Getting Off the Couch: A 3-Step Plan to Get Moving

Hello!

So, yesterday I started talking about rewriting unhelpful patterns that I recognized were keeping me from doing the things I know I want to do. And I started thinking more about specifically what are the themes that keep popping up for me, and what have I started to put in place to keep those situations from thwarting my good intentions? So to be extra helpful, I’ve collected the three big things that I find always throw me for a loop, and how I’m changing my mindset to see these challenges differently. I hope this is useful to you!

This August I set myself a goal for incorporating some sort of healthy movement every day for the month, and so far I’m hitting about 50%, which I consider a win since I think in July I worked out maybe four times. My life is kind of crazy so I give myself a lot of wiggle room when it comes to achievable goals, but I also know how easy it is for me to pull out Ye Olde Book o’ Excuses and thumb through until I find one that allows me to Netflix & Beer it. There are certain scenarios, when provided at a moment of peak weakness (i.e. stressed, hungry, possibly surrounded by children), that cause me to cast my growth-mindset priorities aside for the familiar and comfy.

And we’ve all been there. Possibly repeatedly. Maybe you set your alarm to hit that 5:30 am class, but now that it’s 5:00 am you’re like, “Meh, sleep is healthy, too.” Or you told yourself that you’d go for a run after work, but now that you’ve walked through the door the kids are crawling all over you and your spouse just handed you the baby and it looks like you are now putting on the Parenting hat instead, and isn’t family time important, anyway? Or perhaps your yoga buddy cancelled because their parents are in town, and the idea of packing up and going to class alone has lost its appeal. Despite our best efforts, it’s so easy for Life to derail our fitness plans. Not to mention bed is so cozy in the morning, and the couch is so comfy after work!

But if you’re like me and circumstances have made it easy to throw in the towel for the day, it’s always so much harder to pick things up again tomorrow. Not to mention the disappointment of “I would have felt so much better now if I had gotten my run in this morning” realization. So what can Current Me do to help Future Me keep my commitments? I have shared below a few strategies that I have been using successfully, so take a look, keep what you like, and leave the rest!

For When Bed is Too Cozy

On those days when I feel too lazy, or I just don’t want to get up out of my chair and change gears, I pull out Mel Robbins’s “5-second rule” for this one. The 5-Second Rule is pretty simple: based on the premise that it takes your brain 5 seconds to decide to do something, you simply tell yourself mentally, “5 … 4 … 3 … 2 … 1 … Go” and immediately get up to do the thing, no thinking about it. This is great for when I’m trying to get out of bed in the morning, when I walk in through the door at work and need to change into my gym clothes, or when I have a home workout scheduled and am procrastinating on starting. It’s so simple, it just works!

For When Expectation Doesn’t Meet Reality

I tend to get in my head the “perfect” scenario – the perfect yoga class, the perfect run, the perfect lift – and if my circumstances or energy level are anything less than my perfect idea of what I want to have happen, then I tend to make excuses on why it’s not meant to be right now. I drank a few too many beers last night, so I know I’ll feel lousy at Bodypump this morning. My legs are super sore from lunges yesterday, so if I go on a run I know I’ll feel sluggish. I accidentally fall back asleep after my alarm, and now I’ll be 10 minutes late for my early morning yoga class. I forgot my hair tie. Nothing disastrous (well, except for maybe forgetting a hair tie), just when my idea of what was supposed to happen doesn’t meet what actually happens. It’s easy to use minor setbacks as convenient excuses to say, “Oh, darn! Maybe not today, then.” But don’t let the perfect become the enemy of the good. Accept that feeling bloated and sluggish at Bodypump is going to be a thing after last night’s happy hour, and that’s just fine. Go for a recovery hike instead of a run if you’re that sore. Show up to yoga late; it happens, and as long as you’re quiet and respectful in settling the worst you’ll get is a possibly a judgy side-eye from Judgy McJudgerson Pretzel Woman, and who cares what she thinks, anyway? Take the minor setbacks to demonstrate further proof of your commitment, and build up some self-efficacy in the process. We can do hard things!

