Staying on Track

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# of Bikram sessions done last week – 2

Straying off track is really easy. When the boy, my yoga partner, fell ill early last Tuesday, we made the decision to take a break from Bikram till Friday. As it turned out, we didn’t find our way back to class till Sunday. Over the four days of inactivity, we got lost in the comfort of good food, long naps and lazing around. Although we had largely recovered by Friday, it was easy to allocate another day to our convalescence.

My workout regimes have always come to naught in the past because I’ve never been one to stay on track. I find that when I’ve created a habit of working out, it’s easy to get myself to the gym or to class. However, once I allow myself a day or two of rest, it quickly morphs into longer breaks of three, four days or even weeks. I suppose this has to be common because I ran a search and surfaced countless articles about staying motivated. Motivation: How to Get it and How to Keep It by Dee Greenberg on Elephant Journal (my new favourite resource) lists some ideas to help gain and maintain motivation. They are:

Let go of black and white thinking. Don’t beat yourself up if you miss a workout, skip yoga or cheat on your diet. Acknowledge the mistake, forgive yourself and then get right back on the horse.
Find a mentor. Having a mentor or idol (someone you look up to) is probably the single best thing you can do for inspiration. Always keep this person in the forefront of your mind. In those moments when you find your motivation waning and you feel you are about to jump ship – – ask yourself how this person would deal with these same thoughts you are having? What is it that separates the “winners” from the “quitters?” Often the main difference is mindset. Embody the same winning mindset that you see modeled by your mentor.
Dedicate your practice or your discipline to your mentor. If you jump ship, let it feel like you are letting that person down. This mentality of wanting to shine in someone’s eyes will go a long way towards keeping you on track. If this mentor has encouraged you in the past, know that you will be letting them down if you quit.
Remind yourself why you are practicing your discipline –– create a mantra and repeat the mantra silently in your head every chance you get. This will program your mind for success.
Write the mantra on an index card and hang it on your bathroom mirror, on your refrigerator and on your computer monitor.
Find inspirational photos of your mentor. You can also use any objects or symbols that will remind you of your mission and keep you inspired. In yoga there are many statues and symbolic artwork that serve this purpose. Keep such objects close at hand at all times
Do some creative problem solving and create some personal tools that will keep you inspired and motivated on your path.
If you are trying to create a new habit –– cut yourself some slack. Remember the goal is progress not perfection.

I think there are many things I can learn from the points made in the article. For starters, I need to let go of my black and white thinking. I really have to stop being so harsh on myself. Every time I wander from my regime, I beat myself up internally for it, whether it be for missing Bikram or eating a little too much carb. I carry that lousiness with me and it puts me in a depressed state. At those points, I often feel like I can only be redeemed after a certain number of back-to-back classes, which really is no solution at all!

Also, I need to remember the purpose of my regime. While the most tangible benefit is a positive change to the way I look, I have to remember that what’s more important is I stay healthy. After all, there are plenty of methods to lose weight, but not all of them stem from the correct mindset. Warren and I intend to remain childless for life (don’t give me flak for this, please) and thus, we’ve started planning for our old age together. Apart from being financially secure, we really need to ensure that we are healthy. This will guarantee a better quality of life in our golden years.

The point about doing some creative problem solving is rather interesting because I’ve actually already done that through starting this blog! In a way, forcing myself to blog about my fitness journey ensures that I continue on the journey. It’s also something I can return to on days when I feel less motivated.

I especially like the last point about how creating a new habit should not be a quest for perfection, but progress. For starters, I’m going to cut myself some slack today and take a break. I’ve been nursing a headache all weekend, and while I really want to drag myself to Bikram today, I think the biggest mistake I make is to jump head-on into too-strict regimes and burn out way too early. For instance, we probably wouldn’t have fallen ill in the first place had we not gone from no exercise to daily Bikram classes. :P

I’m going to take it slow and start off the week with some Vinyasa tomorrow evening. That ought to increase the chances of me ending off the week with a bang.

Slow and steady does it.

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