Enough Screwing Around…
I’ve spent a lot of time on Mantra Mondays around here holding hands and trying to convince y’all that you just need to take that first step. Today, I want to focus on what happens after you’ve taken those steps. Therefore, I’m going to assume that you’ve already started taking those steps toward becoming a better you – no matter what those steps are.
It’s your life.
If you haven’t taken any steps yet, quit screwing around and get on it, damn it! This is your life! You control what you do with it. Sure there are outside forces and excuses and prisons of all kinds that hold us back and stand in our way, but ultimately, it’s up to each of us to steer the course of his/her own life. So, enough pussyfooting around and playing with kid gloves.
Get off your ass and start working toward your goals. If your goal is to be more active, go outside and spend five minutes walking around the block. Then go inside and give yourself a high five for getting started. Then do it again tomorrow. And the day after. And the day after that. Then, next week, do it for seven minutes.
If your goal is to get better at finances [looks around and whistles suspiciously] start by saving $25 (or more, if you can) and not touching it for a month. Or, start by keeping track of every time you don’t splurge and overspend. Give yourself a point toward a reward for every time you make the right choice. Set a goal for points and give yourself a positive (affordable) reward when you meet your goal. Then increase the goal for the next level. Or hell, just do a budget if you haven’t even done that yet. (If you couldn’t tell, personal finance is my next big dragon to slay, and I’m going to slay him the way I’ve slain all others thus far… discipline, commitment, and tenacity.)
Maybe you’re in a toxic relationship and you know it. The relationship doesn’t have to be romantic. It can be familial, a toxic friendship, or even a toxic work environment. If you’re waiting on the other person to change, you’re going to be waiting forever. You can’t control him/her. You can only control yourself. If you want out, you need to start taking steps to make that happen. Even if it’s just one small phone call a day to try and get help.
After those first steps, though…
On April 30th, I ran 1.33 miles straight for the first time in nearly twenty years. I did that for the first workout of the week, and I was elated that I was able to do it. I’d been conditioning on the elliptical for a few weeks prior, so my heart and lungs were ready. I was so elated I had to post about it right away.
The next workout, I did a mile and a half. Since then (so for the whole of May) I’ve been doing a mile and a half every workout before I did either weights or the Planet Fitness 30-minute Express. Two weeks ago, I increased my distance to 1.75 miles. Then last week, on Friday, I did 2 miles. I’ll be doing 2 miles for the next few weeks.
I’m not telling you this to brag
My point here is twofold. First, the idea is growth. You ratchet up the intensity incrementally – as your body tells you it’s okay to. When I started working out again this winter, I was back up to nearly 220 pounds. I started with the simple goal of just going to the gym and walking briskly (so my HR was around 130) for 30 minutes three times a week.
When that felt too easy, I started lifting weights for a bit after the walk. After a few weeks of that, I moved to the elliptical for my cardio, and kept the weights. I also started alternating in the 30-minute express in place of weight training every other week or so. Finally, I moved from the elliptical to running, and now I’m increasing my distance running before working on speed. In four months, I’ve lost 25 pounds, and am now back under 200 for the first time in a year or so.
Do you see what I’m getting at here? I didn’t just stick with walking for four months and wonder why I wasn’t losing any weight. You have to increase your intensity every once in a while. It’s the only way you grow – whether we’re talking physically, mentally, or relationally.
The second point
I brought up running because I’ve written before about how much I used to hate it. While running is a lot easier and more enjoyable for me now than it ever has been in the past, I still hit moments of weakness during a run. Usually it shows up at the half-mile mark. I hit a bit of a wall where my legs might hurt a little, or I’m breathing a little harder than I’d like, or my heart’s just not in it for whatever reason. Here’s how I break past that mentally.
I trick myself.
I tell myself lies. I say to myself, “Okay, we’re going to listen to our body today and just take it easy. Anything over a mile is good, then you can just walk the rest of the way.” Now for me, this keeps me going until I hit the mile mark. By that time, I’m already through that wall and I just want to do the whole two miles.
Now, this won’t work with everyone. You have to have the willpower, when you get to whatever bullshit half-ass mark you told yourself, to remember how great you’ll feel about yourself when you can say you’ve run 2 miles three times per week for the last month. Which is what I’ll be able to say in a few weeks. You use the lie as a trick to just get you through the really rough patch, then you get your ass back in gear and take your goal.
Human beings are incredible creatures. Our minds control our bodies, but our bodies also control our minds (see Amy Cuddy’s Presence, to which I’ve alluded a lot before). There’s a feedback loop that happens when you make the decision to start. You go to the gym, or you complete that first walk, and you feel good about yourself. This is because that physical activity rewards your brain with endorphins.
Those endorphins make you feel awesome and want to do what you just did more (provided you’re not a dolt and don’t overdo it the first time – start small, remember?), so you work out more and the work you’ve been doing becomes easier. At this point, you need to ratchet it up so that you can keep seeing progress.
I’ve covered in previous posts how rewards and progress are essential for discipline to really stick. If you know that your discipline is making you the best person you can be, then you’re much more likely to stay disciplined.
So track your progress, incrementally increase your goals, and keep moving forward, Brandonians! Let’s have a great week!!