Sunday, October 05, 2008

Blogging As Motivation

So I think I'm going to blog a lot today as a way of giving myself little breaks and as a way of making sure I keep getting shit done. Thus far, I've talked to my mom on the phone and I'm running the dishwasher. I'm now trying to decide whether I should work out now, or whether I should get some teaching stuff done and then work out as a break. I'm thinking it's better if I work out first - that way I won't be able to talk myself out of it later. Yesterday I didn't work out for just that reason, you see. I was up and moving for most of yesterday, though (went to the grocery store, spent hours cooking), which I think is still positive.

I've been thinking a lot about how sedentary my lifestyle typically is, and thinking about how the profession (and in particular the book project) has influenced that. See, the times in my life when I've been thinnest (high school, grad school during coursework) it wasn't that I was working out like a maniac or eating according to some weird diet. It was just that I was moving a lot more than I typically moved during college or since the dissertation began. I lost a ton of weight during coursework because I didn't have a car for two years. In high school, I didn't have a car and there were no school-buses in my district, which meant I walked like 2-3 miles a day just going to and from school and going around with my friends. So I think a lot of the trick with this weight loss thing is just getting off my ass more, which lifestyle-wise requires more thought now than I did when I was at my thinnest without effort. But - and this is the big but (ha! big butt!) - I think this doesn't have to be so hard as I sometimes make the weight shit out to be. It's not like I'm doomed to be a fatso or like I have a naturally slow metabolism or like I have some horrible eating habits that are about some deeper psychological problem or something. I'm just not moving as much as I need to move.

Thinking about it that way, and paying attention to what I'm eating, makes it all seem a lot less daunting. And it's funny, this is not unlike the way that I get myself going on writing projects. When I think about the whole, it all seems too big and awful to make headway. When I think about it in terms of small things (I just need to write a little every day; I know how to do this, and it's just a matter of realizing that it's not the end of the world or some horribly impossible task) that's when I make real progress. So in that regard, it is about keeping things in a certain kind of perspective. This is the first time I've ever applied these things to fitness, though, and it feels pretty revolutionary to do so. I've known for a long time that I've needed to address this stuff, but I think I was making it into a more gargantuan task than I needed to make it. Sort of like that 3 months at the start of the dissertation when I had writer's block. I knew I "had" to write my dissertation, but rather than break it up into tiny chunks and give myself permission to be imperfect even as I made progress, I instead spent my energy on beating myself up every day for not knowing what the fuck I was doing or for not doing what I "should" be doing. I think I've been doing that with the fitness stuff.

This is not to say that I've got it all figured out, but I do feel like there's been an important shift in approach. And if I can stay in this headspace, I think that's a potentially life-changing thing.

In other news, kitties. It's so funny how different Mr.Stripey is from the Man-Kitty. He just came over to insist upon some attention. You see, he's all about getting on my lap periodically - whenever I'm at rest - and insisting on being petted and rubbed and he purrs like crazy. After a couple of minutes, he then goes off to do his own thing for a while. Sometimes he'll go lay in the bed. Other times he'll go sit in a window in another room. In contrast, the Man-Kitty is not so much about the actual physical affection, but he won't go off on his own - he must be basically in the same room with me at all times. But if I tried to pet him the way Mr. Stripey likes? He would totally be pissed off by that. Not sure what the point of this musing about the kittens is, but I thought I would just note that this is a huge difference between the two of them. Perhaps the difference is astrological in nature? The Man-Kitty is a cancer, and Mr. Stripey is an Aries. Hmmm.

Ok, I think I'm going to go get myself outfitted for working out and get that taken care of so that it's out of the way for the day.

More later, in what I'm sure will be a series of boring Sunday posts.


life_of_a_fool said...

I get overly daunted as well. I also think my weight fluctuates some just based on my daily patterns, regardless of what formal "exercise" I'm getting. So that all makes a lot of sense to me.

And the cat thing: that was the coolest thing to me about having two cats -- just how different they were. I mean, of course, they're going to be, but their own personalities are just so clear when they're right there next to one another. It's even cooler when they learn things from one another (even if one of the things my older cat learned from the younger was to push out the screen and jump out the window). It's so cool!

phd me said...

I couldn't agree more about the sedentary thing. At the end of most days, I feel like I'm growing roots in front of my computer. It's amazing how difficult it is to just move on any given work day. Like you, though, I'm finding that if I can naturally build in ways to get my butt in gear during the day, I don't dread "exercise" and I feel better at the end of the day. Hence my recent walking efforts. Here's wishing good luck to yours!

Brian W. Ogilvie said...

I think it's a common pattern. When I was in grad school and lived a mile from campus, I did the round trip once or twice daily, plus I walked to the gym or track from time to time to exercise. When I started my job, that stopped--bus or car generally replaced walking everywhere. And surprise, I put on weight (getting older doesn't help either). I sometimes tell my students that the freshman 15 has its counterpart in the faculty 50.... And when circumstances permitted me to move 3 miles from work, I got a bike and have been slowly working it off. Grand gestures rarely work, unless you have an ascetic personality to begin with; little decisions are easier to handle and in the end probably more productive, because they become habits instead of being blocked by habits. Big resolutions are so easy to break (as someone once sang).

Good luck keeping up your habit!

MommyProf said...

I find that when I am busy with classes and grading and family, I also have less time to eat, which helps with the weight. When I am at home (and in front of the computer) it is easy to snack. And snack.