When you want to make a change in your life, do you have a tendency to go balls-out? For example, going from not lifting weights at all to going to “I’m going to start lifting weights 4 days a week for an hour each day.” Or “Starting this week I am going to plan, prep, and cook ALL of my meals at home!” (when you typically eat out 3-4 times per week).
I am one of the aforementioned humans. I have a tendency to overestimate my motivation and drive, and as a result, I go like gang busters for a few days, or even maybe a few months, and then I peter out and return to my original set point.
My friend and teacher Dinneen Viggiano had a great newsletter about “MVA” Minimum Viable Amount. She verbalized something I have noticed but ignored when it comes to my own life – even though I know “X” is super good for me and will help me become the person I want to be, if “X” is hard, boring and/or time-consuming, I will do it for a bit and then give up. And then I will feel bad about giving up. And that will make me even LESS motivated to do ANYTHING – even something small – to improve my wellbeing. And thus begins a pity party that ends with me wondering who do I think I am and why do I think I am qualified to help ANYONE improve their life. Things get dark pretty quickly in Heather-Head-Land.
Dineen offers a solution to this nip this negativity spiral in the bud:
- Start out doing something that you seriously think you would honestly really do.
- Do it regularly for a while and see how you feel (see how your pain responds).
- Start to pare it back a bit and see if you still feel benefits while doing the smaller amount.
- If you get to a tipping point where the pain starts to return, titrate back to the slightly higher dose.
Here is how I am implementing this advice in my own life:
- I am working on getting my low back feeling better, and I know that working on my breathing would help.
- I worked with an Athletic Trainer awhile back who gave me several breathing exercises to do. I was supposed to do them 2-3 times a day, and they take about 15 minutes each time. I kinda did them for a while, and then, well, you know. I humaned and stopped.
- SO, I am starting with doing 2 minutes of Constructive Rest whilst breathing from my diaphragm every night before I go to bed. Two minutes is so easy that I have a hard time convincing myself that it’s a burden.
- I’m finding that at the end of the 2 minutes, I often have started to relax and breathe more deeply and I want to go longer, but I’m not! I’m just doing 2 minutes until I feel as if the habit is ingrained.
Now that I type it all out, I’m kind of following Dineen’s advice backwards. I am using a “tiny little action step” to build the habit, and then assessing the effects, so I can potentially do more, but the overall gist is the same:
FIND THE DOSAGE THAT YOU WILL ACTUALLY DO AND THAT ACTUALLY EFFECTS SOME CHANGE IN YOUR SYSTEM, AND DO IT CONSISTENTLY.
If you are overwhelmed, bored, or frustrated with your exercise plan, maybe you could experiment with doing a little less and see if a smaller dose will get you the same results. I think it’s a universal truth that doing less and doing it mindfully and consistently is better for our mindbodies.
Lastly, I want to put in a little plug for a fundraiser for the QC Yoga Foundation. This is a local non-profit organization that is trying to bring yoga to as many people in our community as possible. They (or maybe I should say “we” because I’m on the Board) are hosting a super fun event on 7/9/22 called Fireflies and Flowers. Music, tasty food, flowers, mid-summer vibes, picnic, and connection to your community – what more could you ask for??
If you are interested, you can “Buy a Blanket” of 8 tickets here or individual tickets here. I would love to see you there! I am trying to put together a group of 8, so we can get a blanket. Let me know if you’re interested.
Space to be Human Lab
- If you have a family member, friend, or coworker who has been sidelined by pain or tension, I would be so grateful if you refer them to me, so we can see how massage, meditation, and movement can get them back to doing what they love. For every Referral who books with me, you get a coupon for $10 off your next session! Your friend can find more information about Space to be Human here.
I hope you are having a delightful Sunday and can find some space to do nothing and be okay with it. 🙂
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