Saturday, January 11, 2014

The Power and Perniciousness of Routines

Alligator spotted on one of the sloughs of Big Lake in City Park New Orleans
(SCROLL DOWN FOR COMMENTARY on how to combat boredom during walks)
Weight = 178.0 lbs, 4 lbs under my goal weight of 174 lbs.  The criteria is 174.0 lbs or lower for three consecutive days.

Coinage Found = $4.08—Quarters everywhere today.  A few of my hot money spots today included 1) street curbs, 2) parking lots, 3) newspaper vending machines, 4) fast-food drive throughs, 5) boutique car wash grounds, 5) cross walk coins in the street, and 6) Mr Jason’s can wash vacuums.

Nike GPS Data = fastest mile 16 min, slowest mile 17.21 min; 486 calories burned; 4.59 mi walked

Recycled clothes/garments found on walks = one Ralph Laurent silk sweater and one back pack—all washed and sanitized.

Blog Feature: The Power and Perniciousness of Routines

Recently Google improved their blog structure, the one used by the Moneywalker.  I liked the old structure better; I understood the commands, the guiding logos made sense, and the directions were straight forward and intuitive.  In short, the so called improved and stronger new version just about drove me away from posting.  I missed the old routine. 

Same with walking.  My routine is an early morning walk, it bookends my day’s beginning just as reading classical literature bookend’s my days ending. My walks follow a set general pattern with built in flexibility to adapt the route to impulses and circumstances. Having set routes reduces “decision fatigue.”  My routine is firm, it begins each morning at 6 a.m.; the decision is easy, it is not will I walk or not but which of my three predetermined walk courses will I take.  Such is the power of routines.

But routines can cause harm, in a word routines become boring; the death knell of many a walker’s good intentions.  Combat walker’s boredom by walking different routes--of doing a familiar task in an unfamiliar way.  In my neighborhood, there are thousands of different ways to get from here to there.  One of my neighbors has a “little free library” in their yard where books are free with the exchange of another book (Google little free library for details).  The walk is a two miler one way, perfect for my 4 mile goal.  And I get a new book.  This also changes my external motivation for the walk.  Finding money is exciting but I’ve done it so long, I grow weary of the process of “scan and search.”  Walking to obtain a new book gives my brain’s reward center something new to look forward to. 

Thus, periodically changing one’s motivation system is an important way of combating the boredom of routine.  Other ways include “walking meditation.”  Rather than “scan and search,” I walk and meditate.  This blog’s topic came in such a way.  I meditate about faith, self-improvement, making the world a better place; family relationships….the topics are endless.  Sometimes on walks I take the perspective of a scientist and study closely the cultural aspects of the neighborhoods.  Sometimes I do something irrational for my walk, like accompany Ms S on her City Park walk.  She follows a ¾ mile asphalt trail that circles “Big Lake.”  Round, round, and round she goes.  But Ms S is great company, a fine conversationalist, and a superb teacher as she adroitly names the dozens of birds and plants that thrive around the lake.  Nature walking is a great diversion from neighborhood walking but I can take just so many bird stories.

In summary, we need routines to sustain and anchor our healthy habits of exercise and diet management.  But routines can become boring.  Monitor your routines and alter them from time to time to keep your routine fresh.


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