The discipline of predictability

For the second day in a row, I woke up/got up late for my morning gym practice. Yesterday was okay and even practical. This morning was just another episode of shaving sleep and paying for it by not dragging myself out of bed with the alarm.

On the surface and for most everyone this is not a big deal. So I am late to the gym a couple of days out of 365 and perhaps have to either cut my practice short or do a briefer, quicker List. The normal person rationalization of why this is not the end of the world as I know it is understandable and possibly even warranted; I have used it myself countless times with other people and even with myself in similar situations. However, it’s a dangerous and slippery slope, one I know all too well. While substance abuse and alcohol addiction are far more serious conditions, my adherence to routine is critical to my ongoing success in getting regular, consistent doses of exercise. My regular routine is not something I take lightly, and even 2 days of not heeding my alarm and getting myself up and out the door is cause for concern, even if it is only an eyebrow raise and resolve to get to bed on time and not allow myself the luxury of shutting off my alarm and not immediately getting out of bed.

The last 2 days have also brought forth other deviations from the norm as well. Once upon a time and not all that long ago, deviations from The Schedule would have sent me into a dizzy tizzy panic and set a wrong tone for the practice and the balance of my day. I am pleased with myself for just rolling out of bed and having a back-up plan, knowing that today’s List was 6 exercises long and could be comfortably completed in an hour with the 10-15 minute warmup prep. While mildly fretting about being late, my backup to the backup plan would be to ruthlessly cut post-workout dawdle time after and run through the shower and workday prep if needed. Today it helped knowing the List of the day was the glute-focused 6 exercises and that and warmup could be comfortably completed in 75 minutes. Comfortable to breathe a small sigh of relief that my personal sky was not falling.

Except for the second time in these 2 mildly challenging days, I was thwarted by other members who are blissfully ignorant of my schedule and Lists and pursuing their own exercise/fitness agendas. Yesterday it was a couple of small things – the benches I am familiar with and feel comfortable using were both occupied, so I returned to my little room space and used the bench in there. Then, while working my final 2 blocks on the cable machines, I had another member wanting to use the straight bar I had carefully collected and hoarded for my final exercise. Rather than giving up my bar upon request, I said I would do my sets and then relinquish it, maybe 5 minutes? He was agreeable to the compromise and I simply switched the order of the last block. Problem resolved, I did not go away from the encounter feeling like an unreasonable, spoiled, entitlement Princess.

Shortly after relinquishing that and returning to the rope for my new final tricep exercise, I have another guy wander over to use the other side of the cable machine and he had extreme (to my nose) personal hygiene challenges. Held my breath to finish my set and then abandoned my cable post for the sanctuary of my little room and a substitute bench tricep exercise. Yep, waving my full-on Princess flag yesterday and not apologizing for it, either.

This morning, there was a couple using the squat machine (first block on today’s List) and another guy using the Freemotion machine (second block), so I retreated to the other side and got to work on block 3. This involved going back and forth between the assisted chin-up/dip machine (only using it on the legs) and the adductor machine. Another member had apparently been using the same 2 machines, because she glared at me while I was using the adductor machine and used some other shoulder-focused machine nearby. When I returned to the chin-up/dip unit, she plopped down on the adductor machine. Used it, rested, texted, used it again, texted more … and on and on and on. So I finished all 4 of my sets on the chin-up/dip machine and then gave up on the adductor and returned to the now vacant squat and Freemotion machine. I went through the sets of the List, even if I did not do it in the precise order dictated by the List.

I really do not understand her attitude and hostility; maybe she needed coffee? If she wanted either of the machines I happened to be using all she needed do was ask, not glare at me in passive/aggressive malevolence. I am among the nicer, more simply intimidated in the gym, and at worst I would have tried to work out a reasonable compromise, but just as likely I would have fallen over trying to get out of her way.

Again, I am pretty pleased with myself for not falling off the edge and into a complete and total spin cycle of gym crazy. But it bothers me that people cannot ask or explain politely what they want or need with regards to equipment.

But oh well. Other than disorganizing my List for today, no lasting or lingering harm done.

It’s curious to me how rigid I have to be to get this far on my exercise track. I console myself that if changing habits is really hard, getting myself up and off the couch is worse in the difficulty range.

