How to Take Your Routine To The Next Level

After my first solo adventure and much reflecting, I’m beginning to see what I do in terms of levels.

Photo Credit: Σταύρος via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Σταύρος via Compfight cc

So over the last few months I’ve lost 30 pounds (blog post coming later.)

At first, there was Level One: the building of the habit of exercise—showing up daily, being conscious of my cues, creating rhythm. At this point, I didn’t know anything about nutrition, flexibility, or the power in proper breathing. I just wanted to work on one thing: getting my ass in the gym at least 6 times a week.

Once the habit was strong, then came Level Two—aspiring to something greater, taking on a new challenge, breaking through my current comfort zone. I was working out, felt great throughout the day, but my body wasn’t changing. I started following fitness people, yogis, cross fit trainers, and macro dieters on Instagram, devoured the information, as well as get an understanding of what kind of body I desired to achieve. That’s when I embraced Level Two; I began educating myself more thoroughly on nutrition, body functions, what certain macronutrients do, different types of workouts like the what the Spartans did for the movie 300, etc. What you learned in high school has changed. Everything changes.

I recently hit a wall. The last 2 weeks my weight hasn’t changed, and I’m eating/training specifically for weight loss. Recently I’ve been getting into the habit of thinking, what should I be doing that I’m not? How can I take this to the next level? Also, what level am I currently on that I need to overcome?

I follow a handful of people on Instagram who are on their own fitness journey—at least 10 levels ahead of me. I asked questions, and the answer they provided was simple: lower my fat intake and reduce my carb intake by just a little bit. That makes perfect sense if you think about it: my eating routine that helped me lose 30 lbs isn’t working for where I am right now.

So Level Three looks looks like this: Adjust my food intake so I don’t consume all my fats in one sitting; tinker my shopping list to adhere to my new eating schedule; change my workouts so that my body doesn’t become too comfortable with specific exercises.

The thing about life is that we’re always making adjustments. That’s how we improve and stay fluid.

I’ve been doing this with my work, too. I should be writing and reading more; there are many aspects of Psychology that I just don’t understand, but I should. So that thought resurfaces: What should I be doing that I’m not? And why am I avoiding it?

Turning a chore into a habit

A chore is important to do, but annoying to start. Think: cleaning the house, cleaning the dishes, taking out the garbage when you can just do it tomorrow morning, etc.

Do you treat your work, or parts of it, like a chore?

Is exercising a chore?

Knowing where you stand—in your relationships, life, work, and now that I’m realizing the importance of it, your habits—is a vital step to being unstuck. During my solo adventure, I kept thinking:

“There are certain things that I have to do everyday, regardless of what day it is. Just because it’s Saturday or Sunday doesn’t give me an excuse to take off. I’m turning an important, fruitful habit into a chore—something I don’t like doing.”

The idea is to be self-aware and to know where you stand. Is exercise a chore? Or is it something that you have to do everyday, regardless of location, cues, weather, day, etc.? For my specific goals and how health/fitness played a part in my life, yes, I ought to do it daily.

The moment something becomes grueling—even though your mature adult mind knows that it has to be done—it’s time to reflect on why you do that specific activity with such disdain, and how you can start doing it differently.

If exercise is a chore, that’s fine. Is that what you want? But let’s say you want to take it further—to the next level. Okay, so now you’re conscious that getting up and exercising has the traits of a chore—annoying to do, boring, etc. How can you change your mind about that?

And here’s why I’m not going to give you a bullet-listed how-to: You know what needs to be done, but the reason why you’re delaying or refusing to see the obvious reality is because by doing so, you’re entailed to accept a higher level of responsibility for yourself. It’s far easier to complain about what you don’t have and hate on what others have achieved through hard work.

The notion is simple: If it’s important, you’ll create time for it. (But nowadays I’m thinking if it’s urgent, then you’ll definitely make time for it.)

You can do this with anything

This isn’t limited to exercise.

Think of your relationships, your work, your other habits.

The thinking behind all of this is this: There is always an obstacle ahead of you, wherever you are in life, something that you don’t want to face because what that would entail is accepting further responsibility for yourself. Far easier for Batman to stay in his mansion.

Here’s another idea: If you’re thinking that you can take something—your work, fitness, relationship—further, then that may be a sign that you’re already getting too comfortable with where you are. You aren’t growing or learning. You’re stagnate. But it’s never too late.

Because I’m taking nutrition/fitness to the next level, I have to be very conscious of my fat and carb intake. I use apps on my phone to help me with it. When I check in on my progress, and if I don’t have any progress, I can’t be shocked. That’s just a self-serving illusion to protect myself from admitting failure and being conscious of my inability to make a difference in my own life. That doesn’t help anyone, not even myself.

