I went for a run this morning, my usual 3 miler. I have been enjoying this lately, as long as I keep the distance short and the frequency low (about once a week). It feels like a celebration of my no-longer-strained hamstring muscle.
This morning, however, I just wasn’t feeling the good “mojo” as I headed out. I was just dragging a little. After a few blocks, I overheard myself (the automatic voice): “This is HARD! If it’s this hard already, it will only get worse as you keep going. You think you are tired NOW . . . may as well just walk . . . or go home and drink coffee while you read e-mails.”
Not to sound TOO psychotic, but there actually was a response to this nonsense. Call it a conversation between my internal devil and angel, or maybe my powerful self vs. her wimpy sister.
In the end, the wimp was no match for POWERFUL ME. “This is b.s., you wimp! It has been a while since you felt like this, and remember what happened last time? . . . Yep, you noticed that it actually got easier, not harder, as you kept going. Remember how you got into a rhythm of steady breathing and it seemed easier, almost like the way a car glides once it revs up to speed and steadies out?”
What a great reminder this was for me today! “Getting up to speed” is even a phrase we use to describe the labor intensive, harder segment of a learning curve. It applies to anything new.
Changing eating habits is very hard at first for many people. Why? Because it is new. It takes some time to get into a rhythm that feels more effortless. In the meantime, it can feel very deliberate and . . . well, HARD. This does not necessarily mean that the plan is bad. It may just be new.
When running was new for me, I did not realize that starting with slightly low energy did not always mean it would be a low energy run from start to finish. Time and experience have shown me that this is almost never the case. Putting my focus on rhythmic breathing has almost always made it seem easier, but it always takes a few minutes to find that feeling.
After years of running, I now have the experience to let me remember that. It is what helps me to tune out the “wimp” and hear the wisdom of what I have learned.
The equivalent of rhythmic running is consistent eating habits. With time and experience, confidence grows when there is a “groove” that feels right. Being in the groove of healthy eating just feels like settling in and being more comfortable . . . struggling less. Up and down eating patterns are the equivalent of unsteady gasps of air. Eating too little is like holding your breath, while overeating is like gasping to get enough air (after holding your breath!). Breath holding (not eating enough) creates the gasps (overeating).
It all comes back to being open to learning – not assuming that we know what will happen. Staying present enough to know what it enough – air, food, . . . – helps to find the right rhythm.