Wait, Andrew, you’re happy that your streak is over?
You see, after 6 weeks of daily walks. After 6 weeks of singing the praises of consistency, of putting in the effort, of showing up even when it’s hard, of grinding, on Sunday I skipped my walk. Of course, during these five weeks I’ve also talked about looking forward to varying my daily exercise.
Yes, I’ve showed up, day after day to push my body, to improve my fitness, to get a little better, but I’ve also found it increasingly difficult to keep going. The walks were getting boring.
This is a strange phenomenon for me, finding it hard to show up and exercise. I’ve done it so long, and so habitually, that I’ve never really felt a need to push through. At least not to push through to get started. If you’re not exercising hard enough that there’s sometimes a need to push through, then you’re not exercising hard enough.
So yes, this past Sunday, my walking streak died. I’ve been feeling it in my calves, knees and hips, and I’ve been getting a little bored with the walks themselves. So, as I said, I skipped my 20 minute walk.
And went for a hard, 30 minute bike ride instead. You see, the key isn’t what exercise you do, it’s that you exercise. My real streak wasn’t the daily walks, it was the daily aerobics.
So, honestly, I didn’t really blow my streak, I simply modified it.
That old saw, “Variety is the spice of life” contains a great deal of truth. Over the last 3 weeks, I’ve been finding it steadily harder to go for my walk. Some days, like my in-office days, are easier, some days (weekends) are harder, but the progression has been notable, and this weekend the sun was shining and the wind wasn’t too bad, so I broke out my bike.
I’ve been looking forward to this change for weeks, and I’m glad it’s finally here. Now that the nice weather has finally arrived, I can break up the monotony of my aerobic exercise with a little variety. I’ve started with biking, and the long range forecast gives me hope that this weekend I can get my kayak out of storage. I’ve also found my knee braces so I can go for a run once or twice a week.
One of the greatest challenges I had with getting back into proper shape was how out of shape I let myself get. And I wasn’t just out of shape physically, I was out of shape mentally.
I’m sure I could have punished the body hard enough in 2 to 3 weeks to regain a huge amount of the fitness I lost, so long as we assume that I wouldn’t have gotten so sore that my body overruled my brain’s desire to exercise. It’s easy to make excuses, so I
– lowered the barrier to participation low enough that DOMS wouldn’t be a factor
– used the power of maintaining a streak to overcome what little soreness there was
– used the power of if/when-then to keep myself showing up and putting in the work
Now I’ve got myself to the point where I can let the meaningless streak die, while actually maintaining the important streak.
I have new exercises added in, with more variety to come, and breaking things up like that is simultaneously:
– ramping up the fitness
– making it easier to maintain my evening meditation/yoga practice streak
– redeveloping the habits of discipline to ensure other, non-exercise stuff gets done
The key is to make sure that what you’re tracking, the streak you’re maintaining, the thing you’re truly focused on, is the correct thing. I wasn’t really maintaining a daily walk streak, it was a daily fitness streak.
THAT is what I have maintained, while relieving myself of the artificial constraint (and concomitant stress) of having to walk every day. Thank God that’s over.