Category Archives: Consistency

Consistency vs Commitment

It is okay to go down crying as long as you get up fighting.

~ Marjorie Shier

The leader of a New Moms Group that I was a part of invited us to share something about ourselves that wasn’t about our career or our new babies. Of the myriad of things that I could share, the one that first came to mind was my approach to fitness:

“I’m a runner. And always a novice runner. I really want to commit to it for a length of time, but something always comes up – like an injury, a busy work schedule, or more recently – my pregnancy. But, I am always interested in getting started again. I love running!”

Like the majority of the culture around me, the new year is always a reminder for me to take care of my health more than I was (if only in December!). As part of that resolution, getting more active has been on my radar, and I have been doing more and more every week. As I listened to a workout video from before my pregnancy, though, I started to contemplate how important it really is to be consistent every day.

I did one of the workout videos for the first time in 16 months last Thursday. After encouragement from a fellow mother, I set up my baby as my cheerleader in his jolly jumper, and I talked to him through the whole thing. (He loved the first 10 minutes of watching Mum’s new moves, but started to protest for the last 10 minutes of the video. The middle ten minutes were precarious.) I wrapped up the video sooner than I would have had I been alone, but celebrated the success of being more active even with a 5-month-old under foot.

The next day, I was walking like a spring chicken…because my quads were on fire!

In my old life, I would have just pushed through and put on another video – no pain, no gain, right?  Wrong! I snapped at my husband because I was in pain. I cried when my baby needed me to pick him up again because my legs felt like they were ripping apart. Despite all of the extra stretching I did after the baby had gone to bed, my body was broken. I could not be the mom I want to be when I had done something to make my body stronger.

So, do I stop working out entirely to focus on being that mom I want to be?   If consistency is so important to gaining strength and working through that pain is essential to being fit, did I ruin it all by NOT putting the next video in the next day?

There are so many things in my life that I want to do and so many roles that I want to fill that the activities might not get executed perfectly, and I may not be the person I want to be in those roles all of the time. Does that mean I am failing at them all? Not at all. Just like tearing apart the muscles in my quads in order to rebuild stronger ones, my life needs to be torn apart every so often in order to be a stronger me, too. And being a stronger me is truly the Mum I want to be for my baby.

When I really think about consistency, I realize that my need for it is not coming from myself, but from what the fitness guru on the video was telling me. If fitness were the only thing happening in my life, maybe it would be more important for me to be consistent at it. But I am committed to so much more than fitness in my life right now. When I look back at what has worked in my life, commitments are much stronger than consistency.

For the first few years of my compassionate lifestyle, I “cheated.” I referred to myself as the “Cheatin’ Vegan” as a result, joking at my failure because I wasn’t always consistent. I was still committed to being a vegan, though, and after a few years, it became the easiest part of my life.  I did this through a commitment to being more of the person that I wanted to be than consistently doing the most I could every day. The only consistency I had was in re-committing to being a vegan every single day.

One of my friends had this sentiment to say in regards to my “vegan cheats”:

You can choose to re-commit first thing tomorrow, or not even that far ahead – re-commit at your next meal, your next snack, even the next bite.

You are free to commit or re-commit at any moment. That is the one consistency you will always have.

I did the second workout video this morning. My baby went in his Jumperoo to work on his cheerleading skills and I zoomed past the exercises that my back isn’t strong enough to do just yet. My quads are still sore, and they might be for the next few weeks, but I’m pretty sure that I will be able to pick up my baby without tears running down my face tomorrow. Maybe I didn’t bring “all that I have and then a little bit more” this time, but I brought enough for the change I am willing to put our lives through right now. And that’s more important to me than being a fitness guru leading a workout video right now. Maybe I will do another video tomorrow, maybe it won’t happen again until Wednesday. I can’t commit to any specific consistent time, but I can commit to always growing, changing, and being stronger.

Consistency – Part 1

This last weekend, I went through my Memory Chest. I’ve had this piece of furniture for the 20 years, and its sole purpose is to hold my memorabilia, trinkets, and other items that invoke dear memories for me.  Downsizing and organizing my Memory Chest is a pack-rat’s nightmare, and a semi-annual ritual for myself. Sometimes, it takes days to complete, but this fall – because I was so strict last time…and left half of as “needs to be finished” – it only took me an afternoon to finish what I had started this spring!

