Sunday, March 17, 2013

You Don't Have to Keep Doing What You've Been Doing

I'm a schedule-oriented person.  I also like routines.  They're safe and comfortable.  When I find something that works, I like to stick to it.  Until one day it doesn't.  And then I need to make a change.  Sometimes that can be difficult.

Once I've been doing something a certain way for a while, and it's worked so far, I tend to feel like I have to keep doing it that way.  I think, "It's worked so well this far, why is it not working anymore?  What's wrong with ME?"

Nothing is wrong with me!  I just need a change, and I need to give myself permission to change.


Take this blog, for example.  When I first started, I wrote my blog post first thing in the morning when I got up.  I "made myself" finish my blog and post it before doing anything else.  Before checking email, before reading other blogs, before even eating breakfast. 

For a while this worked for me.  I felt productive right away because I had accomplished something.  It also helped set my mind in a good place for the rest of the day. 

But then came a slew of days where I simply didn't feel like blogging first thing in the morning.  So I didn't blog at all.  For a few days in a row.  I felt like if I'm not going to do it "when I'm supposed to" then what's the point in doing it at all.  Silly, I know. 

But that's how tied to my routine I can get. 


The past couple of days, though, I've "allowed" myself to write this blog later in the day.  I know - crazy!  I've cut myself some slack.  I write when I feel inspiration to write.  Or when I come up with a topic.  Or when I just have more time, due to sleeping in later than "normal" and having other committments. 

And you know what?  So far it's working out just fine.  Imagine that. 


Working out is another area of my life I like to stick to a routine.  For a good long while I went to the gym every Monday and Wednesday.  There were shorter time periods where I also went every Friday, or every Sunday -- but that shifted around more.  Mondays and Wednesdays were the constants.  Why?  There's a Pilates class those two days at 8:15 in the morning that fit perfectly into my schedule.  I also like the instructors and liked the class. 

After keeping to that schedule for so long, I began to feel like that's when I "had" to work out.  Then I started to not want to at that time.  I started to feel burned out.  I started to get tired of doing the same thing. 

So I stopped working out.  For the past couple of weeks I didn't go to the gym at all.  I couldn't muster up the motivation.  Because I had this misconception of what I "had" to do to work out.


I'd given up on going to the Pilates class.  I let go of that, at least.  But since I've been having these issues with my toes, I believed I couldn't run or do anything too "jumpy" (such as aerobics classes, which I used to love).

And I've also been buying into the misconception that a "good workout" consisted of at least 30 minutes of continuous aerobic, cardio work.  I also like to lift weights, for toning.  Going all the way back to my high school days on the track team, I've been in a routine to lift first, then do the cardio work.  That's what I felt comfortable doing and what seemed to work for me.  So that's what I've stuck to. 

The problem is, when I have an injury that keeps me from doing the normal types of exercise I've always done, it throws me off.  I don't know what else to do.  Nothing else even sounds enjoyable. 

Because I think I have to do it for 30 minutes. 

Stationary bike?  Boring!  Rowing machine?  Not enough moving for me.  Stair stepper?  Too tough for that long of a time. 

I had all these excuses.  Twice I got myself to the gym and made myself do a combo of biking, rowing, and stepping.  After lifting, of course.  Two times and I was bored with that routine.

I missed working out though.  I realized that I don't like how I feel when I go weeks without a good, sweaty workout. 


Then I read a book that totally changed my mindset on fitness. 

"Jumpstart" by Liz DiAlto.  The Amazon link is here:

I don't know Liz personally, but I think I first came to hear about her through The Daily Love site.  I think she posted a blog(s) on there, and from there I sought her out on Facebook. 

I downloaded her ebook because she announced on Facebook that it was free for a limited time (now it's $3.99).  I wanted to support her, so I downloaded it.  As an author myself, and publisher on Amazon, I understand the thrill of seeing lots of downloads of your book.  But I wasn't sure I'd ever read it.  I thought I knew "enough" about fitness.  I'd done it my whole life.  I knew what worked for me.  Or so I thought. 

Then a couple nights ago I finished another book on my kindle, and wasn't tired yet, so I thought, What the heck, I'll check out Liz's book.  And I am so glad I did! 

I'm not intending this blog to be a review or promotion for her book (though I do think anyone would benefit from it).  But I wanted to share what I learned from her in that book that has changed the way I look at working out. 

Simply put, she gave the "official ok" from a fitness professional to not only do what you enjoy while working out, but to do shorter spurts of the activity and mix it up. 

My routine of feeling like I "had to" lift weight first, and then do a minimum of 30 minutes of cardio was actually holding me back.  When I didn't want to do that routine, I didn't go work out.


Today I had the most fun workout I've had in quite a while.  For starters, I didn't start off by lifting, I did a short, 2-minute warm-up on the bike.  Thirty minutes on a bike... kill me.  But two?  I can do two.  Then I did a round of some of my favorite weight machines.  Then I went and did a machine that's a combination of an elliptical and a stair-stepper.  I had never even used that machine before, but I loved it!  And I only made myself do it as long as I wanted to - about 5 minutes - before doing another round of lifting. 

Basically I threw my routine out the window.  I hopped from activity to activity, keeping the intensity up fairly high, to maintain a level of cardio.  It was not only more fun, but I didn't feel like I "had" to do anything.  And I still got a great workout! 

It's kind of amazing to me (and a little embarrassing) that I hadn't done anything like this until now.  That I felt so ingrained in my routine that I didn't think I "could" change things up. 

What area of your life are you stuck in your old ways?  Your "typical routine?"  How can you change it up? 

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  1. LOVE this. I totally agree with this - whenever I feel like I have to "make" myself do something - especially exercise - I begin to resent it. Like yoga. I like it more when I haven't done it in awhile, and I like it more when I throw other things into the mix - like jogging, going for walks. I too set all these "rules" for myself - like I "have" to exercise 3 times a week. And when i don't, I'm really down on myself. Why?! This type of criticism is something I am working on, as I teach myself moment-to-moment that I don't have to be perfect... and if I am not perfect, then I am not "missing out." I tell myself that if I am making these "rules" for myself (ie, work out two times a week), then I also can give myself permission to break my own rules. I'm learning to be flexible and more comfortable with this. Thank you for posting this!! :)

    1. I like how you mentioned "missing out." I'm always afraid I'll "miss something" if I don't do what I'm "supposed" to do and follow my routine. So funny. I'm probably missing more by not changing things up and breaking my own rules, as you said. :)