The Birth of Athena

lift the weight. fight the power. eat the candy.

The Art of Failing Commitments and Making A Comeback – Part One

On Failing Commitments

Fail

Three weeks ago, I wrote this post. You might remember it and you might also remember my three kickoff posts to my experiments. In these posts, I declared that I was making these proclamations public as to hold myself accountable. Well, this is me kicking myself in the ass for doing so.

You see, I failed two of these three experiments. I am no closer to being a supple kitten and I am most certainly not a ZWarrior. I am, however, once again, a plant eater. Really, I, like any good scientist, should have known these results before I even ran the experiment. That is, I should have created my hypotheses based on facts I already knew…facts about myself and my commitment issues. No good scientists goes into an experiment completely ignoring all known evidence about the issue at hand.

An previous example of one of these experiments with predictable outcomes had to do with watching all of the Star Wars movies.. Even though I am a nerd, I am not into Science Fiction, at all. However, I felt obligated to watch these movies because 1. Everyone told me I should because I am into nerdy things and 2. My boyfriend at the time (who is now my ex-boyfriend) was one of the people at the top of the list insisting I needed to watch all of the Star Wars movies, followed by watching most of Star Trek (yuck). My initial response to the idea of watching these movies was correct. I very much did not enjoy them. I don’t begrudge people who enjoy them or think they are weird. I have plenty of nerdy hobbies myself (if you like intensely intricate games, you should be my friend). However, I did learn a valuable lesson from the experience. I went home (I was visiting said boyfriend at the time – he lived in a different city) and thought about the situation. And then, I broke up with that boyfriend. I realized that I did not want to be in a relationship where my significant other pressured me into doing anything I did not want to do, even if that thing was insignificant. Also, I realized that I didn’t want to date anyone who was capable of sitting and watching movies/TV for 13 hours a day because that is BORING and makes my butt hurt. That is the art of failing – to take utility or a lesson of some sort from your experience, even if the experience itself was less than optimal.

Never again.

Never again.

These failed exercise experiments were a lot like my Star Wars experience. I wanted to like them, but I should have realized the outcome before I even started. However, the art of failing these experiments did, indeed, remind me of a valuable lesson: My approach to being healthy needs to be sustainable and in order for it to be sustainable, I have to enjoy whatever it is I do and it needs to bring positive utility into my life.

In general, I am not very good at doing things that 1. I am bad at and 2. I don’t really want to do/don’t enjoy doing. Now, there are things I do that I am bad at because I see the utility in them and I want this utility in my life (electromechanics). However, there activities I am bad at and will get little-to-no utility from them (golf – I am looking at you), so, I just will not do them. And, there are things I really do not want to do/enjoy doing, but again, I see the utility and want the utility in my life (job), so I do them. Then there are things that I see the utility for, but that utility is not really important to me or provides too small of a change in my life for me to be willing to invest the time and energy into these activities. And by “to be willing” I mean, “to have the willpower to do.” Becoming a supple kitten (AKA working towards doing the splits) and doing 20 ZWOW workouts fall into this last category for me.

I gain very little utility from being able to do the splits. Yes, I should work on mobility more than I do. However, currently, I have no mobility issues. When I do lift, I don’t suffer from any tightness that stays beyond a good warm-up. I have no issue getting down hitting well-below parallel in my squat, no shoulder or pec tightness, and my hips are in pretty good shape. Essentially, the only utility gained from my supple kitten experiment would be taking pictures of me doing the splits. It would be cool, yes, but ultimately, not necessary or of great utility to me.

 

Obviously, the best reason to do the splits is so that you can take photos of yourself doing the splits.

Obviously, the best reason to do the splits is so that you can take photos of yourself doing the splits.