Here’s a quick summary:

  1. Is what you do a chore or a habit? Is it something that you dread doing, or is it something that you know you have to do because it’ll help you get to where you want to be?
  2. If something possesses the traits of a chore, but you have a desire to take it to the next level, acknowledge the obstacle ahead. The idea is that it’ll be hard, that you don’t know much and need answers, and that you need to make adjustments. That’s fine, because that means you’re moving onto something better. You’ll learn and expand your mind. I think we always make adjustments throughout our lives.
  3. When will you start? The way you should treat anything—a day at a time.
  4. Seek assistance, knowledge, guidance, help, etc. Pay for coaches. What you have to be comfortable with is the idea that you don’t know too much. You think you do, but most of your opinions are just being repeated by what others said. One website isn’t enough. Read studies, journals, etc. Do real in-depth research because it’s so readily available.
  5. Everything you do could probably be broken down into levels. If you care about what you’re doing, you’re going to eventually hit a wall; that’s when adjustments are made. You move down the storyline, the next chapter. Relationships are built this way. So are major businesses, apps, video games, etc.
  6. My best advice is to work on one thing at a time. Too many people want to reinvent every gear in their mind in one sitting. Doesn’t work that way. Work on one thing. Then move onto the next. Treat it as levels. Level one is for the fundamentals. Level two contains greater aspirations and challenges, etc. Think of where you are, what you could be doing but aren’t, then commit. If you really want to, treat the following Monday as a fresh start to a new you. It has worked for me, although right now is a much better time.

Have any questions? Ask.

10 Comments How to Take Your Routine To The Next Level

  1. Eduardo Loria

    I recently explored the idea of “gamifying” my work. At the farm we recently started time trials during planting while keeping the quality up. Not only was it fun but it lead to amazing results.

    I love this idea of taking habits and thinking of it in terms of levels. My struggle is that I seem to fall out of a habit when I feel “safe” about it being in my routine. Almost as if that transition point between levels was the hardest part – which as a gamer I know the bosses at the end of a level is the hardest part :)

    Reply
    1. Paul Jun

      That’s really cool—gamifying your work. It’s just like play, but still focusing on value.

      To be honest, which you can probably tell, I think in terms of video games a lot. The reason why I didn’t put it in the post was because I didn’t think people would resonate with it well; I imagined if a gamer can spot it, they’ll say something.

      And yes, I fall out of it too, because we’re getting comfortable. That’s a cue right there—a signal to change it up and to advance to something more challenging.

      Reply
      1. Matt

        Any users or hashtags you’ve followed you care to share? Thanks again for the great post. Inspiring. I’ve shared it with others.

        Reply
        1. Paul Jun

          Thanks for sharing.

          A few of my favorites are @workout2eat, @huanimal, @timbahwolffff. Also, look at who I’m following, look for anything Fitness or Health related; the picture or @ name makes it real obvious.

          I browse through certain hashtags like #IIFYM, #Fitness #aesthetics, #bodybuilding, #health, etc. The people I’ve followed I’ve been following ever since I recreated my Instagram. I’ve unfollowed a lot of other health people because, well, a lot of reasons. The people I continue to follow provide excellent entertainment, education, and motivation.

          Reply
  2. Tracy

    Paul,
    I came over to check your blog after reading your guest post on Jeff’s site. After reading only 2 of your posts, I’m a fan. Excellent post. I’m on a fitness / writing journey, too. I joked with my husband that maybe I’d become a personal trainer some day (which is HILARIOUS if you know me and how fearful I was of entering a gym … big fradey cat). But then I think, there are other people out there just like I was – terrified to take those first steps. My husband is a triathlete and his good habits have worn off on me – thankfully. Hanging around him has definitely helped. THANKS FOR INSPIRING YOUR READERS. Can’t wait to read more from you.

    Reply
  3. Brylle Cambronero

    I’ve just recently started reading your blog and it has impacted me already in so many ways so allow me to return the favor. Try out Mehdi’s Strong Lift 5×5 http://stronglifts.com for your workout. It’s a strength building program and it’s easy to follow and just requires you to workout 3 times a week.

    Also check out Nutrient Timing for your diet. http://www.amazon.com/Nutrient-Timing-Future-Sports-Nutrition/dp/1591201411

    Good luck.

    Reply
    1. Paul Jun

      Awesome. Thank you Brylle. I actually did some research on Nutrition Timing, and of course, every body is different. I’m definitely going to check that book out–I want to learn more about this subject specifically.

      Recently I’ve been trying fasted cardio and weight lifting. I personally don’t notice a difference in performance, but I do eat like a beast afterwards.

      Reply

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