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WTF Is Your Problem?


Do you ever feel like the different parts of yourself aren’t lining up properly?

In this case, I don’t mean anatomically, I mean psychologically. As in: the “smart” part of you is going “I really need to do this Thing, I’ll get right on that tomorrow! (ie., exercise/quit smoking/schedule a colonoscopy). And the other part of you, the part that is stupider but is actually in charge of what you end up doing is all “Ha! Like THAT’s ever gonna happen!

Of course, there’s always the helpful motivational slogan popularized by Nike, “Just Do It, Asshole.” Hmm. I may be remembering that slightly wrong.

But what if you’d really really really really really really rather Just Not Do It?

I’ve been struggling with a bad case of of the WTFIYP’s myself. I asking myself what my problem is… but it’s not the right question. It doesn’t actually matter what the problem is. It matters what the solution is. What will get me moving again?

So I’m trying a new approach that’s really an old approach that I’ve talked about a million times in different ways. But what the hell, I wasn’t doing it, and maybe you’re not either.

Since this is a blog called Cranky Fitness, you can probably guess what it is I’ve been avoiding.

That’s right, blogging. (The Fitness thing is less of a problem).

But it occurs to me that the solution I wasn’t using before and am now is equally applicable to exercise avoidance, and many other sorts of avoidances as well.

What Sounds Almost Fun? Just Do That. 

It’s an example of the time-honored anti-perfectionist principle: “Showing up and doing a shitty job generally gets you better results than not showing up at all.”

As you may recall from my review of Elizabeth Babcock’s excellent book Why We Overeat and How to Stop, you have to engage your stubborn limbic system with Fun and Rewards in order to get behavioral buy in. The smarty pants cerebral cortex is great at figuring out HOW to do things, but sucks at making you actually do stuff.

So, for example, if you haven’t been exercising for a long time, don’t even think about approaching anything you dislike. You’re not there yet. But if you can’t get yourself to stretch a little in front of the TV, or do a five minute freeform dancy thing to your favorite music, or aim a tower of balled-up socks toward a laundry basket across the room and walk around picking up your missed shots, and you have a tiny bit of a pleasant feeling about it: WIN!!!

And note: don’t be too quick to say, ok, now I guess I’m starting up again, I have to do something sensible next time.

Screw sensible. Not ’til you’re good and ready. The important thing is to change your perception of yourself from someone who Doesn’t Do into someone who Does. The actual things are, strangely enough, sort of irrelevant for the short term.

Well, how about the quitting smoking example? How could you possible do something almost fun relative to that?

Well, you could start by getting your brain and your environment ready. Fantasizing how good you’ll feel a year out. Setting a date for tapering or quitting. Warning family and friends to hide sharp objects. You could read motivational literature or download hypnosis audios or plan compensatory snacks or pleasantly distracting day-trip destinations. You could add up how much money you’ll save and mentally spend it on something awesome.  (Note: It’s still gonna suck when you actually do stop smoking, but maybe not as bad as you think). Again, the important thing is to change your perception of yourself as someone who Isn’t Quitting to someone who’s Is Now Quitting. You’re just in the Preparation Phase.

So with me and blogging there’s the obvious solution to not feeling motivated: Just Don’t Do It, and then Just Don’t Do It some more, and then keep Just Not Doing It. I’m not making money at this, so why bother?

And yet I’ve tried quitting, and I’m not happy with that solution either. Something feels wrong when I think of Cranky Fitness as an ex-blog, and myself as an ex-blogger. I want this to still exist, but for that to happen, I have to occasionally put something in here.

It’s not like I’ve run out of thoughts or opinions, I’ve just gotten out of the habit of taking the time to write about them. I’ve been back from vacation for weeks now, and the whole “it’s summer, no one’s online reading blogs anyway” excuse is getting more than a little outdated by the end of September.

(BTW, for those of you who were so kind and supportive about my mother’s battle with cancer: she’s doing great now! Formerly large tumor is no longer detectable. And after many, many weeks of feeling awful from the brutal but effective treatments, she’s got her energy and appetite back. Of course, we’re all still nervous about an upcoming CAT scan in November, hoping the little fucker stays gone, but for now, all is good.)

So anyway, approaching yet another return to blogging, I had to ask myself: what might be almost fun? And I thought: how about just dumping a bunch of vacation photos out there with absolutely no relation to health and fitness?

Because we went to Croatia for a few weeks and from there did some day trips to Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovena, and came back with a crapload of picturs. While I did my best to balance Fun and Health and Fitness on our travels, I don’t feel like writing about that.

So, in no particular order, here are pictures of old buildings, views, meals, cats, stairs, bodies of water, churches, weird signs, and other miscellaneous stuff.

Missed you guys, did you have a good summer?



Anyway. We had a lovely time.

Did you guys have any adventures while I was gone? Got anything you’re avoiding that’s got a teensy piece of it that might be almost fun? Or how was your weekend?
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About Patrick Ireland

My name is Patrick Ireland, living in the Philippines with my wife and two daughters. I have been studying the web for over a decade. Now that I am 60 years old, I am starting to apply some of the knowledge that I have gained. "Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is to never stop questioning." -Einstein.

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