Monday, March 15, 2021

An Exercise in Motivation by Debra H. Goldstein

An Exercise in Motivation by Debra H. Goldstein

People who exercise have always fascinated me. One of my friends thinks she’s in heaven if she gets two long walks in during a day; another one can’t survive without at least four yoga classes a week; one installed a dance bar and mirror in her home because ballet moves make her happy; and, then there’s the one who doesn’t feel satisfied unless he does an equipment circuit followed by at least a mile of laps in the pool. Although I like these people, I don’t understand them.

Exercise does not send little happy messages to my brain. It doesn’t make my aches and pains of aging go away. Rather, it usually increases them - like the time I raised my arm over my head and tore my rotator cuff. Despite various promises to myself that I will exercise, I usually can find an excuse to avoid it.

The pandemic proved to be a great excuse. After all, we were told to stay out of crowded places where people touched everything. That took care of the gym. We were told to wear masks. A bathing cap is one thing, but the thought of breathing through a soggy mask in the pool was too gross to even try. Rain and cold weather precluded outdoor walking (at least for me – you should have seen my diehard neighbor in her Northern long winter coat, earmuffs, and gloves breaking a sweat). But, I knew I had to make an effort.

So, after much TV watching of people sitting on a couch and peddling what looked like an elliptical that lost its top, I ordered one. It is cute and neither it nor the pad to keep it from sliding on the floor take up much room in my office. To motivate myself, I said I could watch a show with talking heads (and the time in the corner of the screen) only if I was peddling. It worked until the night I was too tired

to do anything except watch from the comfort of my oversized large chair.

Eventually (several days later), I forced myself to go back to my routine. Things seemed to be going reasonably well with my modified exercise program (it wasn’t daily because, as I told myself, my body needed to only be stressed alternate days), until disaster struck. I went to move my Cubii Jr and somehow I picked up the slip pad, the telephone rang, I dropped the pad, and when I came back, I discovered the pad had dropped draping the machine like a shroud. I haven’t had the heart to move it.

There are times that my motivation to write is like my desire to exercise – shrouded. All the carrots I dangle in front of myself – I have a good idea, it’s nice to see a piece accepted, this is why you left your day job, so you really should put some effort into it, are meaningless. The adage of just putting my bottom in my chair and writing only works as far as where I place my derriere.

I tell myself that not writing, like not exercising, is bad for me. My mind counters that by noting I’m still alive, so not exercising hasn’t compromised me too much. But then, I realize it has. I weigh more and lack the stamina for going up hills or walking long distances that I had a few years ago. I understand that if I don’t start moving, there won’t be as many options for me to move in the future. It’s the same with my writing. If I don’t do it, the momentum I’ve started building will die and the ideas will shrivel in my brain. Not a pleasant thought.

It’s time to start writing and then to uncover my Cubii Jr. What about you? What writing or reading goal is it time for you to uncover (and how do you feel about exercise?)?


Annette said...

I'm struggling with exercise too, Debra. As I sit here writing this comment, I SHOULD be on my yoga mat doing sun salutations. I SHOULD get up and put on some music and do something I call dancing, although others might laugh at that description. Instead, I'll probably read. I'm looking forward to warmer days so I can get out and walk. Except we had several last week that found me at my desk, working on revisions.

Jim Jackson said...

Whenever I have a motivation issue, I go back to basics: what do I really value?

That internal discussion sorts things out--unless depression has reared its ugly head, then all bets are off and I have to intervene. For me, that intervention often means forcing myself to get back to exercising. I know when I do, things start to turn around.

These days I'm running three days and week and walking the other four, so life is going okay.

Margaret S. Hamilton said...

Last summer, I ordered a rowing machine and a spin bike, which were finally delivered Thanksgiving week. I bike and row to Mozart's piano concertos and New Orleans jazz and show tunes. I miss the comaraderie at the village rec center, but it's my time to think and plot and dream.

And the dogs must be walked two brisk miles right after breakfast. Unless it's raining, we have no choice.

Kait said...

Hysterical! My motivation for writing – it’s something I have always loved, but now that I am doing it full-time, I’m trying to reach Dorothy Parker on my Ouija board to tell her she was write, er right.

I am and always have been an exercise nut. I like the feeling I get when I’m “stretched.” When we lived in Florida, I ran three miles a day and then swam a mile (if it was summer). Here in Maine, it’s harder. We have 167 acres (all up hill) that I can plunder for hikes, but in the winter - - - not so much. Instead, since gyms and yoga classes are not an option, I turn to exercise videos. Right now, I’m working on HIIT (high intensity interval training) and Denise Austin. Anyone care to tell me why the scale isn’t coming down? So not fair.

