I think the problem with exercise programs, diets, productivity plans, etc is that when we miss a day, “cheat”, or don’t make it to the end, we convince ourselves they don’t work or “we can’t” do it, or maybe some other more complex lie we make up. For those occasions I like to keep in mind a saying my friend and business partner, Jamie, has helped me understand,
It doesn’t work. YOU work.
Jamie’s phrase is constantly playing in my mind these days as I explore new routines and replace old patterns with new ones at home and at work. I love the message! We too often unconsciously shift our responsibility to our own well-being onto other things or people and Jamie’s phrase snaps me right back to what I’m responsible for. Thanks Jamie (said with a mix of authentic thankfulness and just a touch of snarkyness.
I recently missed a day in my 30 days of exercise routine. I completed four days in a row, took one day off and continued with day five, six, and seven (at the time of this writing). The routine is simple. I do reps of push-ups, sit-ups, dips, air squats, heel raises, lunges, box jumps, and a jog that are all equal to the number of the day I’m no. For example: Day 5 involves five of all the exercises and a five minute run.
I didn’t struggle physically about my choice. I was confident I would get back on track and continue to reap the physical rewards. I did, however, experience some very interesting emotional and mental dynamics.
I made the short journey to one of our family’s favorite annual events (The Walnut Valley Folk Festival) and arrived about an hour before the normal time for my exercise routine. It was dinner time. Campers and tents were all set-up, we greeted everyone and tucked in.
As I search my thoughts for the first moments when I started questioning how this was going to work, I can go back to very early in the day. Interesting. We are talking about 5 or 6 minutes or exercise total and I was thinking about this for hours! From a physical fitness perspective there is not a lot to worry about here. My struggle was all about my insecurities. Once we arrived I pretty much decided to wait and pick-up again in the morning.
The internal dialogue was the hardest part. I battled myself off and on for most of the evening. Not about choosing not to exercise but about how to figure out what I was experiencing because I made the choice…how to feel about it. All of that internal angst resulted in my behavior being mostly quiet and non-initiating.
The inner trappings of our mind keep us stuck in a negative feedback loop. The stories we tell ourselves are durable and even once identified they reappear in an instant. Part of the story I’ve been dealing with lately showed up in my internal, quiet, non-initiating behavior at the festival. At least a part of the source of that behavior is saying, “This is no big deal. It doesn’t matter.” I think the translation and the narrative is, “Don’t risk saying anything to anyone because you don’t matter.” In order for that to become realized the withdrawn behavior occurs and then people leave you alone and we get to say, “See, I don’t matter.” From there I can even start pushing it off on the behavior of others! That is an awesome game because then it really isn’t my fault. If they only cared enough…
So, the question I’ve started asking myself a few things:
- If I could pack all that B.S. up into a bag and send it off somewhere, then what?
- What would I like to experience instead?
- What would I like others to know?
- What are a few things I would do, right now, today?
The next morning I got up, laced up my running shoes and took off, back on track. I’ve kept going. Today I completed a 7 minute run, 7 push-ups, 7 dips, 7 sit-ups, 7 air squats, 7 lunges, and 7 heel raises. Tomorrow, all the 8's.
When have you stumbled with a commitment or routine and then decided to keep moving? How did you do that? I’d love to hear about it.