How Binging Made Me Miserable

Photo by James Lee on Unsplash
  1. Emotional extremes: Productive binges can feel great, but they’re followed by a period of negative binges that lead to feelings of disappointment and guilt.
  2. Slow and inconsistent progress: Cycling between positive and negative binges slow or completely revert the progress you make.

How it started

My binging behaviour originated from a break-up. I felt sadness, anger, guilt and loneliness. These emotions were like nuclear fuel in terms of motivation and energy for me. While it was available, I was unstoppable. For two months, I was like a machine, making leaps towards my goals. However, nuclear fuel has a nasty side effect — once used, it can’t do work, and it’s hard to get rid of. Running out of this fuel lead to my first set of negative binges — tons of junk food and TV.

  1. I felt guilty for having sidetracked my progress
  2. I want to make up for lost time and set unrealistic expectations for myself
  3. I burn out and binge negative behaviours
  4. Repeat

How to fix it

In his book Atomic Habits, James Clear explores the idea of becoming better 1% every day. Making small and consistent improvements has outstanding returns in the long run (because of compounding interest)… if you can stick with it. In the recent past, I’ve made some changes to help me move away from binging and live a more consistent lifestyle.

Commit to less than you think you can do

If you’re the type of person who has enormous aspirations and goals, this might sound counterintuitive. I used to see it as selling myself short. In reality, committing to less than you think you can do has the following effect:

  1. You’re able to meet your commitment consistently.
  2. Over a reasonable time horizon, you make significant progress and feel great.
  3. Because of this achievement, you feel like you can handle more, so you set an incrementally higher commitment.
  4. Repeat

Do Nothing

To minimize the downward spiral of harmful binges, do nothing (literally). These spirals tend to have some emotions attached to them. To avoid the wave of bad decisions, make a conscious effort to stop and sit with no sensory inputs. Let the voice in your head speak its piece. I’ve had immensely cathartic laughs and cries when I let my thoughts and emotions sort themselves out. Binging is a form of distraction that keeps emotions bottled up.

Choose your inputs wisely

Impatience is a crucial component of binging. Wanting fast results is what leads to applying an unsustainable amount of energy. Consuming media can serve as a nucleation point for desire. Here’s an example: I follow fitness pages on social media because I like taking care of my body. Seeing this media on a bad day tells my subconscious that being muscular and lean is the norm and that my body is subpar. My mind begins to obsess over how to get the body I want and leads me to apply an unsustainable amount of energy towards this end. I do this even though my existing regiment was sufficient to get me good results over a reasonable time horizon.

Conclusion

The ultimate goal is to make consistent progress with a clear mind.

  • Read a programming problem and its solution every day
  • Start a lesson on duo lingo every day
  • Put on my work out clothes and put weights on the bar every other day
  • Stay outside for 2 minutes every day

Resources that helped me improve my consistency

How to Get Out of a Rut by Better Ideas

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Abhinav Boyed

Abhinav Boyed

10 Followers

21. I like building things. Currently working on http://getseeko.com. Previously engineering @shopify