Hissy Fit - February 2021 - I'm a Winner: But I Quit a Little
...because everyone needs one every once in awhile
February 2021 Issue
by Elizabeth Skenes Millen
I would say I’m not a quitter, but I am. It’s very hard to admit because
I’ve always prided myself on going the distance, above and beyond, do or die.
In thinking both ahead and behind of where I am right now,
it’s clear to see that I am indeed a quitter.
And, I’m sad about it. I always thought better of myself.
I can vividly recall a moment in time approximately five years ago when I was sitting on the floor in the free weight area of my gym. I had just finished working out and was giving my body a good stretch before heading home. As I sat there feeling fully alive, completely aware of my body and how strong I felt, these thoughts ran through my head: I will never stop working out. I absolutely love it. I love how I feel. I will be doing this at age 85. This is what will make my life great until I die.
But, I quit.
I tore my calf muscle in a Tabata class, and it benched me for a few months. Once better, I couldn’t pull myself together to return. My brain could not get my body moving, and my body couldn’t convince my brain it was worth it. Where did my “I-will-never-stop-working-out-psyche” go? No matter what, I just couldn’t get my groove back. Five years later, it’s still nowhere to be found, although I feel like it’s calling out for me, but stuck in the Nether world of the white noise on TV like Carol Anne from Poltergeist.
It’s not the first time I’ve quit. Seven years ago, I established a morning beach walk routine. I showed up for a brisk walk at sunrise four to six mornings a week. The ocean delightfully surprised me almost every day, no matter how often I went to soak in its healing powers. Some sunrises were average, but some were so spectacular, I couldn’t believe my eyes. One day the shore could be clear, and the next day there could literally be thousands of horseshoe crabs all over the beach. It was fascinating day after day. I wondered how, and why, anyone, including me, could ever sleep through this. I called it “God’s Big Morning Show,” and I was hooked.
But, I quit.
Why have I quit things that I come to adore? I think it all comes down to habits—good ones and bad. I had a preacher come to my house once, and we were chatting about church. He said, “Going to church is a habit, and not going to church is a habit.” He’s right. It’s not really an emotional decision. It’s a habit, just like working out, or walking the beach. Even if something ignites our soul, when we get out of the habit of doing it, it is difficult to crank it back up. In fact, it takes building a new habit from ground zero.
I guess that’s where I am now—ground zero, sitting in the midst of things I have quit and wanting them back, but afraid I can’t muster the discipline or desire to get there. Nonetheless, I cannot allow fear to paralyze moving forward. Here’s my game plan to break my sedentary habits that have robbed me of doing things I enjoy:
Just do it! At first, you just have to make yourself do it. The view from ground zero is dismal, with no rewards in sight. You have to immerse yourself in it to start thinking differently. From the comforts of your warm bed, a beach walk at sunrise seems like more work than it’s worth. It requires cutting sleep short, delaying coffee, getting dressed, and exercising—all things most of us dread. To begin, you may have to literally drag yourself there, so you can see the magic of the sunrise, feel the breeze against your face, hear the calming cadence of the waves and deeply breathe in the salt air.
Put a friendly schedule together. A friendly schedule is one you will stick to. Don’t start by declaring to do something every day. Remember, you are at ground zero—basically a car sitting on cinder blocks in the backyard. Just as you wouldn’t expect that car to run simply by putting tires on it, you can’t expect yourself to automatically cooperate. Habits are hard to break and hard to build. Your inner self will go to battle to hang onto a habit, even if it is bad. Sometimes you even have to trick yourself. In doing so, simply put together a schedule you can stick to—one day a week, two to start? And, give yourself an A for effort.
Phone a friend. If you are so far entrenched you can’t make the first move, call in the troops for help. Come clean with your best friend, or someone you can count on, and ask for assistance. Tell them your struggle and what you’re trying to accomplish. Ask them to support you in a way to get you moving. For the ultimate accountability, they could meet you at the beach. Or, commit to sending them a picture of sunrise each morning if your schedules don’t meld, or if you prefer to walk alone (which is perfectly acceptable). Friends want the best for you, and want you to ask them for help—people love to be needed, and that’s what friends are for.
Don’t go all or none. If you skip a morning, or seem to be able to only show up half of what you committed to, don’t quit! Give your body time to start relishing in the habit—it takes time. Don’t beat yourself up for a rocky start—at least it’s a start! Just like that old car on blocks, building a new habit takes time, effort and persistence to start running smoothly.
Lastly, claim your why. Whatever new habit you want to build or bad habit you want to break, there is a reason you want to do it. That reason is your why. My why for wanting to reinstate my beach walking routine is it facilitates me getting healthy, it’s good for my heart and soul, and gives me time to think, dream and plan. It is a treat to take time to clear my head, work my body and take in the magic of the ocean all in one fell swoop. Anytime I want to crawl back into bed, I will simply remember my why.
Though I quit sometimes, I do not have the heart of a quitter. This means I have potential to be a winner, and so do you. Let's begin.