When I was a beginning trader, I spent 110% of my energy looking for setups. I was convinced if I could just find the right set of rules, that was all I needed to become a successful trader. Of course, there is a more to trading than just setups. You have to learn risk management, how to mix different approaches to the market, how to handle losses, how to endure drawdowns, etc.
But just as important as all of those things, perhaps even more so, is working on yourself. I've been very distracted by some normal-life struggles for the past few years. I had a difficult move to Baltimore and a return to balancing trading with a full-time career. I also have a great deal of mental stress and distraction in my personal life. I've dealt with both issues by ignoring them and expecting them to go away on their own. The effect has been I am way up at 112 kg. I should be, at most, 90 kg. While harder to measure, my stress levels have also steadily increased.
You might think this has nothing to do with my trading. Although the connection isn't obvious, it is real.
Discomfort is Distraction
When you're used to being overweight, you don't notice how different it feels vs being a normal weight. A few years ago I got down to 100kg and I definitely felt better then. Compared to those days, I am now effectively carrying around 3 bowling balls all day long from the moment I get up until I go back to bed. Does that sound like fun? The truth is, being uncomfortable is distracting. It saps your willpower. Loss of willpower saps your discipline. Loss of discipline will break your trading and show up in your account balance.
Mental performance is dramatically better after a full night of quality sleep. Unfortunately this isn't something I experience lately. Being overweight has lead to snoring and mild sleep apnea. I can go to bed and get 8 hours of "sleep" and I still wake up tired. Being tired makes me react slower and causes me to make more mistakes.
Mood and "The Big Secret"
Mood and attitude cause a host of subconscious behaviors that attract (or repel) success. This is the essence of books like "Think and Grow Rich". Having a negative or limiting attitude puts an effective cap on how successful you can be. You are "taking profits early" in all aspects of life. Fortunately, I am still doing OK in trading - but I want to work on this now, before it becomes a problem.
My goal for weight loss is aggressive. I am 6'2". In the next 6 months I want to lose 22 kg (~50 lbs) taking me to a reasonable weight of 90 kg (200 lbs). I might not succeed, but I most certainly will lose some weight. If I set a goal of 10kg, I'd be more likely to "succeed" but I would probably lose less weight. This is how my mind works, yours may be different.
My plan for weight loss is a alternate-day modified fast. I have tried pure calorie based diets and they require a lot of attention and counting. I want to save my attention-budget for trading and work. I have also tried and had success with Paleo style diets. However, my success with Paleo came very slowly and I had difficulty sticking with it. In short, I think fasting will require the least amount of mental energy from me, saving it for the things that matter.
And speaking of mental strength...
For my mental state, I am taking up meditation. I don't have a particular goal with this, I just know that many traders that I respect strongly recommend it. There are also studies done showing real changes in the brain that meditation produces. Not just woo-woo vague studies - real physical structural changes.
"The amygdala, the fight or flight part of the brain which is important for anxiety, fear and stress in general. That area got smaller in the group that went through the mindfulness-based stress reduction program."
Does that sound like something that could help your trading? It sure does to me!
You can do meditation with no specific plan or program, but I am using https://www.headspace.com/. This keeps it simple for me and will track my adherence to plan.