NaBlogWriMo 8: Cold Snap

We are in the middle of our first cold snap of the 2018 – 2019 winter here in Albuquerque. Yesterday’s high was 40 whole degrees, with overnight lows in the 20s. Lor and I are dressed in multiple thermal layers, huddled around the space heaters, praying for Spring to come and save us.

I was chatting with a guy from Cincinnati yesterday who I was saying it is currently warmer back home than it is here. “I thought Albuquerque was warmer than this!” he exclaimed. “If it is like this in November, how bad is it in January?”

Just for the heck of it, I looked up Cincinnati’s weather this morning. In icy Ohio, it is currently 37 degrees Fahrenheit. Here in the desert Southwest, it is currently 24 degrees.

I never thought I would want to move North for the winter.

That Icy Feeling

Apparently, that frozen feeling is just going around these days. We are also in the middle of a “cold” period in our daily exercise routine. To wit, we no longer have one.

It has been weeks since we darkened the door of our local gym. Right at the worst time of year to stop going, I should add. Winter is when the metabolism starts slowing down and trying extra hard to store fat. It is also the time when you are less likely to actually go places and do things, preferring to stay home bundled under blankets.

So, what happened? Why did we gradually peter out on our religious exercise routine?

Well, you know. Life happened. Schedules got compressed. Depression struck. You name it, it sure happened.

I am now at the point where I can’t even think about exercising without cringing – partially in shame, partially in exhaustion. And I am supposedly a fitness expert. I have letters to put after my name and everything.

The Movement Condundrum

As it is, only my Fitbit is currently keeping me mobile at all. Once an hour, every hour, it buzzes on my arm, and I force myself to do something. Take out the trash. Pick up after the dog. Fold some laundry. Anything that will convince the evil spirit that lives on my wrist that I am really doing its bidding.

But, the last time I really exercised? That was last month. The dog was going stir crazy, running around the house, so I took her for a walk. She was so hyper that she kept straining on the leash, rushing ahead of me. In order to keep up with her, the walk turned into a run.

We wound up running about two miles.

And darned if it didn’t feel good. Just to be moving again. I promptly committed to myself that I would start doing this every day again.

And I promptly broke my promise to myself the next day, of course.

Even talking about it today makes me uncomfortable. There is nothing really stopping me from heading to the gym today. But Lor has a cold, and I have a ton of editing to do on C. Charel Kunz’ novel Reborn (available now on Storyshop, coming soon to Amazon!), and it is too damn cold anyway.

So, yeah. My motivational skills are lacking when I can’t even talk myself into doing something.

Structure Is The Key To Success

So, how am I going to get past this?

Structure. It is really the only solution.

After all, I can still run two miles. I still only weigh 178 pounds. The time to act is now, before entropy sets in. I would hate to face Spring of 2019 weighing over 200 pounds and gasping when I walk around the block.

So I need to institute structure around my workout routine. Telling myself all day long that I will go work out “in a while” obviously isn’t working.

Because I know a little secret about myself: I am a born procrastinator. There used to be a Mark Twain quote on my desk at work: “Never put off until tomorrow what you can do the day AFTER tomorrow.”

I am even the same way with writing, an activity I love. It is still very easy to get up first thing in the morning and look at my iPad with distaste. Maybe I could just look at Facebook or ESPN for a while? Or just play a couple rounds of XCOM or BattleTech on the PC?

And, next thing I know, it is noon, and my most productive writing hours are gone.

So, instead, I use the carrot and stick approach.

I absolutely do not allow myself to touch a video game or other interest until I have either A) written 500 words, or B) edited 1,000 words. The 500-word mark comes from needing to produce a 10,000-word episode every month for Fiction Vortex – 5 days a week x 4 weeks a month = 20 days to produce 10,000 words. Do the maths, and I have to create 500 words a day just to stay afloat.

