I want to do something a little different today. I want to talk about change. Those who know me may be surprised that I argue for a step wise approach. People might tell you that I am the type that jumps off a building saying I'll figure out the landing on the way down. It may appear that way, but it isn't. During this post I will be referencing an article from the website You Are Not So Smart. I love the site as it helps me think better. I will provide a link here and at the end if you want to read it.
The article in question talks about human will as a finite resource. You can use it all up and not be able to muster enough will power to resist eating that chocolate cake, having that drink, smoking that cigarette or getting to that workout. It also talks about the concept that your will power is like a muscle in that it can be improved. This is fabulous. This research is suggestive that simply making decisions can lead to manifest physical changes for you. Now, some people find this obvious.
OK...interruption. You have to deal with these sometimes when you are on this particular crazy train.
I sat down with a great idea to write this blog post. I got interrupted and we went about our day. We got back from errands and I went to go run. I started off with this great plan. I was going to run for a mile or so then drop and do push ups. Then after another mile or so I was going to do sit ups or lunges or something. It was a pretty vague plan at best. Then I actually went out. I was constantly mentally battling myself. Should I stop now and do them? Should I do push ups? Should I do pull up on that farm truck? What if I break it? Maybe that street sign? Probably cut my hands. There was a constant conflict in my head.
Now I can normally run 3-4 miles without too much difficulty. This time I stopped at 2.74 miles and was just exhausted. Physically I was having a problem continuing.
Now, for a moment, back to our regularly scheduled blog. I had exhausted my will. Trying to decide what to do and when to do it. Ego depletion. I am willing to bet you that, had a course been set with a push up station and a jumping jack station or whatever, I would have fared much better. The act of deciding is an energy depleting stage of the change process. Managing that is important to the change process.
So start small, with decisions. I will use quitting smoking as another example. Most people try to quit several times before they are successful. I think this is because you have to make the decision a firm decision. What kills you isn't the withdrawl. It is the constant mental battle to stick to the decision. Once your mind is set, the rest is much easier. I think it takes several times trying to quit just to get the idea firmly placed in your mind that you want to quit. Once you stop struggling with the idea of "Am I really going to do this?" Life gets much easier.
So the decision. Practice it. Just like a muscle, you must exercise. There is a reason it is called exercising your authority or an exercise in will power. And remember, sometimes doing nothing is a positive action. NOT smoking. NOT eating that slice of cake. Practice exercising your will. It will help lead you to the positive change you want.
Now back to today's run.
I walked f or fifty yards or so and then dropped to do 20 push ups. I figured this was apparently the time. Then I got up and walked a little more. Then I started running again. And then walked for a minute and then ran again. The whole time I was mentally beating myself up a bit for being lousy. Eventually Satchel, the dog, got tired of it and started running again. I decided to let him take the lead and just ran behind him the whole way home. Well, most of the way. I walked another 20 yard stretch and then ran in front of him as we got closer to home. Eventually I got home and checked the GPS for the run. I had run 5.09 miles. That is the farthest distance I have run since I started running again in December. I ran it in 48 minutes and change. Which isn't really that far off my pace. Either I was running faster or greatly overestimated my walking periods. Turns out I was beating myself up for nothing. I don't know if that is a good thing or a bad thing. I guess I will just call it a thing and try to keep going.
Back to work in the ED tomorrow.
Here is that article again if you want to read it. And an article by a friend using the same research.
My friend's article
You Are Not So Smart