As I sifted through my memories, I came across an entire box of old journals.  If you are an eternal “aspiring writer” like myself, then you likely have something similar in your house.  The first few pages are PACKED with the day-to-day accounts of your life. You, too, had a fresh new journal, notebook, or beautiful book ready to be filled with your thoughts, dreams, and that award-winning novel idea. Then…something happened.  I got busy, life was pulling me in another direction, I lost my journal under the bed, etc., etc. The last few entries might have referred to a re-commitment to writing. “Dear Diary, I’ve been so busy lately that I’ve forgotten to write everything down. I’m so sorry! I promise to write more often from now on.” Maybe there were even attempts to summarize the missing months: “I liked GER a lot the last time I wrote, but now I am mad crushing on TYH.  It’s weird how I used to like GER so much. He was such a jerk…” (I came across a LOT of my writing from Junior High in my Memory Chest.) But, for whatever reason there is not a single notebook / journal / diary that is filled from one end to the other. Frankly, as an Environmentalist, I am ashamed with my younger self!

I’ve noticed the same thing with running. I love running! Sadly, my knees / my back / my ankles don’t like me running. I have “started running” at least once a year for the last seven years. I lay out my clothes the night before, set my alarm an hour early, and get my shoes out from the last drawer I shoved them into the last time. And, it feels great the first time. Maybe it feels great for the next three weeks, sometimes only the next week. Then, my knees hurt, so I take a break. The break turns into a month, then three, then I have to start all over again from the beginning.

determined running face
My first time running as a 30-year-old woman. I felt STRONG!

I’m learning from all of this, though.  I’m on week three of running right now, and pacing myself with every step. Pacing means my knees are getting stronger as I go, rather than taking all of the pounding until they can’t take any more.  I’m running in the afternoons when it’s sunniest out, or inside on rainy days. My phone has a running schedule that reminds me – frequently – that today is the day for my next scheduled run. I’m telling the world when I get it done: bragging on social media always keeps me going! And, most importantly, I remind myself of my overall goal: #runforme #runformentalhealth

running in the fall
Running October 7, 2015 in a T-shirt. Are we still in the North?!?

Last month, I had a great little visit with a fellow coach. As it turns out, she’s also a personal trainer and body builder and just such an amazing person that I was ecstatic to hear that she was life coaching, too! (Check her out at: We Are Timeless) In our conversation, I brought up my health goals, and my excitement that my new day job would allow for me to work on those, too. (More about her awesome insight into that later.) And, it dawned on me – so I shared my aha! with her: all I really want is to be in strong enough physical shape to run regularly without the knee pain or back pain.  When I run, I told her, I clear my mind; and I really want a clear mind. #runforme #runformentalhealth

running in warmer clothes
Still running in week three! I’m prepared for the chillier weather…

The funny thing is, the same thing applies to my writing. When I think back over my twenties, I realize that the winter that I had the most clarity and the least stress was when I was writing the most for me. I woke up a half hour early every morning to do my “Morning Pages.” I wrote a blog every day for my music blog: Edumusication. I worked on three other blogs, too, and I loved it! I met up with fellow writers and read some amazing authors, and my life was really good.

But, how do we return to “life was really good”?

It’s easier to keep going when we already have the momentum. How do we gain the momentum? By being consistent. How do ensure we are consistent? By remembering our reasons for doing it. By prioritizing the greater vision for our life over the little details that don’t matter that much. Why am I not getting up in the morning and writing? Because I have stayed up too late crocheting and watching Netflix. I know that – I’ll call myself out! Why am I staying up so late? Because it relaxes me. Aha! What does writing daily do for me? It relaxes me. It provides me with a place to set all of my thoughts, worries, and great ideas down so that I don’t fixate on them when my head hits the pillow. So, how can I write more consistently? Maybe writing at night rather than in the morning is a better idea for me…

Another thought I have on writing is that I need things to be perfect. I have this great attachment for every blog post to leave you, the reader, with hope and inspiration on how to improve your life. I would love to tell you that the above realization was a miracle and that I am doing it and life is really good. But, I can’t … yet. I am going to publish this without it being perfect, though…because life isn’t perfect, but maybe it can still be really good.

What do you think? How do you stay focused on your goals and increase your consistency when building new healthy habits?  I’d love to hear from you!

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