You know how it starts: "Hey [enter your friend's name who also fights low self esteem and different fad diets so they'll care and maybe actually try it themselves]! I just started a new regime. I'm in a hot yoga challenge where I go to the studio every day for 3 hours, 90 minutes in the morning plus 90 minutes in the afternoon after work (plus 2 hours in commute time but I can TOTALLY meditate on a packed rush hour train so NAW BIGGIE). Then I consume nothing but raw, local, vegetarian, vegan, minimally processed veggies and nuts! With fresh juices that I make for myself as a treat! NOTHING COULD GO WRONG. THIS IS SO SUSTAINABLE I CAN'T WAIT TO FEEL SO PURE AFTER I DO THIS FOR A MONTH."
Oh? You couldn't finish that program? Something happened and you let yourself rest one day while you were home with mind numbing menstrual cramps? You let yourself eat a cookie and then ate 27 and had no desire for lunges and beet juice? You had a martini on your very empty stomach with your buddies after a horrible day at work and that turned into several and you missed your 5 am wake up call?
If I've learned one thing in life so far, it's this: Make. Changes. You. Can. Sustain.
It's not realistic to think you're doing to make an enormous change to "do it right" and then think you'll be different and able to maintain afterwards. Actual change takes years. Or more. I've made the mistake of thinking short intense bursts of developing a new skill or health regime will add up to transformation over time. And what I've learned is: If I can't sustain it daily, it's not going to last.
I don't know about you, but social media definitely makes me feel like a failure. Now, don't get me wrong, I am a little bit of a failure. But THIS BLOG IS AN ATTEMPT TO TURN THAT AROUND OK?
Frequently, when I look at the amazing staged photographs or the ridiculously complicated and expensive "home crafted" beverages or workout routines, I tend to feel like what I'm doing isn't good enough. But the impressive end goals are never what day to do day practice looks like, no matter what you're working on. You've heard that you can't get to any level of success (in any field) without hard work. But an idea which I find to be crucial is that consistency and realistic sustainability may actually be more effective in getting where you want to be long term while appearing less glamorous at the time. Sure, it sounds more exciting to say you went to the gym for 2 hours twice a day for a few weeks. But can you sustain that? No. You'll injure yourself. Routine and habituation is key. Day to day practice of anything you're working on to better yourself is frequently grueling, frustrating, and infinitesimally slow. SO. SO. TEDIOUSLY. STAGNANTLY. SLOW. But that's how you reach a goal.
As a classical pianist, I'm used to the mind numbing, back aching, head wall bashing frustration of hours and hours of practicing per day. That's a necessary part of maintaining the skill, unfortunately. But I'll never forget reading about an amateur adult piano competition (I believe it was the Van Cliburn) in which one of the winners had gotten to a reasonably advanced level by starting out at 15 minutes a day. That's all. That's not even a warm up in my world. But what you can do with 15 minutes of a focus in a day is ASTOUNDING, if you can commit to it.
So that's where I got the idea to do my 15 minutes of yoga a day. No rules, no excuses, no days off. As someone who used to go to yoga classes regularly I bought into the idea of doing it "properly" for a while. I thought the only way to get to the level of strength and flexibility that I desired was to lose weight, practice for at least a couple of hours a day, and continue doing this forever. And what do you know? I haven't ever been able to keep that up.
Traditionally, there are a lot of rules you pick up from teachers as you go: Don't eat beforehand, don't listen to music, don't have distractions around, don't talk, breathe only this way, the classroom has to be hot, or the classroom should NEVER be hot! Practice for long periods of time, you should be a vegetarian, why aren't you wearing all lululemon? Your pants are see through. Etc. ETC. ETC. All of these rules contributed to be not being able to muster the gumption to do it regularly. So this time around, I decided to do it differently.
I made myself a chart that I put on the fridge and had reward in place for making it a month (foot massages at this place that then lost my reservation AND I DIDN'T GET TO GO AND I'M STILL REALLY FUCKING PISSED ABOUT IT). So no matter how full of food, tired or drunk I was, I did it. Sometimes I did it before bed at 2 am and counted it for the previous day, but I made sure it happened. I let myself watch tv while I did it, or listen to music if I felt like it. And sometimes I did it totally "properly" in silence and a cute little outfit.
After I passed the month mark and continued on the second, I really started to feel changes:
1. After only a month, I am considerately more flexible. I go through a lot of the same poses to stretch different muscle groups, and it's getting easier and easier to dip in a little bit deeper each time. I'm getting closer to the splits (never been able to do them) which is my next goal and this one very stiff area of my back is starting to gain more mobility.
2. I'm not as sore after lifting weights, and the turnaround time is shorter. I go really heavy on my legs once a week, and sometimes I'm sore almost until the next session. This has really helped with getting up and down the subway steps, TRUST.
3. Even if I had a fucking horrible day and I'm feeling really down about myself, doing a little bit of something I don't necessarily feel like doing but I know is good for my body lets me go to sleep knowing I did something right. And that always makes me feel a little better.
4. My boyfriend got some really great creepy pictures out of the deal (see below).
5. I'm proud of myself for starting something and sticking to it, even if it seems small and easy. Follow through is powerful and helps me feel more positive about what I'm doing with my life. I feel like reaching this goal is helping me reach other goals, especially in areas where I'm particularly procrastinating ( LIKE WRITING NEW BLOG POSTS HAHA).
What's something you've worked on it bits over the years but never maintained daily? Comment below.
There's that creepy one. Also pictured: tequila and tacos in my belly. But hey, my back flexibility is really starting to come. I've struggled with that FOREVER. Helping my posture too.