Wednesday, May 25, 2011

If at first...

... you don't succeed try, try again. Or I suppose it could be "start, start again". Any plan requires reinforcement or reaffirmation from time to time. Often it is that you do 'fail' so you simply 'start' again, and this is fine - to a point. Keep trying whilst the plan makes sense, and then know that if it keeps failing it needs to be changed. The key is to make the plan a habit, I gave up caffeine (more about that another time) and so I had the simplest plan I suppose "I won't drink caffeine". It was changing the habits that I had around drinks that made it stick (and it is nearly 6months since I have drunk a caffeine containing drink).

Image: Sayan Samana /
  Habits are those things we simply 'do', and if you change the habits needed within any plan then the plan stands a good chance of 'sticking'. The easier plans are the simple ones (sorry to state the obvious) that require only a few habit shifts, the harder ones are those that require a raft of habits to change rapidly.  That is where the try try (or start start) again can work. If each time a few more habits change then the plan might come around. If the habits don't follow then its time to think about a new plan that perhaps tackles habits in a different way?

I happen to fall into both camps, often I can make the simple plans really stick, but like many I often over do the grand plan and need to keep starting over. Trying to overhaul my fueling (eating) is just one of those big plans that I need to keep trying at, but I recognise the problem so give myself a break each time I need to start again. Starting over, or changing habits little by little, isn't a problem after all - never starting or never trying is.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Running away

I do like to put cryptic titles or titles with at least dual meaning, but don't worry I was not running scared of anything.  I was away attending a conference with work for a week and managed something I have not done before (thinking back). The feat? I ran 5 days out of 7 away from home, in another country. Sounds simple I know - pack your running kit, go running.

At a conference you never quite know how much time you'll have and how draining you might find the sessions. Plus, the weather often sneaks into your (my) thinking. The conference was in Florida so I didn't have to worry too much about the latter at least. It turned out that either jet lag or good sleep left me happy to run early in the morning. I got up and about around 6am on the days I ran. I do have to confess that perhaps the biggest factor was having two conference travel companions who were going to run as well.

Clearwater Beach 6:30am, a good time to run

Clearwater Beach during the baking hot afternoons

It transpired that I ran at least 30mins up and down Clearwater beach for the five mornings that I was able. It was with a mix of companions (sometimes all of us, sometimes as a pair, and once just me), but it really did feel great. I recycled my kit each day, letting it dry out all day between runs (I only tried rinsing it out once, figuring my companions would be in the same boat I didn't worry too much about t-shirt odours). Best of all, it seemed to set me off on a good vibe each day of the conference, which I got a lot out of (but that's another story for a different place).

Monday, May 02, 2011

The simplest things?

The simplest things aren't by any means the easiest things to get done. Just because they are termed simple it does not follow that they follow the dictionary definition of 'simple'. It is a common trap to tag any number of elements of daily routine, diet, or exercise change as merely simple. Changing a diet habit for example, sounds elegantly simple but is in fact often a feat of concentration, reinforcement, knowledge, and will. Changing your routine to fit in a few simple exercises, again sounds simple but requires saying "no" to other pulls on your time, reinforcement and enjoyment of the new routine.
It very often is not a self determined impression of scale, it is all to frequently classed that 'simple' thing because someone else said so (be it in a book, magazine, over coffee, on television). Very often these sources of reference don't describe the behind the scenes work, effort, repeated attempts, changes in approach, the do overs, the pit falls, and so on. Before interpreting something as simply 'simple' it has to be understood, understand that that early morning run will likely mean you'll need to go to bed earlier, understand that the change in diet to cut the caffeine has a number of pharmacological effects on you, understand that if you are making a single 'simple' change it sits within your bigger picture (and so will have an impact). 

So what is my point? It is basically this, if you badge things as 'simple' but they just don't seem to work out - don't keep referring to them as 'simple'. Call them for what they are - tricky, difficult, awkward, challenging. Then having given your self the credit for identifying what a change means and that it will need hard work. Know that when you have taken it on and won it feels like a real victory and not just a 'simple' thing ticked off that no doubt long list of 'simple' things that should be done.

Give yourself the understanding of any challenge and that challenge will become something you can achieve.