I have a love/hate relationship with working out – with staying healthy basically.

Walking and hiking definitely give me physical as well as soul benefits, but working out does not produce endorphins for me.

True believers (or work-out-ers) would probably say I am not working out enough, which is true considering that I am not working out at all lately.

I actually like moving my body and seeing it getting stronger, but I don’t like pain. I do almost anything to avoid pain, but I seem to spend a lot of time hanging out with pain.

Ironic, I know.

Really, it is because I hang out with motivation’s unhappy cousin, procrastination.

Actually procrastination is pretty chill. It just sits around, thinking about doing things, but never actually doing them.

Procrastination is a stoner that needs more sativa and less indica.

People who are jazzed to work out scare me, and annoy me. Yeah, I know I’m probably just jealous.

When I was growing up, Jack LaLanne, was the man, man.

On his 70th birthday, he towed 70 boats a mile upstream.

A mile – upstream!

I was in my early 20’s and I couldn’t have towed a boat a foot downstream.

Jane Fonda and Richard Simmons were the latest fitness gurus then.

I worked out at my local YMCA, working the Nautilus circuit and doing aerobics, but I was never super serious about exercise.

It wasn’t until my lower back started hurting in my late 30’s that I had to do something to function better. Pain pushed procrastination out of the way and I found the miracle of physical therapy and targeted exercise.

The first thing my PT asked me was if I had any children. (Yes, I thought, my child can be a pain, but that’s not why I’m here.) She told me that my abs were probably weak from childbearing, making my back bear too much responsibility for hauling my ass around the world.

She said it nicer, but that was the upshot.

She gave me exercises to do every day, and she had me check in. It was really hard to get into a routine because I always found a reason to delay, and my physical pain persisted. Finally, I realized that as soon as I woke up, I had to put my exercise mat down, and just start exercising. I had to begin before the voices in my head woke up.

And it worked!

For ten years I did those damn exercises every day with few exceptions.

Somehow I got lost a few years ago. The routine was boring, or it wasn’t challenging me, but I have been in a rut that my mind helps foster. “You’re not in that kind of pain anymore. You’re good.” Says that voice. Except I feel the old pain creeping back in. “You walk or hike pretty much every day. You’re good.”

Or my favorite: “You deserve to take a break.”

From health?

I didn’t question that voice because it’s so inviting. But like all siren calls in my life, it’s bullshit, and it leads nowhere good.

“Get off your ass,” says my militant voice, “- drop and give me twenty.” (I can usually do ten push-ups before my inner three-year-old starts whining.)

My entire work out is a battle of me telling myself how nice it would be to stop, and I think I finally agreed.

Every day is another chance to begin – and I just read an article that said even if exercise is broken up throughout the day, it still counts. I have bundled exercise with another task, and that does help, but it still gives me too much wiggle room to give up early.

My PT also said “motion is lotion” for my joints – and like it or not, my body is aging, but I will never again be as young as I am right now.

I read articles about 90 year-old marathoners (show offs), and 80 year-old weight-lifting women who are jacked! They are like honey badger – they don’t give a shit what their inner naysayer yells.

A body in motion tends to stay in motion, and a body at rest tends to stay at rest. The law of inertia.

Overcoming that inertia, besting that procrastination is my goal – but really – it’s not letting my inner three-year-old run the show.




© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh), Making A Way Blog, 2010 – current

I Wish I Had Learned This Sooner!

pomodoro timer

Do you find yourself procrastinating when there is a deadline approaching, or something unpleasant needs doing?  Welcome to the club!

However, in Learning How To Learn, a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) through, taught by Dr. Barbara Oakley, and Dr. Terrence Sejnowski, through, UC San Diego, I learned that procrastination can be overcome!  Understanding why procrastination happens, and what to do about it, has helped me enormously.

The pain center in our brain lights up when we’re faced with something we’d rather not do, so your brain experiences procrastination as a form of pain.  Staying in the process of what you’re working on, rather than focusing on the finish, or result, helps eliminate the ‘pain’ associated with what needs doing.

A great technique described in the course is setting a timer for 25 minutes, or perhaps a reasonable amount of time to complete, or make good progress, on the task, and rewarding yourself.  Maybe it’s a nap, a walk, or some other, healthy, bonus for working through your allotted time.  Known as, the Pomodoro Technique, this helps to focus on working, as well as setting a limit, while knowing you’ll give yourself a treat for work well done.

Another important aspect of the Learning How To Learn course, was understanding our two modes of thinking and learning.  We all know about the focused mode, but I didn’t know about the diffuse mode of learning and thinking.  This relaxed mode occurs when your attention is on other things like when you’re walking, or other exercise, or when you’re taking a shower, or just ‘spacing out’, as well as during sleep – as long as you were focusing on the problem(s) before going to sleep. Your brain works on problems when you’re not consciously focusing on them.

We sometimes gain insight into a difficult problem, or come up with seemingly random solutions, by letting go of our focused mode of attack, and giving our free-form, unconscious mind a chance to work on it.

Spaced-practice, or spaced-repetition, is another concept I learned that helped me a lot.  In learning how to play my guitar, I began by practicing for hours, going over notes, chords, theory, and playing, which got me bleeding fingers and not really much gelling in my head. When my fingers healed, I applied spaced learning by taking a break for a day, then returning to practicing no more than a half-hour a day (understand that it was super tough for me to let go of trying to master the guitar in a month…), and to my delight, I’ve begun understanding more, and next week I’ll be at Carnegie Hall!

OK, I’ll be cleaning Carnegie Hall, but one day I could be playing there!

There is so much more I gained through this course that this could be the longest blog post I’ve ever written, but I suggest Dr. Oakley’s wonderful book:

A Mind For Numbers, as well as taking Learning How To Learn, Dr. Oakley, and Dr. Sejnowski’s, 4-week MOOC, where they include lots of excellent guest-speaker videos that further illuminate their subject.

Happy learning all!




© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current