IF I Started, This is How I Would Have Done It
In a previous post where I talked about (at great length and with a verbosity going above and beyond what was necessary) when I started dieting, I mentioned that I would explain how I started in a later post. This is that post. Please bear with me. The pedantry will be coming thick and heavy.
So. Starting. We’re aaaaaaall too familiar with the feeling of that first push we need to start anything. Getting out of bed. Writing an email. Doing a chore. When you’re actually doing the activity, it’s not as big a deal. But for many of us, just that initial action requires an extra “oomph” of energy to get going (side note, if it isn’t already, “oomph” should be a metric unit of energy. Erg’s a good one, but an Oomph should measure of mental energy?). Also, the bigger the task, the bigger the mental oomph we need. So doing something such as changing your life? Yeah, you’re gonna need several oomphs there. A metric buttload (SI unit as well).
But, problem. Not many people have that amount of oomph at any given time. Many people have to use their oomphs over the course of the day just to live, leaving scant few at the end and not nearly enough to make a life-altering change. And if you’re depressed? Well, damn, you’re oomph production faculty is broke down so you don’t even have any to begin with.
What many do try is to save up oomphs. They save them for months, years. Squirreling the one or two they have at the end of the day away for a future time. But, of course life happens and sometimes they have to dip into the bucket and take some out and that future date gets moved back accordingly. But the big mistake that many people seem to make is that when that day finally comes (most commonly, New Year’s Day as a resoluuution!) they don’t realize that… you need more oomph than what you’re just putting down at once.
Like coal in an old steam train, you really got to preload that sucker with a ton of it just to get it warmed up. Get that massive many-tonned boiler boiling. But once you get it boiling… you don’t stop shoveling the coal. If you want to get somewhere, you gotta keep feeding that fire. If you’re pushing a wagon up a hill (don’t ask me why you’d ever do this. I don’t know what weird crap you’re into), giving it a good shove probably isn’t going take it all the way to the top. In fact, if we’re going to torture this metaphor to the point of risking a strongly-worded letter from the UN, that wagon’s going to come right back down, smack you in the shins, and roll down to a point farther than you already were. Making you fatter than when you started. Because metaphor.
Well, we take those oomphs, we spend them and buy that introductory health, but suddenly a monthly oomph bill comes that we weren’t expecting, we barely make the first payment and pretty soon… you just can’t maintain. Your progress gets repo’d and you’re back to square one. Time to start saving up yet again. It’s absolutely torturous and it feels like you’re left with less each time you try. Like baggage that starts getting piled into that wagon-- wait. I’ve done enough to that metaphor. Have I no mercy?
Here’s the thing. I didn’t want to continue that cycle. I’m a naturally lazy person and I really hated all that wasted effort, wasted money, wasted time, wasted years of living life. But I knew in my heart of hearts that I just knew I couldn’t afford the monthly oomph payment. I looked at how many I could produce and it sorely lacked the amount needed. So what I did, when I finally pulled the trigger and started spending oomphs on lifestyle changes, was more like a convenience store impulse buy rather than a big splashy resolution-based “contract required” effort. I did what I knew I could afford at least for a little while:
I swapped eating lunch out everyday and had an energy bar instead.
I know, right? I built all that crap up, you’ve struggled knee-deep through a mire of shoe-sucking run-on sentences, word-count padding verbosity, and the gruesome dead body of a metaphor. And for what? “Ya, I ate an energy bar for lunch”.
Ok, so that’s that point though. I didn’t want the visibility of announcing to everyone that I’ve resolved, yet again, to lose weight only to have it fail inevitably. I wanted to just do something, not announce it, and just have the results speak for itself as I made progress (assuming I kept at it). I wasn’t even sure I could even keep up with just this small thing, though. But what I learned, and what I truly hope you take away from this, is that once you start using your oomphs on this on a regular basis… your oomph factory adapts and starts making more. Suddenly you have enough to afford this initial effort and to spare! Yes! What did I do with this spare oomph change? I made another small purchase: I started walking in the morning. First just 15 minutes. But soon I adapted and could spend more: walking fast. Adapt and spend more: walk longer. Adapt and spend more: change dinner habits. Little eensy teensy changes that were small enough that I could keep inside my oomph budget.
Sorry, one last thing. It’s almost over. In full disclosure, I’d hate to leave you with the idea that it’s smooth sailing-- oops. This is too long, now and it’s overlapping a future post! Come back at a later date where I lay down where things get nasty-hard. Until then, if you don’t have the oomph for another resolution, do what I did:
Make only as much of a change as you know you can stick to
Trust that you will be able to produce more oomph to use and will be able to add changes as you do