I’ve known for a long time that I need to get healthier, but nothing seemed to work for me. In a meeting prior to the beginning of a new weight reduction program, I found myself raging about how boring exercise is for me. I went on and on ad nauseam about how I hated routine and had little bandwidth for monotony. I lamented that I just didn’t find any joy in exercising and refused to participate until it felt like a pleasure for me. The two facilitators listened attentively and even offered some suggestions. I was having none of it. However, because of the intensity of their attention to my complaints, I was able to hear myself as if I were standing outside myself, listening as well. I had some strong feelings about this!
I went home that night and did some journaling about it. Here is what I wrote:
I’ve been kidding myself that exercise will be, or can be, a joy. It sucks. It’s no fun. Yes! Walking is boring to me. Saying that I don’t like routine, yes, there is no kidding myself about that.
I can and do figure out things that will make it a little better. Listening to music or a book on audio makes it a little more palatable. But the truth is that it is boring. Going round and round the parking lot or even getting myself to a park sucks. I want it to be easy and fun.
Facing the fact that this is a hard assignment that I’m taking on is what is so. What is most true is that it may take a long, long time for me to get to the fun part.
I’m at the bottom of the mountain and there is a long, long road ahead. There is no temporary fix. It’s a whole new lifestyle of moving my body, of eating small portions, and of going regularly to group. I need to ask myself if I’m willing to be accountable to myself and accept help from others. Am I willing to do the 12-step thing, “One day at a time,” and work the program of getting myself dressed and doing the walk, step by step?
At first this new commitment will require the power of my will and commitment to my health. It will be getting up every day and making a decision for my health. It is about turning my lazy, resistant, kicking and screaming, having-a-tantrum self out of the jail of the habit of indolence and self-indulgence, and making a move to change for the better.
The rewards of the old way are no longer redeemable. Their expiration date has passed. The ticket is no longer valid. I can no longer ride that train. In fact there are no more rides at all. I can only be powered by my own two feet. No more coasting, no more free rides. No more procrastination.
Just do it. Each day make a decision for life, vitality, and health, and stick to it.
Then, I found support for that daily decision in the Rumi poem:
(translation by Coleman Barks)
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, depression, a meanness,
Some momentary awareness comes
As an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
Who violently sweep your house
Empty of its furniture,
Still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
For some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
Meet them at the door laughing,
And invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
Because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.
Then, I had a surprise. As I welcomed each guest into my home – boredom, resistance, resolve – I became ready. I found an exercise that meets my criterion of joy. It’s dancing. Now, I dance in my kitchen with headphones. I get up from my computer at least 6 times a day for 10 minutes and put on my headphones and dance. And voilà! In the past three months I’ve lost over 30 pounds. Ever so slowly the fun factor is sneaking up on me. Although I have a long way to go, boredom is no longer running the show.
– Justine Willis Toms