My 15 year old told me yesterday that she didn’t want to play her (first ever) tennis match today and that she was considering telling her coach that she wouldn’t be able to do it because she needed to pack for our upcoming move. When I shook my head with a smirk, she then asked me how bad the rain was going to be and if I thought the courts would be too wet to play. When I showed her the sunny afternoon forecast, she dropped her head in defeat. She continued, “Maybeeeeeeeee I could just …”. We laughed and I reminded her that showing up may not feel good and it may not even go well—or maybe it will—but that she’ll feel whole and congruent afterwards no matter what. I said, “You’ll match your insides and your outsides.” She agreed and also said that I was “cringey”.
I get this entirely. I get the art of negotiating the stuff to which we’ve said Yes and even the stuff that is actually healthy for us, good for us. In fact, I will sheepishly admit that I spent most of my life before turning 40 doing that. Everything was negotiable. And flaking out of something always felt good and true. In fact, a lot of times, I would feel like I was standing up for myself and my true wants. BUT BUT BUT. I always ended up feeling regret later. Always. At least with the stuff that mattered and the stuff that I actually had capacity to do.
For me, this has to do with two things: Neurodivergence and worth. I get overwhelmed with “normal” life things that will be overstimulating only to me and then I get embarrassed and then I sign up for the thing anyways because I don’t want to be that person. And then, at the last minute, my nervous system has a giant freak out and the only option left is to just excuse myself from the thing, aka flake out. As for how this relates to worth, the more I do the above, the more I think that it doesn’t matter if I show up or not. And this then creates a vicious cycle for me in which the excuses feed shame and shame feeds excuses.
I’m not sure what your experience here is, but I am sure you can relate in some small ways, maybe particularly in the area of wellness and self preservation. For me, I was this way with exercise for so long. I would flake out or never start or set up inevitably impossible goals. It was just a giant failure to launch, framed inside lots of hopes and ideas for how to move my body, how to feel vital, how to experience physical adventure, how to feel powerful, etc. And I just always bailed out. Always.
This is actually the underpinning of the Daily 15 in MommaStrong, funny enough. It came from a deep, mostly unconscious, drive to create something that I would actually do every day AND to create some requirements around it that made it basically impossible for me to not show up. And I think I must have known that it needed to be short, different every day, pain relieving, anti-fitness, zero unitards, zero-ish equipment, no shoes or bra needed … and my actual job in order for it to stick.
And here we are, ten years later. TEN YEARS. Ten years. Ten years. Thousands of Daily 15s filmed. A daily-ish habit that no longer gets tossed around in my head as a maybe, but more of a fine I’ll do it. It’s changed my life, if I’m honest. It’s been here with me through two divorces, getting sober, surviving major life and business hurdles, countless moves (omg), the birth of my third kid, a friggin global pandemic, and everything in between. And while my body has healed and my strength has integrated … beyond that, I have learned to stay true to me in this process and I have learned that exercise is probably my number #1 tool for my mental health. I have become embodied.
I just got chills thinking about this. I couldn’t have done this by just willing myself into the behavior or by reading enough self help books. There was no magic switch waiting in my brain that would then launch me here. It happened because I changed the way I set up my goals and I changed the way I was going to pursue a habit. I didn’t know I was doing it at the time. I didn’t know I was being rebellious in relation to all the health/fitness industry teaches us about motivation. I just was, well, maybe a little desperate and over it.
The lessons here for me are that what we think about motivation and what we’ve been taught about habits aren’t always true for all of us. What is true for ALL of us is that habits stick when they are true to you and when they honor where you have been and where you are now. When they match your insides and your outsides. When they help you in the ways that matter. AND when they allow you to be human.
I could have never ever ever ever imagined that I’d be here today, reporting back after ten years. I’ve learned that I’m not a bad shower-upper. I’m actually a pretty awesome one. I just hadn’t set my own terms. And now I have. And now I have a contract with showing up for exercise that has extended into how I show up in life. I don’t flake out even when I want to, even when my mind has one bazillion valid excuses. I do it anyways, as long as it all matches. As a result, I feel what we all want to feel when moving towards health: I feel good about me. I feel sturdy in my integrity. I feel resilient. I just … can feel.
That’s a weird word when you type it a lot, FYI.
OK, good news for you is that the month of April in MommaStrong is dedicated to the art of habits that stick with a month-long challenge called Streaking. Yes, Streaking. You will learn how to show up consistently for yourself ON YOUR TERMS. And you will laugh. You will attempt daily-ish workouts. You will hear about whether or not you should clean your sheets more than once a year. You will hear about how exercise can change your life, if and only if it’s doable regularly. You know, we cover it all and we help you be human and also show up.
Join us starting Monday, April 4th. Register today (it’s a free part of your membership). You can do that as a current member by logging in to your account and then clicking Challenges in the teal navigation menu. OR, if you are not yet a member, voila, perfect time to get started. Simply sign up for your 14-day free trial and follow those instructions above.
That’s it. Tadaah. Now to go convince myself to do a D15. 😉