A Ridiculously Easy-to-Follow Roadmap for Building a New Habit

Most of the advice we read about habits is fairly general: start small, create accountability, have a reward system, etc.

All great advice. But why so vague?

Because people have lots of different habits they want to change, and general advice can (hopefully) be applied to any of them. People like Leo Babauta and James Clear have broad audiences for a reason.

Of course, the cost of such generality is that nobody gets a tailor-made plan for creating their specific habit. Which makes it easier to rationalize not starting at all. At least, not yet. (Though it’s quite possible that if you search Zen Habits or James’s blog for a specific habit, you might find it. Worth a shot.)

Here’s exactly what has worked for me

Read more »



The Most Important Habit to Start Today

So many of us, adults in particular, feel we can’t change anything.

It doesn’t take many failed attempts at change before we begin to doubt our ability, lose trust in ourselves.

This is where the “start small” advice draws its power. By making promises that are easy, ridiculously easy to keep (“I’ll run for 2 minutes,” for example), you start to taste success again. And in this way, day after day, you slowly rebuild that belief that simply says, “I keep the promises I make to myself”.

But where do you start? What habit should you change or create first?

I’ve heard (and had) plenty of ideas, mostly strategic. Like start with the easiest change first or change something that will free up time, so that you can use that time for other, new habits.

But I’ve come to believe that it shouldn’t be even this complicated. There’s a more important first habit to change, because it’s one of the most important habits you can change, period.

Read more »



My 7 Favorite Pasta Recipes (and How to Make them Vegan)

Cornice di pasta integrale

I’m here to come to the defense of pasta.

We’ve been conditioned to think of pasta dishes as inherently unhealthy. Carbo-loaders, sure, but beyond that? Junk. An indulgence, and nothing more.

But why? I’ll concede that wheat and most grains aren’t exactly bursting with nutrients per calorie. And if you have a gluten sensitivity, then certainly, you’ve got to use an alternative grain. But these days, that’s not hard.

Pasta, the protein source?

There’s a serious misconception out there: that pasta is “carbs” and nothing else.

Yes, it’s mostly carbohydrate. No fat, in most cases. But protein? Here’s the surprise.

Read more »



9 High-Energy Plant-Based Snacks for Athletes

Plant-based. Healthy. Snack. It’s a lot to ask of a food.

But we need them. One of the common questions that I hear from new vegetarians or vegans is “I’m always hungry — how do I stay full with this diet?” — and my answer is to eat more. Not bigger servings, but more often.

Why? Most whole, plant-based foods are not calorically dense. That means they take up a lot of room in your stomach, without packing a lot of calories.

Of course, that also means they digest quickly, so not long after eating one meal, you’re hungry for another.

Enter the snack.

Read more »



Why I’ve Started Running Every Day, Especially When I Don’t Feel Like It

I’m different from a lot of other runners, because running, for its own sake, doesn’t do it for me.

And I’ve been criticized for this, for trying to make the best of something that will always feel hard — instead of spending my time doing things that I naturally love, without having to work at loving them.

The obvious question, then, is why run at all? Why not spend that time on something else that, if pressed, I’d have to admit I’d “rather” be doing?

It’s not that I’m so goal-driven I just can’t help myself. Right now, I don’t even have a big running goal.

And it’s not because running affords me 30 minutes to listen to a podcast or be alone with my thoughts, unreachable by email or phone or any other means. That certainly makes it more enjoyable, but it’s not enough.

And finally, I don’t run for fitness, at least not the way I’m running now. My problem isn’t keeping weight off but keeping it on, and running only makes that harder.

So what’s the point?

Read more »



The No-Nonsense Guide to Eating Healthy and Vegan Without Going Broke

CerealFirst, let me just come out and say it. I wanted really badly to make a sense/cents pun in the title of this post.

But I resisted, for your sake. Because sense/cents jokes just might be the worst kind of joke in the world, and nobody should ever write or say them.

Next — and we’ll get to the good stuff soon, I promise — this is the third post in a series I’m doing in partnership with Whole Foods and Garmin. (And, unrelated, the first in a series of seven consecutive posts I’ll be doing this week, one each day!)

Okay, here comes healthy eating on the cheap. And don’t miss the giveaway at the end!

Read more »



A Midpoint Update on #WriteAndRun31 (and a Brand New Challenge)

angled-cover_largeIt’s been 16 days, and suddenly I remember why I started this.

The first few weeks of running and writing every day have had their moments, no doubt: it’s one thing to start a runstreak, quite another to start a runstreak in the dead of winter.

Several times I’ve opened the door and felt the cold, then quickly searched my brain for an excuse before realizing that none will be good enough. Like it or not, this run is happening. And of course, that’s the point.

