TWIR #97: Snow + Schnitzel + Stiffness, oh my!

In many ways, this week has felt all over the place. There was a long weekend, a road trip, a strange week at work, further attempts to run, and further SI stiffness as a result of said running attempt.  And on top of all that, I ate so, so many carbs throughout the week. In other words, I am a creature of habit and as soon as I deviate from my routines, I have no idea what’s happening in my life.  Enough rambling.  Let’s see what the week looked like.

Saturday
Activity: planned rest day
Relevant Stats: minimal walking, maxium carb-age
Observations:  Road triiiiiip!!! I spent most of the day on my ass, eating donuts (okay, that sounded like I ate multiple donuts, when I promise that I only ate one) and sausage and schnitzel. But we did walk for maybe, like, 2 km so that obviously balanced out the sitting and eating, right?  I know, I know. It doesn’t. The worst part is that our favourite schnitzel place was closed and the place I chose as a backup sucked, which means that I ingested thousands of schnitzel calories that weren’t even worth it. Schnitzel fail.

Sunday
Activity: mini hike
Relevant Stats: 9.2 km, elevation gain unknown (but very moderate)
Observations:  I cannot say this was my favourite hike. We definitely either ended up on the wrong trail or the trail descriptions were wrong about the distance (quite likely since three sources showed three vastly different distances). Either way, we never found the ridge and encountered a river of mud and melting snow for what felt like a solid kilometer, all of which made me grouchy. However, the day was redeemed with the following: outstanding Mexican dinner, mucho craft beer tastings + fudge from a roadside fudge shop.

Monday
Activity: semi planned rest day
Relevant Stats: so much car sitting + border waiting
Observations:  This felt like the world’s longest day thanks to some serious border lines. It shouldn’t have been a surprise as it was a long weekend. When we left the cabin, I was fine with not stopping to hike on Stevens Pass, but by the end of the day I wished we had because sitting for six hours straight is not good. Also, I ate way too many carbs, breaking the cardinal rule that just because you slip a little bit in one day, doesn’t mean you have to spiral into excessive carb consumption.  You win some, you lose some.

Tuesday
Activity: personal training session
Relevant Stats: 60 min.
Observations: OMG, 5:25 a.m. felt so very, very early. And then my trainer did so many activities that involved me holding a squat position, or that required coordination (of which I have none). It was the kind of training session that made me feel both weak and like a lumbering oaf.  On top of that, I felt a bit stiff from Sunday’s hike, not because it was strenous but because I was careless walking on crappy snow and mud and jolted my body a couple of times. That’s what I get for hiking grouchy.

Wednesday
Activity: running intervals + core work
Relevant Stats: 45 min (8 x 2-3 minute running intervals)
Observations: I cannot explain how excited I was to do running intervals, if for no other reason than to break up the monotony of strength training.  I was still a bit stiff so I took it slower than usual on the old treadmill, but pushed it a bit harder for at least one minute of each running interval. I found mixing running with core work meant my legs had more energy for the running intervals, so that was a win too.  Happy Valentine’s Day to me!

Thursday
Activity: strength training (core and glutes)
Relevant Stats: 45 min.
Observations: Alas, of course I was stiff from running intervals. I took it a bit easy and focused on very controlled core and glute work, and felt pretty good by the end of the workout. I celebrated with some fantastic aburi sushi at one of my favourite destinations, and tried not to think about the fact that it was probably the last time I’d eat there for a very, very long time…or the fact that I was ingesting more mid-week carbs…

Friday
Activity: strength training (legs and arms)
Relevant Stats: 43 min.
Observations: I know, what’s up with the 43 minute workout right? After a few sets of heavy prowler pushes, the first I’ve done on my own in a long time, I was just done. I no longer feel the need to ride out a workout just to a ensure it’s a certain length. When the old body says ‘that’s enough’,sometimes you just have to call it a day.

And just like that, the weekend is here. We have snow in the forecast (!!!!), which I wanted to be excited about, and yet I fear will never actually make it into the city. This is the one downfall of moving from the suburbs back into the city. We never get the snow. Alas, snow or no snow there shall be some golf watching, some wine drinking, and maybe even another attempted run. Happy weekend y’all.