For when plans change

You had plans to go for a walk on your lunch break and your boss just handed you an issue that’s on fire. Your Pilates-then-pinot buddy is stuck in traffic and said to go without them. You had a run planned but it’s now raining, or your bike has a flat. Similar to letting the perfect be the enemy of the good, a last-minute wrench in the plans can provide an enticing opportunity to allow fate to deal you another blow in your resolve. But we’re stronger than that, aren’t we? Take a deep breath, assess the new situation, and make a new plan. Maybe the stars have truly aligned out of your favor and a workout just isn’t going to happen today, and that’s okay. But if you can schedule your work walk at 3pm instead of lunchtime, bravely solo it to Pilates, or use the rainy day or flat tire as an opportunity to try out that new dance class you’ve been meaning to check out, then you’re proving to yourself your commitment, even when it would be easy to quit.

Do you have any other scenarios or tips you use to overcome obstacles in your habits building?

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Go make it a great day, friends!

So Done: Rewriting Unhelpful Patterns

So, I treadmilled last night.

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I didn’t really want to. I mean, who wants to run on a treadmill when there’s the whole outside to run in? But I really, really felt like moving my body in some way, and I had Buttercup with me so running outside wasn’t an option. I also didn’t really want to pay the $5 for childcare at the gym, and it was getting late in the evening and I knew we wouldn’t make it to CrossFit in time. So, I put on my run gear, handed Buttercup her tablet to keep her occupied, and did my run on the treadmill in the apartment gym. We got it done, and treated ourselves to sushi afterwords.

Honestly, I was sort of surprised at myself. Who is this woman?!? Normally I would look at the clock and say, “Whelp, I guess a workout isn’t happening tonight!” and go watch Netflix. But I’m sort of tired of being that person. To be clear, there’s certainly nothing wrong with foregoing a workout for downtime, and I do enjoy those nights where I spontaneously clear my calendar and turn my to-do list over so I can veg out and stop thinking about responsible things for awhile. But I found that “Ignore All the Things” has been becoming less about de-stressing and more about an unhealthy coping mechanism for me. And I don’t like it.

So I’ve been noticing all the reasons that inspire me to let my healthy habits slide – a late night, a grumpy mood, an unexpected engagement that throws my schedule off – and how I choose to respond to those stimuli. And so much of it is about just not being prepared. So I’m slowly figuring out what systems no longer serve me, and rewriting them. I mean, this is what I do for a living, guys – process engineering. And yesterday, the first thought system to be rewritten is “It’s too hard to work out when I have the kids home.” Because I totally figured out how to get a decent run in, spend time with my kiddo, and still have a great evening together.

What patterns in your behavior are you so done with? Any thought systems or other systems in your life you want to set out to rewrite?

Go make it a great day, friends!

Food Police: Be Your Own Health Advocate

The other day a friend posted an article on Facebook about the latest nutrition “news”. My eyes couldn’t roll back in my head hard enough. It wasn’t as much about the content of the article – yet another study has come out saying coconut oil is unhealthy for you, like all saturated fats you know – but of this underlying message that there is a “right” way and a “good” way to eat.

Can we just stop with the food morality?

Food is not “good” or “bad”. It is not “healthy” and “unhealthy.” Depending on your context, however, it can do good things or damaging things to you personally. But what’s good for one person isn’t necessary good for all people.

Some do better on a plant-based diet. Some bodies respond well to a high-fat diet. Some delight in peanut butter while it would literally kill someone else. The thing is what we decided to put in our bodies is no one’s business but our own. And it’s up to us to pay attention, listen to our body, and give it what it needs. No one can tell you what’s best but you.

You are your best health advocate.

That’s all of my ranting for now, go make it a great day!

There Is No Wagon

I had an absolute meltdown the other morning. A wonderful meltdown, because it led me to a wonderful revelation. For quite a few weeks now I’ve been trying to get back into a regular exercise routine. For me, the strategy is to incorporate it into a routine part of my day so that it becomes habit for me, a no-brainer that I don’t need to think about. And the most logical place for me is to plug it into my morning, first thing. I get up, brush my teeth, drink some water, then hit the gym or run. And it’s been a great way to start my day.

