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It Doesn't Have to Be Hard

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Yes, you really do need to wash your hands. But it'll be fun!  Really!

Yes, you really do need to wash your hands. But it'll be fun!  Really!

Thanks to my word of the year, "engage", I've finally started getting more serious about exercise and eating better.  It took 5 months or so for me to feel like I *wanted* to do something about it, but now I'm here.  

It very much reminds me of parenting a toddler - sure, you can power through and "make" them do what you want them to do, like pick them up and put them where you want them. Sometimes you need to do it that way.  But most of the time if you can get them to go along with your plan of their own volition, it's *so* much easier, right?

When I'm not exercising regularly, I loathe it. I dread doing it. I don't want to get started. Same with "eating whatever I want". It's inertia. But if I can find that spark to start, and do it for a couple of days, it's not so bad. After a few more days, I feel better for doing it.

After years of Weight Watchers, food journaling and other types of calorie-counting, I realized that I absolutely HATE tracking food to that level of detail. I don't want to know or care how many points I ate or how many calories I have left for the day. I don't want to write down every last thing that I ate - in fact, it made me want to stop eating entirely so I didn't have to write that shizz down.

When I did my first Whole30 (hardcore Paleo eating plan for 30 days) in 2011, a lightbulb went off for me. Not only did I not have to count and track every bite of food, but I didn't have to go hungry either. I ate "real food" (today's buzz word) and had a pretty simple list of what was ok.

My weight loss on that plan was actually better than many of my Weight Watchers attempts in the past without the constant hassle of calculating points, or worse, trying to game the system to get more food or treats.

Yesterday I put away my Fitbit. I kept trying to use it, but I'd leave it clipped to my exercise wear and then change into regular clothes.  Or it would run out of charge and I couldn't find the charger.  In 2 weeks, there was maybe 1 day where the data was accurate because I wore it all day.  It felt like SO MUCH WORK for this thing that was supposed to motivate me to exercise more.  

Guess what? It doesn't motivate me.  I don't care that my friends walked more than me. I don't need cute little badges that congratulate me for walking up the equivalent of 50 flights of stairs. I had the same reaction whether I walked 4000 steps for the day or 11,000. Meh. I'm not a numbers girl in this arena.

Since I started work and BabyM has gone to daycare, she's had some sort of cold or virus nonstop, and has been kind enough to share them with all of us. Thanks to the transition, she's also waking more at night. 

As a consequence, I haven't done a Couch to 5K workout in weeks.  I've gone out walking several times for 35 minutes or more, but just can't get the oomph to get on that treadmill and run. 

I guess I could power through it and force myself to do it, since that 10K I signed up for is looming large in the future. It's kind of stressing me out, to be honest.  I told all these people I was going to do it and become a runner, dammit. And now I have only 3 months to go from essentially no running to 6+ miles.  I'm getting stressed out just writing about it.

I don't want to live like that, just like I don't want to count food points. What if I just "do the work" and get some exercise each day?  Maybe it's Couch to 5K, maybe it's a 45 minute walk, maybe it's a yoga DVD.  

I just started a Whole30 again this month and I know it's going to stick, because I already feel better and it's only been a couple of days. I *want* to do it, and I'm not "powering through". (Yet.) It feels easy.  I can do easy!

That's my grand realization.  It's not an event, or a trainer yelling at me, or numbers on a scale or pedometer that are going to motivate me.

I have to want to do it. Internally. Maybe magically (or for no discernible reason). Gently. At my pace. And if I trust in that, and put in whatever teeny-tiny effort I can muster each day, then I have to believe that eventually I will *want* to run that 5K. And maybe even a 10K. But not on a deadline.

I'm sure that fit people will read this as a cop-out or that I'm letting myself be lazy. Perhaps that's true - I would much rather do some crafty thing than exercise, even when I like exercise.

My happiness depends on me not feeling hassled and stressed about "shoulds", so this is my conscious effort to work with my inner toddler and figure out how to get *her* to go along with the plan. I have a good feeling about this.

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