Well documented, our affinity for abandoning exercise declarations is commonplace. Setting out to lose weight and become healthier are noble goals. Blaming life for our failures. Too many other things to do. Don’t have time and so on.
My own behavior over the last month has made me question “why does this happen”? During a 14 day quarantine I faithfully walked four miles a day. Six days a week. It felt good. I felt good. And then it happened. I missed three days making the fourth day a struggle to walk again. Four days on and then a week passed without a single day on the treadmill.
Access isn’t the problem. Our treadmill is in our basement. Having lost considerable weight over the last 14 months, I know first hand how much better I feel today than before. My continual reading on health and nutrition has made me very sensitive to maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
But then it happened. The urge to use the treadmill every day disappeared. It feels more like a chore more than a joy. Where did my commitment go? Why is it three days a week now?
Then it occurred to me. My treadmill is a mirror. I am standing in the way of my own commitment and knowledge of the benefit that treadmills can provide. I now see that my behavior is more variable than I thought. There can be no other possible reason.
In daily life, I believe I am always consistent. The mirror provided by my treadmill says something very different. I am not always consistent. My energy to push through my own resistance varies. Some days it is better than others. No matter how much I know and understand, it doesn’t always lead to daily achievement of a commitment that I have made.
Building new habits are difficult because we are so inherently variable. Without thinking, we sometimes get lazy or tell ourselves a story that excuses us from pursuing our commitments on a given day.
Replace the word “treadmill” with whatever commitment you make to yourself and the phenomenon is still the same. It’s never our calendar. It’s always “us” that gets in the way.
How do you change this? By understanding better who we are and where we fail. Not becoming frustrated by it. But by reminding ourselves to bring this awareness of our own variability up everyday while trying to become more consistent. Giving us a chance to push through with effort on each new day for things we feel are important.