About five weeks ago I gave myself permission to reduce the amount of running/weights I do in a week. I gave myself permission to loosen up on my diet — which isn’t terribly strict in the first place but if you are having doughnuts twice a week you know it has loosened up, even if your pants don’t — and I stopped doing most of my hobbies (knitting, gardening, random acts of sewing, etc.). I did this because My Product Was Shipping, and it was Kind Of A Big Deal, and I had only been in the team for something like six weeks when that happened. My function is a weird one: I don’t write code (or at least not for this role). I don’t spend a lot of time in Power Point. I don’t go into meetings and wave my hands around and drop some Very Important Sounding Names and so forth. My job title is flexible enough to let me do what I want to do (which is to Facilitate Other People Getting Things Done and then of course for me to Get Things Done, which I’m kinda good at). But I dropped all of the aforementioned balls because I had to pay attention to *this particular ball*, because I feared if I didn’t that it might break. (Note: not one word about giving myself permission to slack on mom-ness. That is because when you are the mom of an almost 16 year old you don’t get to slack. Ever.)
As a result, when the Product Shipped and things calmed down, I found myself heavier (thank you for the brutal honesty, scale), but drastically less inclined to actually run (in the waning weeks I told myself that walking 2 miles on a treadmill at a reasonably fast walking pace and on an incline counted as much as running 2-3 miles, and if you believe that then I have some data for you). I had a backlog of projects that I had started and not finished.
While I was able to finish off most of those (and pre-plan the next ones), I found getting back on track dietarily and getting back into running– really running– was not happening. I was stuck. I had no motivation. Earnest morning plans about prudent food choices were shot by 4pm; earnest evening plans about early morning runs were dismissed with the snooze button. The days I made it to the gym, I was literally going through the motions. (ha). All of my workout music seemed old and overplayed, all of my dietary planning seemed dreary. I had given myself permission to de-motivate under the assumption that if I hadn’t something would break (probably me), and ironically in the process I managed to break myself. Oh, not to injury — I do have a history of getting to about two weeks before an event and fondly hoping for a sprained ankle or some lovely tendonitis to give me “permission” to Not Do The Event — but in this case I managed to break something I found harder to deal with: my motivation.
I tried all of the tricks.
I switched to caffeinated coffee (caffeine and I shouldn’t be a “thing”). Historically I mostly drank decaf and then would use caffeine sparingly (Say, once a week or every two weeks) to give myself an extra boost. I tried it for two weeks straight this time in an effort to kickstart something. I was literally bouncing in my seat in a meeting last week (I know this because someone pointed it out). But I wasn’t running.
I made some dietary tweaks in hopes of giving myself more energy and getting myself kicked into gear. That didn’t happen.
I researched articles about getting back into running, finding your motivation; considered getting a workout buddy (I don’t like to run with other people so while this felt like a good forcing function it also seemed detrimental). I made public comments about how I was going to run so I would have the “hey I said I was gonna do it so I better do it” enforcement. (This kind of worked when I was at my mom’s and ran by the graveyard, which is full of history and a worthwhile visit). I cut back (waaaaaaay back) on Diet Coke. (Full disclosure: I have “quit” Diet Coke two other times — no, three — and for me it’s largely a concern of quantity).
I began to have some of those thoughts that are oh-so-tempting when motivation is gone: hey, I’m 45. I’ve been running for 10 years, maybe it’s just “time”. Lots of people get more sedentary as they age, they get a little freer with their diet, as long as my weight and measurements don’t go drastically up it’s all good, isn’t it? (Speaking as someone who has weighed 230 pounds unpregnant and once ate an entire box of pop tarts — that’s 12 for those of you counting at home– no, it’s not good).
I got lucky.
I was at breakfast with my son – we go out to breakfast on Friday mornings, just some mom and son time – and the breakfast counter had oldies playing. Specifically Steve Winwood’s “Gimme some lovin‘”. The song came out in 1966 — it’s 7 years older than I am — and my first exposure to it was in “Days of Thunder” (yes, the Tom Cruise movie). And at that breakfast counter, eating my Responsible Choice Wheat Toast with Fruit Cup, and drinking my Please Please Kick In Caffeinated Coffee, I found myself looking outside and realizing with the time change I could run outside — not on a treadmill. We finished breakfast, I took my kid to school, and I went for a run by the lake. I listened to this song over, and over, and over again over 3 miles. I didn’t hurt. I didn’t plod. I had one of the fastest miles I’ve had in years.
And I did it again today, just to see if it was a fluke. It’s not.
I am Un Stuck!