1,300 straight days of a Seahawks newsletter
The 3 words that changed my life completely and helped keep this streak alive
How much can a person change in 1,300 days?
On March 4, 2019, I sent out the first Seaside Joe newsletter (via Mailchimp) with no plans to start a daily streak at that point. According to Google and calendars, this was actually 1,302 days ago, so I may need to investigate whether this is actually Seaside Joe 1301 or 1302, but the bulk of the message today is the same:
From one day to the next, I keep sending out a Seahawks newsletter and now three and a half years has gone by since the last time that I didn’t do that.
Prior to fully switching over to Substack in March of this year, I would often cover topics that stretched beyond the football field and I sometimes get asked by longtime readers how the non-Seahawks things are going in my life: Meditation, intermittent fasting, sobriety, daily habits, etc.
Without much conscious intention to avoid writing about those things, I believe that I’ve avoided it for two reasons: a) I want this to be a Seahawks newsletter more than a Seaside Joe newsletter because it would mean everything to see this community continue to grow to what I know we are capable of and b) There haven’t been that many updates with regards to the topics I covered off of the field.
So on the 1,300 day anniversary, allow me to compile all of those updates into one post. This post. If you have any questions about any of this, leave a comment and I’ll give you a reply.
If you just wanted a Seahawks newsletter, I posted the 1,300th Seaside Joe (1,302nd?) already this morning and the next will come tomorrow. I am not offended if you skip this one.
3 words that changed my life
I don’t know how many people can say that they know the date when their life changed, I only know that I couldn’t point to a single moment in my life prior to April 14, 2019 that feels as significant. And even 4/14/19 was nothing special to me at the time. It’s just that a person came over to my house and gave me a phrase that immediately clicked on a part of my brain, as if it was something I had always known was right for me but could never put a pin on it.
“Non-negotiable daily habits.”
And the most important of those three words: Non-negotiable.
As if it was already written to happen to me, I had been gifted a four-day session with a meditation coach in early 2019. This was totally unexpected and there were no signs that I was giving out that I wanted or needed this coaching session, but it was around that time that I had already started to make important changes in my life based on a “rock bottom feeling” that came to pass. That all started with a book called “Tools of Titans” by Tim Ferriss.
In that book, he compiles highlights of all the habits and advice he’s gotten from guests of his podcast. A few things seemed to keep coming up with each of them, including intermittent fasting, sobriety, and meditation. So prior to getting a meditation coach, I was already doing guided meditations on my phone, but I likely would have lost that habit soon after starting, as usually is the case with anything “trendy” that I had picked up in the past to improve my life.
It was that first day of meditation training with Yashoda Devi Ma that locked everything in for good, including this newsletter and this very post about a newsletter with a 1,300-day streak.
She came over and we sat on my couch and she told me about Vedic meditation, which is essentially the same as Transcendental Meditation—just named something different because TM is actually a trademarked term. Yes, TM is TM’d.
The only part of those four days that I’m going to share with you is when Yashoda said that Vedic was a non-negotiable daily habit. Meaning that no matter what else comes up in your life, no matter the excuse, you always meditate twice a day for at least 20 minutes. She might have said 15 minutes, I can’t remember, but I do 20. Then she said, “So if you do that for one year, you will have 730 sits.”
I immediately said back to her, “Okay, then I will do 730 sits over the next year.” I decided right then that I would embody this phrase of making “non-negotiable” habits and made a promise to this person who really could not care less that I would do the full amount possible to me. Not one less.
As I said earlier, non-negotiable daily habits isn’t something that I felt I had to adapt to. It felt more like something I was meant to do and I just didn’t know it. I’ve always taken things that I do to the extreme, whether that is a fault or not—and it might be a fault. But I never want to settle for a half or partially-lived life.
There was no part of me that questioned whether or not I could sit 730 times in a year. That is something anyone can do! And I would only be disappointed with myself if I sat 729 times. What’s the point of that?! I will always know that I could have done 730.
So I made that promise to her and to myself—the only two people listening, only half of whom actually cared—that I would do the full amount. (For the record, and so you know I’m not being self-deprecating, I texted Yashoda that I had done 730 sits, as promised, to which she did not respond.) The only two people that matter in that agreement anyway are me and my self (yes, I mean to write those words separately): Those are the two separate forces at play in all of us.