A yogi will tell you that when you stop resisting and “breathe into” a tough pose, it gets easy. When it sunk in that there were no good excuses, ever — I’m running today, no matter what — that was the turning point.

At 16 days straight, it’s my longest streak since 2012. And just like that time, the simple act of running more has caused me to want to run more.

Put another way: the more energy you use, the more energy you have. Funny how that works.

It’s no different with writing. The more ideas you put on the page, the more ideas you have.

It all seems so easy, now. Why? And for the past year, two years … why not?

It’s the accountability, plain and simple. Having a group of people who in moments of weakness I imagine myself reporting to, having to explain why I didn’t do my run or my writing today … that’s why.

So who are these people? Here are just a few of their blogs — many of which were started just for #WriteAndRun31:

These represent just a tiny fraction of the bloggers participating, the blogs that were near the top of the feed when I wrote this post or that have caught my attention for some other reason. But just seeing them listed like this makes me feel something special; far better than what this challenge has done for my own habits is seeing so much goodness born into the world as a result.

It’s not too late to join us (never is; your 31 days can start whenever you want). But I’m pretty sure we’ll do something for February, so you could also wait … and waiting may actually help with habit change (see #7, here).

An Even Tougher Challenge (and What It Means for You)

While I’ve written every day this year, I haven’t published nearly that often. The two posts per week I’ve averaged so far this year feels like a lot compared to what I had been doing, but daily is another level altogether. (I only wrote about 40 posts in 2014, not counting podcast posts.)

And yet Seth manages to do it. So I’m going to do it. For a week.

Short version: I’m going to publish a new post on No Meat Athlete every day next week (Sunday, January 18th through Saturday, January 24th). It’ll be the most I’ve posted in a week since 2009.

No promises after that week is up, but I think it’ll be fun, an interesting challenge, and — in the same way that running more has made me more excited about running — that’ll be good for me. And you.

(For those on the newsletter list — I won’t email the new post every day, but I’ll jam two newsletters full of them over the course of the week. If you’re interested in reading each post as it’s published, check back at nomeatathlete.com or pay attention to our Facebook or Twitter accounts.)

Long version: Seth Godin is a huge inspiration, example, and teacher of mine. I had the money-can’t-buy privilege of spending a week in his office last summer, with Seth and 14 other entrepreneurs, artists, and ruckus-makers, and it was everything I expected and a billion times more.

Then, to top off what was already a surreal experience, he put us in his new book, What to Do When It’s Your Turn. (So of course I bought 8 copies to send to friends.)

And so when he announced this new challenge, something told me I had to do it. Fortunately, that something happened to be louder than the voice which was reminding me, “You can’t publish a new post for seven straight days.”

So I’m in.

Finally: Calling All Designers to Help Design Our Running Group Shirts!

If writing isn’t your thing, here’s one more idea to get your creative juices flowing.

We’re holding a design contest for the No Meat Athlete 2015 Running Group shirts. The winning design will be printed on our running groups’ shirts across the world this year (each city’s shirt will be customized with that city’s name), and the winning designer will win 200 bucks and free shirts for their local group.

Interested? I hope so. The deadline is January 31st, and all the details are here.

Alright, that’s all for now. I’ll be back tomorrow (with the third post in the Whole Foods / Garmin ambassador series). And then the next day. And the next day. And the day after that. This should be fun.



Why Everything They Told You About Goals Is Wrong


We hear a lot of “achievable goals” talk these days.

And that talk, I think, is mostly harmful: it creates and encourages a culture of middling, moderation-loving wafflers afraid to lay it all on the line for something that’s worth it.

You’ve heard the quote, I’m sure: Dream no small dreams, for they have no power to move the hearts of men. And I feel pretty confident that if Goethe had lived in the 2010’s, he’d have included women there too. (And been just as into selfies as the rest of us.)

It’s not any more complicated than that. If getting or achieving that thing you want actually requires you to set a goal — i.e., it’s not like taking out the trash, where you just have to get off your butt and do it — then that means there are obstacles standing between you and what you want. Some you’re aware of, some you won’t know about until they show up.

My thesis: you’re more likely to stick it out when you’ve got a goal that’s so huge it makes your palms sweat (and makes your friends laugh) than you are with a lame one that leaves everyone’s eyelashes in place and un-batted.

If your goal is compelling (huge! ridiculous!) enough, then when those inevitable obstacles come up, you’ll plow right over them. Or around them. Or through them. And when all of those approaches don’t work, you won’t be able to sleep until you find one that does.

You’ll be obsessed, and I think that’s a great thing.

Read more »