Are Your Habits Supporting Your Goals: TV

Making change is hard and uncomfortable. It seems unfairly easy to make a change that can negatively impact your health and so restrictive to make the changes that support wellness.

I have been an occasional TV watcher for a long time. When my kids were younger, TV was a battleground so we created a family rule that TV was ok on the weekends, but not during the week unless there was a special event. Eventually, the kids were able to better self regulate themselves and TV crept in after homework. By the time my younger son was a senior in high school, we had his first presidential election and a winning basketball team so we had a lot of “special occasion” TV nights.

With no kids at home, my husband and I have started watching dramatic series after dramatic series in the evenings. In the old days, it was one episode per week. Now it is one, two, three, eight seasons all cued up on Netflix. Once I get started, I am the one that turns to the TV each night. One episode turns into two and sometimes three and on occasion four. Now I am in bed an hour or more later than normal. I can’t get up for my morning workout and I lose focus in the afternoon craving chocolate. Deep into a new series, I realized that I needed to take a good look at the habits I am creating and asking myself if they are helping me reach my goals.

Watching a show together has become an activity that my husband and I enjoy doing together. Yet I am becoming keenly aware that I feel better when I am in bed and asleep by 10. When I miss that deadline, I more often than not miss my morning workout, which I know helps give me energy and clear my head. I know that if I say no TV to myself, I am going to give up on that rule within a few days.

Instead of giving up, or just hoping for change with no real plan, I made myself a cup of tea and sat down to think and ask myself some questions. What was giving me such a good feeling watching for hours at night? Was it the letting go and zoning out? The time I was spending with my husband? Was it the heart racing adrenaline from the intensity of the show? Was I so tired that getting myself to bed seemed like too much work? Was I not enjoying enough fun or relaxation time or was it something else? For me, it was a combination of reasons.

While I don’t want to give up TV, I can do some simple little changes that make it better for me. Here are the three simple steps I took to make peace with TV and get back to bed at my optimal bedtime.

  1. On Sunday make a plan for my week where I include some downtime, some fun time, husband time, and exercise time along with work, social, community time. I also carved out a couple of minutes at the end of the week assessing what worked, what didn’t, where I need to add or subtract more time and attention next week so that can better support myself.
  2. Set an alarm on my phone (for me this is 9 pm). Just like when my kids were young, if I get everything cleaned up and organized for the next day, I can watch for a little while at night, but if I watch too late, I don’t get to enjoy enough sleep or my exercise time.
  3. Commit to having a good book to read at night. I fall asleep much easier and earlier when I have my nose in a book.

What kinds of habits are you wrestling with this week and what can you do to support yourself to make better choices? While I focus on nutrition, I work closely with my clients to help them create lifestyle habits that will help them support their health and wellness goals. If you are looking for some support let’s set up a time to talk.