rapidly changing future better than anything else I know”…

I work in a career that didn’t exist when I was in college and everything almost all the skills I learned to perform in this career I taught myself. I’m going to drill down on Leo’s post and evaluate what he has to say…


Limit Screen Time, Limit Sitting

Leo Babauta writes:

One of the hazards of our modern lifestyle is our tendency to become more and more addicted to staring at screens, and more and more sedentary.

We look at laptops and desktop computers, iPhones and Androids and iPads and iPods, TVs and movie screens, play video games, watch videos, surf the web, socialize online, work online. And we’re sitting the whole time.

I’m a victim of this as much as anyone else. My family and I are drifting toward this lifestyle, and while I’m no Luddite, I do believe that we should live less as victims and more consciously.

Too much screen time means less active time, less personal socializing, less focus on the present, less time for cooking healthy food, less time reading novels, painting, making music, making time for the ones you love. And too much sitting means fewer years on your life.

So what’s a better way?


Limit how much screen time you have each day. Limit your sitting to short periods with breaks in between.

I realize that many people have jobs that require them to have a minimum amount of computer time, and probably mostly sitting. So I don’t recommend a certain number, only that you figure out a limit and work with that.

What I’ve Been Doing

Though I’ve set limits for myself in the past, I’ll admit that they’ve eroded in recent months, so that my screen time has grown over time. And not just for me — for my wife and kids. So recently Eva and I set limits for ourselves, and we’ve been working with them.

We find them to be great. I find daily limits to be a better balance than going on week-long or month-long digital sabbaticals, which aren’t realistic for many people.

Here’s an example:

  • We set a limit of either 4 or 5 hours of total screen time a day. (We haven’t figured out what’s best yet, still experimenting.)
  • That total is broken into 30-minute chunks. So if it’s 5 hours total, that’s 10 chunks of 30 minutes.
  • At the start of a 30-minute chunk, I set a computer timer and put a tally mark on a text document, so I know how many chunks I’ve used today. When the bell rings, I close my laptop.
  • After the 30-minute chunk, I take a break of at least 30 minutes. I try to get up and move, stretch, play with the kids, get outside. I also often read a novel. The moving is good for my body, and helps me to think.
  • If I have things I want to look up online, or write online, I’ll just make a note of it and do it when I start my next 30-minute chunk.

This isn’t the only way to do it — you’ll have to find the limit that works for you, and the chunk size that works for you. But the idea is to set limits, and to break the total up into pieces so you’ll take breaks and do other things.

Benefits of the Limits

We’ve loved it: we’re reading more books, spending more personal time with each other and the kids, getting more chores done, exercising more, playing outside more.

It also means that because we have a limit, we have to figure out the best way to use that time. We have to make choices — what’s worthy of our limited time, and what isn’t? This means more conscious use of our time.

We haven’t instituted the limits with the kids yet, though we have been talking to them about it and getting them thinking about what would work best for them. And we do tell them to take breaks from devices throughout the day, so they’ll do other things.

For the kids, this has meant they have more unstructured, imaginative play, more reading, more art and music, more activity. Kids get addicted to screens just as much as adults do, and it’s not a healthy thing for them. We’re trying to teach them ways to live a healthy lifestyle, which is a lesson with lifelong benefits.

We’ve found this lifestyle to be healthier, better for relationships, better for our peace of mind. And to me, that means it’s something work keeping.

More reading:

via Limit Screen Time, Limit Sitting.

The most important skill to master


Leo Babauta

Leo Babauta writes:

If you’re like me, you are constantly learning new skills — gardening, carpentry, pizza-making, languages, sports, and so on. And I think this is a fun and wonderful thing to do.

But what’s the most important skill?

That’s debatable. I think compassion is a huge one, as is mindfulness. I’d go with those two any day of the week.

But if I had to pick just one, it would be this: learning to be happy with yourself.

That seems too simple, to trite! Too mushy and New-Agey! And I’ll grant all of that, but I stand firmly by my pick.

Why? The answer has to do with how this one thing can affect everything else in your life. If you are not happy with yourself, or your body, you become insecure. You think you’re not good enough. You fear being abandoned and alone. You do lots of other things to compensate, and these lead to problems.

So many of the problems people have stem from this one thing — being unhappy with themselves (often in the form of being unhappy with their bodies). Let’s take a look at why, and then look at some ideas of how to master the skill.

Get more here: » The Most Important Skill to Master :zenhabits

Three Habits You Can Break or Create Today

Book Cover

“When you woke up this morning, what did you do first? Did you hop in the shower, check your email, or grab a doughnut? What did you say to your kids on the way out the door? Salad or hamburger for lunch? When you got home, did you put on your sneakers and go for a run, or pour yourself a drink and eat dinner in front of the television?

Most of the choices we make each day may feel like the products of well-considered decision making, but they’re not. They’re habits. And though each habit means relatively little on its own, over time the meals we order, what we say to our kids each night, and how often we exercise have enormous impacts on our health, productivity, financial security, and happiness.

In the last decade, our understanding of the neurology of habit formation has been transformed. We’ve learned how habits form — and why they are so hard to break.

As a result, we now know how to create good habits and change bad ones like never before.

At the core of every habit is a neurological loop with three parts: a cue, a routine, and a reward.” Go to the source: Charles Duhigg: Three Habits You Can Break or Create Today. There’s valuable information on understanding cues, routines and rewards…

How I Used the Power of Bad Habits to Change My Life

Leo Babauta

Spread the word! Leo Babauta’s doing a free webinar on bad habits later today. Here are the deets:

Today I’ll be holding a free webinar, “How I Used the Power of Bad Habits to Change My Life“, and I’d love for you to join me.

