Tag Archives: exercise

The tsunami off the coast

For about three weeks now, I’ve been feeling the slight rumblings of what I think will be something terrible.

It’s like the ground is shaking ever so slightly, almost imperceptibly and very deep down.

I can feel the tilt in my world; not noticeable enough for anyone else to feel it. No one is asking if I’m OK. But I know it’s coming.

It’s far off the coast right now, roiling and boiling in its darkness. It’s deep; it’s dark; it will be all-encompassing when it comes. It will move things that I have put in place and wash away things that I need to have. It will probably flatten me and drag me around and injure me and suck me under.

It starts small. A forgotten task on a to-do list. A chore that I keep putting off. Later mornings, sleepless nights. Ignored reminders and skipped meditations. More junk food and less good food.

The bad habits creep back. The good habits start to slide. I spend more time angry and negative and less time upbeat and hopeful.

I can tell it’s coming by the books I choose to read: Atomic Habits by James Clear, Everything is F*cked: A Book About Hope by Mark Manson. I’m trying to ward off the storm. I’m trying to find my way back inland before the tidal wave hits the beach. I’m not succeeding.

I’m buried up to my knees in thick, wet sand and every step is a full-body effort. The fear that I won’t make it to high ground in time slows me down even more. It soaks through my brain like the spray from the ever more violent ocean. The tectonic plates that I can’t see, the ones that form a stable foundation for my ocean, are starting to shift and push against each other. They come alive in revolt because I’ve not been doing what I promised to do. I’ve not been building on my solid foundation. I’ve been tired and weak and whiny. I’ve been letting my foundation slip. And the slipping will cause a tsunami.

I see small breaks in the clouds as rays of sun shine on the dark ocean. They brighten those spots and I feel that if I can just get to them and bask in the sun for a bit, I can help calm the ocean before the tsunami builds way out there and crashes over me, dragging me around and tearing me away from solid ground.

The tsunami is coming.

But the tsunami can be calmed.

I will meditate every morning for at least 10 minutes right after I workout.

I will write one page every morning before I log in to my computer.

I will drink green or herbal tea instead of coffee after I have one coffee each day.

I will snack on fruits and veggies each day.

I can calm the tsunami.

Pushing Past

I recently read a book that talked about “stretch goals.” That’s setting a goal and then moving the target date closer to the start date by a bit to see if you can stretch yourself to reach the goal sooner.

Great idea.

I’m a goal setter. Unfortunately, not a goal achiever. But that’s just the story I tell myself. Everyone can achieve a goal they set for themselves. It’s not the goal that’s the problem. It’s the steps we take to reach the goal. And that’s where I fall down.

I make big plans with giant steps and get discouraged early on that I’m not achieving what I set out to achieve and my goal keeps getting farther and farther out of my reach.

There are tons of books on this subject (and I’ve read a lot of them). Some of the theories work for me for a while. But as so often happens…life takes over. Except when it doesn’t.

I track a lot of my progress in my journal (sometimes I’m not writing about my progress, though, as much as I’m lamenting my laziness and how far away my goals seem). I can look back and read about how far I’ve come or analyze how many times I whined about my progress/goal/busy chaotic life/barriers to achievement/and more. Trouble is, I don’t like looking back. I won’t like what I see because I know it’s a lot of excuse making. But sometimes…

Sometimes it’s different. Every now and again, a goal and its plan will stick. These are usually small goals, simple tasks, not mentally taxing to plan for or do, and I achieve these goals.

For example, I decided at the beginning of July to follow the advice of some author I’d read about just setting an intention. Don’t do anything else; just set the intention. So my intention was to put on my running shoes and to go to my gym in my basement every morning, every day. Just put on my runners and go downstairs. Once I got down there, I could turn around and come back up if I wanted to. I gave myself permission to do nothing down there. But once I laced up my runners and went downstairs, it seemed silly to me not to lift a few weights or walk on the treadmill. So I did a bit of a workout. Ten minutes, that’s it. And the next day I went downstairs before my kids woke up and did the same thing. And the next day and the next day. The next thing I know, here we are at July 31st.

Halfway through the month, I printed off a yearly calendar and started making an X over each day that I went downstairs; not each day that I worked out, just that I went downstairs to my gym. But every day, I did a workout, and every day I got a bit stronger and a bit more enthused about exercising. And I started to push myself a bit harder. (I’m not talking Schwarzenegger here, just a couple more reps or a slightly heavier weight or one extra minute on the treadmill. I pushed past my comfort zone, cozy and small though it was.)

I didn’t even realize that I was sticking to this little plan that I had set in motion because during that time I had stopped journaling quite so regularly because I was trading in a bit of my writing time to stay in the basement and use my exercise equipment. I still wrote almost every day (because I always have; that habit is well-ingrained), I just didn’t spend as much time at it. I wish I had now; that’s something I would have gone back and read. What I was discovering though was…

Going down to the basement every morning and subsequently working out was making me think more clearly. And I realized that what I wanted and what I needed was to write more and be more healthy. I’d known that for a long time, but now I felt it at my core. And that clarity of thought and my improved strength and mobility translated into better eating habits and better mental habits (I am no longer beating myself up when I indulge in delicious, rich foods and drink on the weekends with friends; I’m simply enjoying and appreciating the moments of indulgence for what they are: moments of indulgence.)

And with all that self-awareness, I’m improving my meditation practice, my writing practice, my emotion management and my overall sense of well-being.

All of that just because I decided to go down to my basement every morning.

I’ve read extensively on this method of goal setting: focusing on the “how” not the “why” or the “what.” I’ve tried the method before. I’m not sure why I decided to stick with it this time. I’m exploring that now. And with each morning workout, I know I’ll get closer to the answer.