September 04, 2012
Same Ol' Story... Hooray?
(Same Ol' Story is a great Cyndi Lauper song, although the chorus is actually Same Ol' F--cking Story, which makes it way more fun to sing along to. That was the original title of this post too but I edited as that seemed like asking for trouble. Oh, and obligatory copyright disclaimer below if you're an attorney with a mean streak.)
So labor day weekend has come and gone, summer is over, and for many people this may mean going back to old familiar routines. The party's over! After various adventures, vacations, celebrations, and a multitude of both reasonable and ridiculous excuses for doing things we might not "normally" do, it's time to get back to business.
I'm psyched! Anyone else?
Because as much as I believe that shaking up your routine every now and then is crucial to long-term health and happiness, it's equally crucial to have an awesome routine to shake up in the first place.
And this is not to say that I didn't have an absolutely fantastic summer. Between travel and various festivities, I had a boatload of fun and a lot of fantastic excuses for consuming too much of the wrong things and exercising too little.
In fact I'm still buzzing from last night, where we attended the euphoric insanity that is the "Last Dance" at the Boatslip. This is our preferred method for marking the end of the season, which we do in a most undignified fashion, packed like sweaty sardines on a dance floor shoulder to shoulder with other crazed revelers, jumping up and down, screaming, laughing, and having a grand ol' time.
Wanna see what I mean? (Of course you don't give a crap, and I know that, but I'll post a minute and a half of last years "Last Dance" anyway to give you an idea--takes about 25 seconds for the nuttiness to ensue, and even though we were there you can't see us. Ah, the tedious oblivious narcissism of bloggers with invisible readers!)
Anyway, do you have some favorite healthy routines to go back to that make life easier? Or do you find yourself making unsatisfying compromises and screwing around and being all inefficient or self-indulgent in ways that aren't even fun?
Here are a few thoughts and suggestions, all of them totally obvious 'cause that's how I roll, so I'm hoping some of you have some to ideas to share as well.
1. Build healthy routines gradually. Or not!
Basically, you have to find out what sort of transitions work for you. Some people get all revved up when they start on a whole new lifestyle program, in which there is a whole new exciting set of rules, food choices, etc. and the sense of becoming a brand new healthy person. Whether it's Weight Watchers or Crossfit or a looneytunes regimen of colonic cleanses and grapefruit/batshit/chia smoothies, the black and white clarity of a structured program can make things much simpler than a series of individual decisions and temptations.
Many guys, I notice, will often wait longer than women do to make lifestyle changes. But then for some reason they seem better able to leap in whole hog to a new diet or exercise regime and change everything up all at once. Or am I making that up?
But most people, and women in particular, have had enough ups and downs and ons and offs to have built up a lot of psychological baggage around making healthy lifestyle changes. The whole notion of "good" foods and "bad" foods and being "virtuous" about exercise or "terrible" about not exercising can make for fertile ground for rebellion, self-sabotage, and unconscious expectations of failure.
So if that's the case, build a healthy routine gradually by taking one healthy change at a time--if you can find one that actually sounds fun and not miserable, so much the better.
2. Be Like a Multinational Corporation.
Nah, I don't mean go in and out of bancruptcy ever few years and fire a bunch of people and pollute the earth and bribe congressmen and ruin people's lives. I mean, take advantage of economies of scale.
Some of my healthy routines have become less time-consuming, and thus easier to maintain, by figuring how to make meals in bulk, shop for a number of meals at once, stock the cupboards with an abundance of healthy staples and snacks, and generally try to take advantage of momentum when I'm actually in the store or the kitchen. Then the day-to-day part of the routine is much easier when I have a lot of healthy stuff pre-made or readily available.
3. Build in Bliss and Savor Your Favorite Routines
One of the keys to maintaining long-term healthy habits, is building up a repertoire of activities, pursuits, meals, and reflective moments that you actually enjoy. But what good are these if your brain is constantly preoccupied with whatever's next on the agenda? It's easier to notice the novelty of new stuff, but chances are your day is packed with little pleasures already. So don't forget to tell your brain to shut the hell up for once, and just enjoy that morning cup of coffee, that evening walk, that Thursday evening gossipfest with your stitch and bitch group, or those lazy Sunday mornings snuggled up in bed.
And heck, this is equally true of the unhealthy stuff. If you're not going to quit smoking or scarfing up quarter pounders or downing way too many cosmopolitans, then at least enjoy them. The whole furtive/guilty/apologetic thing, in the absence of any real intention to change your behavior, is a total waste of delicious wickedness.
4. Keep Tweaking... but Don't Screw Around Too Much With What Works.
Over the years, as you find it easier and easier to make more healthy changes, you can become a bit delusional about the potential for optimizing and healthifying every f--cking thing in your life. And then all of a sudden, pleasurable routines you used to heartily enjoy turn into bland imitations of the real thing. Got a casserole so healthy you can barely force yourself through the first night, let alone look forward to the leftovers? Did you used to enjoy running until you started getting too bossy with yourself about pace and frequency and distance and optimal form? Then dial the health stuff back a bit and rediscover the joy!
So, yeah, a new season begins and I'm happily getting back to old routines (including at least sporadic blogging). And I'm looking forward to some new challenges and projects as well, which I will be sure to bore you about soon.
Anyone else fired up about "going back to the grind," or do have any great suggestions, or bitter complaints about how the summer went by WAY to fast? It's all good!
Copyright disclaimer for Cyndi Lauper photo: Source: Epic Records, who owns the rights. This is a low resolution image not used in such a way that a reader would be confused into believing that the article is written or authorized by the owner of the logo. Unless that reader was really, really stupid. Please don't sue me, Epic. Pollution photo by Peter Grima