Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Do A Little Each Day

In my last post, I wrote about how embracing discomfort will help us succeed. As an example, I mentioned running and how the little voice likes to scream at me to stop during the first part of my run and then somewhere near mile two. If you would have told me six months ago that I would be able to run two miles, let alone more, I would have laughed. Six months ago, I wasn't able to run 100 yards without being extremely winded.

Six months ago, I may have looked thin, but I hadn't exercised regularly for a couple of years. It had been nearly a decade since I had regular cardiovascular exercise. I have been an on again-off again smoker most of my adult life. For a good number of years, I drank way more than is healthy. I was lazy and spent very little time taking care of myself. I would have been extremely overweight if I hadn't become vegan a decade ago (as I was overweight prior to this). I wasn't a healthy person.

I was driving to work one morning and saw a billboard for a run in town and decided I wanted to be able to run a 5K. With delusions of grandeur running through my mind, I believed I would be able to get in shape and do this very easily. I was wrong. The first time I tried to run, I thought I was going to die. I hated every second of it. My body hurt, my lungs burned, my mind screamed and I thought I was an idiot for even attempting this. I wanted to give up and just say running wasn't for me.

Instead, I decided to do things in a smart way. I followed the advice of others and began the Couch to 5K program. I built up my stamina by running shorter periods of time, enough to feel it, but not enough to make it hell. I still wanted to quit, but every time I was supposed to run, I did. I forced myself to put on my running shoes and get out the door. I didn't give myself an out, even while I was on my honeymoon. After a while, I looked forward to my runs. Exercise became fun.

Then the holidays hit, the weather turned cold and I stopped again. I came up with excuses about why I could wait or told myself that I could take time off and start again later. I convinced myself that starting this time would be easier and I would be able to start right where I left off. I was wrong. My first run was horrible. I had gone from running five miles to nearly falling over after ten minutes. I was frustrated and wanted to quit, but I wasn't going to have it.

I found that no matter what it is, you have to put in the work. If you just do a little each day, it becomes easier to do more. But, if you take a day off, it becomes easier to take the next day off. Once you take off two in a row, it starts to become a habit to not do what you want to do. I know I can't run every day, but I can do squats every morning or chin ups at night or sit ups or push ups or anything else to get some exercise in. The key is to do something each day to help you towards your gaol (no matter what the goal is).

I use the same mindset for writing and reading and flossing and anything else I know I should do or want to do. Start doing things in small increments and then build them up over time-just make sure you do something every day. If you want to write, start by writing a sentence each day. If you want to read, read a paragraph each day. If you want to learn a foreign language, start with one word each day. It's never going to be easy to start, but it can be hard to keep going. Figure out what you want to do and get up off your ass and start. Then, do it again tomorrow.

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