Project Louise: What Gets In The Way

By Louise Kennedy
Guest contributor

swimming pool

What kept Louise from getting in the pool? (Rufino Uribe via Wikimedia Commons)

Well, three out of four ain’t bad. For those keeping track at home, here’s how last week’s goals worked out:

• Work on “vision” for my life: I spent some real time on this, made a lot of notes and am looking forward to reviewing all this when I meet with my coach, Allison, this Thursday.

• Eat vegetables at lunch and dinner every day: Yes! (We will not dwell on the evening when the kids were out and the “vegetables” were sweet-potato chips. But I had a couple of cherry tomatoes, too.)

• Go for at least one 20-minute walk: I did two.

• Swim at least once: I did not. That’s why I did the second walk, but I still feel as if I failed.

“Fail” is a word I’m trying to banish, though, so let’s pull that one apart a bit. Why didn’t I get into the pool?

1. I realized I didn’t have a swimsuit I really liked and promised myself I’d go buy one, but I didn’t get around to that, what with school vacation week and all.

2. I couldn’t find my goggles. I planned to buy new ones, but … see No. 1.

3. I didn’t go last weekend because I had the whole week ahead of me, and besides, swimsuit, goggles, etc.

4. I didn’t go on Monday because it was going to be (I thought) the only non-holiday day all week that the kids were home and I wanted to hang out with them. Also, how often do I get to sleep in on a Monday?

5. Tuesday and Wednesday were holidays. Who exercises on holidays? Duh. (Please hold all catcalls until the end.)

6. Thursday and Friday were the days I’d planned to get down to work: The kids were going back to school, and I was taking two days of vacation time. Two blissful days all to myself, plenty of time to clean the house, catch up on laundry, cook a few meals to put in the freezer for later, read 10 books, see all my friends, completely reorganize my closet, catch up on those photo albums, swim for hours and hours if I felt like it, and, while I’m at it, fly to the moon. But then …

7. Thursday: I slept a bit late – hey, it’s my day off! – and meanwhile my husband decided that the kindergartner’s sniffles meant she really shouldn’t go to school. But of course he had to leave for the day. Would you like to hear all the verses of “The Wheels on the Bus,” including the ones I made up?

8. Friday: You will recall that it snowed. No school! Yay! Everyone’s so happy! Wait … where did my days off go?

9. Saturday: My long-scheduled haircut and color. Obviously I could not go swimming on the one day every six weeks when my hair is styled by a professional.

10. Sunday already? Yikes! I’d better do everything I meant to do all week, get ready for the workweek, etc. So I’ll go for that extra walk instead and feel just fine about it.

11. Until Monday morning, i.e. as I’m writing this, and I have to say that, with all that time, I never did go for a swim.

I could go on – the gym is near my work, not my house; I think I’m coming down with a cold; the dog ate my homework – but let’s stop here. Looking over my excuses (I mean, reasons), I see a couple of themes that are sadly familiar from my years of trying and failing to get in a groove of working out.

Procrastination: If I’d gone shopping last Saturday and then driven to the gym, the rest of the list wouldn’t exist. And putting things off for the sake of a holiday I don’t even like? Please.

Perfectionism: I do own a swimsuit. So what if it’s old and a little saggy? I have promised myself a new one, but I could have gone for one swim in this one. Also, I could have swum before the hair appointment, if I hadn’t been worried about smelling like chlorine when I got there.

Unrealistic planning: I knew I was overstuffing my imagined days off, but I just couldn’t stop thinking of all the things I wanted to do, and I didn’t want to feel restricted by a schedule, so I kept piling more things on. Even if it hadn’t snowed, I’m guessing, those days would have flown by without my quite getting to the gym.

Putting myself last: Maybe this one should come first. A lot of the other obstacles would melt away if I took my commitments to myself as seriously as I do those to other people.  I show up for work; I take care of my children. I think it’s time to start showing up for myself.

And also, just maybe, cut myself a little slack. I did meet my other goals. And I’m psyched to keep moving forward. Part of me worries that my goals are too small – but then I think about Kaizen and baby steps, and I remind myself that this is a yearlong project, not a January resolution that inevitably dies by March. Change is going to be slow, but I hope – no, I believe – that it’s that very slowness that will make it more likely to stick.

So, for this week, here’s my goal: Buy a swimsuit.

And for next week’s post, I pledge not just a swim but some hard-core fitness action as I move from taking one baby step at a time to toddling all the way across the room.

Readers, do these obstacles sound familiar? And have you found ways of getting past them? What else gets in your way?

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