However, there is one little thing that keeps derailing my “exercise every day” goal. And that little thing is my little daughter. On the days I have my kids, my 3-year-old usually wakes up sometime in the middle of the night and makes her way to my bed. If I’m not in bed with her when she wakes up, she hunts me down and cries and fusses and generally starts the day off with a meltdown.

Now ideally – and this is what so many other parents are able to successfully do – I try to get up way before my kids wake up so I can get a home workout in before the house starts stirring and demanding attention. This should be easy. However, every time I gently roll out of bed and tip-toe downstairs to sneak outside to the cold, dusty patio, I’ll just be loading weights on my bar when a frantic, sobbing 3-year-old in Paw Patrol jammies launches herself at me accusing, “I didn’t know where you were! You were gone! I was so scared!”

I mean, how do you even respond to that?

And so I hold her and I console her, and usually I take her back to bed with me, because it is still ridiculously early for her. I coax her back to sleep for an hour or so while I just lay there next to her, wide awake and in my gym gear, my feelings ping-ponging between the love and comfort of snuggling my little one to bed, and seething in resentment that can’t I just have this one time to myself to get my stuff done? I mean, she owns me all throughout the day, is it too much to ask if I have from 9pm until 6am to myself??

And so here I was, laying in bed next to my tiny daughter, and it suddenly occurred to me that she’s almost 4 years old. And her brother is almost 7. And she’ll grow out of this eventually, this crawl-in-mommy’s-bed-every-night habit. And I know I’m going to miss it so hard.

In another year or so she’ll be fine and won’t be climbing into my bed every night. And then I get sad that she won’t always be this small, dependent, and cuddly. Do I really want to give up these quiet mornings of snuggles and closeness for exercise? Am I prepared to start paying the cost of having my kids need me less?

I don’t know if I’m really ready for that yet, because I know it’ll come sooner than I’m prepared for. Soon they’ll be requesting slumber parties with their friends, asking me to drop them off at school around their corner so their friends won’t see me. They’ll stop giving me hugs and kisses and start hiding behind closed doors and giving me one-word “grunt” answers to “how’s your day been?” They’ll be dating. Breaking curfew. Planning for college. Then one day moving out and holy crap I’ll be an empty-nester and then I’ll totally have all the time in the world to exercise anytime for as long as I want!

So to the moms of small children out there who struggle to find time to take care of yourselves and feel guilty about it: if you can’t find the time to consistently exercise and it is stressing you out, that is totally and completely okay to just not work out. You are not indifferent to your health, lazy, or uncommitted. And if you can’t give yourself permission to not feel guilty about not having “structure” or “a routine”, then let me give it to you. You have the permission to drop the idea that you need to work out every day if trying to fit it into a day that already starts too early, ends too late, and has approximately zero amount of self-care time built in is causing you stress and shame. Because this is just a phase of life and This Too Shall Pass. Soon you will sleep through the night again, have time in the evening to cook a real meal and even maybe sit down to a TV show uninterrupted or be able to go to the bathroom alone. I know, right?? Such dreams. But it’ll happen someday.

Now, I’m not saying never work out. When you have the opportunity, seize it! Had the baby off to the other parent, and jet off to the gym. Use a lunch break to squeeze in a run. And when you can get it done, relish it and feel good that your doing something good for yourself. But don’t let anyone tell you that you’re not doing enough, that you need to “get with the program” or “get back on the wagon,” because I’ll tell you a secret …

There is no wagon.

So just do what you can, let go of what you can’t, and just live your life. Because if you can find the happy and joy, you get to model how to be happy and joyous to your impressionable little ones who are always watching, and isn’t that what parenting is really all about?

And the little kid snuggles are so, so worth it.

Go make it a great day, friends!

Just Stop Already

It’s another beautiful day in the neighborhood.

