Saturday, May 22, 2010

Mental trickery and the lost art of moderation

I'm not great at practicing moderation; I gravitate towards the all-or-nothing behaviors. Combine that with my tendency towards frequent distraction and sometimes my habits go all bi-polar. GO GO GO. SLEEP. WATCH TV. GOOOOOO. WHAT? GROWING A LOGO BEAN NOW CAN'T HEAR YOU.

Lately I've been cultivating a new habit and it's in the fragile stage. About a week ago I started going to the gym again, but I've been careful how I word this to myself. The goal is not "go to the gym" or something nebulous like "be healthy." The goal I'm carrying around in my head, the one I cling to is: "Exercise 30 minutes a day."

After I mutter that to myself I tack on such encouragement as, "Seriously? You can't walk around the block a few times? What makes you think you're so special you don't have to exercise? Gah, it's not like I'm asking for 45 minutes or something. In the time you took to make that excuse you could be half-way done."

The trick is, and I'll look away while my fingers type this part, is that I hardly ever stop at 30 minutes. Once I start I just keep going, because of that all-or-nothing thing.

With the exception of Thursday, I've been to the gym every day for a week. I won't get into why that's a big deal, but let's acknowledge it, move on and in no way jinx myself. After all, it's only been a week, the habit is still fragile, let's not make it self-conscious.

It also helps with motivation to not think in terms of calories, but in how many pints of beer I'm burning off. Intense workout on the elliptical for 35 minutes? You get a credit for 2 pints, which can be redeemed at a later date. (The trick here is that when I'm exercising daily I never feel like drinking as much. Shh. Don't tell myself.)

It's all about outsmarting ingrained traits, however is it really outsmarting when part of you is actively manipulating the other part and that part is really just playing along?


I will now go and forget we ever had this conversation.


Carla said...

LOLOLOLOL. That's hilarious. I do this with myself, too. :)

Christy said...

I have no idea what you're talking about, Carla. I've totally blocked writing this post from my memory. :)