I’d also appreciate all of you doing a snow dance for me.

 

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Mid-Week Tangent: ode to a Bavarian-themed town

Last weekend, we made our third annual trek to the town of Leavenworth. It would be more impressive if I could tell you it’s the only town where you can be served schnitzel by someone dressed in lederhosen while being serenaded by the sweet sounds of an accordion, but there are actually a surprising number of these towns scattered across North America.  Regardless, today I share my ode to Leavenworth, a town that holds a special place in my heart.

What makes it so special? Leavenworth may be the only Bavarian-themed town where you can buy a supposedly authentic stein in one shop, then walk next door to buy your toddler a trendy scarf printed with hot pink unicorns. Leavenworth may be the only Bavarian-themed town with a surprising number of pizza and Mexican restaurants which, I can only presume, is because someone falsely assumed that you can only eat so much schnitzel.  Leavenworth may also be the only Bavarian-themed village in which you can do something called “Hot Laps” which sounds dirty but is apparently some form of whitewater rafting. Leavenworth, as you can see, has a lot going for it.

What I love about Leavenworth is its unabashed kitsch and how it’s just a little worn around the edges.  Everything, including the big corporate machines like Starbucks, Subway and McDonald’s, has just a touch of Bavarian flair to make it fit into the townsite. There are twinkling icicles hanging from eavesdrops year-round.  There are more nutcracker and stein shops than you can count on two hands, even though every shop carries basically the same things.  There are two outdoor sausage haus’s directly across the street from each other, each vying for your attention with grilled meats, chilled beers and more saurkraut than you could possibly consume in an entire lifetime. Oh, and the pretzels, don’t forget the heavenly salted, oily pretzels. There are at least half a dozen places featuring schnitzel and spaetzle although, if you ask me, Andreas Keller is the only way to go (sadly they were closed this year, and I cannot express my deep dissatisfaction with our second-string choice without getting emotional).  Some even play live accordion music.  There is a gazebo in the centre of town through which peppy polka music is blasted at all hours, lending itself to craft-beer induced, spontaneous, moonlit dance breaks.

It sounds magical doesn’t it? But if you look a little more closely, you can see that all is not so magical.  The jolly Bavarian window shutters on the hotels could use a paint refresh, a sure signal that the interior is even more tired from resting on its Bavarian-kitsch laurels for decades.  The checkered tablecloths in the schnitzel haus’s are somewhat faded. The main street shops are letting the odd green mermaid into their offerings, which I assume does not fit the standard of traditional Bavarian decor (though I could be wrong as I’ve never researched Bavarian folklore). The hipsters have even landed with their sparsely-filled stores standing in stark contrast to the overstuffed traditional shops, and their brick-walled craft brewery/pizzeria that pays no homage whatsoever to Bavarian tradition within its walls, not even with a clever Bavarian pun to name one of its beers.  Most telling, perhaps, is that the tourists idling slowly down its streets do so without a twinkle in their eyes, as though they too can see the veneer of Bavarian magic is wearing thin.

It occurred to me this weekend that my love for Leavenworth is due in part to this undertone of sadness, of a town that was once lively and proudly Bavarian-themed but now gives off the impression of a couple who’s grown a little too comfortable in their relationship. No one’s trying all that hard anymore to keep things new and interesting. That probably sounds depressing, but this is the makings of nostalgia, of knowing that you can go back year after year and all your favourite haunts will still be there waiting for you. You know you can have a great grilled sausage and pretzel at the Sausage Haus and that, even though you’re not really hungry for dinner, you’ll make room for schnitzel at Andreas Keller. You’ll be sure to fit in a dinner at Los Camperos for the best prawn enchilada you’ve ever had. You’ll cram into the tiny tasting room at Dog Haus brewery and the same brewmaster will be there to greet you and dole out overly salted peanuts to fuel your drinking.  You’ll even run into the couple that you met last year on your trip to Leavenworth, the couple who also travels down year after year to partake in the same traditions, and you will warmly say hello like you are old friends, because you understand each other and your love for this Bavarian-themed town.