Just lately, I am feeling some degree of backlash for my choices. Yes, I spend more time than the average bear at the gym or the yoga studio; it is a choice for a healthier me. It is a choice I made without completely understanding the implications and consequences, yet I have zero regrets about it. How could I possibly regret it? My diabetes is under control without the use of medication. I am stronger, fitter, perhaps the best shape of my life thus far, and I have barely dipped a toe into the health and fitness pool. Mentally as well, my confidence has increased and my positive outlook expanded as well. But being less available to listen and sympathize and being the rah-rah cheerleader for various friends is not an unreasonable trade-off in my opinion.

That said, the last month was challenging in this regard. Because I get up so early and work the way I work, my time is somewhat limited and constrained. Even M, who lives with me and has watched and applauded me in my better health efforts has lately taken to subtle sabotage. With the change in seasons and a recent injury, M has not been on the same early morning running schedule. Consequently, he stays up much later, which is fine, but when I have to sleep earlier to ensure I get enough sleep, M is awake and pursuing his own hobbies, which he wants to share or to show me on his iPad. When I need to be going to sleep to get up at 3:45 to 4 a.m. to get to the gym on time.

We had a conversation about it this morning while I was getting ready for work, and M have come to an agreement to ensure I get enough sleep and to the gym in a timely manner. He gets it. He’s been right here with me and had not really realized how the impact of our adjustment in schedule. It’s sort of insidious and creeps up into our lives without either of us really recognizing that it is occurring until I am tired and frustrated and having a meltdown because of it.

A couple of my friends are having a really tough time in their lives and in need of friends and support. I do my best to return phone calls and texts in a timely manner, to be a good and supportive friend. However, I am the first to admit my life is different now, my availability is not as it once was. When their resentment and frustration leaks out into our interactions, I have grown up a little in that I feel me taking care of me is the best thing I can do for anyone else in my realm.

Until this last year, I would say my predictability resulted from the habit of a lifetime. I have wanted to be a good person, to be perceived as a good person. I value kindness and compassion toward other people, and those are qualities I have tried very hard to cultivate and grow in my own methods of dealing with others. For the most part, I am a pretty good person. I try very hard to take care of those I care for and about, often to my own detriment. I suppose after so many years of my being a go-to person for many of my friends, my stepping back and being more judicious in protecting my time and availability is a change of pace.

The balance can be awkward and challenging, particularly for those resistant to change. In the last month I have had some candid and frank conversations with a few people about the way my life is progressing and the conscious choices I am making. It’s partly why I am headed back to TM’s office, to reconcile my choices with the hardening attitude I have had to take toward others.

I am okay with being this level of selfish. I am okay with how hard-hearted and “changed” I appear. Heck, I’d be very good if there was an intervention on the topic rather than some veiled and not-so-veiled statements that I am self-absorbed and narcissistic in my pursuits. The statements have been hurtful, and my own self-confidence still unstable enough to make me wonder if I am doing the right things at the expense of other aspects of my life.

But I don’t think so. I am still kind. I am working on balance in all things, including the types of relationships I have with other people. My husband, my family, my tribe either understand the shift in my priorities or we have an honest conversation about it. The rest of those who dwell in my realm, I want them to continue to matter to me. I do not need them to be 110% behind me, rah-rah cheering me on and out of bed every morning, but I do need them to no sabotage my efforts and to understand that taking care of me makes me a better, stronger, more capable, more supportive friend.

Despite what it may sound like here on the blog, I am not terribly preachy in real life. I suggest to friends troubled by depression or anxiety or worry that they get some physical exercise. But since I myself am just now feeling respected for the work I have done in the gym by a select group of friends who pursue crossfit or other trendy exercise programs, I understand how difficult it is to get off the couch and get started.

It has occurred to me more than once that this pattern of behavior is repeated throughout several of my close friendships. If the problem occurs and I am the common denominator, the problem quite probably begins and perhaps ends with me.

Considering that, I am also likely the driving force behind my current conflicts with these various friends. I own that. My behaviors and my habits from childhood until now are well documented and ingrained. There has been little discipline involved in that level of predictability. Changing the habits of a lifetime is hard, and not everyone is willing to step up and do what I am striving and trying so very hard to do right now. I own that, too.

At the end of this level of navel-gazing and introspective mucking around in the mud and the muck that is my messy way of thinking and processing, I own that I have courage and willingness to try to be better and improve my overall health and quality of life.

No amount of frictioning with family and friends or sleep shaving or gym crazy or fear and intimidation of interacting with other members is going to take that away from me.

One thought on “The discipline of predictability

  1. “I do need them to not sabotage my efforts and to understand that taking care of me makes me a better, stronger, more capable, more supportive friend”

    Amen & Amen

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