In not wanting to waste my summers, I have taken on a number of summer resolutions. There are a few that have to do with breaking bad habits, and others have to do with starting good ones. What follows are my thoughts, rationale, and current state regarding a some of these.
Work Out Every Day – I started this one because I noticed my body going through a bit of a transition. For one, I am getting older; I am not old, but I am getting older. From the time I was eighteen years old, I have weighed exactly 165 pounds. For almost a decade my weight never shifted even an ounce. Over just the last year I gained twenty pounds, and by February I weighed 185 pounds. I attribute this to a few factors: first, I am rapidly approaching thirty, and my metabolism is slowing down. Second, I had a very hectic couple of years while I earned my master’s degree, welcomed my first child, earned little money (no salary…graduate stipend only), completed my first year of teaching, got laid off, found another job, moved to a new city, started teaching at a new school, stayed broke for a while, etc, etc… I think that stress eating, and stress itself, was contributing most significantly to my weight gain. Finally, I am a type I diabetic, and I began a new insulin therapy in the spring of last year. I was warned that weight gain was a side effect, but my doctor told me that I gained too much weight to attribute it to insulin alone. She also told my that my cholesterol was going up, but I could prevent going on meds just by exercising.
I would love to confess that I wised up right away and began exercising regularly, but I did not. I put it off and put it off. Finally, when Atticus was born and I began to realize how much my children would need me and how much Clara already emulates what she sees me do, I decided it was time to put my ass in gear. Once Atticus came home from the hospital and got settled in to the family, and I began my summer school schedule and knew what to expect each day, I began going to the gym regularly.
My apartment complex has a nice gym with newish equipment. Lately, because I finish teaching and am home by 1:00 in the afternoon, I get to work out before anyone else is there. This is fantastic, as I was pretty self-conscious about it when I first started.
I can say that since I began I have only missed days when I absolutely could do nothing about it. Otherwise, I go to the gym every afternoon, and I am typically in there for an hour to an hour-and-a-half. I’m working with weights, doing cardio, and upping the ante (just a little) each week. This has been going on for about four weeks now.
So far, I can already tell that the exercise is kicking in. I haven’t weighed myself yet, but I would guess that I have already lost about ten pounds. I am stronger, and I have more energy and endurance. The biggest thing I’ve noticed is that I’m sleeping a lot better at night, and I feel more rested when I wake up. I don’t think I will be able to shed the last ten pounds, or that I’d even want to, but I do want to tone up some of the stress-fat I’ve put on.
I hope that I will be able to keep it up once the school year gets back into swing. I will have to get used to exercising in the evenings when the gym is crowded. Hopefully the energy I’ve gained will stick around, so exhaustion won’t be a factor. I think that I’ve been at it long enough now, though, that it’s become a habit bordering on addiction. Perhaps that will be enough to keep going once my schedule changes.
Read and Write Every Day – I started this when I finished graduate school. I sang the usual grad-student liturgy:
“I can’t wait to finish school / so that I can read and write what I want.”
I noticed quickly that once I was out of school I actually began spending a significant amount of time in front of the television. I told myself I deserved it. After all, I had worked so hard, and needed a break. I think some of this had to do with the aforementioned stress, too.
I realized around the spring time of this year that I had yet to write much. I had read a few books, but only incidentally; I had not deliberately read anything on my list. I then realized that if I didn’t start immediately, I never would. Around the same time a friend of mine spoke to me about starting a blog, and I thought that it might be the perfect way to start a new habit. The nice thing about writing more is that it makes me want to read more, too. So, I got started right away. [Poor Scribbler] is the result.
This one has actually been more difficult to stick to than my exercise resolution. I don’t know why. I have been writing a few times a week, but usually just before I have to update the blog. I have been reading, too, but I have been less diligent in it than in my writing. I have read a lot of other blogs, and I have been keeping up with the news, and I have been doing a lot of research on managing a successful blog, so I guess, technically, I have been reading. I still have only completed one of the books on my summer reading list, and all the rest are in some phase of being read.
Well, summer is winding down rapidly. I hope that as I think more about this it will motivate me to pick up my books. Maybe I need to devote less time to reading online and more time to sitting on the couch or the deck with a beer and a book.
Always Do What I Must Before I Do What I Want – This resolution was developed more out of necessity than anything else. I am a tremendous time-waster, if I don’t check myself. It is such a deep part of my character that I actually, at times, used to get offended and irritated (irrationally and unjustifiably so, I know…) by the super type-A über–efficient sorts of people. However, when I began teaching, and especially since I’ve become a father of two, I have had to make some adjustments.
Really, this resolution helps serve the purpose of accomplishing all of my other resolutions. Typically, when I make a successful change to my behavior it is because I have treated that new thing as a non-negotiable. When I fail to keep my resolutions it is because I never fully committed to them to begin with. Once I have bought-in, so to speak, I usually am quite successful with adopting change. What I lack in discipline in sticking to routines or habits I make up for by establishing strong priorities in how I spend my time. Sure, every now and again I slip up or give up, but as my life grows more full I believe that this final resolution is going to a key to not merely surviving, but thriving.
Ultimately, revising my behavior and lifestyle boils down to a couple of things. First, I want to glorify God with my life. Second, I have a really cool family, and I want to honor them and be around them as long as I can.
I am caught up in a period, though, in which life is speeding by, and I feel that I am coming up with less and less time to do the things I want. This mentality can lead to starting new (and old) bad habits, or dropping good ones. Why is it that way? There are still many things I want to be able to add to the list, like working regularly on my book, saving more money or paying off debt at a higher rate, visiting my family at least once a year, or taking my kids somewhere fun every weekend.
Perhaps a miracle is in order, one of the same breed as the fish and the loaves, but applied to time management.
This frequently seems to be my final thought, at least in variations, but, oh, how I long for Eternity…