Training Tuesdays: being at peace with your version of fit

This weekend, I went on a 9.2 km return winter hike.  It’s the longest hike I’ve been on in what feels like forever (but in reality has been about 1.5 years). On the car ride back from our weekend getaway, my friends were talking about how I used to not consider anything below 20 km as a ‘real hike’.  Oh how the tides of turned. But it got me thinking about the importance of being at peace with how you define fitness for yourself right now, not how others define it, and not even necessarily how you might have defined it for yourself in the past.

You may have heard the expression comparison is the thief of joy.  When we compare ourselves to others or to our past self, we are essentially telling ourselves that wherever we are right now is not good enough.  We all have that friend or colleague who runs marathons. We all know that person who swears that Crossfit is the be all and end all.  We all probably even know that person who, like I used to, tries to hide their eye roll when you talk about the 2 km hike you went on this weekend because that’s obviously not a ‘real’ hike.

For every activity that you do, there will always be someone who does it better, faster, longer, or harder.  Even the marathoner has to contend with those pesky ultra marathoners (she says as someone whose whole blog was brought about by signing up for an ultra marathon…).  It’s far too easy to feel as though you’re not doing enough with your fitness.  It’s taken me a long time to get comfortable with sticking to small hikes, barely ever running, and even the small things like having to avoid burpees, mountain climbers and split squat jumps because they aggravate my injury. Will it be this way forever? Maybe not. Or maybe it will be.  It doesn’t really matter because right now this is my fitness reality.

Does that make being at peace with my current fitness easy? Not at all. I still struggle at times to be okay with my current fitness. I spot people at the gym doing all the things I used to do, see runners bounding past me like gazelles, read a trail description for a 40 km hike and at least half the time my initial reaction is “ugh, I used to be able to do that”. If I hear people talk about their half marathon or marathon training, I sometimes have to bite my tongue to keep myself from pointing out that I’ve run a damn marathon too.  This is despite being stronger than I’ve ever been, despite having built muscle, and despite (mostly) having kept my injury in check for the last 1.5 years.  I still have moments where I let myself feel down about not being ‘as fit’ as I used to be or as I perceive others to be.

Here’s what I’m learning, though: I don’t need to justify that I can barely run 5 km these days. I don’t need to justify that I choose not to hike 30+ km every Saturday and Sunday. I certainly don’t need to beat myself up because jumping split squats throw my SI out of whack.  I am the fit that’s right for my injury to heal. I am fit for being able to lead the type of life I want to lead. I am fit enough to allow myself donuts every Saturday (don’t underestimate the importance of this in my world) without fearing I will swell to unnatural sizes.

What’s my point to all this? Find a way to be at peace with whatever your version of fit is, whether it’s walking a half hour as often as you can, taking a spin class a few times a week, lifting weights in your basement, or even running an ultra marathon. If it’s what feels right to you and your body, and it allows you to live the type of life you want, let all those comparisons you’re making slide right off your back. Your version of fit is good enough.

Monday Musings: 4 weeks to go

Ever since we bought our place in Vernon, it’s seemed like something so incredibly distant.  We bought back in July knowing that our place wouldn’t be ready until January at the earliest.  That seemed a lifetime away. Even as we sold our old place and moved into a rental in October, January still seemed like a million years away. Then our possession date got pushed back to March and I really started to feel like we were never going to make our move. Long story long, it’s never felt like our move was coming any time soon.

Now we suddenly find ourselves just four weeks away from a scheduled possession date. That’s four weeks to get our place packed and reorganized, get everything organized to move into our new home and, most importantly, to say goodbye to the people and place that have been our network and home for the vast majority of our adult lives. As we start to make lists of things to do and people to see, and slot those people in to dates, it’s clear that there’s really not much time left at all.

I’m generally pretty pragmatic about such things in life. I’ve moved a lot, left people behind a lot, managed the logistics of big moves more times than I want to remember. There’s steps to be taken and things to be done.  In some ways it’s old hat to me, but what never gets familiar is that sinking feeling when you realize: right…things are actually going to change in a really big way. 

