We are back to school and rapidly heading toward the holiday season and a new year. I couldn’t believe it when I walked into a store over Labor Day weekend to see Halloween decorations hitting the shelves. It did make me think about the cycles our clients go through during the year. August is always a bit quiet around FIT as clients squeeze the last drops of summer out before the fall schedule begins. Then there’s much excitement in September as the kids start back at school and life gets back into its ‘normal’ rhythm until craziness at work, a child home sick, visitors from out of town and the like disrupt it. I once heard a professional clown give an inspirational talk about the rigors of ‘adulting’. Her central theme was that life is a lot like juggling and there are certain tricks that we can all learn to help us keep all our balls in the air.
Grease the Groove
Intellectually we all know that we need to take care of ourselves and have heard the statement ‘you can’t take care of anybody else until you take care of yourself.’ Still, there are an alarming number of us who continue to promise that we’ll take care of ourselves once ‘things’ settle down and we’ll just do our best in the meantime. Like most endeavors, the ‘taking care’ probably sounds like a lot more work than it actually is. We forget that a small actions performed consistently over time have a big impact. An Atlantic article I read recently referenced Pavel Tsatsouline’s training technique of not working to the point of failure but instead, doing fewer reps, resting, then doing some more but not too many. The author mentions Tsatsouline’s claim that ‘in training this way, you grease the neurological ‘groove’, or pathway, between your brain and the exercises your body performs . . .this is the most effective way to build strength’. I will save the debate over the best way to train for another article but I do love the phrase ‘greasing the groove’ as it applies to shifting habits – start with a small commitment or change, do it frequently and before you know it, you are greasing the groove – it’s become easy, you no longer have to think about doing it or when you will do it, it’s just a part of your routine. Now you are ready to make another small change for the better and grease the groove some more.
Learn to Eat an Elephant
All of us have lots of things that we think we ‘should’ or need to do, so what’s the easiest way to get started? For some, the best starting point will be the thing that will have the greatest impact. For others, the first step will be the thing that seems least disruptive to their current routine. It doesn’t much matter where you start or what change you choose to make so long is it doesn’t feel overwhelming and stressful. Last year, my son’s teacher told us, ‘He needs to learn how to eat an elephant.’ This wasn’t exactly what we were expecting to hear at our parent teacher conference so asked for an explanation. He said, ‘he sees the whole elephant and can’t figure out where to start. If he can learn to focus on just one part at a time, it won’t seem so overwhelming.’ Habit change is the same way – when we stare down all the things we think we need to do to feel better, perform better and look better, it can feel a bit like trying to eat an elephant. Some choose to put it off because it feels too big or like too much. Others try to do it all and are quickly consumed and overwhelmed by all the tasks and requirements. In the typical annual cycle, come January 1 we commit to eating the metaphorical elephant once again.
Give Yourself the Gift of Feeling Cared For
It is inevitable that life will throw us some curveballs and that many things will come up over the next couple of months as we head towards the end of 2019. Expect it. Plan for it. Give yourself the gift of feeling cared for by choosing some change, some shift, that is going to make you feel better every day. Do 5 bodyweight squats every time you are about to get in your car or every time you get up from your desk, drink a glass of water every time you change rooms at work or at home, go to sleep 5 minutes early every night (that would be 2.5 hours more sleep by the end of the month!) . . .Grease the groove over the next couple of months and head into 2020 feeling better than you did when 2019 started and keep on going right through the new year.