E. B. Davis said...

My gym shut down due to Covid last spring. It opened back up in the fall, and with a doctor's note avowing the need for exercise (required by the county health department), I resumed. But then around Thanksgiving our Covid numbers started spiking. For me it was like seeing the joggers and bikers along the road doing their thing with cars and trucks whizzing by at 70 mph. I'd rather be alive than a very fit corpse. So, I stopped. I'm way out of shape now. We walked on the beach yesterday shelling. I'm sore! Now that I got the vaccine, I need to go back. Trouble is--I think I need to get in shape to go back to the gym. I'll cream myself if I don't step it up.

KM Rockwood said...

My best bet for motivation is to trick myself into a situation where exercise is the best available option.

When I was working, I would haul myself out of bed, take the dogs for a walk, then get on the road by 5 AM. It was still too early for my brain to be working well. When I did wake up fully, I was half-way to the pool at 5:15 AM when there was little to do but continue and go swimming.

After I retired, I went to a water fitness (that's really fitness in quotes--the instructor was no more fit than the rest of us, but it did make a difference and we enjoyed it) where I made some very good friends, so I could view it as an active social time rather than exercise.

Debra H. Goldstein said...

Thanks everyone... I see a running theme... like DO IT! Of course, I haven't moved the shroud since I wrote the piece, but I did pull out my fit bit and noticed that I really don't move much. As Scarlett said, "I'll think about it tomorrow."

Marilyn Levinson said...

Oddly enough, I'm exercising more than usual since COVID. I take two Zoom exercise classes and either walk or do other exercises most days. As for writing: I always have a procrastination problem and end up writing at the end of each day. Having to check in with a fellow mysery writer each day eggs me on—not that we're in competition, but it's nice to have company.

Molly MacRae said...

It's a struggle, isn't it? Before I retired, I walked to and from work - even when it was raining, icy, snowy, or below zero. Now I'm a cream puff and I don't miss walking in extreme weather. My husband and I do try to take a good walk every afternoon - on days I don't look out the window and whine that I don't want to.

But I seem to be more comfortable on my feet than sitting, so I have a stand up desk. Sometimes I just stand, but usually my feet are dancing around. And I use the Pomodoro technique - write for 25 minutes, take a break for 5. During the break, I walk fast from one end of the house to the other, over and over, while carrying 3-pound weights. 5 minutes of that adds up to about 550 steps and that has to be good for something, right?

Putting fingers to keyboard, even for only 5 or 20 minutes, is good for something, too. I know it is.

M. Johnston said...

cj Sez: Though I've always done a little bit of exercise off and on all my life, I am not at all in love with it. But shoulder and knee cartilage tears/rehab notwithstanding, I go to the "wellness center" to work out every week...two or three times for a couple of miles on a bicycle then some weight training and twice a week for Zumba or low-impact aerobics classes. I consider these trips part of the prescription my cardiologist gave me after heart bypass surgery. That was 13 years ago. Keep at it, Debra, until it becomes a habit, like making yourself sit your butt in the chair and writing (which I'm still working on).

Unknown said...

Several comments have the right idea - get a dog and take it for a walk, several walks a day. Then you can get out in the fresh air (not in pollen season), see the neighbors, and maybe even get an idea on how to murder someone. No, letting the dog out in a fenced back yard doesn't count. PS - I talk a good game.

Shari Randall said...

I try to walk 2-3 miles a day and dance around the house when some good music plays. I used to do a lot more dance, especially Zumba, and I miss it. I know just what Kait means by that "stretched" feeling but I haven't felt that way in ages! Dancing to me doesn't feel like exercise, so maybe it's the perfect exercise?

Debra H. Goldstein said...

I was never a good dancer, Shari. Unknown... that's me (except I'm honestly admitting I talk a good game. We had beautiful weather this week and I walked once (if you don't count getting the mail or taking the garbage can out). Okay, I will hereby say I've been shamed by the WWK members.... to the point that tomorrow I will unshroud my Cubii Jr. (it's supposed to rain). I might even bring in the hand weights to try Molly's concept. (they are holding up a shelf in the garage)

Jennifer J. Chow said...

Fun post, Debra! My reading goal is to look for more diverse authors and venture into darker books.

My exercise has been up and down because of the pandemic. I'm doing less of my usual routines, but I have managed to go on almost-daily walks. (The weather here in L.A. is typically mild.)