A move to a new city shakes up all the comfortable, routine patterns of your life. It’s little things, like your local grocery store, the place you go to get a bottle of wine when you realize you’re out of wine, where you find the best coffee, who makes the best donuts, or where you go when you want an ultra satisfying dinner out.  But it’s also the big things, like being able to call up a friend and see her at the drop of a hat, like realizing the Sunday family dinners (which, ironically, were mostly hosted on Saturdays) that you used to have monthly are at risk of never happening again or at very least will require some serious logistical masterminding, like realizing we’ll have no family closer than a four hour drive away from us, like absolutely everything being new and different, even if only a little bit.

Don’t mistake this as second-guessing our decision to move. I couldn’t be more excited to go. I’m excited for the potential positive impacts to our lifestyle and to our careers, and incredibly excited to be so dangerously close to all of the wine. But one can be excited for the future while still experiencing a feeling of heavy loss for all the good I’ll leave behind, of which there is a lot.  Amidst the excitement of leaving, and all the waiting and having it feel like it took forever to get to moving day, I carry a bit of that heaviness and grief with me every single day. And I know that feeling of loss will continue to grow over the coming weeks as I start to realize that every time I see friends or places I love, it’s one visit closer to not seeing them in person as often.

In some sense, it is beautiful, this conflict between excitement and sadness. It tells me that this place and its people matter to me and that I need to make sure that I stay connected even if at a distance. It tells me that, even though I am leaving, there is a lot of potential to expand the people and places I love once we (finally!) get to Vernon.

TWIR #96: ahhhh, life with a chronic injury

You go for one run and your body’s like “okay, I’ll teach you what you should already know: you have to ease into running, you dolt!!!!”  This perfectly sums up my week. After the joyous occasion of a legitimate (short) run, I spent the rest of the week cautiously working out in fear that my SI was not faring so well. Moral of the story: as ridiculous as it sounds to start with a 2 or 3 km run, it’s probably a wiser choice.

Still, the week wasn’t a total write off workout wise, so let’s see what I got up to.

Saturday
Activity: planned rest day
Relevant Stats: declined both a donut and Dairy Queen
Observations:  I sometimes wonder who I am becoming when I say no to both a donut and Dairy Queen in the same day, my only day of the week on which sugar consumption is a free for all.  Don’t get me wrong, I still ate sugar. I’m just shocked at turning down two of my faves.  In other news, we fit in some good walking, some beer flights, and a homemade pizza night. In other words, Saturday got a thumbs up in my books.

Sunday
Activity: run!!!!!!
Relevant Stats: 5.7 km run/40 min.
Observations: This run is a true testament to how much I loathe driving to the gym on weekends. When the alternative is a painful (not injury painful, but painful nonetheless) and painfully slow run, you know you really needed to spice up your workout routine. I was proud of this run. I felt accomplished. I was slow as molasses and, perhaps for the first time in my life, I avoided feeling utterly defeated despite being slow as molasses.  That’s growth.  But I gotta say, between the run and additional walking (another 4 or 5 km), my legs were done like dinner.

Monday
Activity: light strength training
Relevant Stats: 40 min.
Observations: Not wanting to push it too much after a running day, I kept things pretty light and pretty basic with Monday’s workout. I focused on controlled movements and reduced my weights.  My SI was feeling okay, so I was optimistic that all would be fine and perhaps running no longer had a vendetta against me.

Tuesday
Activity: personal training session
Relevant Stats: 60 min.
Observations:  Ugh. Just when you think your injury has maybe taken a back seat at long last,  you wake up stiff and tender. I suppose this is why they call them chronic injuries. As my trainer pointed out, it’s also ludicrous that I tried to go from running interval laps at the track to a 5+ km run in one fell swoop. Evidently, 5 km is not a small start.  I’d like to say lesson learned, but it’s probably not.  At any rate, she took it easy on me in some respects but not in others. For instance, she added weight to prowler chest presses  as if she knew I’d made comments on my blog about the fact that they were getting easy.  The worst moment, however, was when she subjected me to the horror of watching my form on film. There is nothing like seeing yourself in video to make you feel as though you are making no progress with how good your body looks.

