Currently Reading: “Fat Loss Happens on Monday”

It was Saturday morning (this past Saturday), and I was feeling… tired, out of shape, unmotivated, sad, sore, and pissed off.

I was standing around in my underwear, looking very unsvelte, or even swelled, and drinking my coffee, while talking about my issues with my ever loving and supportive spouse. My habits were out of whack. I’d let the training slide. My conditioning was shot. I’d let the diet slide too, and was getting soft. I’d been prioritizing work work work above everything. Losing sleep to prep classes and grade papers. Working seven days a week. Heck, why am I writing this in the past tense? This was only two days ago.

I know that habit is key. I know this. I know it in part because I see the way I have over the course of my life constantly bounced back and forth between mutually exclusive habitudes, or patterned habitual ways of living. I’ll establish a good habit for a while… months, years even, and then let something shift and boom, habits replace habits. And I was thinking a lot about habit here, early, on Saturday morning. The question I was asking myself was, how can I shift my habits back into a better pattern, making room for diet and exercise. My wife was asking me the same question. And then I logged into facebook. Because, you know, habit.

What met me there was a classic example of “synchronicity,” that became a moment of serendipity for me. I saw a post from my “friend,” coach Dan John. Dan John is one of America’s premier coaches of throwing sports, and a leading authority on strength and conditioning. He’s also an entertaining writer (besides following him on blogs and social media, I’ve read two of his books, Never Let Go and Intervention), and in every way a humane, gentle, completely down to earth person. I also identify with him because he teaches “religious studies” (or religious education)—though he does so in a Catholic context and I’m sure we would probably not see eye to eye theologically. But I could be wrong; he’s that kind of “real” Christian who just lets his manner of life do the talking. He never proselytizes or uses his coaching work to preach; on the other hand he might occasionally quote Gilgamesh which is all right by me.

Anyway, what was the first thing I saw on Facebook when I logged in? This:

Obviously I was “meant” (by whom, I will not say… but let’s say I have more akin with the paranoid type that could conceive of Facebook snooping on us than I have with the person who belives in divine providence) to see this book at this moment. I bought a copy. And I’m currently reading it.

I started reading it that very day, after my Saturday workout. (The first such Saturday workout in months.) The book almost instantly provided a framework that answered my current needs. A lot of what Dan John does in this book is already done in his other work, especially his recent book Intervention. I didn’t expect a revolution there. But the framework developed by Josh Hillis, for a habit-centered approach to changing one’s relationship to food and exercise, that is something I can live with.

This isn’t meant as a detailed review. I’ll mention that I’ve started to implement the “mindfulness” strategy for bringing Hillis’ eleven habits into play. This involves keeping a hand-written food journal (habit #4), eating to only 80% fullness (habit #8), eating slowly—at least 15 minutes per meal— (habit #7), and practicing gratitude for what works in one’s body (habit #11). After that you add in the other habits. Anyway, it seems like a cool book. I’m about 30% of the way through it.

I’ll be happy to share more about this below, in the comments, if you’re interested, and I’ll undoubtedly post more about this stuff in the near future. And I’ll dedicate a post soon to Dan John’s Intervention, writing a personal review of it, and explaining how it has begun to influence my thinking about how I want to train.

Let me know what you think...