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Chains of Habit: Jonathan Le

“The chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken”

—Warren Buffett

Key Points

  • Anything you do more than once can become a habit that either harms you or serves you. Anything you derive pleasure from can become an addiction.
    • For me, videogames were one of my main addictions. They were how I escaped from my life. In videogames, I desired community, adventure, and competition. I replaced this with personal training, mixed martial arts, and wilderness survival.
    • I was also addicted to food, as it helped to numb the pain. I took it upon myself to become a better cook to improve my eating habits and health.

 

  • If you think you can’t, you never will. If you think you can, you might one day succeed. The only path to success is in first believing that you can succeed. Change your thoughts to change your life; even your thoughts are habits.
    • Exercising was very difficult for me for someone who was 247 lbs at 5’6”, especially because sweating triggered my eczema. Getting on a treadmill and forcing myself to walk for 5 minutes was how I started. The next day it was six minutes. Then, eventually it was an hour. Then, I bought a squat rack and studied weightlifting technique with all my spare time. All that matters is that you get started.
    • Eating was extremely difficult for me because of my soy allergy. Limits inspire creativity.
    • You become what you identify as. I used to be an introvert, but over a couple years of self-development practices, I was able to let go of this label and take on the qualities of an extrovert.

 

  • The trick to weaning yourself off of a deeply ingrained habit is to think about why you enjoy that activity and replace it with a healthier activity that provides similar benefits. The more deeply ingrained the habit, the slower the adjustment period will be.
    • For me, videogames were one of my main addictions. They were how I escaped from my life. In videogames, I desired community, adventure, and competition. I replaced this with personal training, mixed martial arts, and wilderness survival.
    • I was also addicted to food, as it helped to numb the pain. I took it upon myself to become a better cook to improve my eating habits and health.
    • At first, I uninstalled all my games and banned all “unhealthy” food, but within a month I was back to all my old habits with an even worse case of unregulated playing hours and binge eating. The cold turkey approach doesn’t work for addictions. Small changes every day is the way to go. I learned to limit my playing time by setting and watching a timer count down every day. Each week, I would give myself less time to play.

 

  • Forgive yourself for failure or not meeting expectations. Every step is progress. Every step is a win. Behind every failure is a lesson to be learned. Behind every challenge is the opportunity for growth.
    • “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”  Thomas A. Edison
    • I hated myself every time I made a mistake or failed to meet my goals. This cycle continued until I realized that my life was slowly getting better, regardless of the setbacks. I learned to forgive myself faster. The periods of depression became shorter and the periods of progression became longer.
    • Keep an achievement journal to track all of your wins (no matter how small) so you can refer to this whenever you feel demotivated. Do whatever it takes to pull yourself out of the negative spiral of depression once you feel it coming on.

 

  • Always be proactive with your health. Your body is built to survive and health problems don’t appear until it’s too late. It’s like a crack in a dam: once the water flows through, it’s extremely difficult to fix.
    • If you aren’t exercising, your cognitive function is limited. Even walking for 15 minutes a day is enough. Just don’t be sedentary.
    • Unhealthy eating habits will lead to severe consequences as you age. I was lucky to have developed gout at such an early age. It was truly a wake-up call.
    • Exercising for 30 minutes three times a week is like spending 2% of your life in order to make the remaining 98% better.
    • You can gain back so much time and tap into nearly unlimited energy by first taking care of your health.

 

  • Time is the most valuable thing we have. We’re dying every second of our lives: make every moment worth it. Could you spend your spare time more effectively?

 

The Dark Years

  • I had severe atopic dermatitis (eczema) that covered more than ¾ of my body for five years (between 2010 and 2015). Symptoms began when I was much younger, at about the age of 13.
  • My main eczema trigger was a soy allergy, which includes soy derivatives such as soy lecithin, soybean oil, MSG, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, textured vegetable protein, etc. The FDA does not require manufacturers to post allergen information for soy derivatives because most people who have a soy allergy are not allergic to soy derivatives where the soy protein is removed. I’m part of the small exception. Soy is extremely prevalent in store-bought foods and many establishments trained in cooking for food allergies don’t take the necessary precautions for soy derivatives.
  • Some of my secondary triggers for eczema (minor allergies or irritants that prevented or delayed the healing process) were sweating, pollen, dust, dogs, cats, oak trees, maple trees. Sweating as a trigger made exercise very difficult, and I eventually developed an anxiety response to heat/sweat. I lived in an enclosed, humidified 62F room during this time.
  • Developed gout in 2010 due to stress compounded on poor eating habits after a bad breakup with who I thought was the love of my life at the time sent me into a terrible depression. This further limited my ability to exercise as the pain in my leg made it difficult to walk.
  • Dropped out of college in 2011 after symptoms severely limited my ability to function normally.
  • Developed a clinical case of social anxiety where I had difficulty speaking on the phone, I had trouble responding to people when spoken to, and I felt unsafe around people in general. My heartrate would spike to 180bpm when in a public place.

 

Looking to the Future

  • Studying Kinesiology with the intent of becoming a Physical Therapist
  • Constantly researching and adapting on human optimization techniques
  • NSCA Personal Trainer Certification
  • NOLS Wilderness First Responder Certification
  • Krav Maga Instructor Certification

Recommended Books

“7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, Stephen R. Covey

  • dozens of valuable tools and techniques in order to manage your life
  • the first three habits focus on personal development whereas the remaining four are about interpersonal relationships and forming positive habits
  • lasting growth and change comes from within

 

“How to Win Friends and Influence People”, Dale Carnegie

  • extrapolates on the topic of interpersonal development
  • describes how to conduct yourself in a more professional manner
  • helps you become a more empathetic and social person

 

Skincare

*Nothing beats finding a good dermatologist.

 

Curology: online skincare advice and prescriptions from licensed professionals

https://curology.com/

SkincareAddiction online forum for skincare advice for western products

https://www.reddit.com/r/SkincareAddiction/

AsianBeauty: online forum for skincare advice for eastern products

https://www.reddit.com/r/AsianBeauty/

 

Other Resources

 

Krav Maga Alliance: http://www.kravmagaalliance.com/affiliates/

Krav Maga Worldwide: http://www.kravmaga.com/locations/krav-maga-worldwide-officially-certified-training-centers/

 

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