Smatterings: Becoming a Morning Person, Fasting, Personal Identity

SmatteringsIn my first “Smatterings” column (which was last week), I asked for any suggestions from you, my readers, for a better column name. I explained the meaning of the word smattering, “a small number or amount; a slight or superficial understanding,” and though it fits, I thought some of you creative powerhouses out there might come up with an even catchier name.

I only got one responder, my friend, Cindy, who, by the way, almost always responds when I ask for some kind of feedback (I appreciate you, Cindy!). She wrote, “I like that the word ‘matter’ is in it because the things you write about are things that really do matter, no matter how big or small they may seem.”

I didn’t even realize that until I read her comment! So based on Cindy’s creative sight into the word, this Smatterings column is about SMall things that MATTER. Get it? SMall? MATTER?

Now on to some small reads, (and one not-so-small), that matter.

1. Want to Be a Morning Person? Take a Few Tips from CampersNPR

I’m an avowed morning person (but I haven’t always been one). I think mornings are the best time of the day. This article says that anyone can become a morning person with a few tweaks to their habits. In fact, if you’re really serious, and have a week to “get away from it all,” you can become one in that short span of time. But even if you don’t have a week, you can become a morning person with a couple of serious tweaks to your lifestyle. Read the short article for the tweaks, but I’ll give you a hint: it has to do with technology at night and sunlight in the morning.

2. The Most Powerful Thing You Can Do for Your BodyEarly to Rise

When I posted this article on MyPleasantPlaces Facebook  page, it had the title “The Best Diet for Your Body.” Which I like better, for some reason. Nevertheless, the content is very thought-provoking. The author asserts that the best thing you can do for your body is to deprive it of food on a regular basis (aka ‘fasting’). In fact, he fasts two non-consecutive days every week.

I have fasted on occasion in my life—once for an extended period of time—and this article reminded me of a season in which I fasted one day a week. I found it beneficial, and reading this article made me consider returning to the habit.

One of the unique “takes” that I have never considered is fasting for a 24-hour period from 2 p.m. to 2 p.m. rather than the usual from getting-up-in-the-morning till getting-up-the-next-morning. I like!

3. Identity-based Habits: How to Actually Stick to Your GoalsBuffer

This was, by far, the favorite blog post that I read this week. I have been mulling it over all week long. (By the way, as I was thinking about what to call this new column, this phrase, “mulling it over,” crossed my mind, and I thought of calling the column “The Mullet.” And illustrating it with a picture of a guy with the infamous mullet haircut from the 80s. Just sharing a little peek into my ‘unusual’ sense of humor.)

I suggest you read the entire article and do some “mulling over” yourself, but here are some of its key points:

The key to building lasting habits is focusing on creating a new identity first.

To change your behavior for good, you need to start believing new things about yourself.

The reason why it’s so hard to stick to new habits is that we often try to achieve a performance or appearance–based goal without changing our identity. Most of the time we try to achieve results before proving to ourselves that we have the identity of the type of person we want to become. It should be the other way around.

Stop worrying about results and start worrying about your identity. Become the type of person who can achieve the things you want to achieve. Build the habit now. The results can come later.

Excellent comments, every one!

I agree with the author’s premise that it is so much easier to build habits that spring from our internal values (which is where our identity comes from) rather than how we want to appear to the world. It’s a shift from extrinsic motivation (a particular diet, what others think about you) to intrinsic motivation (does this line up with my values? is this really who I am?). It’s a shift from doing to becoming.

The writer gives the example of becoming a person who never skips a workout rather than a person about whom others say, “Have you lost weight?” I like this concept, though I prefer to drill down a little further to becoming a person a self-discipline—a character trait (versus an activity) that affects much more than working out.

This change in perspective shifts our focus from goals like losing 10 pounds, to becoming people who behave in such a way that the natural consequence of their behaviors is to lose those extra pounds and to never gain them back. Naturally. Without an outside motivator like a diet.

In other words, if we focus first on becoming a person who believes “I am self-disciplined,” then we will become that person who faithfully exercises and moderates his/her eating. Weight loss will naturally follow.

Included in the post is a diagram titled “The Layers of Behavior Change.” It consists of three concentric circles, with the inner circle—the core—being Your Identity. The middle circle, the one closest to the core, is Your Performance, or the actions you take—which, by the way, naturally spring from your core. And finally, the outer circle is what the world sees: Your Appearance.

I have been thinking about that diagram all week. What qualities do I want in my inner circle, my core? What words would I want to complete this sentence with: I am ______. Spiritual? Active? Relational? A leader? Self-disciplined? Loving? Productive? Wise?

What identity do you want to own?

These are three of my favorite posts from my reading this week. What are your favorite blogs? Where do you get your greatest inspiration on the web? Please pass along in the comments.

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4 Responses to Smatterings: Becoming a Morning Person, Fasting, Personal Identity

  1. I want to own self discipline as my identity. I know I am relational and loving, but both of those traits stem from my desire to be liked and loved by others. Putting focus on my Spirituality and owning the fact that I am a women who is disciplined will bring my relational and loving self into balance.

    I thank you for your “smatterings”. I will “mullet” over all week. 😉

    • Diane says:

      Kathy, your comment brought a smile to my face! Thanks! I think you’re right on the mark with making self-discipline a part of your identity. I love the connection you made between balancing your spiritual and relational sides.

  2. Sarah says:

    This is excellent. Thanks for sharing. It made me smile and think.

I love to read your comments!