Additionally, I also gain very little utility from doing ZWOW. Now, if led an inactive lifestyle, ZWOW would be of great utility for me. However, even though I have a desk job and even without lifting, I still lead a pretty active lifestyle (playing with my animals, gardening, going on ridiculously long walks with my boyfriend, and just in general, being unable to sit for long periods of time). Now, this is not to say that I would not gain any utility from ZWOW. It is to say that the amount of positive utility I would receive from forcing myself to partake in ZWOW workouts is outweighed by how much I do not enjoy bodyweight or high intensity workouts. If you watched my first (and only) ZWOW update, I hated it. I tried to convince myself that it was fun, in a really hard and painful way, but for me, it really wasn’t. It was one of the worst things I have ever done to myself.

And if I am completely honest, I am just not for making myself do things in my free time, where I gain little to no utility and I do not enjoy it. It just ain’t going to happen. And knowing my track record of how I approach things in life and knowing what motivates me and what does not motivate me, I should have been able to surmise the outcome of these “experiments” before I even attempted. In fact, here is a list of things I know are motivators for a lot of people, but have failed to motivate me to work out when I do not want to (or workout in ways in which I enjoy):

  1. Money
  2. Public Humiliation
  3. Social Obligation
  4. Aesthetics

The list of things that do get me to do something is this:

  1. I want to.
  2. It brings me great utility.
  3. I have to in order to survive.

Furthermore, I was merely experimenting as a way to bide time until I felt like lifting again. And it just so happened that in attempting to force myself to do ZWOW, I realized that I wanted to get back into the gym. So, I did. And while, as I stated before, I should have seen my failure coming, these experiments weren’t complete misses. In fighting myself to ZWOW, I realized that I really DO love lifting and that I wanted to return to it. Additionally, it really cemented the fact that I am very stubborn about doing what I like to do. So much so, I can’t even make myself do anything I don’t want to and because I am a card-carrying grownup who has a stable job and positively contributes to society, I need to stop making myself feel bad about it. Because really, I am the only one making myself feel bad about it (this is a common theme in my life). And then, there are activities or “experiments” I do attempt full-heartedly because I want to.

That brings me to the “experiment,” which I did not fail – the food experiment. I plan doing a full evaluation of my diet and how I feel on the decided end date (August 7th), but for now, I will share with you the little bit of wisdom I have learned so far:

  1. Vegetables have WAY fewer calories than I remembered. Seriously, 35 calories for how many carrots? HOLY CRAP (literally). Keep in mind, when I was eating a low-fiber diet, I still needed to eat carbs, so I ate low-residue carb options – rice, pasta, and processed carbs (poptarts, candy, ice cream, crackers, chips, cookies, muffins). I ate these things for snacks and as a part of larger meals. ALL of these have WAY more calories than veggies. And I learned that the hard way. For a few days of my vacation, I have felt like a huge slimy slug and moved at about the same pace. I also kept becoming super hangry – more often than usual. Why? BECAUSE I WAS NOT EATING ENOUGH. Lesson: coat all of your veggies in ranch. Also, eat more than usual.
  2. Do not follow eating two cups of carrots with 20 oz of coffee. Enough said.
  3. Summer fruit goes bad too fast to justify purchasing it (especially since I think it tastes “meh”).
  4. Broccoli, unless covered in soy sauce or salt, is not as good as I remember. But I like carrots way better than I remember.
  5. I do not like pluots.

SALAD

All-in-all, I am just happy to have crunchy food options back in my life. So why is it that I failed the other two experiments, but continued with this one? Well, to start off, I really enjoy eating veggies and fruits. Additionally, the positive utility gained by eating nutrient dense food is great. My body and health will be significantly better in the long run if I can continue to eat a diet rich in vitamins, minerals, and especially, fiber. (Seriously, look up studies on fiber in the diet. Fiber is very, very, very important for disease prevention and control).

Failing my exercise experiments is okay because I relearned some important things in the process about my own personal behavior and mindset. And my failure led me back to lifting. However, now, with starting to lift again, I get to practice another form of art I have much experience with: making a comeback.

…To be continued in Part Two of The Art of Failing Commitments and Making A Comeback

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