Thursday, 5 June 2014

A Plum's guide to the 'can't be arsed' brain versus the 'productive' brain when it comes to the gym

Okay, so this week has been very 'losing weight/exercise a lot' orientated in my posts. I'd like to say that I'm going to deviate from this now, but I'm not. Sorry. I have more to say on the topic.

For those of you not caught up, I came to realisation last weekend that I am, in fact, gaining weight instead of losing it, which was the opposite of what I was trying to do. I am very much on the 'curvy' side, putting it delicately, at the moment. This is something that I've normally been too lazy to sort out, but Older-Brother-Glyn is getting married in two months and I have a Bridesmaid dress that currently doesn't fit me. As such, I panicked and decided to do something about it.

As a result of this, never have I had to implement my previous CBT skills, learnt last year (click here for background on that), as much as I've had to this week. The long and short of it is that, upon having this realisation that I need to lose weight and quickly, I was overwhelmed with the sheer amount of work that would be involved in getting me down to my needed weight. Immediately, 28 years of habit kicked in and I began to shut down. I knew I had to do it, in order to ensure I didn't end up with a serious wardrobe malfunction on the day of the wedding, but I found myself habitually pushing the problem out of my mind and ignoring it completely.

This, ladies and gents, is the exact reason why I haven't really achieved all that much in my 20s. Any time I'm faced with a challenge to better my life, I tend to just go ahead and sabotage it instead. If this was the situation this time 18 months ago, I would have pushed the problem away and not thought about it again until I reach the point of morbidly obese and am suffering from heart problems (which kinda is what happened...).

However, my ignoring of the issue this time only lasted for a couple of days. I kept on getting waves of adrenalin that told me I should be doing something about this issue, and then would squash this down with all the reasons why I couldn't do what needed to be done, such as "I can't really afford to join a gym" or "If I'm really good at the whole not eating thing, then I should do it on that alone... oh look, a KFC! Oh go on, just this once." However, after I posted about the whole swimming idea, I spent the next 48 hours executing every CBT technique I knew to make sure that it actually happened. And then, once I had been, I realised that, with the right amount of budgeting for the month, I could actually afford a membership at the gym. So I joined yesterday. I went back last night and used their gym facilities instead of the pool, I only lasted for about 30 minutes before I collapsed into a heap, but I had started what I needed to do.

How did I do this? Well, putting on my CBT hat, I felt the 'can't be arsed' attitude kick in and immediately challenged it. I asked myself why it was that I was having this reaction? Was it a justified reaction to be having? What if I thought about it another way? So I did.

I looked at the cost, which I had previously decided I couldn't afford and worked up a budget, only to find I could afford it. Reason for not doing it no 1 was eradicated.

I thought about the embarrassment I'd feel being in a gym at my size, also what if I wasn't exercising right? I called the gym, they set me up with three sessions with a trainer, which happened to be included in the membership price, and I have my first one of these on Saturday. That trainer will give me an exercise plan to get what I need and if I keep to it, I won't look as flabby and unfit as I do right now.  Reason for not doing it no 2 was eradicated.

I looked at past experiences with gym memberships and how they never lasted because I eventually just give up. Do I really want to commit to a membership if I'm not going to use it? So I looked into their membership and saw that I didn't need to give notice for cancelling the membership, I can do it as soon as I don't need it anymore, therefore it won't be binding me to them. In terms of making sure I continue to use the gym... this is where my techniques became less CBT and more trickery, and this is also where the title to this post comes in. I have put into place the following tricks to ensure I attend the gym.

1. Avoid any chance to crash out of an evening before I go to the gym. 
I have invested in a gym bag and I have kitted it out with everything I need for the gym. I take it with me to work so that I can go straight after work before going home. So far this technique has fooled my 'can't be arsed' brain for two days in a row. I am feeling silently confident for future foolery.

2. Make preparations for when the novelty of going to the gym begins to fade (usually at around the two week mark).
My 'can't be arsed' brain is usually overpowered by my productive brain for the first two weeks of any gym membership. For those two weeks, I am the exercise God. I exercise the shizzle out of all gyms. However, at around 2 weeks, my productive brain is so knackered from all the productivity, it passes out in a comatose state and suddenly my 'can't be arsed' brain has all the power. It never fails to happen, no matter what.

However, this time round I am entering into this membership expecting this to happen. Therefore, I have put plans in place to combat it when it does. Mostly, these plans involve getting as many people as possible included in my gym activities. I have already made plans with two friends for separate occasions of swimming, I'm going to look into classes and invite the shizzle out of anyone else who wants to come.

Additionally, I have Oldest-Friend-Cafrin, who is by far my most experienced gym friend, instructed to send me regular pep talks at certain points to spur me on. Most importantly, I am using my biggest quirk to my advantage; that is my OCD for sticking to any routine I create. For something to end up qualified as a routine in my life, I have to have been doing it regularly for about a week. My plan is to make the 'go to the gym every evening straight after work' routine embedded in my psyche by the end of next week. Once that has hit my OCD radar, I am all good to go. The only way this can happen however is that I need to make sure it is a similar plan every evening, I can't deviate, otherwise it becomes sporadic and won't register on my OCD levels as a verified new contender for my neuroses. Yes, I do have some borderline mental problems, but the important thing is I know how to manipulate them to get what I want... I am totally in control of that shizzle... for now.

3. Create a realistic goal that doesn't sound so daunting but still has enough pressure to make me competitive about it.
Although I have joined gyms in the past, this is the first time that I have done it with such a short term goal in mind. I have a deadline I need to reach and so, at the moment, I am only considering my gym membership until then. Most of the time, when my brain's gone all 'can't be arsed' in the past, it's been because I've had nothing to motivate me and the task of losing all the weight I need to just seems like too much work. However, this time it's different. I'm not trying to lose weight to a model level (I do actually like having curves), I have just one goal, I need to go down one dress size. That's it. That's all I'm focusing on. And on top of that, having a due date gives it just the right amount of edge that has my competitive nature kicking in. Now, I might very well decide that exercise is the thing for me after the wedding and keep at it (pigs could fly), but right now I'm not thinking about that. I have until the end of July. That's all. Lose one dress size in two months... It's going to happen people, I just know it.

If I end up writing on this thing in a couple of weeks' time, saying that I gave up because I couldn't be arsed, you all have my permission to slap me round the face hard. Then throw me over your shoulder and march me back to the gym, screaming at me until I finish the exercise I need to do. Seriously, do it. It needs to be done.

Peace out my lovelies.

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