Reflections on a Streak

Today marks 2191 consecutive days of exercising every day without missing a single day, that’s 6 years. For those of you checking the math, 6 years times 365 days equals 2190 days, plus 1 day because 2020 was a leap year. When I began this streak 6 years ago, the goal was to work out for 100 days in a row. Even once I reached one year, I never imagined that this streak would ever extend for this long. I am very proud of my efforts, but, at the same time, I am very aware that there is an element of luck to this. Just reflecting on the two years of this pandemic makes that very clear.

In retrospect, and unbeknownst to me when I started this, perhaps the most valuable thing to come out of this streak has been the tools that I have developed that have armed me with the ability to stay disciplined even when it gets challenging. I am happy to have reached the 6-year mark, and I certainly plan to try to extend it to 7 years. At the same time, I accept that at some point life will happen, and the streak will come to an end.

Boxing on a double end bag.
Boxing training.

What will not end is the daily habit that is now strongly ingrained in me to exercise daily. As a result of this experience, I have also been able to use this same strategy to improve discipline and modify habits in other parts of my life. The key to success for any change in behavior is that it must be intrinsic. It doesn’t necessarily have to start that way, but it must eventually come from internal motivation, or it will fizzle.

I won’t repeat all the details of the streak, nor how I believe that using external sources of motivation, at least initially, can be a great way to make behavioral changes in your life, whether its fitness, nutrition, financial, or anything else. You can read all of those details here:

running stairs
A stair workout.

Life is messy. I am human, and I am far from perfect. I view discipline in my life as being like a balloon. I can apply pressure in one spot to fix some habits that I don’t like. Inevitably, something gives somewhere else, even if the overall change is a net positive. For me specifically, over the last few years of my exercise streak, I have also gained about 20 pounds. Proving the old axiom that you can’t out exercise a bad diet (or its corollary: abs are made in the kitchen, not the gym).

I am working hard to drop that weight in a wise and healthy way, and I am seeking help to do it. I share this because most of us are our own harshest critics. That judgment can create obstacles to getting the necessary help to change habits with which we are not happy.

Runner in facemask and goggles.
Running in -29 degrees.

As I mentioned earlier, sustainable changes in behavior have to come from internal motivation, but they don’t have to start that way. Getting help to make changes initially is often the kick start that many of us need. As we begin to see positive results, it becomes much easier for the motivation to come from within us, instead of from a coach or an advisor.

Sometimes all that’s needed to start is an assessment to make sure that everything is progressing in the way we would like. Just as most of us have an annual physical, a financial checkup can also serve as an excellent preventative measure. If you would like to see if Bernstein Financial Advisory is the right fit for you, please reach out via email, phone, or by clicking the Let’s Talk button at the top of this page.

John Bernstein