Wednesday
Activity: strength training (focus on arms)
Relevant Stats: 35 min.
Observations: I tried, I really did, but I had nothing in the tank for this one. It could’ve been that it was my second early morning workout in a row, and that I’ve gotten too used to my cushy mid-morning workouts.  Who knows? All I know is that I tried to focus on my arms to give my stiff SI a break, and they had nothing to give me. Push ups were a disaster. Presses were wretched. It all just felt off.

Thursday
Activity: strength training (focus on controlled stability movements)
Relevant Stats: 40 min.
Observations:  Thursday’s workout could be summed up with the following words: still stiff, still no desire to work out. I cobbled together a decent workout, still being ultra cautious so as to protect my tender SI.  I have to tell you, though, that I was pretty frustrated by the fact that my SI wasn’t feeling 100% better even four days after a relatively short run. It’s one of the things that is most difficult to deal with chronic injuries. You just can’t count on your body to bounce back as quickly as you want it to, and you can’t always predict how it will respond to things.

Friday
Activity: strength + treadmill running intervals
Relevant Stats: 40 min.
Observations: See? You really can’t predict things. After four days of SI stiffness, today my SI felt 100% absolutely fine. To stave off boredom at the gym, I decided to go crazy and do some slower running intervals. I kept the pace way low for my sets, and stopped after 7 sets because I was starting to get some stiffness around my tailbone, but other than that it felt fine. However, I also know that tomorrow will be the true test.

Speaking of tomorrow, we are off to Leavenworth for an annual trip that involves giant pretzels, schnitzel, spaetzle, beer and Bavarian-themed village fun. Oh, and road donuts…which are nothing more than donuts eaten while on the road.  In other words, I’m outta here for a weekend of fun and indulgence, along with some snowy outdoor adventures for good measure. Happy weekend y’all.

 

Mid-Week Tangent: when you make the mistake of Googling “best new valentine’s chocolates 2018”

I should know better. I should know that the world is full of products that I will never be able to fully wrap my head around.  But sometimes I just can’t resist the temptation of typing a stream of words into Google, clicking search and falling down the rabbit hole.

This all started when I realized that it is only one week until Valentine’s day and I have yet to check out, purchase or consume any of the plethora of Valentine’s day confections out there in supermarkets these days. Alas, that had to change. I mean, what new confections might I be missing out on because I’d been too lazy to do my homework?

This is how I ended up Googling “best new Valentine’s chocolates 2018”, and that is how I came to view the entire 19 pages of Valentine’s Candy & Treats on Target’s website (sidenote: kudos to Target for so conveniently creating a sub-page exclusively for  Valentine’s treats).  I know, I know, this is mainstream grocery store chocolate, but that’s precisely what I was looking for. I want to know what Reese’s, what Dove, what M&Ms are doing to make Valentine’s special, not what some boutique chocolatier in idyllic New Hampshire countryside has churned out for the ungodly price of $75 per box.

Lucky for you, I’m about to share the most perplexing and odd of the Valentine’s candy assortment in a feature I’d like to call:

Why does this exist? 

First up, we have hot and spicy cinnamon Oreos, which I’ve pre-emptively (i.e. without having tried them) deemed repulsive based on the following:
–Cinnamon hearts are an abomination
–Flavoured Oreos never taste remotely like the flavour they presume to be
–Cinnamon hearts are an abomination (this is not a copy and paste error, it simply bears repeating)
I think we can all also agree (again, without having tried these) that there is no way in hell that they are actually hot and spicy. Moving on.

Not everything should taste like red velvet. In fact, in my opinion nothing should taste like red velvet because red velvet tastes like food coloring and, unless you’re five, that shouldn’t be appealing to you.  The flavour aside, I’m struggling to understand the tie in between kittens, Valentine’s Day, and red velvet. Kit Kat fail.

The only thing worse than cotton candy at an amusement park is cotton candy that has been trapped in a tub on store shelves likely for years because no one buys cotton candy at the grocery store.  Much like the kittens with the Kit Kat, I also don’t understand the connection between cotton candy, unicorns and Valentine’s Day, but my bigger beef is the gall of claiming it’s blue raspberry flavour. We all know that cotton candy has only one flavour: sugar. However, I do applaud the ‘wild about u’ for being gutsy enough to not even spell out the word ‘you’.

