I saw a meme floating around a few weeks ago saying that motivation is great for starting something new, but for keeping at it for the long-term you need self-discipline.
I went for a run this morning. I really, really didn’t want to. Wasn’t in the mood, was tired from a long day yesterday, a little sore from wearing a constricting corset-like garment most of the day…etc. etc. etc. Didn’t wanna do it. But I fucking did it anyway.
These two statements are, obviously, related. In that I had zero motivation to run today but I did it anyway because I have an abundance of self-discipline. And I really do believe that losing weight is highly reliant on motivation – you won’t even start without some motivation, and motivation can definitely see you through the short-term discomforts of the process – motivation to look good for a reunion, or a wedding, or some other finite event.
But I think I’m qualified to say that it’s not going to keep it off for the long-term. Ten-plus years later, the only thing keeping my weight in (what I consider to be) an acceptable range is the self-discipline to keep doing the things necessary to maintain it, day in and day out.
I used to think self-discipline was something you learned as a child through your upbringing. I thought this because I had a pretty harsh upbringing where I was regularly required (forced) to do things I didn’t want to do, against my will. I did them despite my reluctance because I wasn’t given a choice. So I became accustomed to, and learned to accept, the actions of doing things I didn’t want to do on a regular basis.
I have 3 siblings, and they were raised under the same regime. Are they all self-discipline badasses? No. Some are, and some aren’t. So it can’t be a “failing of your upbringing” if you don’t have self-discipline. And since that’s the case, it leads me to think that self-discipline must be either one of two things:
- Something you are inherently born with, or…
- Something you can learn as an adult.
But…that means that if it is something you can learn as an adult, you would need motivation to start learning it, and self-discipline to continue learning it. What a conundrum!
So I guess what I’m saying is I don’t know why I ended up with a huge dose of self-discipline. I know I have it and can rely on it to get me through hard or challenging circumstances, and that the level of self-discipline I’ve had has fluctuated over the course of my life in relation to various goals. I think that it is something that works hand-in-hand with motivation in allowing people to succeed at things they may not have previously thought was possible.
And with getting my ass out on the road for a run.
I went for a run in the rain today. I’d meant to go for a run yesterday afternoon, but I was derailed by a migraine. So I kept my promise to myself and ran today despite the rain, and it was really lovely. It’s not like I care if I get wet – by the time I’ve finished a run I’m soaked in sweat anyway and need a shower, so what does it matter if a little rain water gets on me?
It’s still raining now, and boy do we need it here in Northern California. I hope it’s still raining tomorrow, maybe I’ll run in it again.
I’ve been slowly working my way back to running after a few weeks off due to an injury I sustained on my last business trip to Denver, Colorado. I fainted and bounced my head off a brick wall. That sounds really bad but it’s not quite as bad as it sounds.* It’s worse than ideal though. In any case, I was on a concussion watch and had a lot of headaches for a while there. All clear now, so I’m easing back into running. Rain isn’t going to stop me.
*Apparently it’s not all that uncommon for people visiting from lower elevations to occasionally have some trouble with the thinner air. Add in the constant travel schedule I had in October for some dehydration and just not taking care of myself by ratcheting down my workout at the hotel gym and…well…
I just finished up about a month of near-constant business travel. I gave myself a pass, in a sense, because I was tired of berating myself for every decision I made. I decided to just do the best I could given the circumstances at hand, then worry about dealing with a gain once I was at home and better able to control my environment.
So yeah, my slacks are a touch snug now. But also? I’m sick of berating myself.
I was looking back through some old pictures recently, and I realized that at every stage of my life I’ve berated myself for the state of my body. I’ve always thought I was too fat or too pudgy or too wide or too whatever. I’m sick of it. I’m sick of the fact that on every happy occasion I have pictures of, I can remember also the little voice in my head telling me I should have dropped 10 or 20 pounds. That I am too big and need to work harder, I should be able to get down to a lower weight. And every time, I look at the picture now and I think, “I looked great then, why did I think I was fat? Why did I think I was too big? Why couldn’t I see myself as I was?”
I’m sick of it. I want to turn it off. I want other women to stop saying the same things about their bodies. Not just in front of me, but at all. Stop. Can we all make a pact to just stop judging ourselves? To accept who and how we are and if we need to lose a few, do it, but stop with all the body hate. I want to appreciate myself, and think I look fine RIGHT NOW. Not in hindsight, looking back at a picture 3 years from now.
I am saying this for myself as much as anybody else. No more calling myself a pig or fat or any other negative thing, in my head or out loud. We’re all a work in progress. We’re all doing the best we can.
Honestly I don’t even know how to stop it, it’s like this stupid voice in my head that has its own power source. Time to rewire the brain and turn that off. I am ready to be happy in my skin now. I am going to work to be happy in my skin now. If this is something you struggle with too, join me?
