Today's post is coming to you from my couch. That's right. My couch--where I opted to plant my butt instead of exercising today.
For reasons you probably would prefer not to hear, I am not working out today. It sufficeth me to say that I do not feel well, and my body needs a break.
So here are my thoughts on commitments and why I allow myself to take breaks.
I have figured out the way my brain works with requirements. Let me give you some examples:
- I love reading, unless I have to.
- I love eating healthy, unless I have to.
- I love exercising, unless I have to.
I learned that if I decide to cut things out, or put rules on myself, I instantly want to rebel. A teacher at my school last year decided to issue monthly health goals and challenges to the faculty. You'd be entered in drawings if you participated, and receive special prizes if you were a top contender. I won several drawings and did really well with his challenges. But one of the challenges was to cut out junk food.
Now, everybody knows I have a sweet tooth. But usually I'm good with two Oreos or a piece of cake or a shake or something at the end of the day (worsttimetoeatsweetsIknowdon'tjudgeme). However, I am not the kind of person who eats an entire package of Oreos, or a whole pan of brownies, or a whole pint of ice cream. I don't do it--just never have. So I've never really thought I had a major problem with excess eating.
Until that month. Once the challenge to "cut out junk food" was issued, guess what I wanted to binge on? That's right. I probably ate more junk food in the first two weeks of that challenge than I had eaten in the whole month before. It was so discouraging. I quit that challenge. I realized it was doing more harm than good for me to put those limitations on myself.
You could call me out on my self-control, and tell me to just commit to eating better. But I know how my brain works. Once I "decide" or tell myself that I can't have something, I want it.
It is for this reason I haven't told myself I can't drink soda. I only drink one or two sodas per week, if that. Sometimes I'll go a couple of weeks without one. I've had the same two 12-packs of soda in my pantry for a couple of months. I don't think anything of it. Why? Because I don't put a limit on myself. I know that if I say, "I'm quitting soda," that's all I will want to drink!
When I started exercising, I didn't choose a minimum number of days per week because that made it something that I "had" to do, so that if I didn't meet my minimum, I would feel guilty. I didn't say, "I'm going to start exercising every day!"
I'm at a point where I have exercised so consistently for so long, that I do not feel bad taking a day off. I don't say, "Oh no, I've only exercised ___ days this week. That's not enough!" I say, "Well, I exercised yesterday, and I'm going to exercise tomorrow, and will probably go to Zumba this weekend. I also walked a lot at work today. I think I'm OK to skip a day."
This kind of flexibility keeps me sane. If something comes up that I didn't expect, or if I am having a day where I am exhausted or don't feel well, or a friend I haven't seen in a while wants to go to dinner at the last minute, I have that wiggle room to take a day off.
Even with that flexibility and day off mentality, I still exercise 4-5 days per week. Because I love to do it. Because I get to do it. Because I can do it. Because I haven't told myself I have to do it.
I realized I have to put a positive spin on things. Instead of saying, "I have to work out five days per week," say, "I want to exercise regularly for optimal health." Instead of, "I am going to quit eating sweets," say, "I am going to eat healthier foods more often." Instead of, "I'm going to stop watching so much TV," tell yourself, "I want to read more often in the evenings." Phrasing things in a limiting or negative way really messes with my head.
My point? Figure out what your brain needs. Decide how you get motivated and stay committed. Learn what turns you off to things. And do the opposite of that when it comes to exercise and other healthy habits.