One Day in a Row

NunsThey say it takes at least thirty days of continued practice to develop or change a habit. I never quite got that. I mean, how much time are you supposed to spend each day? 24 hours? Do you have to do it a the same time every day? And who are “they”, anyway? “They” are surely the most oft-quoted source in all history, or so they say. I think “they” submit all those Wikipedia “facts”.

Since I am unable to string together even a week of consistency, much less thirty days, it may explain why I have so few actual habits. The only thing I do every day, at the same time, without fail, is brush my teeth. I usually shower, unless I’m sick, but the shower could occur at pretty much anytime during the day, depending on how early in the day I get distracted and whether I’m going anywhere. It’s one of the pluses/minuses of a home office. Excuse me- I have to go get a cup of coffee.

I’m back. What was I babbling about? Oh, forming habits. My lack of consistency and discipline certainly explains why I can’t play the hammered dulcimer, finish my book and and why I will always be a yoga beginner. I get excited when I string together two days in a row.

With that lousy track record I am embarking on yet another is a long line of unkept promises. This time, it’s to eat clean, do yoga, mediate every morning, and write for at least an hour. I am pleased to announce that I have already done these things One Day in a Row! Yay, me. Only twenty-nine more to go. Do weekends count? Surely not.

I have this timer. In fact, I have a bunch of them scattered around the house. I set the timer for fifteen minutes, based on the theory that we can do anything for fifteen minutes, no matter how distasteful. (Who says so? They do.) Clean part of a junk drawer. Match socks. Record expenses. Write. Write business stuff, not fun stuff. When the alarm goes off, I have permission to stop and reward myself. I just spent fifteen minutes trying to find one of the timers, so I got another cup of coffee.

I have the attention span of a moth. (I think I just saw a hawk in the chicken coop. Nope, nevermind. Just a chicken with big aspirations.) Forming new habits takes concentration and patience, two other attributes I was not born with. In an attempt to gain control over my barrel-of-monkeys mind, I have been an inconsistent but devoted mediator for most of my adult life. It’s a Looney Tunes version, with wild and crazy thoughts and images flying in and out as I doggedly chant a mantra, yelling it over the chaos. I may be the only mediator who’s exhausted when done . But I won’t give up. I may win yet. Of course if I could just meditate for thirty days in a row…

Timer just went off. Time to write something business-like. Maybe Time Management? But first I need another cup of coffee.

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Yogoptimism

I’m fussing for the right invented word. Yogoptimism? Yogamistic? Whatever the word, the definition is: that completely unrealistic belief that, after your very first home yoga practice in way too long, your body will look completely transformed when you walk by the bathroom mirror mere minutes after completing four sets of sun salutations. You expect visible results from a small amount of sweat and a large amount of grunts, but do you get them? Hell, no! Maybe the right word already exists: delusional.
We love instant results. Every magazine cover has a new version of “Lose 20 Pounds by Friday!” Wow, that long? How about “this afternoon”? The recipes are too complicated and/or expensive, so we substitute easy alternatives, like chocolate for fresh figs, wine for water and butter for “no butter.” And if we haven’t lost at least ten of those pounds by Day 2, we lose motivation. Another broken promise.
Some recipes call for some exotic additive newly discovered to have fat-burning properties, like eye of newt, which they don’t carry at Stop and Shop. Or suggest you drink a cup of warm lemon water liberally sprinkled with cayenne pepper that will jump start your fat-burning engines! They only thing that concoction will jump start is your need for Chapstick and Mylanta.
Then they actually expect you to exercise, on top of the shopping, cooking and starving. Walk 30 minutes a day. I do- only in smaller segments, like from my office to the kitchen and back. (Or to the bathroom, if I downed one of those warm honey and cayenne pepper bombs.) And there are stairs involved! Yay, me! I bought one of those wrist thingies that help you set a goal and shame you at the end of the day by flashing “30% of goal” along with tips of how to get off the couch more often.
I got a Fitball for my office chair. It’s like sitting on half a nubby ball, and is supposed to help offset the damage from excessive sitting. I used to sit on a exercise ball, but I kept rolling out of the office.
And then there’s yoga. Yoga and I have the ultimate on/off relationship. I am hoping that sometime in my life I will string together a whole week of consecutive practice. But I’ll settle for three days in a row. My excuses have excuses. My latest one is happening right now- I have to write a blog post! Meanwhile my dog is wondering what happened to my downward dog.
To get into the yoga frame of mind I sometimes join a real series of sessions where I have to get into my car and drive someplace. I pay in advance for further reinforcement. Or I buy another “necessary” gadget- a block, a thicker mat. But I now have all that I need, so I had no good excuses until I stumbled on the blog post. Thank goodness.
My most recent yoga session consists of variations on sun salutations, including a few planks and several downward dogs. I am ably assisted by Malachy, our Lab/Pitbull (or “Labradorabull”), who seems to believe that dog drool is a motivator, and who lays down across the mat and farts when he’s tired of drooling. He adds a certain sense of adventure. Me, I am mostly trying not to fall over.
My wrist thingie just buzzed me. Apparently writing does not count as exercise. Well how about brain exercise, you annoying nag?! All right, all right, I hear ya! I will just have to bite the bullet and do what I need to do. Sign up for a yoga retreat!
I’ll bet I can lose 10 pounds just from eating there!