Exercising semi-regularly, and eating semi-healthily. I wish I could send a specific advice to my former self, two decades ago. The "specific" part is important, because I have received lot of advice which was either wrong, or just strongly incompatible with my preferences.

Without going into too much detail, the specific advice optimized for me would contain:

  • Instead of doing sport, do strength training at home, and take walks outside with friends or optionally alone when no one wants to join you. (You get the benefits of burned calories and fresh air. You don't have to rely on any person, or opening hours of a gym.)
  • Eat fresh vegetables with every meal. Buy an extra salad when eating outside.
  • When possible, cook for yourself. Try a few recipes, keep the simple ones that taste good. Use less sugar and salt; compensate with spice. (Almost anything cooked at home is healthier and cheaper than what you would buy otherwise. The more you cook, the better you get at it.) If you eat outside, Asian food usually contains a lot of vegetables and tastes great.
  • You don't have to find out the "one true theory" of nutrition and exercise. Just accept that most of what you hear is pseudoscience, and focus on the few things that most people agree upon.
  • Be a satisficer, not a maximizer; aim for sustainable progress, not purity. If you do most things right most of the time, it doesn't matter if you break the rules once in a while. (If you make a vegetable salad for lunch, don't worry about the extra calories in dressing. Instead, worry about forgetting to make the vegetable salad also the next day, and the next day.)
1Mati_Roy6moThanks for sharing! If you want to, I would be curious to know how the last 2 points made you feel bad for not adopting earlier (if there's anything more specific than just the general point)
5Viliam6moThe last 2 points are "meta" to the previous ones. Essentially, I used to get three types of advice: 1) "just be yourself", probably given by people who genuinely enjoy sports and have good eating habits. "Don't think about it too much, simply do the sports you like" -- when the problem is that I don't like any. "Just eat a bit of everything you want, yes including sweets, as long as you keep it diverse enough" -- when it feels to me like exactly what I was already doing. 2) insisting that I study the science of nutrition and physiology deeply, because doing the wrong thing can have terrible consequences. Following a diet will damage your health if the diet is unbalanced. The wrong type of a sport will damage your joints. Health improvement is described as walking through a minefield, only different maps have the mines in different places (and if you put those maps on top of each other, turns out the mines can be anywhere). Instead of giving you actionable advice, these people will look at any actionable advice you already got and tell you that doing that will make things worse. 3) enthusiastic endorsement of the latest food or exercise fashion, when it seems obvious that the same person will recommend something completely different a few weeks later. The good news is that one can actually find actionable advice, without having to study medicine for years, and yet the advice will not be completely arbitrary. It may be imperfect, sure, but it will improve things, for a reasonable cost. If I could send the first 3 points to my former self, but other people would read them too, here is the reaction my former self would get from them: 1) "This sounds too difficult and weird. Strength training is so unnatural; just take a long walk regularly and do some sport for fun. Yeah, vegetables are obviously good, but so is everything else; there are vitamins also in bread, even in chocolate, and all of them are necessary. I bet the cooks in restaurants know about nutrition

Thanks for your answer

[ Question ]

In which ways have you self-improved that made you feel bad for not having done it earlier?

by Mati_Roy 1 min read4th Dec 201915 comments

14


It can be a decision, a skill, a habit, etc.

Can be because the improvement was very valuable, obvious in insight, a moral imperative, or any other reason.

Note that I'm specifically looking for things that made you feel bad for not having done it earlier, not a simple "ah, I guess it would have been useful to know that earlier".

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5 Answers

  1. Meditation, but I don't think it would have landed earlier.

  2. Insights from 1, like it not being my job to solve problems, it's my job to show up and orient myself toward the problem. Whether it gets solved or not isn't really in my control.

  3. Relaxation is a skill. Like most skills, especially ones you've never trained, a small amount of deliberate practice yields large improvements.

  4. Note taking system I enjoy using.

  5. Increasing typing speed and buying the keyboard that maximizes speed after testing.

  6. Desk ergonomics

  7. Getting rid of most belongings a la Marie Kondo

  8. Food allergy testing

  9. Doing things that take less than five minutes immediately a la Getting Things Done

  10. Training to notice hamster pellet loops aka news feeds, notifications, etc.

  11. Creativity training a la The Butterfly and the Net

Currently undergoing a CBT program for improved sleeping. It is literally giving me 3-4 extra productive hours a day. (By cutting down roughly 1.5h of lying in bed not sleeping, and sleeping overall 1.5h-2.5 less.) That's roughly an extra two months every year.

It's the most surprising and effective productivity thing I've done in years, and costs only $25 a week + 1h of watching instruction videos, and some energy/mental effort of sticking to the routine.

Though note that I've only done it for 2.5 weeks and expect the final improvements to land on 0-2 extra hours per day.

Exercising semi-regularly, and eating semi-healthily. I wish I could send a specific advice to my former self, two decades ago. The "specific" part is important, because I have received lot of advice which was either wrong, or just strongly incompatible with my preferences.

Without going into too much detail, the specific advice optimized for me would contain:

  • Instead of doing sport, do strength training at home, and take walks outside with friends or optionally alone when no one wants to join you. (You get the benefits of burned calories and fresh air. You don't have to rely on any person, or opening hours of a gym.)
  • Eat fresh vegetables with every meal. Buy an extra salad when eating outside.
  • When possible, cook for yourself. Try a few recipes, keep the simple ones that taste good. Use less sugar and salt; compensate with spice. (Almost anything cooked at home is healthier and cheaper than what you would buy otherwise. The more you cook, the better you get at it.) If you eat outside, Asian food usually contains a lot of vegetables and tastes great.
  • You don't have to find out the "one true theory" of nutrition and exercise. Just accept that most of what you hear is pseudoscience, and focus on the few things that most people agree upon.
  • Be a satisficer, not a maximizer; aim for sustainable progress, not purity. If you do most things right most of the time, it doesn't matter if you break the rules once in a while. (If you make a vegetable salad for lunch, don't worry about the extra calories in dressing. Instead, worry about forgetting to make the vegetable salad also the next day, and the next day.)

Being pro-actively social, learning social interaction and dynamics.

Sleeping full nights every day.

Saying no to unhealthy social pressures (ex: smoking weed to fit-in)

Making lists and writing every day.

Journaling. Writing down exactly why I am taking the important decisions in my life, and then later on looking back on that journal and evaluating/correcting my decision making process.

Also wish I had more control over my environment earlier on. Ex: I lived with a cat for 4 years despite being allergic because everyone in my family wanted one. Looking back I think this caused the sinus problems I now deal with. Also my family had terrible nutrition when I was growing up, which I believe impaired my body's height and ability to gain muscle.

I think the main one for me is learning to be productive