Life hacks are a big thing nowadays, though I wouldn’t agree with people who put, say, a homemade cellphone case into this category. To me, a “life hack” should be something that genuinely makes your life better. I came up with two that I’ve been practicing for some time now, both of which I’ve seen improvements from in my day to day. I haven’t seen any ideas quite like them on the web. Here they are:
First, radical portion control. Not many of us are blessed with the affliction of not being able to gain weight that some friends worry about. I come from a large family, many of whose members are effortlessly tall and thin; but a couple of us – myself included – have to watch our weight. Unlike my sisters, I can’t eat whatever I want without counting the cost. I saw some unfortunate effects around my waistline, especially after having a baby. So as I try to lose baby weight and get fit before working on baby #2, I put a strategy in place for when I need a sugar fix. I bought a plastic container of peanut M&Ms (which I can later refill with the cheaper bags) which I keep in the fridge. When I want a little somethin’ somethin’ sweet I go to the fridge and eat 1, yes 1, peanut M&M, taking time to savor it more than I would if I guzzled a whole package. In a day I tend to eat 2-4 candies, much better than giving in to binge snacking after a day or two of cold turkey.
Another way I use this is when I buy a drink, especially one with a lid, I can make it last 2-3 days, just taking a sip or two when water just doesn’t quite cut it. That way I feel quenched, but not terrible for consuming a ton of calories on a can of Coke. Some countries sell tiny cans or bottles of drinks, and I think it makes a lot of sense. I don’t know about you, but most of the time by the time I’m halfway through a cola I’m not really even enjoying it anymore, the law of diminishing returns and all that.
As an aside, if a nibble or a sip isn’t enough, I like to keep pickled cucumber or pickled pumpkin on hand which I eat a quarter cup or so of guilt-free.
So that along with exercise is how I’m getting rid of the pounds my daughter so generously gave me.
Second, and more significant, I use the internet as a tool – function over fun (but don’t exclude fun!). Awhile ago I realized with alarm how much time I was spending on YouTube. Comedy sketches, fan theories of favorite shows, YT can definitely be a time-sucker. I think most people would look at the wasted hours and, just like snacking, go cold turkey – “I will never use YouTube again!”. But how realistic is that? Even if you cut out YT it’s likely you’d move to something equally unproductive. So I decided I’d delete everything in my watch later list that served no purpose other than to entertain.
I began changing my YT habits to watch more informative and useful content. Organization and cleaning hacks, how to manage money and time, these things began to replace the mindless entertainment. I still use YT a lot, and I won’t pretend that I use every hack and tip I see, but I have used many and it has changed my mindset. My house looks significantly better than when I made the switch (and not only because I moved). I’ve learned some recipes that are in heavy rotation in my kitchen. I am more conscious of how I’m spending my money and so I save more. I am making money in new ways such as turning our second bedroom into an airbnb.
These are just a couple ideas that I haven’t seen floating around, even after hours of self-improvement videos. I hope they help you, if not specifically, in showing that change doesn’t have to happen all at once. These are only two small habits, but with consistent progress, I’ve seen big results. So instead of realizing your mistakes and deciding “I’ll NEVER do that again!”, slow down and make micro-modifications that you can keep up with without making yourself miserable. As the saying goes – by the yard it’s hard, by the inch, what a cinch!