Even though every person seems like one person, there are negotiations happening all the time within our brains: You want to eat ice cream. But then there’s another voice that says, “Eat quinoa.” A thing you like vs. a thing you don’t like, and then the negotiation begins.
That is a very rudimentary example of the fight between our thoughts and our selves, but we know that internal struggle is ever present in our brains and bodies. Do you exercise today, as you “told yourself” that you would, or do you give into that other “self” that is pulling you towards the couch? These voices and impulses might seem to be coming from the same place—yet they never seem to agree. Why is that?
This is actually a core part of Pete Carroll’s philosophy too, which can be read about in his favorite book about life and sports, “The Inner Game of Tennis,” by Timothy Gallwey. How do you get all parts of your “self” to agree at all times, to the point where you aren’t even thinking at all.
For me, nothing was ever as simple in finding mediation between all of my selves as fully embracing non-negotiable daily habits.
My daily routines have improved my life immensely, even if at the same time it can be difficult to separate one day from the next. Over the last 1,300 days, you might be shocked at how consistent I am with daily regularity of those habits. But I no longer share them in the newsletter because I don’t really need anyone to know about these routines except for one (or two?) people:
Me and my self.
Here’s all the proof I need to anyone else: I have sent out this newsletter every day since March 4, 2019. Is that not proof enough that I haven’t dropped any of the routines that I’ve shared with you in the past? (Plus a few others that I don’t share with anybody?)
April 14, 2019 was the first time that I ever practiced Vedic meditation and that was 1,261 days ago. Do you know how many times I have meditated for at least 20 minutes since then? I do: 2,522. I know because I have never missed one.
I see your 730, Yashoda. I raise you 1,792.
Exactly one year and two days after I sent out the newsletter for the first time, I went on a date with somebody and even through a lot of pandemic FaceTiming, we have not left each other’s side—metaphysically speaking. From now on if you hear me refer to Seaside Jay, that’s her. And Seaside Jay can attest to everyone that indeed, I will put aside anything and everything if it means that I have to complete my daily routines, including meditating in the strangest of places at the oddest of times.
Because it’s non-negotiable. That means something to me. And it means something to my self. I have carried that with me into a lot of other habits beyond the newsletter and meditation and I am a much different person today than I was on March 4, 2019.
Meeting Seaside Jay or adopting Clark (November, 2019), these will always be days that changed me for the better incalculably and will have greater emphasis for being meaningful and cherished memories when I recount the milestones of my life. But the click that happened on April 14, 2019 with “non-negotiable” helped prepare me for those moments and all the ones that will come after.
You negotiate with your boss. With your business partners. With your parents. With your spouse. With your kids. Negotiation is a part of everyday life.
Now I know that there are times when you negotiate with your self. And also times when negotiation is not an option. Because you deserve better. And so do you.
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March, 2019 to Now:
When I last didn’t send the newsletter, there was a different president in office and a different prime minister in the U.K. The pandemic was a year away from starting. Hollywood still seemed kind of normal. Movies like Joker and Avengers: Endgame had not come out yet. Shows like Broad City, Veep, The Big Bang Theory, and Game of Thrones were still running.
A lot has changed. I’ve even gotten new bath towels…twice!
Here are some brief recaps and updates on things I used to write about in the newsletter and some stuff that I haven’t covered but has happened:
I do not know the exact date that I started fasting, but I do know that I have eaten within an eight-hour window every single day since then. It was also around March of 2019, so it’s been about 1,300 days in a row of intermittent fasting. It’s been over three years since I’ve eaten any earlier than 1 PM. I’m lucky to be with someone who can live with the fact that I’ve never eaten breakfast with her.
IF started as a way to lose and/or control my weight, but the meaning is much different now. I now find monitoring weight to be a waste of energy. It’s more about gut health and self-control than anything else. Until a doctor tells me to stop, I will probably continue to eat this way for as long as I live.
He’s doing well! We’ve decided that his birthday is Halloween, so that means that his eighth is coming up. We now think he’s lhasa apso breed.
