Addicted to Distraction

Are parts of your life getting in the way of your wellness?

Addiction is the relentless pull to a substance or an activity that becomes so compulsive it ultimately interferes with everyday life.  Addiction comes in many forms.  Checking your phone, using language like “I can’t” or “no”, substance abuse, actions and behaviors and many more.

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, I read a thoughtful article by Tony Schwartz, “Addicted to Distraction” in the New York Times.  I’ve carried it with me in my purse ever since.  In it, he shared his personal journey to becoming “unplugged” or just less reliant on the Internet and emails which consumed his time.

For Schwartz, he resolved to decide what was his most important thing he could accomplish the next morning.  He vowed and focused only on this work for 60-90 minutes without interruption. No Iphone, no TV, no music, no calls. Just work.

Then, he stopped drinking alcohol and gave up his beloved diet soda.  He still hadn’t reached the big kahuna yet, the Internet.  It represented his greatest challenge.


He said, “…nearly everyone I know is addicted in some measure to the Internet.  It has arguably replaced work itself as our most socially sanctioned addiction.

As with most things in my life, I can turn this lesson Mr. Schwartz learned into a metaphor for a successful wellness plan.

A thoughtful plan that allows for life’s distractions can be successful.  It affords you the ability to “bend” a bit and still reach your ultimate outcome.

A plan including behavior changes like “Eat Slower”, “Walk a block during lunch”, “pull my shoulders into my carseat when at a red light” gives you something to approach or “do,” not something to avoid.  It turns your goal into a positive change.  If the goal is to stop doing something (eating after 8PM, drinking wine on Tuesdays, stop calling your abusive friend daily, etc), even the smallest slip can feel like failure.  The plan ends up in a negative space in your mind. You feel like you have failed.

Magazine covers will tell you that you can “Lose 10 pounds in 10 Days.”  Yet, where this intention often falls apart is in the misaligned goal. To “lose 10 pounds” with no tangible behavior changes and no room for distractions can lead to serious frustration and “hamster on a treadmill” mindlessly turning that same goal into a constant objective. Working out alone, you know, cannot shed 10 pounds miraculously off your body, especially in a short period of time.

Speed bumps like a sick kid or parent, an emergency project landed on your desk, dog ate your homework, traffic, you name it can be accommodated through a well-constructed wellness plan.

Some examples of how behavior change can make a difference in how you think about your wellness are:

DO: Prepare cut up veggies and fruits on Tuesday and Friday for the week

BENEFIT: Fruits and veggies are good for me and this helps me get more

AVOID: Stop snacking on junk food

DO: Drink half your bodyweight in ounces of water every day

BENEFIT: Drinking water is good for me. It helps with digestion, immunity, adds energy and causes me to use the bathroom more often, therefore I am moving more

AVOID: Stop drinking diet coke

DO: Call mom/dad/sister/aunt/daughter/ every Thursday

BENEFIT: Communicating with positive loved ones can boost your confidence, even prevent illness and help your mind go to a positive space.  And it makes their day!

AVOID: I will disown the friend who makes me feel badly about myself

DO: 10 squats and 3 push ups before and after I shower Monday, Wednesday and Friday

BENEFIT: Exercise is a means to “wake up” your body, helps build muscle and burn fat and is amazing for your posture.  Studies show 5-minutes a day is superior to 1-hour per week exercise.

AVOID: Lose 5 pounds before my sister’s 50th birthday party

All four are measured, achievable and sustainable.  All three can be sidelined yet picked right back up the following day or week.  A “bye” week is A-OK. Life gets in the way.

At FOR, when clients train: they train.  There is no room for distraction.  We provide coaching and accountability.

Find a friend or family member to hold you accountable. Your own built-in coach!

At the beginning, set one goal or behavior change per week.  Maybe consider two weeks. Remember it takes 60 days to start and keep a habit.

Tell us what your goal is.  Shout it out to everyone.  Post it on the Fitness on the Run Facebook page (link) and we will enter you to win the chance for a FREE one-on-one customized Personal Training session.

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