The webinar will be held today Mon. April 23 at 4 p.m. Pacific/7 p.m. Eastern, on the Habit Course channel on Ustream. You don’t need an account to watch, but if you’d like to ask questions and chat, I recommend signing up for a free Ustream.tv account.

In the webinar, I’ll talk about my struggle with bad habits, why bad habits are so powerful, and how I used the principles that make bad habits stick to beat them. I then applied these same principles to forming good habits, and will share how I did that in the webinar.

You’ll also be able to ask questions about habits when I’m done with the talk, via text chat.

I hope to see you there!

Join me here at 4 p.m. Pacific/7 p.m. Eastern:

How I Used the Power of Bad Habits to Change My Life

via Free Webinar: How I Used the Power of Bad Habits to Change My Life.

Get some!

A powerful three-step algorithm for happiness

Leo Babauta

Another powerful post from Leo Babauta

Today I’m going to share a really simple secret that can make your day instantly better. If you’re feeling down, it can make you happier, all day long.

It’s something I’ve been trying myself, with great results.

It’s three steps, and anyone can do them. This is an algorithm that can be repeated over and over, all day long. It starts with a basic assumption: that we are all human beings capable of goodness, of love, of pain, of broken hearts and passionate love. That we all have bad days, that inside our jaded exteriors is a person who just wants love.

It is based on my observation that we take other people for granted, and that we judge others and become irritated with them for almost no good reasons, and we expect everyone to make us happy or at least behave the way we want them to, and if they don’t, our day is ruined. That’s crazy. People are living their own lives, and aren’t trying to please us or act in accordance with our expectations, and once we accept that, we can be happy.

Here are the three steps. They might sound silly to some of you, but I urge you to give them a try. For just one day. Even just an hour. They are powerful, and they work.

Source: » A Powerful Three-Step Algorithm for Happiness :zenhabits

Go to the source if you’d like the 3 steps…

Empty-handed, full-hearted

A closeup of a hug.
Leo Babauta shared this back in March…

We often load ourselves up when we travel, because we want to be prepared for various situations. This burden of being prepared leaves us with our arms full, unable to receive whatever is there when we arrive.

It leaves us tired from carrying, so that we are not happy when we meet someone new on our travels.

What if we traveled with empty hands, ready to embrace new experiences, receive new foods, touch new people?

We might feel less prepared when we leave, but the preparedness is an illusion. Stuff doesn’t make us prepared. Having empty hands but a heart that is full of love leaves us prepared for anything. Continue reading

The Way of the Peaceful Parent

Father and Son

Leo Babauta shares this today…

There is no such thing as stress-free parenting.

A reader requested that I share my thoughts on stress-free parenting, as the father of six kids. And while I have learned a lot about being a dad, and finding joy in parenthood, I also know that stress-free parenting is a myth.

Parents will always have stress: we not only have to deal with tantrums and scraped knees and refusing to eat anything you cook, but we worry about potential accidents, whether we are ruining our kids, whether our children will find happiness as adults and be able to provide for themselves and find love.

That said, I’ve learned that we can find peace.

Peace isn’t a place with no stress, but a place where you take the stress as it comes, in stride, and don’t let it rule you. You let it flow through you, and then smile, and breathe, and give your child a hug.

There is a Way of the Peaceful Parent, but it isn’t one that I’ve learned completely. I’ll share what I’ve learned so far, with the caveat that I don’t always follow the Way, that I still make mistakes daily, that I still have a lot to learn, that I don’t claim to have all the answers as a parent.

Source: » The Way of the Peaceful Parent :zenhabits

Go to the source if you’d like to hear his way…

9 Essential Skills Kids Should Learn

Leo Babauta

Image via Wikipedia

Leo Babauta has a great post that got me thinking this morning…

As someone who went from the corporate world and then the government world to the ever-changing online world, I know how the world of yesterday is rapidly becoming irrelevant. I was trained in the newspaper industry, where we all believed we would be relevant forever — and I now believe will go the way of the horse and buggy.

Unfortunately, I was educated in a school system that believed the world in which it existed would remain essentially the same, with minor changes in fashion. We were trained with a skill set that was based on what jobs were most in demand in the 1980s, not what might happen in the 2000s.

And that kinda makes sense, given that no one could really know what life would be like 20 years from now. Imagine the 1980s, when personal computers were still fairly young, when faxes were the cutting-edge communication technology, when the Internet as we now know it was only the dream of sci-fi writers like William Gibson.

We had no idea what the world had in store for us.

And here’s the thing: we still don’t. We never do. We have never been good at predicting the future, and so raising and educating our kids as if we have any idea what the future will hold is not the smartest notion.

Source: » 9 Essential Skills Kids Should Learn :zenhabits

When I was younger, I was a German major. I got to the doctoral level at the University of Illinois before I bailed on my degree work. Why? In part I was finding it was irrelevant. After 10 years of studying German, I had read German literature from every period – I had even read every word of Das Nibelungenlied in ‘Mittelhochdeutsch’ – middle high German – an academic language that never actually existed. I could quote Goethe, Schiller, Heine – I knew more about German literature than most Germans. I could not, however, speak ‘street’ German – ‘umgangsprache’ – with an everyday German. My training, in many ways was worthless…

My wife and I used to home school. Now our boys are in a public school. Each night we see them come home with no homework. No challenges. No critical thinking. We wonder what kind of preparation they are receiving. Leo’s post is a wake up call for me. Go to the source and read it all!