Around the time of the start of the newsletter, I had started a 30-day yoga challenge, doing yoga every day for a month. I like the flexibility and balance control that comes with yoga, but I stopped going when the pandemic shutdown the studios and switched to riding a bike as a form of daily exercise. Two years ago, I switched from bike riding to running. Yoga is tight—or loose, you could say—but it’s dropped off of my priorities in favor of running. If I get a chance to go back, I will.
I’ve run thousands of miles in the last two years. Prior to 2020, I had not even run a dozen miles in my entire life. Some of you already know that I used to weigh about 150 lbs more than I do now. What’s important to me about running is not about looking good or shedding pounds. What’s important is the mental benefits that come with a non-negotiable exercise habit. I do not run every day like my other non-negotiables, but I have strict policies of how many times I have to go running each week and how long those runs have to be. The best feeling I get from running is not the days that I run 10 miles. It’s the days that I told myself at least 20 times that I had good reasons to skip my run, then ultimately went because it’s a non-negotiable agreement with myself. I run in 100 degrees, I run when it’s raining, I run when it’s freezing, I run when I’m on vacation, I run when I’m feeling like shit, I run when there’s apparently not enough time in the day to fit in a run.
I look back at the guy I used to be and I think about how amazed he would be to find out how much different our lives are—even though we inhabit the same body and are only separated by a few years. As soon as it hit me that I actually do have control over everything that I wanted to change about myself, the rest has naturally fallen into place. I am nobody to give anybody else fitness advice—except to myself. And we’re still working at it, making progress every day.
Wow! Remember the cryptocurrency phase of Seaside Joe! I cringe! I am still holding onto all of the crypto that I purchased in 2021. I’ve already conceded that either I’m going to lose everything or make a tiny profit/break even. There’s no other way.
Normal habits, simplified
I want to share a couple of non-negotiable habits that are small but exemplify how these routines can raise the bar of daily living. Prior to this, I was not a daily flosser. I know, disgusting! This very simple change was then made easy by agreeing with myself to floss everyday. Now I freak out if I find that I’m out of floss because nothing will stop me from keeping a streak alive. The same goes for washing my face—I didn’t even know that men were supposed to do that! These small hygienic changes, while perhaps embarrassing to admit, serve as perfect examples of how there’s always a better version of ourselves to strive for. That means facing up to those little things that I was neglecting and embarrassed to admit to myself.
There are a few other daily routines that I’ve added that I don’t want to talk about yet, partly because this entire post already feels one big stupid brag and I need to curb that if I’m going to even hit “Send” on this one. But maybe in a couple of years, the reveals will be worth it.
I quit! And I was extremely lucky to go out on top: The last improv anyone will ever see me doing was on Curb Your Enthusiasm. That was a miracle that I’ll always be grateful for, but I decided that if I was going to have any financial success in my life, that I should focus all of my efforts on the one thing I had work the hardest at in my life: Writing about football. That’s another reason why this newsletter has become so important to me and I’m grateful for your readership and the Seasider community.
I spent two years writing a sitcom pilot based on Hard Knocks and it never came out right. If you want to take that idea, it’s all yours.
Look at him again!
Whether you’ve been here for 1,300 days or one, I hope this bonus wasn’t too self-congratulating to enjoy and I’m grateful for your presence here. If you were curious about something else and I forgot to mention it, let me know in the comments and I’ll address that too.
Clark is awesome!
I am a dog person 100%. Dogs are the only other living beings that actually like humans as their default setting...perhaps their only flaw.
p.s. Cats don't really 'like' humans so much as 'tolerate' them.
Amazing committment to "non-negotiable" processes to achieve the goals of being your best self. KUDOS!
And KUDOS on your good fortune of having a partner who supports your process.
A book recommended by Bobby Wagner (yes, that Bobby Wagner) a few years ago called "Chop Wood, Carry Water" speaks, in a simple story, of learning to love 'the process'...and the exceptionalism will take care of itself. It's a kind of focus on 'the process' rather than the goal kind of approach that, while applicable to any endeaver, helped make BWag one of the best LB's to ever play the game.