I hadn’t worked out in almost a week, so I blasted to the park the other morning for a quick run before I clocked into work. It was a glorious 3 miles, and it felt so good to get my body moving again. I drove the kids up to Oregon for the week, and both work and all the smoke from the wildfires kept me from getting my run on. I am also way overdue for a drop-in to CrossFit GP, so I totally owe you guys! 😉

In other CrossFit news, my L1 certification is only two weeks away! Eek! I also realized that I chose to attend a fitness certification in the mountains. At altitude. And I am a coastal girl. This won’t be painful at all. No worries, it’ll just be two days of sucking wind under a pvc pipe, what could possibly go wrong?

Also coming up, the kids start school next week! Squish has leveled up to First Grade (!!) and will be attending the same local elementary school as last year. I’ve chatted with him about it, and he seems pretty nonchalant about the upcoming year. Buttercup has me a little concerned. She’s starting a brand new school this year, since her current one is closing. While some of her friends will be moving to the school with her, I know she’s had a really rough year as it is with all the changes in her little life (PSA: divorce is hard on everyone, yo) and transitions have never been her forte. I’m anticipating a few rough weeks of tear-streaked drop offs until she settles back in to the new-new-NEW normal. But kids are resilient, and I’m almost certain I’ll have a harder time with it than she will.

Stop growing up. Just stop already.

That’s all from my side of the mountain, have a most wonderful week, and go make it a great day!

Guess Who’s Back

You guys, I went and did it.

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I signed up to take my CrossFit Level 1 Coaching Certification!

This has been on my bucket list for a while, and I noticed I had no kids and no plans yet for Labor Day weekend. So I got inspired to check out the CrossFit website and see when the next certification weekends were taking place. While I didn’t find any within the Bay Area, I did see that there was one in Park City, UT that weekend. What if I made a fun weekend of it? Cashing in some of my airline miles and a quick Airbnb reservation later, and I’m going to CrossFit Camp in the mountains over Labor Day!

Meanwhile, I haven’t been to CrossFit in over 3 months. And I took a break for what seems to me like the silliest reason – my ex-husband still attends the gym, and I just didn’t want to run into him. Even though I’m a morning exerciser and he has set days in the evenings that he goes, I still felt icky-weird when I walked in for my usual 6am class and saw his name on the board from yesterday’s WOD. But I really, really missed it. At home I would lift on my patio when the mood struck me, I signed up at the local 24Hour Fitness, and I picked up running again. I looked into maybe attending at another gym, but they’re all a good half hour drive from my home, and I know that turning a 1-hour time commitment into a 2-hour time commitment will not work for me. But I miss MY gym. I miss the intensity, the community, and the variety. I miss being pushed to develop skills that I just don’t think to do on my own. I miss the expertise and knowledge of the coaches, having that resource available to advise on a modification or teach a new mobility exercise.

I knew I wanted to get back to the gym. My gym. And I know that it’s a small town, and I can’t be able to avoid the ex forever. So I worked really, really hard to clear out my stuff. I went to therapy, support groups, and classes when I could. I read books, developed my own “Divorce Recovery” program, and worked it one day at a time. I knew that I wanted to get on the other side of this beast with love and compassion for all involved. And I wasn’t perfect. The snarky text to him would slip on occasion. I found myself in the victim role more than a few times. But every time I would reset my focus on the goal to get on the other side with love and compassion.

After doing this work for several months, I went back to CrossFit last week. I took it easy considering I’ve lost a lot of strength, and it felt great to be in the class again. We did a deadlift-power snatch complex and a 12-min AMRAP with barbell lunges, pike push-ups, and double-unders and my life was complete and thank you and goodnight. And that icky-weird feeling, while still there a little bit, was overpowered by my excitement and satisfaction on being back.

I still have a long way to go and a lot of work left to do, but for now I’m happy with the progress I’ve made. I can start to live my life again and enjoy the things that make me happy. Even if those things mean I have super-sore glutes for like three days 🙂

Go make it a great day, kids!