Day 872: Mental Blocks (Day 10 of 100)

I have a hard time with this, sometimes, in choosing approaches. One approach is “fake it ’til you make it,” and just keep being positive and upbeat. The other is unflinching honesty, and admitting when I’m down / unmotivated / depressed.

Today, I’m veering toward honesty — I’m still having a hard time getting motivated. I suspect the general burnout problem I was having in April is persisting, and after a grand total of two days of trying CBT I felt a bit better and stopped, so I think that’s on me. I need to get back on that.

I need motivation to get motivated! This 100-day thing isn’t cutting it… yet. Maybe the sense of urgency will kick in.

Day 867: Parents! (Day 5 of 100)

It’s pretty inspiring having my parents here: 50+ years of marriage, both in their 70s but in fine fettle, having spent a life of good diet and reasonably active lifestyles — and luck.

You can’t plan for bad luck, but you can optimize your chances for good luck, which is what they’ve done. It’s great to see them both well and together in their seventh decades.

Earlier on, I was knocking on about motivation, and it’s true — “productive vanity” is kind of my underlying thing, for good or for ill.

This is a motivator, though, seeing them well at their age. The long game. I’m not always good at focusing on that, but it’s good to have an example I can’t refute right in front of me.

Day 864: Day Two of 100; knowing my motivation

Drink deep! Drink deep from the cup of MOTIVATION!

It’s strange, but now that I’ve got a clearer idea of what my motivation is, I think this 100 days thing is going to go more smoothly. Even if the motivation is, to be blunt, not great compared to a lot of other motivators.

Motivation is motivation, though, and even if it’s vanity, that’s still motivation. Good exercise both yesterday and today; early up today, so I’m going to try to squeak in a nap before work.

It occurs to me that “productive vanity” isn’t a bad motivator for other things in my life as well. Maybe I need to think about that when I get work doldrums, or house renovation blahs — impressing people, again, probably shouldn’t be a reason to do things. But if I’m honest with myself, and I like people to be impressed by me is a truth, and the end results are good — I’m doing solid things of real benefit, not just chasing accolades — well, the work’s still getting done.

98 days to go!

Day 862: Deep Motivation

Yeah, we’re back to that.

Up a little earlier this morning, basically mulling over what motivates me, which is a recurring idea and probably the heart of all of this. What’s my driver to lose some weight, get in shape, etc.?

I’d be lying if I said vanity wasn’t a big part of it, but it’s a kind of purpose-driven vanity: like it or not, people in good shape are taken more seriously than people who aren’t. It’s not fair, but it is what it is. People who physically manifest self-care and self-control are better regarded than people who don’t outwardly show self-control.

That’s… probably not great motivation. “I want to feel better and live longer” is a better motivator. “I want to be able to do more things” is better. “I want to have a better life with my family” is an excellent one.

After honest self-reflection, though… it’s vanity. Again, a kind of purpose driven vanity, but as shallow as it is, I’m pretty much there as my motivator right now.

I’m thinking a bit about my competitive spirit, too. That would probably inspire me. Anyone want to get into a fitness fight?

Day 857: The UnF* It Diet

It just doesn’t sit right.

I’ve been thinking pretty consistently about the F* It diet thesis for the past 48 hours, and maybe this is just me being obstinate or immature, but I’m not ready to acquiesce. I still think I can do this.

I’m also a smart guy and aware of the sunk cost fallacy: I’ve invested two and a half years in this project, so throwing in the towel on getting fit is as much about pride, and sunk cost in terms of attention and time and thought, as it is about actual good decisions.

I am yo-yo’ing, though. That’s inescapable. I’m in an up and down pattern constantly. I get on track, then something happens — vacation, injury, illness, emotional slump — and I get off track. Absolutely true. It keeps coming back to discipline, and consistency.

And it’s a bit tiring to keep coming back to that same point of “I don’t know what can motivate a true lifestyle change,” especially if dedicating time to thinking and writing/talking about it every day hasn’t done it. Mindfulness, at least in the morning, is present.

But I’m not ready to throw in the towel.

I’m all the way back to Day 13: Kill the Bear. That’s 844 days ago. 844 days ago, I was talking about this key piece of motivating thought: if other people can do this, I can do this.

So what have I been doing for 844 days? Shouldn’t I be looking at a whole lot of dead bears?

Day 855: The F* It Diet

A book my wife has read, and wanted me to read — I’ve sort of read it, in the sense that I read the first few chapters, then realized it was a Blinkist-type book; it makes a point, then provides 10-15 pages of anecdotes and personal stories, then remakes the point, then moves onto the next one.

The central message is that working to lose weight us ultimately no good, it’s hard on your system, and winds up setting your body’s “set point” for weight even higher on the backswing. After a year of going sober and 1.5 years figuring stuff out, it’s an interesting perspective on how I’ve definitely been yo-yo’ing all that time.

