“Let me just say: I’m not a person who works out.” The physical therapist working the pinched nerve in my neck was explaining the exercises as if I were. Never have been.
In fifth grade, the principal invited me to his office to discuss my complaints about having to play softball on a dirt field in the blazing sun in my dress, which I was required to wear to school (we had no PE uniforms.) He looked a lot like Mr. Feeney on Boy Meets Word and told me a story about being chased by a bull and somersaulting over the fence in the nick of time. I remained unmoved.
I rode my bike, roller-skated, played out in the neighborhood all day and was not overweight. I argued that dodgeball in my dress had no place in an academic curriculum. It was like being a suspect in the interrogation room demanding a lawyer.
My position remains the same on forced recreation. I usually get my 10,000 steps a day with 12 hours of movement and 30 minutes of activity. I enjoy watching other people compete because it’s entertaining. Good for them – our bodies, our choices.
This pinched nerve problem is partially due to whiplash from a rear-end collision 20+ years ago. Last year, I couldn’t move for 10 days and have never been in so much pain. So I have to make major changes to prevent it from happening again. Now I’m trying to figure out how to motivate myself to consistently perform the exercises.
In Stick With It, Sean Young used his psychology research to develop a process for changing habits. Dr. Young, a UCLA medical school professor and director of the UCLA Center for Digital Behavior and UC Institute for Prediction Technology, writes that any change that will take longer than 3 months is a dream, not a goal. He suggests a stepladder approach to making a change. The steps are incremental goals, leading to lasting change in behavior. Reflecting on your accomplishments is an important part of the process, however, dwelling on failure is not recommended.
“You need to figure out how to make something important enough to you that you’re willing to change for it.”
Your reward for achievement has to be “truly captivating,” according to Young. “The reward needs to feel just as powerful as it would feel if the person were actually in a cage yearning to get out or get fed.”
So, what’s my currency? What reward could I give myself that’s truly captivating? That’s a tough one since it might be food and sleep. Maybe a pink delicious cupcake from Icing on the Cupcake – as long as I exercise to counteract those 450-ish calories.