There’s never enough time! It always seems to disappear. I often feel as if I’ve been constantly occupied and yet nothing has been done. Nothing gets done, but somehow I don’t feel as if I’ve been relaxing, either!
Enter electronic entertainment. Or, rather, exit electronic entertainment!
There’s something insidiously ongoing about using things like the internet or television as a way of relaxing. Somehow, by simply replacing electronic entertainment with a hobby such as reading, I gained time!
I seemed to actually notice time passing, rather than looking dazedly around and discovering half my day has disappeared. I would have thought that passively watching television was more relaxing than reading, but I actually found things where I had to be a little more interactive, whether it was reading or writing or doing puzzles, actually left me feeling more relaxed and refreshed. An hour of reading feels like an hour of putting in rest and relaxation and entertainment. An hour of the internet somehow merely feels like a hour lost.
I also felt less tied down with these hobbies. It seems easier to put a book down for twenty minutes in order to do a chore, or even to take it with me. I often didn’t even want to spend three hours straight on any non-electronic hobby. Time seemed to open up before me with many options for how to fill it. Even the evenings felt less like being on Death Row, with bed time drawing ever closer (not that I dislike going to bed, but it means falling asleep and then the next conscious moment it is time to get up and go to work). Three hours in the evening felt like a long time until bedtime.
Going to the gym was an interesting challenge, because it seemed to be a challenge about fitness, but was actually more about other things. I’ve been really proud of how, since I began Drop One/Add One, I’ve improved at tackling things that might not go perfectly. It is still a big challenge, though. Add to this my love of sedentry pursuits and a genuinely small reserve of energy, and it is sometimes so hard to get myself out of the door.
So, my first challenge with adding even two little visits to the gym was to overcome my doubts and worries. These are basically the voices in my head that go through all of the possible negative and embarassing things that could happen (What if I say something stupid? What if the gym is full? What if it’s really intimidating? What if I break some unknown gym etiquette? What if I can’t use the treadmill for as long as I want to?). I really had to work at reminding myself to accept that things might not go perfectly and to feel comfortable with that. I didn’t need to figure out how to avoid every possible negative scenario before it was safe to leave the house because I knew the answer to those What if? worries: Things would still be OK.
My second challenge was to not be lulled by the comfort of the armchair and the interest in my more sedentry hobbies. At the moment, I genuinely find it rare that I feel fully awake and energised (which, of course, is one of the reasons I want to exercise more), so it’s easy to find myself lured to the computer to write or read blogs and then gently overcome with a sense of tired contentment. Even getting out of the chair to get ready seems like hard work. This is a huge challenge for me, always inextricably combined with all of my thoughts about how things mightn’t be perfect (which is an intense and tiring mental activity in itself). If I hadn’t committed to the two visits to the gym this week, I genuinely wouldn’t have got there.
But I did! I made it to my two visits! Of course, everyone at the gym was lovely and friendly, the technologically nifty treadmills were great fun, the gym etiquette was spelled out and there was a reserving system for the treadmills. I also found walking on treadmills much less of a strain on my body’s niggles than walking the streets, and was able to maintain quite a fast pace for most of the time.
The second visit was just as successful, but – despite my positive experience the first time – I had to overcome the same challenges all over again to get myself there! (In fact, I was so focused on exercising but reluctant to go to the gym again that I did more home exercising/neighbourhood walking as the lesser of two efforts!) Of course, I was glad I went and left wondering why I’d made such a big deal about it!
So, I’m fixed, right? I will never again avoid going to the gym?
Of course not! This inability to get things done is so deeply entrenched that I expect it will be a battle to get the gym or anywhere else for a long time to come. But I wouldn’t even have got this far without Drop One/Add One.