What breaking my arm taught me about habits?
I was “lucky” enough to break my arm break my arm recently. I hadn’t been windsurfing for months…actually more like 18 months and the wind was ferociously, miserable outside. So I got on my wetsuit, grabbed my gear and headed out to meet the weather.
I managed to get myself up, felt the wind engage the sail and I hooked into my harness to enjoy the ride. It was amazing,speeding across the water and I was admiring my ability to get going so quickly after being so long off the water when…Wham! A big gust of wind, grabbed my sail and I was catapulted with it.
I grabbed the mast to stop my fall but felt the ligaments scream as the sail slapped the water (note the image is what I thought I looked like…probably didn’t look that cool though
I thought I had sprained, not fractured my wrist but 1 day later, that’s what the doctor confirmed. 6 weeks in a cast for me.
It’s been only one week but I’m seeing what an impact it’s already had on my habits. I wasn’t able to put any pressure on my wrist for several days. This has had a big impact on my eating, exercise work and sleep patterns.
The most obvious impact was on my work. I managed to still run a successful fitness bootcamp session with my crew in the morning but heading to the office to work on my online coaching software was another story.
I’ve always prided myself on my ability to touch type. It means I can type faster than I can write, but with a wrist in a sling I could only touch type with one hand. Even while writing this, I am using one finger on my right hand.
As I’ve been investigating more into corporate wellness, I’ve realised how bad sitting almost endlessly is for my posture, body and even productivity at work. I’ve had a clicking neck and intensely tight shoulders for months so I’ve been desperate to move more during the day, switch between my sitting and standup desk, taking more regular breaks, drinking more (so I have to get up more), stretch more, etc…but I’d been failing.
I was really worried that not being able to touch type at the office would mean that I would be looking down at my keyboard and worsen the pain in my shoulders from 60 – 80 hour weeks in front of a computer.
However, the opposite has been true. I’ve been able to implement these new healthy work habits with far greater success so far because, by having a new challenge with my wrist, I’ve become far more conscious of my behaviour since I can’t just fall into the automatic habits I’ve been so used to.
My arm gets tired or sore if I stay in the same position for too long so I’ve actually been moving significantly more at work than before, standing up more because easier to write using whiteboard, drinking more because I remember to take breaks and using these refreshed healthy habits at work to gain momentum at home.
I’ve actually found that my productivity hasn’t suffered too much (with the exception of my typing), I’m feeling less stressed and more present at work. Also helped by my ability to increase my hours of sleep.
While it took me a little while to find a comfortable position to sleep initially, I found that I was finally sticking with my sleep habit of bed by 10pm. I’m not actually too sure whether it’s being more aware of work or whether I’m just able to create new habits easier with such a disruptive injury but the difference I feel from now getting 7 hours vs 6 1/2 hours has been huge.
An extra half an hour at night has definitely been a great investment. I’m happier and more productive at work. Which part of the improvement is associated with moving more and which part is associated with sleep I’m not so sure but one slight negative thing I’ve found with having a broken arm is that I can’t cook.
Not being able to cook, because I can’t cut (in any reasonable amount of time) has been a pain in the butt and my eating habit have actually taken a dive because of it. Also I haven’t been able to do a big food shop because of my arm (normally I bike to the supermarket and somehow manage to balance 5 – 10kg worth of food on my return). Without food in the fridge, I’ve found myself reaching for quick an easy options when I’m hungry.
My diet hasn’t been all bad but from being a rare treat, I’ve reached out to 2 pies, 2 chocolate bars and 2 pizzas. I don’t normally eat these and have found these easy to resist – possibly because I’ve kept the habit of not eating them.
Maybe these foods are easier to abstain from for me than to be eat “moderately” but I certainly find that I am craving them like never before. When they’re on my menu, then I want them more. And I’ve restarted an old “forgotten” habit of a weekly fast because of it.
While I am writing this I realise how many changes I’ve made to my lifestyle in just one week. Some parts are great. Other parts suck. What I can say is that these unexpected life events are powerful and are what you make of them. I’m looking to boost my walking at work, get my sleep patterns right, restart my weekly fasting practice and after writing this blog, I’m off to the supermarket to get my diet back on track.
What events have changed your lifestyle for better or for worse?