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Thursday, April 21, 2011

How to get out of a rut

The only difference between a rut and a grave is their dimensions. ~ Ellen Glasgow

The past six months, I’ve been in a rut. I’ve battled ebbs and flows of motivation before, but ruts are a scarier kind of beast. They’re like graves, but dug so slowly you don’t realize what’s happening until you’re lying in one.

Ruts sneak up on you because in general, you’re moving forward, or at least holding your ground. I mean, I’ve maintained a 50-pound weight loss for years. I haven’t gained weight, but I developed bad habits that have kept me from my original goal. My original goal was to weigh 125 pounds. Whatever happened to that?

Well, it didn’t help that people told me I didn’t need to lose weight. It didn’t help that my body reacts oddly to the scale. Or that I lost my workout partner. It didn’t help that the New York winters make the gym like a mirage you can see but never touch. Or that I began drinking wine to celebrate Wednesday. It didn’t help that I’d conveniently forgotten that my body didn’t need as much fuel when I only spent two hours in the gym instead of six. Or that I’d gotten comfortable being comfortable. But these are all excuses.

Even before I realized what a rut I’d gotten in, I attempted to get out of it many, many times. I would call it “refocusing.” I tried refocusing so many times that I can never be called a quitter. I’d succeed in bumping up workouts for a week or two and cutting out a glass of wine here and there. But mostly, I failed.

Until I didn’t. I figured out the secret – sort of. People talk about the power of creating a “fresh start.” There’s something so inspiring about starting over – starting from scratch. I was able to do a complete 180 when we moved. I didn’t undergo intense therapy or suddenly grow will of steel.

I simply made new rules for a new space.

I dropped every single bad habit and created a new beginning by simply changing my environment. With the very first day of the move, I created new rules about what was allowed in this new space. And none of the bad habits I’d recently developed were welcome.

When I craved sleeping in and skipping the gym, I visualized my body at goal weight. When that wasn’t sufficient, I reminded myself that sleeping in every morning was not allowed in this new space, because laziness wasn’t honoring my purpose in life. When my new workout regimen sapped my energy, I took short afternoon naps and pushed on. When the urge to pour a glass of wine set in, I’d make a soothing cup of chamomile tea instead. When I hit my 1,250 calorie limit, I wouldn’t invent an excuse to exceed it.

What reward did I get for digging myself out of my own grave? A 2-pound weight loss –promptly followed by a 4-pound gain. Oh well, the scale and I have agreed to disagree. It continues to say that my hard work is not paying off – but my reflection in the mirror begs to differ. And anyways, it’s not the pounds that are most important to me in this journey. It’s the growth.

I’m proud that I’ve stuck things out even when they’ve gotten tough. It’s funny how much I learn each time I transform. A big lesson has been that life will constantly change, and you must work out the kinks to keep your new life alive. And I’ve now witnessed how the power of meshing a new environment with a new mindset can help break unbreakable habits.

So I had this question: What constitutes a new space? We can’t pack our bags and move across town every time we get in a rut, can we? Could creating a new space be as simple as re-arranging furniture and starting a brand new routine? Could painting our walls, creating new lighting and hanging new art transform more than our living room? Could we completely turn our lives around by turning our routine upside down?

I think it’d be worth a shot… What do you think?

1 comment:

  1. Definitely! It is so hard to get out of a rut! Thanks for this post! I'll start trying to figure out what I can change... And spring is the perfect time for change!