Diet and Exercise Motivation Productivity

Building Habits with Paper Clips – Day 8

Since I haven’t posted in three days, you probably thought that I really had fallen off the wagon. Nothing could be further from the truth. The past few days have been quite busy and I had more important things to do than to blog about about my progress. I don’t feel like I need to blog about this experiment every day, but I do feel that I need to periodically update you on my progress. You, dear reader, are part of my peer support group, and I greatly appreciate that.

When I posted on Tuesday evening about Day 5, I was out of town; a friend and I had just walked 6 miles round-trip for dinner. It was very encouraging to have this friend with me this week.

Wednesday evening, we went to downtown Naperville and walked 3 miles in about an hour on the Naperville Riverwalk. I really enjoy walking beside water. When I was in 8th and 9th grade, we lived in Long Beach, North Carolina (now called Oak Island). I could walk on the beach for hours–and I still can when I get the chance to go there. I can do the same thing walking through the woods. I guess I just love being out in nature. Naperville’s Riverwalk is a nice bit of nature nestled inside a nice small town.

On Thursday I knew that the class would be over at 2:30pm and I had a 6:06pm flight out of O’Hare. I wouldn’t get home until around 10:30pm, so I knew that I would have to walk early in the morning. I told my friend that he was welcome to meet me in the hotel lobby at 6:00am if he wanted to. When I arrived, he was already there.

When we walked outside it was sprinkling rain, but just a little bit. I hadn’t brought my poncho, but I always keep a plastic sandwich bag in my wallet. I put my Palm and my phone in the sandwich bag so they would stay dry even if it started to rain harder. A few years ago, I had a Palm drown on me in an unexpected downpour–I’ve carried a sandwich bag in my wallet ever since.

We had planned to walk for an hour around a residential neighborhood that is near the hotel. About 40-minutes into our walk, the bottom seemed to fall out of the clouds. It was raining extremely hard, lightening filled the sky, and thunder filled the free space in the air between the raindrops. We were already headed back to the hotel, but after 20-minutes of walking in this downpour, we were as soaked as if we had jumped into the hotel pool fully clothed. I think some of the hotel staff had a good laugh at us as we came in the door.

I had completed my goal for the day though and learned that regardless of the circumstance, I can force myself to push on through. That’s a powerful lesson to learn when you’re building a habit. Most of us slack off at the first sign of difficulty. If we can push through though, we will be much stronger later–smaller challenges will be easy to overcome and we will have more strength for the bigger challenges.

This morning I woke up at home in my own bed and I still didn’t really feel like going walking, so it’s not a habit yet. My first thoughts were, “I need to get up and go for my walk.” I know that I’m moving in the right direction because my mind is expecting me to walk, regardless of whether I feel like it or not.

When I returned from my walk this morning, it felt really great to double the length of my chain by adding FOUR paper clips onto it. Speaking of the chain, I was just reading Zen To Slim: A Simple, 5-Step Weight Loss Plan by Leo over at Zen Habits. The article is well worth reading. One thing he says about exercise is:

It’s important that you try to do it every day. Mark your successes on your calendar — gold stars always work well — and try to keep the marks going every day. If you can do short, easy workouts, and mix up the exercises a little, you can do it every day.

Some of you are starting to post in the comments about how you are starting to build new habits and how you are tracking your progress with some sort of chain (even if it’s marks on a calendar). If you’re inspired to join us in this experiment, drop a comment and let us know!

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1 Comment

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    11/5/2008 at 4:54 am

    i like your persistence 🙂

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