I’m still holding on to the idea that I can get back down to my pre-broken-foot weight, though. Literally, in some cases — I got a couple of shirts I’ve been hanging onto for like a decade.

It’s… interesting to think that maybe I’m just at the weight I’m at now, and resistance is futile; there’s no formula or trigger that will get me back down about 20 pounds. I’m not sure I like that message, and the processing in my head right now is do I not like this because it’s defeatist, or do I not like it because I don’t like its truth?

It’s a certain amount of exceptionalism, too. When somebody says “80% of people who lose weight gain it right back,” there’s a strain inside me that says “yeah, but I’m going to be one of the 20% who do.” Which is partly a good thing; confident, ambitious. But I also recognize this strain of thinking in that Steinbeck quote:

“Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.”

Am I a “temporarily embarrassed” fit guy or am I crazy?

I’m not going to make any grand internal decisions right away — the weather’s nice, it’s running season, so the way I figure it’s a great time to take another kick at the can this summer toward actually hitting those goals. But this is some good foundation for reflection on what makes more sense — being happy where I’m at, or striving to be who I was.

Day 841: Yo, yo, yo-yo-yo

As mentioned a while back, I’m in and out of a good groove right now; the holiday weekend was not super great, and following our vacation I’m kind of back to beginning-of-the-year status in terms of weight. But I’ve been getting better with the tracking streak, and as mentioned, I need to fire on all cylinders for this to work.

We get back to motivation, and why I don’t want to do these things. It’s the important question — maybe THE MAIN QUESTION OF THE PAST TWO AND A HALF YEARS! Sorry for all-capping that, but that’s where my head is at this morning.

I run up against a lot of motivations and a lot of attempts and a lot of slips, and here are the two countervailing truisms:

  1. Fall down seven times, get up eight times. Keep trying! You can get this licked.
  2. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. If something’s not working, change it up.

The wrinkle here is I know what works, but I choose not to do it. I get bored, or distracted, or frustrated. I think the deepest seated weird thing in my brain is a feeling of rebellion. I feel like “ooh, I’m being naughty” which is kinda… dumb. Who am I rebelling against? What am I rebelling for?

We’re deep into the “this podcast as self-therapy” territory again, I guess.

Day 774: Exercise motivation

It is hard to get psyched up to exercise in the morning. Maybe I do need to re-introduce music to the proceedings.

Then again, I did work out this morning, hard, and yesterday morning, hard, so clearly music’s not a requirement, but a help.

This morning was another interval thing on the rower — it’s only about 20 minutes of work, but holy jeez, what a 20 minutes. I’ve taken the “90% kitchen 10% gym” thing to heart — if I really do a good job with food, and get some quality exercise in every morning, that’s a good thing. I walk to and from work, and around town.

And it has been working. A bit of a weight stall after coming back from the February 1 debacle, but on the whole, things are trending along nicely. Still weirded out by the fat percentage versus weight equations, which seem to vary interestingly now.

Day 736: Think Like A 175-lb Man

It’s not yet a week into the new year so I’m not about to throw myself a parade yet, but it’s been a pretty good week.

Weight is down modestly (and safely), I’m now using the body fat scale to track body fat (which I haven’t done in five years of owning this body fat scale — I read some early “ehh, it’s inaccurate things and thought ‘bah’. More recently, I’ve come around to “even if it’s inaccurate it’s probably consistently inaccurate, and I’m in lousy enough shape that those readings will probably be positive over time”).

The news is NOT GOOD! But it will be getting better with time.

My headline today is I set myself an ambitious 30-minute row, sat down, and after the first two minutes was all “you know, I only promised myself at least 10 minutes a day of exercise — I can nope out of this after 10 minutes.”

But then I did the “think like a 175-lb. man” exercise. What would that version of me do? What will that version of me be like? 

That guy’ll do 30 minutes on the rower happily.

So I did.

And after a while it felt pretty good. Exercise without music — part of the whole “flow to the door” thing is I try not to use the phone except for logging my weight until after this is done — is hard. It’s harder than I thought it would be. I think I may need to add an “attention span” component to this project. But I did it, and I’m glad I did.

Day 718: Motivation vs. Tough-Mindedness

It’s not a specific thought, but it’s been rattling around my head. Motivation is key, but there’s also something to be said for sheer bloody-minded determination. Are they two different things? I don’t know — it seems like one is “push” and the other is “pull” — one is the “spread your wings and fly” kind of sentiment, and the other is “I’ve decided it’s going to be this way, and by God it is” attitude.

I… lack both, at the moment. It’s been a medium week for exercise and a bad week for cookies. I think not drinking took a chunk of motivation and bloody-mindedness, but since I’ve licked that, I haven’t taken on the next challenge. It may have to be dramatic, like Quit Drinking. Maybe I’m a quitter — better to stop than to moderate — but maybe I also need drama. DRAMA.