I’ve been in the same 5-pound weight range since January. I was on this same plateau years back at a stressful job. While fear-based goals like “I’m in terrible shape, I should change that” are effective, those goals fade when the fear subsides. Success-based goals, like “increasing fitness functionality,” also subside after vague accomplishment. I need a new goal. Something more concrete… maybe: “I want to become the best version of myself that I can.”
One nicety of regular fitness is that you can easily monitor your health, like a videogame health bar, so you can adjust your routines if you notice any dips. If I don’t feel like doing a rowing or yoga set, then I know something’s up. Tracking my stats, in addition to social accountability, helps me quickly identify problem areas that could be blocking progress toward building up my physical and mental tolerances toward handling stress.
Fitness isn’t universal. What works for me might not work for you. Within 6 months, I should return to my former apex of rowing hour-long sets, which is not something most people would enjoy. Instead of being frustrated over not being able to do that, focus on what you can do with what you have, for your intended results. I see rowing as a tool that can help me do what I want: more universal tasks.
Fitness is difficult for me when I have no functional goals. Health goals work for me when I actively notice looming threats like continual poor health, cardiovascular issues, or diabetic trends. Once those clear up, I lose the motivation. If the goal is something more tangible however, like being able to increase my body’s functionality in order to get more done throughout the day, then I’m all over it! Tools, then, mean nothing without use.
Accomplishing any goal requires internal motivation and external motivation. My internal motivation to burn 60 pounds in 6 months nearly 10 years ago was my desperation to get out of terrible health. My external motivation was a convenient gym membership. Similar desperation rekindled that internal motivation last year. Unfortunately, internal motivation disappears without external motivation. That was initially just this weekly column, then daily social media accountability, now, a natural addition to my home gym. (…And eventual set?)
Compared to last year, a yard work activity took me half the time and drained my energy perhaps half as much, because I still did a 10-minute rowing set. I’m not as far along on my fitness journey as I would prefer, however, I’ve made significant progress toward getting there! Fast progress leads to failure. There’s no sustaining it. Long-term trends typically work because there’s less effort trying to maintain your status quo of success.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned about self-confidence through five years of sobriety, it’s valuing myself more. This isn’t an exclusive trait of sobriety. I’m just more resilient against merely going with the crowd now. If they’re all going to the bar to go drink, and I’m not feeling particularly strong-willed, I’m comfortable saying no. Also, if anything doesn’t feel quite right, I’m more comfortable voicing my opinion, because what have I got to lose?
There’s a phrase circulating professional sites: “people don’t leave companies, they leave bosses.” Those bosses, and I’ve had two, were weak links in the corporate chain. Without proper inspection, they caused their whole department to fall into disrepair. With a little managerial lubrication, every employee works more efficiently. Similarly, if a rowing machine’s chain (if applicable) is under disrepair, your stats go down. If only bad managers could get a little maintenance like rowing machines.
Dental hygiene, like exercise, is a time-sink with seemingly invisible results. Both can be multitasked. Unfortunately, you have to dedicate your full attention to either task to get the most thorough results, otherwise, if your attention is diverged, you’ll most likely forget to floss your back row of teeth or just give mediocre effort to your set. Fortunately, the results for both speak for themselves: don’t do either one for a while, and you’ll notice!
I forget the last time I ate pizza. It’s not like a sobriety counter or anything, and I’ll probably have more. This slice was probably the greasy food court pizza necessitating dabbing off napkin-full after napkin-full of oily fats. I’ve since rejected a handful of thank-you slices of pizza. It’s never personal. It’s just irrational for me to eat food I don’t enjoy that I know will just needlessly distract from my long-term fitness goals.