Don’t Break The Chain (And Other Habit Hacks)

Don’t break the chain. That’s the mantra I keep repeating to myself every time I reach for a donut, bread, or french fries. And I am not going to sugarcoat it. Despite the fun stuff happening in my career, achieving physical fitness is a challenge. At five-foot-ten, weighing 215 lbs, my BMI is roughly 31.

Gaining excessive weight has taken me ten years to achieve. I got into the habit of eating (and drinking) more and moving less. It’s easy to see how an overabundance of bread, chips, salsa, french fries, donuts, and alcohol led me to this point. It is up to me to take control of my habits.

Small Habits Add Up Over Time

Looking at the image above, I look pretty okay by most standards. (It also helps that I’m standing next to my beautiful wife.) But according to several medical professionals, my BMI (body mass index) is not within the healthy range for my height. And this puts me higher than average risk for acquiring some obesity-related disease. Fun times.

More than the health benefits, some things don’t FEEL right. Over the past year, my wife has surprised me on a few occasions with awesome dress shirts. Even though she bought the large size, many don’t fit. This alone is motivation to take action. And if I’m being transparent with you (which is the goal of sharing this story), the most embarrassing aspect of the extra weight is a set of man boobs. Man boobs!

Suffice it to say, being overweight and feeling sluggish is my wake-up call. Because I want to live to at least 85 years old, 110 years old, and still have youthful mobility (and be present for my wife and family), I figured NOW was a good enough time to change how I eat, live, and sleep. My goal in sharing this is to help keep me motivated while at the same time inspiring you for your own life.

Don’t Break The Chain

One tool I’m using is the “Don’t Break The Chain” philosophy. Jerry Seinfeld supposedly used this method to write new jokes consistently early in his career. The strategy involves creating a calendar where you set ONE goal and place an X every day you achieve the goal. Over time your X’s look like a chain XXXXXXX. If you miss a day, you need to start over.

Here is a wall calendar you can grab from my affiliate link on Amazon if you’re interested:

don't break the chain

Track Your Progress

My fitness goal is to drop 50lbs of fat. That will put me squarely at 160 LBS, adjusting my body mass index to 24.4, which is right around the normal range. I’ll then fit into my shirts and feel better about myself. Instead of getting overly complex, I will achieve these health and productivity goals by replacing bad habits with good habits.

Habits To Cut:

  1. Alcohol Intake: I won’t get into it here. But I’ve spent too much of my life enjoying too much alcohol. And while my version of “rock bottom” involved embarrassing myself in a chance meeting with Rob Pattinson (which I’ll share some other time)… If I am going to change, I have to get real. Alcohol has made me fat. So I need to take a break.
  2. Eating Bread: Yes. I get it. Oprah loves bread. And while I can’t speak for her journey, I love bread too. A little too much. And I also love donuts. And while I’m thinking about it, I also cannot stop eating tortilla chips. So these need to go.
  3. Internet and TV: Bottom line, I spend too much time watching dumb videos online. I also debate politics. This is time I could be spending with my wife, dog or working on new projects. So I’m cutting the dumb media down.
  4. Stop Complaining: I’m not sure how this will help my physical health. But I’m pretty sure by cutting down on my complaining (about politics, a challenging work day or life) I’m going to start thinking clearer thoughts.
  5. Avoid Toxic People: This is a little harsh. But you become the average of the five people you spend the most time with. My goal is to only spend time with people who lift me up, and not put me down.

Habits To Keep:

  1. 15 Squats and 15 Pushups: This may seem overly simplistic. But I wanted to create at least one daily fitness goal I could stick to without much effort. And being able to accomplish this one should be super easy.
  2. Write Every Day: I’m resolving to write at least 300 words per day.
  3. Help My Friends: Every day I’ll be reaching out to at least one friend to see how they are doing. When appropriate, I will work to uplift them and provide useful advice to their lives.
  4. Meet New People: Each day I’ve resolved to reach out and connect with someone just beyond my reach. My primary goal here is to meet and build relationships with new people. But I will also reach out to old friends too.
  5. Record Food Intake: I am using MyFitnessPal. And I meticulously record every morsel of food I ingest.

While it is unrealistic to expect overnight results, “Don’t Break The Chain” is a simple personal development ritual designed to help you establish habits to get you where you need to go.