If you were to visit my house and peek inside my medicine cabinet, you’d see a calendar pasted there. Two printed pages, dated March and April 2013. On the March calendar I’ve scrawled notes about workouts – the type and duration written in the dated square for the day on which I did them. The idea was that if I had a calendar in front of me in a place I look every day I’d be encouraged to keep the streak going, like my very own fitness accountability system. I tried apps, but none of them quite did the trick.
But here’s the thing – if you were to lift the March page and look at the April one underneath, you’d notice that it’s blank. Not because I haven’t done any exercise this month (though admittedly it’s been less frequent) but because I’m not sure this tracking method is working for me.
My life is littered with things like this – things I’ve tried to motivate myself and to keep myself accountable that I’ve later abandoned.
Diaries and charts and stickies and the barest of details in several different iPhone apps that remain hidden in folders on my phone.
I don’t consider these failures. I am a bizarre mix – a creature of habit who also gets bored easily and needs change to keep things fresh. So, while one thing I know about myself is that I like to track things and I do better if I write stuff down, I know that eventually I will need to shake things up and move on to something else.
This medicine-cabinet experiment appears to have been short-lived, but other strategies have been long-term habits at various times. I have full running journals that span three years and cover many 10Ks, a few shorter races and three half-marathons. Writing a short blurb about each run became part of my training even though I never looked back at earlier entries. Maybe composing journal entries just gave my brain something to focus on while I ran.
I also know that food journals work for me. I stand on a very slippery slope when it comes to food – too much of my weaknesses too often and I’m on a toboggan straight to Junk Food City. But if I have to record everything I eat—every taste and every stolen bite—I tend to make better choices about what I choose to consume.
The calendar pages in my medicine cabinet may have more notes added to them, and more months. And they may not. Sometime in May I might decide not to continue with this approach and gently unstick the tape and relegate the pages to the recycling bin. No doubt I will try another method one day when I feel like I need another motivational push.
I don’t consider it quitting, just another way to keep going.