On Not Quitting
Today I decided to get up bright and early to go to the morning bootcamp class at my gym today. I’ve been back to the gym for 4 days now after a 3 month hiatus. Needless to say, I’m glad to be back but HOLY HELL! I’m sure out of shape!!! During that three month hiatus, not only was I not going to the gym, but I wasn’t even getting off of my ass most days. There were some weekends there where my ass became one with the couch cushion. I don’t regret those three months at all because they really made me appreciate the bootcamp this morning.
This morning I learned a lot about pushing myself and about not quitting. The bootcamp exercise this morning consisted of 3 circuits. Each circuit had 6 different exercises. The first circuit was to be done twice where each exercise was 50 reps. The second circuit was 18 minutes long and each exercise had a variable number of reps. The third circuit was performed twice where each exercise was done for 60 seconds. Needless to say I was pretty much dead after the first round of the first circuit. I was tired, my skin was hot an sweaty, and I could feel my breakfast not sitting well in my stomach. All I wanted to do was to go talk to the instructor and tell her that I would be unable to finish the workout. Hell, I was dying after having completed 1/6th of the workout. Yet, somehow, I’m sitting here now writing this post after having finished the entire workout. Sure, it was by no means pretty and there is definitely a lot of room for improvement, but I did it.
Today I learned that sometimes you just need to take a moment to breath before you resume. I also learned that it’s okay to do assisted pushups instead of full pushups, regular squats instead of jump squats, and to just do the best that I can do. All of this is better than quitting. Yes, I was the most out of shape person there. The other people in my class were kicking butt at all of this, and that’s okay. If they were in my shoes, they’d be at the same place as I am and there’s nothing wrong with that! All that matters is that you do your best.
My workout wasn’t just about working out. It was also about not quitting. Previously when I’d workout and end up pushing myself too hard at the start, I’d give up after 20 minutes and go home. The same thing happened today, except instead of giving up and going home like I wanted to, I took a moment to breath and then kept going. Yes, quitting would have been easier, but I’ve always been a quitter. The thing is that I don’t like where being a quitter has gotten me. I want to see what happens when I don’t quit. Now, my body is all shaky, on my walk home a lady with her walked passed me. Although my workout probably looked like a miserable performance to everyone else in the gym, I’m proud of it because I know I gave it my all. It took a lot for me to do that. I’m still not over my own insecurities about working out and my insecurities about my body. The easy thing for me to do would be to sit at home and ignore all of it, but at the end of the day that won’t really get me anywhere. I know that if I want things to change I have to go out and work on them. There are going to be difficult workouts and difficult situations, there are even going to be things that I don’t want to do. But, if I quit, there won’t be change and, if there isn’t change then a year from now I’ll be sitting right here writing this exact same post again, and again, and again.
“Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it. Always work with it, not against it.” ~Eckhart Tolle
So, how can we quit quitting?
- Get Your Head In The Game: It’s easy to give up when you don’t feel motivated to finish the task at hand. Getting yourself pumped up and motivated will help you to finish what you set out to do. Some great ways to do this are by setting yourself a great playlist or listening to motivational/inspirational podcasts. Personally, I like to prepare myself for things by meditating. For twenty minutes I sit in a quiet space (or at least as quiet of a space I can find) and repeat the mantra “I am” while focusing on my breathing. This helps me to keep my head in the moment and not think about all the hard stuff I’m going to have to do coming up.
- Keep It Manageable: If you tell yourself you’re going to build a skyscraper and then show up at the build site with all the materials, there’s a pretty good change you’re going to say f*uck it and go home. Instead, if you break it down into smaller chunks like: prepare the foundation, pour the foundation, build the first floor structure, build the second floor structure, etc, it seems less intimidating (Obviously I’m no skyscraper developer, this is just an example).
- Stop Putting It Off: Seriously, just do it and get it done. The more time you spend thinking about it gives you more time to find a reason not to do it.
- Get A Rhythm Going: If you’re in the middle of a task and you can’t help but wanting to quit, just count to 10. Just keep doing this. Our brains like patterns and rhythms. This is how we find out “grove” when we’re working on something. This method is especially effective when working out. Say you’re out for a run and your mind is telling you to stop. Just keep telling yourself “10 more steps”. 10 isn’t a lot, but if you keep doing it, it ads up. By counting, it also helps to take your mind off the present situation and the difficulty of the task at hand.
- Get Some Support: Sometimes the reason we quit and the primary reason we usually don’t start is for the fear of being judged. Sometimes this is a lot to overcome. If this sounds like you, get a group of friends together or find a community of like minded people to help you get through the process. Sometimes we need someone to remind us that we’re doing a good job, this helps us to keep pushing on.
Achieving goals isn’t easy. It’s natural to want to quit. I could sit here and list strategies for not quitting all day and hope that one of them resonates with you. But, when it comes down to it, it’s something you have to work on for yourself. Eventually, if you keep working at it, you will have a moment where you push yourself through and where you want to keep pushing because you want to get better. That’s what I experienced today. I’m proud that I finished that workout, it helped me to pinpoint what I need to work on. I’m excited to go back every Monday to see how I’m improving. My goal is to be able to make it through a class without having to stop for a breather and to do all of the exercises fully.
A lot of this applies to life outside of the gym. No matter what it is that you are working on and working to achieve: quit quitting. The feeling of accomplishment outweighs the challenge of the task at hand.