This month, for NaBlogWriMo, I have committed to working on the daily blog post instead of the usual requirements, but you get the picture. (I actually got a full episode ahead of schedule on Executor just so I could write something different this month.)

There Is No Carrot, There Is Only Stick

The trick now is to figure out where to fit in the commitment to exercise. After all, I already know that exercise has an endorphin reward built right in. And that hasn’t been enough to get me moving. So, where the heck is my “Carrot?” My only motivation, therefore, has to be “Stick.”

There has to be a block of time, every day, specifically dedicated to fitness. Has to. I’ve given that advice to dozens of people going through bariatric surgery.

However, I am not willing to give up my most productive writing hours, early morning, in order to work out. And the rest of the time our daily schedules are so fluid that I have no idea where to fit in a dedicated block of time.

It is a pretty problem, to be sure.

I deal with forgetting to take my cocktail of daily anti-seizure meds with alarms throughout the day. I deal with lack of motivation to write by getting started immediately upon waking up before I am fully aware of what I am doing.

So, in a perfect world, I would exercise in the evening.

But I have so much trouble talking myself into leaving the house after 6 pm that I am pretty sure that idea is doomed to failure. Hell, I have trouble talking myself into leaving the house pretty much any time of day. So I will wrestle with it and let you all know what I come up with.

Sigh. At least my mind is getting a daily workout these days.

Catch you all tomorrow,

– Jeremy Schofield, CPT

(Told you there were letters after my name)

The Power of Motivation

Photo Credit: Universidad Politécnica de Madrid via Compfight cc

Mornings like this happen to me every once in a while. Normally, I get out of bed and head straight to the blog, full of fire and creative energy.

Today, I sat and stared at the screen, read through a couple other blogs, played some Hearthstone (new release happened yesterday), and just generally dicked around.

What, you may ask, does this have to do with gastric surgery/obesity/health/etc?

On the face of it, not much. But what happens if the thing I am supposed to be doing is not writing, but exercising? Or prepping a meal for the household? Or facing yet another day post-surgery, when it seems like every single person around me gets to do what they want, and eat what they want, while I am so restricted?

How, in short, do I stay motivated?

For a lot of people, photos work. When they are down about what they are having to do to stay healthy, they take a look at a pre-surgical photo and decide they never want to look (and feel) like that again. An example:

Please forgive my low-rent side-by-side. A Graphics Artist I am not.

Later in life, I can use BOTH of these as motivators, I suppose. Even at 24 pounds down, I still look like I have a loooong way to go. Maybe I can post this on the fridge wherever I live to remind me to make better food choices. And on my phone, to remind me to buy better stuff at the store. And on my computer, so I won’t get lazy.

Emotional motivators work too – many of my fellow bariatric patients tend to use their families as motivators: “I have to stay healthy so I can provide for my family…so I can see my kids grow up…so I can play with my grandkids.”  You get the picture. While many of us tend to be a little lazy when it comes to self-care, very few of us can deal with the idea of letting our loved ones down.

Not enough? How about some goal-based motivation? A bunch of people on the message boards and blogs I follow set themselves an athletic event in the future as a life goal demonstrating their success at weight loss – usually a 5K run. Others choose a specific outfit that they want to be able to fit into at the end of their weight loss – a dress, a swimsuit, maybe a tailored suit. (Mine is a pair of 38-inch waistline button-down 501s.) A tangible, measurable thing that can be focused on as the goal. Reach that goal? Awesome – create a new one. You can keep that going indefinitely.

Writers are frequently given the same piece of advice on how to deal with “writer’s block”: Sit down and write something. When you are lacking motivation, do the same thing – take that first step into whatever it is you are struggling with. The second step will be easier. Same for the third. Eventually, you will have gotten through the very thing that initially seemed like an impassable obstacle. Remind yourself that you are doing this for your own good, focus on your motivation, then move forward. It is as simple (and as difficult) as that.

Now Trying To Find Motivation To Wash The Dishes,

– Hawkwind