Category Archives: changing habits

reaping inactivity

pic looking down at a leg resting on a counter. light complexion. turquoise and pink sock
Pried myself off the sunroom chair to write while standing at the counter.* This is a nice glute stretch.

Tried running again today and legs felt like lead. I ended up walking. Total distance maybe 2.5 miles if I’m rounding up.

This is a potential problem.

I have been taking a cavalier approach to training  because I have managed to complete marathons  in the past despite undertraining.

Until the pandemic, I was active without thinking about it. When I taught, I twirled around the room. When I wrote, I stood at my desk. When we had people over, I bustled around the house. And when I had to get somewhere, I walked or biked.

I have written about this before but it’s hitting hard today.  Because I was part of the “help out by staying at home” crowd, the pandemic ground my body to a halt.

Instead of sweeping around the classroom, I taught from a chair. (I sway and fidget a lot  when standing. Then sitting became a habit.). No more biking to work.  Shopping needs were basic and easily handled via delivery.

In a backwards kind of way, I think I’ve been getting a taste of what it might be like to have a car and a desk job. There is no snark or judgment in this comment. Just recognition that it’s challenging to engineer movement into our days. I never had to make time for the gym because active transportation has always helped me maintain a baseline level of fitness.

Without any places to go, I atrophied in more ways than one. It’s a bit arrogant? foolhardy?* to think I can draw from a well I’ve let dry up.

My problem isn’t training for the marathon. It’s finding reasons to stay moving throughout the day. Right now that’s much more daunting than 26.2 miles.

chart of an 18 week marathon plan showing different mileage goals
Finally settled down to pick a training program. My ego asked me to level up from novice 1. But I am not going to try for 9 miles tomorrow. Six will be a huge stretch. Yeah, maybe i need to level down…

*Re foot on counter… that might gross some folks out. Be assured, this isn’t the food prep area and the kitchen surfaces are well wiped down. (The rest of the house may fall into a chaos but I hold on to the counters.)

**re foolhardy… looked this up bc what does hardy have to do with being a fool. Looks like hardy in this sense means bold. https://www.etymonline.com/word/foolhardy

87% glum

Gonna give myself permission to be brief because I just spent time editing what I wrote yesterday and I can barely keep my eyes open. If I was going to spend time properly writing, I would talk about the dreaded 87% mark,   ie where I tend to get stuck.

I’ve been wanting to share this project with more folks but I won’t do it until I have alt text for photos, have fixed the categories, etc. Stuff I should have been doing with each post from the beginning.

added 4/25

It’s related to perfectionism, paralysis, hyperfocus, scope creep, haste, transitions, insecurity… the familiar stew that fuels my work? the creaseworn map that directs my movements throughout a day?

When I take on a project, I inevitably make it more complicated than it needs to be, especially given real or created barriers to execution. I start to falter or fall behind. Guilt and overwhelm take over, sharpening an edge of doubt?  slowing mometum like ankle weights?

Then the snowballing follows but I guess it’s the opposite of snowballing which evokes movement and force. Maybe more like a dam  that thickens  as distractions are less able to flow through. Ugh these metaphors.

I am remembering making a photo album for a dear  friend’s  wedding. Not ready by the big day. Technically have a year, right? And this way I could include pics from the wedding. First anniversary passed. Embarrassment took over. Then it was time for a baby shower and a reunion. I buckled in, probably stayed up all night before the flight. Had to be worthy of the delay. But there were gaps. I had wanted to do more. A gift delivered with apologies.

Of course it was well received with befuddlement about how heavily it had weighed on my consciousness.

I have so many examples of that creative process.

sharks and magnets

closeup of a hand, light complexion, with sparkling blue nails, against a blue background.

So I’m thinking about what I wrote re habits and other types of choices I make day to day (not everything falls into the habit category). I guess it all boils down to change which is what I keep writing about, circling around it like a shark. Hmmm maybe not a shark because that implies I’m about to sink my teeth into all these juicy goals. Maybe I am more like a magnet pointing in the wrong direction. Pushing my goals away. If I could just turn around, align the poles, would they stick?

I started writing this last night because I try to “get ahead” when I can or the muse hits and I am glad I did because today was something else and I almost forgot to write.

So. My fraught magnetic field might still be off, but I am going to salute 1) getting started on something before it’s “due” (even though we’re only talking a 24 hour window) 2) coming up for air long enough to remember to keep this streak going and 3) being OK with not writing more than this. But since I am logged on, maybe I will revise some more old posts.

Also, kind of random, but it’s been interesting to compare writing via my keyboard/PC/big screen and my phone. Most of these posts were drafted on my phone and, well, I have a lot of profound (but nuanced, of course) thoughts about that related to education, writing, and, apparently, manicures.

Right now I am at my computer and finding my nails to be a bit of an impediment. Although I am terrible at phone typing, I guess it’s a finger pad kind of situation where the nails are horizontal ie not much of a factor. Keyboarding is more of an eagle diving, talons first attack. And these talons are not good at catching prey.

Oh well. Like this writing project, indulging in nail bling is giving me some cheer during some challenging times.

And oops, I guess I ended up writing a bit more so I am calling it a night and not revising anything else.

willpower and/or effort

scrap of paper that says write, with underlining

4/18 edit: this took a different turn than I was expecting. I had intended to simply express some excitement about keeping up with the writing streak. Going through past posts to add image text helps me see that I’ve actually written a fair bit. On a day to day basis, I am often frustrated by the product so it has been a great exercise in being OK with muck. I am surprised that I haven’t skipped a day. It helps that word press gives a little congrats for keeping a streak going.

Just had one of those duh epiphanies about the difference between stopping and starting a habit. The first requires willpower. The latter, willpower *and* effort.

This is a gross simplification. Not everything is within our locus of control. And both can require a lot of scaffolding, an exoskeleton of other behavioral logistical and emotional supports.

But it’s relevant to my habits. Some things I want  to stop or decrease, others start or increase.

Booze. I’ve got a relationship with it. If alcohol was not unhealthy in so many compounding ways, I would savor a bottle of red wine every night.  Last summer, I made a commitment to take a break from drinking until the end of the year. Mission accomplished.

Not drinking required willpower. I don’t like to admit that it was hard and tonight’s not the night to write about that. But abstaining from alcohol did not technically require me to *do* anything. 

Going on a run, building my business, cleaning the house, making and sticking with a plan… these require a push. Once I get going I’m fine. Breaking free from a standstill is the issue. I have to force my body to take action.

Hmmmm. My little lightbulb moment is dimming.  It’s not that stopping a behavior requires less effort than starting one.  It certainly isn’t always easier. And when we have to take  action to facilitate  resistance to the  undesirable behavior,  it gets fuzzy fast.

Maybe I’m splitting hairs and just trying to understand why it’s so hard for me to take action. Not drinking for five months was a challenge. Lacing up running shoes a few times a week should not be.

Ugh. I think I do know one reason stopping is in some ways easier  than starting. It’s a clearly defined success. I really wanted to get a donut this morning but marched past Dunkin. Success. When I put on the tea kettle instead of popping a cork? Gold star! Quitting smoking (11/11/2001) was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in terms of willpower, resolve, impulse control. Whatever it’s called, it stayed in the daily win column for a long time.

Blargh I need to pick this thread up again another day. In summary, change is hard. Thousands of books and talk show hosts have already covered this territory. I just have to keep plugging away to find something that works for me.