Habit vs. boredom

For the second time, after a year of writing this column, I’ve gotten feedback saying that my journey about “fatness” has gotten boring.

As a writer, “boring” is the worst thing a person could say! And I feel the repetitive nature of what I’m writing about, and I am always looking for ways to keep this column interesting and relevant because of the recurring themes here.

But here’s the thing. I’m trying to assert new habits after decades of old bad habits. Creating new habits requires lots of repetition. There is an inherently boring quality about the whole shebang.

In working out, tedium is quicker to derail me than almost anything else. That’s why I’m always looking for exercise that is fun to do.

Over the weekend, for example, a short walk in Montezuma led my kids and I from the hot springs there to a lovely little swimming hole in the Gallinas River nearby. That was walking, scrambling up and down rocky inclines, and if the water had been warmer than ice-cold, would have been swimming, too. To me, that’s the ideal: Super fun, varied in the way it moves my body around, and an activity that I’m doing because I want to, not because I think I have to.

My life is no different than anyone who works for a living and has family obligations. I sometimes imagine myself like one of those people who spin plates on the top of tall poles, and keep tons of plates spinning at once, zipping from one to the other to add a bit of momentum to keep them all going. As soon as you stop doing that, the plates start to fall. I often feel this way, and I imagine I’m not alone in that.

So, as we flit through our far-too-busy lives, how to conquer the atrophy that naturally occurs in setting up a regular exercise program?

As my routine is disrupted, created, disrupted again, changed, created again, disrupted anew—how do I figure out how to get physical activity into every single day? I haven’t figured it out yet, and it’s one reason why I keep on writing about this subject, even at the risk of boring those of you who read it straight to sleep.

If it were easy, I would have sold my secret by now and be retired on a nice sunny beach somewhere.

If anybody could just wake up, decide to get healthy, and take all of the appropriate actions daily, there would not be a fitness “industry” in this country worth untold millions of dollars.

If there was a magic pill, you’d be buying it, not reading this to see if I managed to figure out something worthwhile this week.

And so it goes. Here are my best takeaways so far:

Having a buddy to help hold each other accountable is very, very helpful. I recommend it highly and I need another workout buddy or two if anybody is looking for one.

Jump in to little challenges like the ones you might see on Facebook. For the next 22 days, for example, I’m going along with a challenge to do 22 push-ups and 22 squats daily. I noticed that today she tossed in 100 ab crunches just for fun.

A challenge like that gives me something to look at, something to work toward that I don’t have to think up by myself. Sometimes even that can feel like too much work. Thinking up what kind of exercise to do, that is.

Set a goal. I have an unofficial goal, which I haven’t set a date on, to run one mile without stopping. The last time I did that I was in high school.

Ignore the naysayers, and concentrate on the people who build you up, and help you reach your goals. This isn’t a column about my “fatness.” It’s about trying to pick apart the knot of self-care, about building new habits, about health and physical fitness. It’s about the journey, not the destination.

Each week I solicit your feedback, and I’m not bothered by those voices who don’t see the value in what I’m doing here. So very many people tell me—still on an almost-daily basis—that you do see value, and always encouraging me to keep it up.

And so I persevere.

Do you think I’ve got it all wrong? Get in touch with me at leota@lobo.net or 505-286-1212. Or join the conversation in my Facebook group, “I’m Losing It!” I’d love to hear from you.