I’ve been making excuses the past month and a half about all the reasons why I’m too stressed to workout/take care of myself… when, in fact, those stressors are all the reasons why I SHOULD be working out. My whole life from age 10-years and up has been a series of falling on and off the workout/diet wagon. Over the past year, I have lost 40 pounds. How? By getting rid of the wagon.
For me, there has always been such a mentality of either you are on or off a plan/program. I have beaten myself up for years and gone on month-long tears of poor decision-making because I was “off” the plan of taking care of myself; failure begets failure… but, you know what, success begets success. In the past year, I have made a conscious effort to be nicer to myself; to forgive myself and understand the causes of my actions and not just mitigate the symptoms. There are certain behavioral characteristics that I possess that, when suppressed, actually end up hurting me more when they are released in a pent-up reaction against the suppression. Clearly, the standard prescribed methods or diets weren’t working for me and always made me resent both them and myself when inevitably, I would fail. But, why SHOULD they work? They weren’t tailor-made for me? They didn’t take into account my history, my habits, my lifestyle, or really have any baring on my life. So, I got rid of the wagon. Now, instead of being on or off a plan, I live my life… taking care of myself. What do I like? What works for ME? Sometimes, taking care of myself means having a milkshake. Depriving myself makes me angry, resentful, and more likely to snap-back in a negative reaction to the experience… so, why carry that kind of emotion around? In the end, it’s all about eating better and exercising. Always has been… always will be. Every time I’ve lost weight quickly, it has always found its way/weigh back to me- and generally with some extra baggage- literally, and emotionally. So, this time… I’m doing it slow. I’m doing it right. The process is taking longer, but I’m satisfied. I’m not resentful or deprived. I don’t deny myself food or feelings.
When I start to downward-spiral into consistent bad decisions and negative thinking, I deal with it instead of letting it compound into something bigger and even more insurmountable… because I know where that leads. I have years and years of data to back up my theories. And although this year has seen me have two dips back into old behavioral patterns, what I am most proud about is that the amount of time it takes for me to get back to a healthy mind-frame about my experience is decreasing. Instead of eating junk and not working out for 6-months in a spiral of self-hate, disappointment, and futility… my slip-ups have been for a few weeks. If anyone else ever said the things that you say about yourself in your mind you would never tolerate it. You are your harshest critic… but also your biggest ally. Build yourself up- never cut yourself down. I write this to myself as much as to the world… because habit and behaviors are hard things to rally against. The important thing is to catch yourself and acknowledge it.
Phew. All that being said, I caught myself this past week. Before checking myself, I was starting to get sad that all the hard work I had done this past year had been lost by my recent inactivity. I started thinking about how no matter how long and hard you work to change a habit- to make new behavior permanent, your old ones can come back so quickly and easily. For that is the nature of behavior and habits. I’ve only been being nice to myself for a year now… where as I have 32 years behind me of momentum and reinforced behavior. OF COURSE ITS GOING TO BE HARD.
As previously mentioned, I was using this most recent move and the fact that we don’t have any of our furniture as an excuse as to why I shouldn’t work out. For example, “I WOULD work out… but my pilates stability ball is in storage, and that is really the only way I like to do ab-work…” Because I hate sit-ups. This probably stems from the fact that:
- Hard things are hard.
- Sit-ups are never really associated with pleasantness, and
- When I was growing up, in elementary school P.E., proper form was not stressed while doing sit-ups… only the amount you could do, giving me forever an association between sit-ups and a stressed neck.
So, knowing what I know about myself, I got rid of the wagon- I threw away my rigid thinking, acknowledging what was happening and I found alternatives. Ones that didn’t require any equipment, except my willingness. Instead of slugging through exercises that I hated, I asked myself what I DID like and worked around THAT! Same with food. Instead of making myself eat foods I didn’t like, just because they were healthy, I asked myself what healthy foods I DID like and worked it out that way. And even if you are taking two steps forward, and one step back… at least you are moving forward… slowly but surely.
So, here are two links to some exercises that target the stomach that I have added to my routine… and there isn’t a sit-up in sight!
Life should be fun. Working out should be fun. Both can be and should be hard… but it’s all in your attitude towards both. So, make a killer playlist that inspires you and go-out and inspire yourself!