A friend posted a quote recently that I’m going to try now to remember:
“Motivation doesn’t last – but neither does taking a shower. So you should try to do both every day.”
Yeah, I think that’s it.
And it’s true. It’s like another quote you hear in the rooms of drug or alcohol or overeating recovery: “Just for today”. You take things a day at a time until they get easier. And the cool thing I’ve noticed, is how motivation can become an ingrained thing – a habit. But when it’s still new, it takes a lot of work. It’s that old neuroplasticity thing that happens – you train your mind to make some things habits, until it becomes almost, like, spiritually uncomfortable not to clean or do some morning yoga or count everything you do four times. Okay, maybe that last one I described is OCD, but you’re picking up what I’m putting down, yes?
And speaking of workouts, I’m lately starting to have an appreciation for just how much my now-habits that formerly took a shiz ton of motivation – like working out more to enjoy it/less to compete – are things I currently just do “cuzzi gotta” Motivation turned into habit the same way they claim bullying alleviates: you just practice facing it head on every day and tromping on through those bullying thoughts trying to steal your serenity’s lunch money. Luckily for me, it started early on. My dad was a runner. I was forced into sports. So being athletic led to being anorexic which led to the whole “burn it to earn it” mentality. Becoming corpulent was a mortal sin in my family. My former workouts were hours of body murder. So, even if I fall off this whole “I work out to feel good” new habit train I’ve formed for myself, rest assured that my previously ingrained habits since pre-puberty will kick in, cackling sardonically at my rapidly tightening jeans until I stop wearing jeans altogether and only ever wear running pants and just try to fit in daily living tasks between exercising.
Luckily I’m not at those last resort habits yet. My new motivation-habits are working well enough.
And I know that because I’ve realized something over the past several months.
The universe has been totally against me and my caloric expenditure during my entire journey.
And, yet, I laughed in its face the way the anorexic monster that lives in my head laughs in my face after a filling meal. Actually, not even that. It was more like how the eastern religions talk about ignoring thoughts versus ruminating on them. I don’t usually even acknowledge it anymore. It’s just noise. Like a crying child I would probably also ignore if I were to ever make the mistake of breeding. You just do it, Nike swoosh style because it starts to feel like a psychological assault not to do it. And then that’s when you know it’s become a real habit. Because when you first were forcing yourself to do it for the first time – every day for a month or two there, it also felt like a psychological assault to get off the couch and do the damn thing, didn’t it?
Now, not doing it feels as hard on you as when you started to do it.
Isn’t that weird?
That’s why when the neighbor’s start cooking something delicious RIGHT as I’m getting ready to leave (and hungry because I forgot to eat after writing all day), I still throw up a mental middle finger, some gloves over my real fingers, and kicks on my feet. It’s just an olfactory siren. Nothing more. Or several months ago, when it started to monsoon outside (the kinda downpour where I was sure my contacts would’ve fallen out had I gone), I joked about going to Wegmans instead – but still actually went anyway (and then went to Wegmans after. As a reward.)
Or just yesterday, when this happened:
(BTDUBS: if you hate that your face is on here, lemme know. I’ll blur ya out.)
And then I did some work… had half a banana… and ran.
This share isn’t to wax back-patty (though it totes sounds that way, I’m sure). And it’s not to say “If I can do it, you can do it.” Rather, it’s to say, “If you can do it, you can do it… again.” And again. And again. Until it’s second nature. I can promise that delicious food smells and inclement weather would totally hold me back 100% more if jogging were some new territory to me. But I’ve seen and felt the fantastic effects of jogging. So, now, there’s no part of my brain looking for an excuse to eschew it from my routine. That goes for any behavior that either is validating or just saves me some grief (paying bills on time, cleaning house, rearranging the pins in the voodoo doll of the jogger who always passes me). But I had to start somewhere. And starting’s the hardest part. To conquer that “but-its-hard-and-i-don’t-wanna” brain-voice, that “just for today” idiom mentioned above works beautifully. In recovery, it means “Just for today, avoid drugs, alcohol, binge eating; Just for today, avoid people who do all’a that”. But for someone trying to pick up a habit, it works really well too. (A healthy one, let’s hope – I once tried to diligently take up smoking to have something in common with the guy I was dating, but it got in the way of my gym habit; to be fair, so did he. I fccked ‘em both off within a few months). And the healthy-habit forming process goes thusly: the first week trying to commit to a new routine is a nightmare of discomfort. The second week, you start to adjust – begrudgingly. The third, it’s a little easier because you start to actually see the benefits of what your new good habit’s manifesting. By the fourth, it’ll nag at you anytime you say, “Maybe I’ll skip and have a cheat day. I owe it to myself…” So that even if you do take that day off from new habits, you’ll miss the new, awesome feeling enough to hop back on board tomorrow.
Just give yourself a chance (and time) to feel that novel awesome feeling though.
Or as they say in recovery programs, “Don’t leave before the miracle.”
’cause you dunno what you’re missing.