Is Anyone Else Ever This Dumb?
So I was feeling pretty pleased with myself recently when I noticed that I was actually making some progress with a couple of my ab exercises, despite having had a period of bad behavior when I'd laid off entirely for a week or two.
Apparently the rest did me good, because after after years of settling into the same routine, all of a sudden I felt strong enough to push myself further and further each time! It wasn't just a good day, but workout after workout, I was finding the motivation and strength to power though more reps than I'd ever done before!
Until I realized... somewhere along the line I'd started counting differently. These were exercises that had a left and a right side, and I used to count "one" after completing both sides. Now I was going left: "one," right "two."
So I was actually doing way less than I had before, but feeling incredibly smug about it.
And this is not the first time I've had such disappointments:
My walking and running times at a newly discovered running track were so much better than I thought they'd be--my half-assed but consistent training efforts had apparently paid off big time, now that I could measure them! I was so psyched I started going to the track all the time--how could I have ever thought running tracks were boring?-- and I found myself abandoning my previous hilly, unmeasurable routes.
Until one day I discovered the track was some sort of freakish old-fashioned non-standard thing that was Way Under a quarter mile. My times were NOT suddenly faster than I'd ever gone before. I sort of wish I hadn't asked, or that the smarty pants soccer team guy hadn't been so pleased and amused to set me straight about it. (Haven't been back to the track since then, oddly enough).
Oh and that stupid "gravitron" machine at the Gold's Gym in D.C.? The one that made me feel SO proud and pumped about how little help I needed to do pull-ups and tricep dips? Too bad I finally noticed that weights labeled in 10 lb increments were actually 20 lb weights, and I was needing twice the help I'd thought I was getting.
Why am I not more suspicious when my usual half-assed efforts all of a sudden yield amazing results? When something is suddenly harder, I'm quite quick to assume there's something wrong with the machine, or that the trail that looks flat must actually be uphill--err, in both directions? Or that it's the wind or hormones or what I ate for breakfast or the cycle of the moon or something.
I just want to believe, so bad, that I'm really awesome and strong and dedicated, without actually putting out the kind of effort to be any of those things.
Heart Rate Goes Up, Brain Shuts Down
Part of my problem too is that I can't think and exercise at the same time. Trying to do six intervals during my treadmill routine proved impossible until I made myself do them at specific time increments--because I discovered I could not count to six.
I even tried putting six pennies in my pocket and taking one out after each interval--but I'd keep forgetting to do it... or thinking maybe I'd forgotten to do it. Surely there couldn't be three f*cking pennies still left--I must have done at least four intervals by now! Maybe I just forgot to take out one of the pennies?
Screw It, It Is What It Is
One answer to the painful disappointment that accompanies faux performance gains: stop measuring and caring that much about how much I do. It's pretty clear after several decades of working out that I'm not willing to push myself hard enough to do amazing things. And I'm pretty content, over all, with my consistent if not spectacular performance. So why get so excited if some number gets big all of a sudden?
Damn ego, wish I could send it packing. But that would probably take some sort of self-improvement effort--and I don't seem to be willing to put in a bunch of time doing that, either.
What about you folks, do you measure your performance and have expectations about it? Ever go through any ups and downs over the results?