I have so many questions about this one. Are these gumballs the size of actual tennis balls? If so, are they appropriately labelled as a choking hazard? When you pop the cap open, will the canister smell like real tennis balls? Would the gumballs taste like that smell? Aside from being a game with two players, and a game which includes the scoring term ‘love’, is there anything else inherently romantic about tennis? What would the person you love think if you brought home “Love, Love Tennis Gumballs” as a representation of your undying commitment to him or her? Sadly, I will never learn the answers to these questions.


Is the Valentine’s Day chocolate equivalent to the singing Bass? I appreciate the “you’re a keeper” pun immensely, but I am not entirely sure what it says to give the one you love a chocolate fish, especially when we all know that fish is made of some seriously sub-par, off-brand chocolate. Please, I beg of you, do not give your loved one a chocolate fish even if you love puns (I’m including this last note in case my boyfriend actually reads this because he loves puns and I’d be liable to end up with one of these bad boys).

This is either chewbacca or Harry from Harry and the Hendersons. Wearing a bowtie/shirt collar combo that has no shirt attached. With a rose in his teeth. And a furry exterior. Ready to bear his soul and offer you…original beef jerky. I honestly can’t say which of these disparate facts I love the most. Unlike the pseudo-chocolate fish above, I think I’d actually like to receive this for Valentine’s Day, though I surely wouldn’t touch the beef jerky inside it with a ten foot pole. I would, however, keep the box for posterity, proudly displayed in a high traffic area of my home as a surefire conversation starter.

Did you have any clue that such wondrous Valentine’s confections were at your fingertips?  I feel as though I’ve just added so much to your lives. Now get out there, because you only have 7 days to stock up on these goodies before they’re replaced by all that Easter’s candies have to offer.

Training Tuesdays: what are you committed to?

Bear with me: this is a bit of a long one.  I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what gets in the way of achieving fitness goals, even when they’re incredibly important to us. Unfortunately, it’s not a simple issue to unpack.

I don’t talk a lot about my work in this space, and when I do I tend to be complaining. This isn’t really fair to my work as there are parts of it I’m supremely passionate about, like the concept of commitment or, more accurately, competing commitments.  What fascinates me about human behavior is that we can have goals that are really and genuinely important to us, yet still fail to make progress towards those goals because we act in subtle (and not so subtle) ways that work against us.  In my work, I am looking at this paradox of human behavior through the lens of leadership, but it’s equally applicable to fitness goals.

How many of us have set out to improve our health at some point, to exercise more, eat less, get in better shape, run a marathon, the list truly goes on and on?  Research shows that most of us suck at achieving our goals and resolutions, with studies showing success rates ranging from 8-40%. Those are strikingly poor numbers.  It’s easy to simply assume that the reason we fail with these goals is because they really don’t matter to us and, following with that logic, if the goals mattered more we’d be more successful.  Well, as it turns out, that’s not actually the way that our brains are wired. We can be firmly committed to a goal and still find ourselves making zero progress towards it.  Enter: the competing commitment.

I have been consistently committed to my fitness for the last 12 years or so, but prior to that I struggled with sticking to fitness routines. I’d start then stop like it was my job. Was my health important to me? Absolutely and without question. So what was the problem?  At the time, I had no idea. But as I’ve spent time delving into the world of human behavior, I’ve been able to shed light on this question.  I share this in hopes that if you’re struggling with making progress towards fitness goals, this might help you too.

The Quick & Dirty

Here’s the thing: humans are protectionist little creatures. We are hard-wired to resist change and avoid perceived risk–and note the use of the word ‘perceived’ because in the case of assessing risk, perception is reality. The odds are stacked against us to make progress when our actions might ignite the little threat centers in our brains.

