One for the Exercise Obsessed!

This is more of a command to myself than a musing, however, I’m sure it will resonate with others.

After a day of typical dad type activities such as being a taxi, entertainer, diplomat and fight referee as well not showering of course, I could feel the frustration of needing to get out and exercise building up.

This was partly fuelled by my intention, set last night, to get out for a run during the early hours to start the day off right. Needless to say, this didn’t happen so it was bound to be on my mind during day. The need to get out was further compounded by the sugar and carb filled foods I chose to eat yesterday.

With all of these things in the background, it’s no surprise that I started to get a tad tetchy. I could feel the onset becoming single minded with regards to satisfying my urge to exercise. Thinking about windows of opportunity I could take advantage of to get my fix.

Whilst on a dog walk later in the day, I was sent a link by my wife about a Facebook post written by a dad of three named, Ted Gonder. The crux of the article was about how fathers can better support the mothers of their children in everyday situations. There were more than a few little home truths within that post that definitely struck a chord with me.

I got so caught up in my own guilt about the food I’d eaten, combined with breaking the agreement I’d made with myself that I’d forgotten to consider the thoughts and needs of those around me. A near total lack of perspective is easier to arrive at that I had realised.

Further to this, I’d also seemingly forgot that I had ran over 25 kilometres in the past 8 days! Such is the nature of the beast that recent highs and achievements are quickly forgotten and wear off without leaving a lasting trace it seems.

So the next time I’m starting to feel a bit of exercise related pent up frustration, it would be wise to ask myself a few questions, such as:

  • Why am I feeling the need to exercise so much in this given moment?
  • Is it diet related?
  • Have I made a promise to myself?
  • Have I been “out of action” recently?
  • Am I simply just feeling the need to just be active and blow away a few cobwebs?

If the need has arisen out of diet, then I need to take responsibility for this. I make my own decisions about what I eat and when, therefore it’s understandable that I’d like to ‘put things right’. This usually takes the form of trying to offset the junk with a blistering 5K, however, if I take better control of my diet in the first place then this would help to negate these feelings of guilt.

If I’d made a promise to myself the night before that I’d go for a run in the morning, what were the reasons that I broke said promise? If it’s because I stayed up watching my latest favourite TV show or arsing about on my phone, then I need to take the hit on this.

If it was, and more likely to be, the kids disturbing our sleep, then I need to cut myself some slack here. Or better yet, do more to improve the sleep habits of our kids to help reduce disturbances throughout the night.

Was the plan I made considerate of others? What has my wife got planned that day or how was her day beforehand? Would it actually be more considerate to offer to sort breakfast out in the morning and give her a bit of a sleep in (absolute gold dust in our house!)? Have the kids got any classes or other social engagements etc?

If I feel as though I’ve been out of action and need to get back in to it, is this really the case? Take a step back and have a look over my workout records to get a balanced assessment of just how active I’ve been.

If I’m “feeling” out of action, then chances are I’m not! This kind of feeling often reflects the opposite, it usually comes from regular exercise sessions and is a feeling of wanting to keep momentum going as opposed to halting a slump. When I’ve really been inactive for a period of time, I will “know” and not “feel” like I need to get back in to the swing of things.

The last point about wanting to blow a few cobwebs away is the easiest “need” to deal with. Chances are this will be work related, linked to sitting down for too long a period without activity. This kind of desire is easily addressed and often feels less urgent than the other issues I’ve outlined above.

In short, these are the key points to remember for the next time I’m feeling like my focus is narrowing in to exercise related tunnel vision:

1) Ask myself why?
2) What can I take responsibility for?
3) Have I considered others?
4) Get some Perspective

I’ve felt this way in the past and I’ve still managed to keep an exercise regime going. I’ve also never actually stopped an exercise regime even in the face of little breaks or gaps, for the best part of 4 years straight.

It’s also good to remember that even if I do get to scratch the itch in these situations, it will resurface again soon no matter how good the next session makes me feel. Like everything in life, the highs and lows are fleeting, non permanent and cyclical so a little dose of Stoicism would serve me well during such times.

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