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.