What does this have to do with fitness goals?  For some of us, the reason we’re not making progress is because, in some way, the thought of taking action towards our health is perceived as a risk to our sense of self or our way of seeing the world.  When that happens, we suddenly find ourselves committed to minimizing that risk. Unfortunately, in order to minimize the risk, we sabotage any and all efforts to achieve our initial fitness goal.  In other words, we are committed to our health goal but we are also equally committed to reducing any risk or threat to our way of seeing our self and the world. When two competing commitments collide, the end result is that things come to a grinding halt and we make no progress towards our goal.

Digging Deeper

I’m sure some of you are thinking ‘okay, how could I possibly see getting fit as a threat?’ I hear you. It sounds ridiculous.  I invite you to walk yourself through this bit of a process.  I’d like you to consider the last health or fitness related goal that you had (or maybe have) for which you’re not making progress.

With that goal in mind, ask yourself what are you doing, or perhaps not doing, that is working against the goal? For me, when I’ve failed to stay on the fitness track in that past, my list included things like: telling myself I’d work out tomorrow instead of today, choosing TV or plans with friends over my workout, hitting snooze so many times that I’d run out of time to workout before work, “forgetting” my workout clothes at home, trying to run fast and frustrating myself instead of starting slow and building up.  And those are just a few of the ways I was getting in my own way.  When answering this question, it’s important to list actions or inactions without judging them.  They are neither good nor bad. They simply reflect what you’ve done or not done.

Here’s where things get interesting. My natural reaction in the past would’ve been to assume I could just do the opposite of whatever I’d listed and my problems would be solved. Just stop hitting that damn snooze button and fitness will be mine! Sadly, when we focus on the actions themselves, we miss the underlying beliefs that are the real source of our action and inaction.

Instead, try this: for everything you’ve listed in your list of things you are doing or not doing, contemplate having to do the opposite. When you think about having to do the opposite, what worries does that raise for you? If I’m honest with myself, the thought of working out made me worry that I’d look foolish, that people would judge me for being unfit, that it would feel hard and uncomfortable, that I would lose out on time with my friends.  These aren’t pretty to look at, nor should they be. Our worries and anxieties are rarely pretty, but they give us powerful insight into what’s really going on under the surface.

We have to ask ourselves: if these are my worries, what am I committed to?  If we look at my worries, I was committed to never looking foolish, I was committed to avoiding discomfort. I was committed to being seen only as capable and skilled.  So what’s the problem with that? Well, unfortunately getting fit was going to require me to be uncomfortable at times. My muscles would have to hurt. I’d have to struggle to build up cardiovascular fitness. I’d potentially look foolish trying out new exercise moves and not being able to master them first time around.  My competing commitments were working against my health goals and keeping me in a steady state of being unfit.

Our work doesn’t stop here, though, because our hidden commitments are the manifestation of underlying assumptions and beliefs. The question becomes, for my competing commitments to be true, what must I believe to be true about myself or the world around me?  In my case, I believed that people pay attention to and judge those that are trying to get fit; I believed that getting fit should be easier for me; I believed I would struggle to rebound if I embarrassed myself in the process of getting fit. Were these beliefs true? Of course not, or at least not in all cases. That’s the thing with our beliefs, though. They don’t have to be true for us to believe them at a very deep level, and to let them dictate our behaviour.

Once we start to see the underlying beliefs that are holding us back from our goals, we’re in a much better place to start to question those beliefs with small and safe-enough actions (i.e. actions that are a bit of a stretch but not so much of a stretch that they sent us into amygdala hijack).

What’s the point of all this?

If you’ve got a health or fitness goal that’s really important to you, but you’re not making the progress you want to make. Perhaps you feel frustrated or stuck and like you just can’t ‘make yourself’ do what you know you should be doing, work your way through these questions. Challenge yourself to really dig deep, to pay attention to your feelings. If you do this, you’ll notice when you’ve hit on a belief that’s been really powerful in holding you back.

Is this going to get you on track with your health goals in one fell swoop? Not at all, but it might give you a different perspective on how to make progress. So, really, what are you committed to?

**Full Disclosure: The concepts discussed in this post are from the Immunity to Change model created by Robert Kegan and Lisa Lahey. I’m an Immunity to Change facilitator and use this model extensively in my work and coaching.  It’s based on sound research by smarter people than I, so if you don’t believe me, check out their work.