Well, to be more specific, I took a break from working out last week. A whole week. It was…good. I found that I’d been working so hard to exercise almost every day for the last month or so, and not seeing any results (I’ll get more into that in a minute) that I was dreading my workouts. Just flat-out, panic-inducing dread. I didn’t want to go and thinking about going was making me panic and start down a spiral of depression. So I didn’t go. Upside: Less dread in my daily routine. Downside: I tend to get physically depressed when I don’t exercise regularly.
I spent some time reflecting on what was going on with my headspace and I think part of the problem was I have been tracking my food and exercise religiously in MyFitnessPal.com. Good, right? Good if you have a normal metabolism. Unfortunately, my metabolism is borked (that’s a technical term). I don’t get to eat as many calories as a normal person of my size, so what was happening was I was looking at the results on the app, and it would tell me I had, for example, 635 more calories that I could eat one day, so I would think, “Heck, I better eat them! I love food! Why wouldn’t I?” Then I would eat more because the app said I could. But no, 1535 calories per day is not a maintenance amount for me, I actually gain at that level. EVEN WHEN I EXERCISE EVERY DAY. So using the app was actually backfiring. And it was super frustrating because every day it would say, “If every day was like today you’d weigh (X=10 pounds below my current weight) in 5 weeks!” But I was eating like that every day, and I wasn’t losing, I seemed to be gaining!
So yeah. If you have a stupid metabolism like mine, the standard Base Metabolic Rate calculations simply don’t apply. And that sucks.
So that’s been a bummer. I wrote an article about combating depression, because it’s something that I often have to manage as strictly as I manage my weight. Sometimes being alive is really annoying and complicated, but it still beats the alternative. I hope you find it worthwhile. Let me know, here or there, if you do. And have a great week.
Here are the last set of articles in my series on How I Maintain over on GYFT.
I hope you enjoy them. Feel free to leave feedback either there or here.
In other news, I’ve got a big month of business travel coming up in October – at least three of four weeks on the road, maybe more - so I’ll get lots of chances to practice what I preach about healthy behaviors while traveling!
I just got back from a 5-day business trip to Atlanta, GA. As with most business trips, I had very little input into restaurant selections (I was there with a team, and working closely with the local team in Atlanta – hence, communal decisions in an area where I didn’t know the restaurant landscape), not much free time, and WAY early mornings.
I managed to lose a half a pound. In my book that’s a weight management WIN. Here’s what I did:
- Hit the gym every single day. After I finished my work in the office for the day, but before dinner with the team there was usually at least an hour where I could go get good and sweaty, so I did. Most business-level hotels have some sort of fitness center. I was staying at the InterContinental Buckhead in Atlanta and they have a GREAT gym. As an added incentive, their fitness center had a bowl of ripe, inviting apples on the table where the towels and water sat, and I grabbed one every day after my workout to have as a mid-morning snack the next day. Since I knew I’d need some kind of snack around 10am every day, and an apple was perfect, I made it a policy to work out every day to “earn” my apple.
- Ate breakfast every day, and stuck with my usual – oatmeal and coffee. I located a coffee shop down the road from my hotel where I could get both before the daily meetings started.
- Chose wisely off the restaurant menus. Soup and salad is a good standby- it’s hard to go wrong, and it’s always enough food. One day everybody wanted to hit a burger joint, but I found a shrimp burger on the menu, which was perfect! Avoiding side orders, appetizers, free bread, and desserts is another wise choice I made every chance I had.
- One splurge – at the Cupcake ATM. Well, life isn’t all discipline and rules! —->
- Even with that cupcake I chose a sugar-free version. Although, thinking about it, I honestly have no idea how they made that red velvet cupcake sugar free. Stevia? Splenda? Something else? WHAT DID I JUST EAT?? Ah well, no sense worrying about it now, and it was delicious!
- Recorded my every bite in my food journal. My numbers said I should have balanced out, and so did the scale. I love it when it works out like it’s supposed to!
Back to the grind today. I need to go for a run today in the great outdoors. Gyms are great in a pinch but I chafe at the monotony.
A friend asked me at a party last night if I liked exercising, presumably because I do it so often. I answered off the top of my head that I considered it to be something that I needed to do, akin to brushing my teeth or going to work every day. Something that I needed to get done every day so it didn’t really matter if I liked it or not, it needed to be done.
But, also, now that I think about it, it’s one of those things that I need to do because if I don’t I know I will feel worse. Physically, yes, because my body starts in with the aches and pains pretty quickly if I neglect regular exercise. But mentally as well, and that’s a big part of the conditioning that keeps me at it. I know that if I don’t exercise regularly I will be disappointed in myself, and I will probably have a soundtrack that will start to berate me for my neglect, and that’s no fun. I tend toward depression, so work pretty hard at keeping a positive mental space and so if one of the things I have to do to keep things positive in my head is exercise regularly, it’s worth it.
Three more of my little articles on maintaining a weight loss got posted this week over on GYFT. I hope you enjoy them:
Last three are coming up next week and then I’d better think of some new article ideas!
So, back to my original topic: if you’ve been maintaining a loss, do you like exercising? Is it something you’ve discovered a passion for, or something you do to get it done and get on with your day?