There’s a song in the musical “Oklahoma” that tends to run through my head at times like these:
“With me, it’s all or nothin’,
Is it all or nothin’ with you?
. . .
If you can’t give me all, give me nothin’,
And nothin’s what you’ll get from me!”
I do not seem capable of halfway. I’m an all-or-nothing gal. I can go to the gym every day or not at all, but 3 times a week? Nope. My intention to go 3 times a week will quickly become “not at all,” because there’s always tomorrow. But every day means EVERY day, so a skipped workout doesn’t get made up. So I’ll go every day.
A friend once proposed that rather than continue to fight that tendency, I embrace it. The challenge then becomes learning to deal with my accompanying tendency to go nuts over it: the tendency to get obsessive and compulsive about it. It’s a different sort of learning curve than I’ve been thinking I needed. I’ve been thinking that I just needed to learn to go to the gym (since that example is both true and convenient) 3 days a week, but maybe not. Maybe I need to learn to go to the gym all the time, but not be crazy. Had a late Tae Kwon Do class last night and don’t want to get up the next morning? No big deal (because Mondays and Wednesdays I double up on the workouts, anyway: gym in the A.M., TKD in the P.M.). Cramps? Skip it. Just don’t feel like it? Get the hell up and go, for the love of Pete.
See what I mean? Normally, if I miss a workout, then the whole thing, FOREVER, is a Fail. Doesn’t matter if I’ve gone 5 days a week faithfully for the last 6 months, and yesterday my dog died. If I miss the gym today, I FAILED.
So I’m thinking that the whole “3-days-a-week” thing might be a red herring. Maybe my friend is right: it’s not that I need to change what I do. It’s that I need to change how I THINK about it. Because rationally I realize that the above scenario wouldn’t constitute a failure. It would be pretty damn fantastic, actually. But in PRACTICE, in my HEAD, I would be SO dissappointed in myself. See what I mean?
Charlotte’s experiment for the month is perfection. That’s what got me thinking about this. I sat down last night and made a list of all the things I would be doing perfectly if I were perfect. I didn’t really stop to think, just wrote down everything that popped into my head. And when I got done, I realized that the list I had WASN’T EVEN POSSIBLE. There were things like, “Do an hour of Pilates or yoga every day after work,” AND things like, “Go out with friends after work at least once a week,” AND things like, “Take TKD lessons 3 nights a week,” ANDANDAND “Schedule one night a week to stay home and paint my nails.” Not enough hours in the day, there (or days in the week, for that matter).
I’d never done that: write everything I thought I “should” be doing down, all in one place. All of it, from the fitness to the relaxation, from the mindless to the skill-building, from the meditating to the socializing. And I realized for the first time that that list is IMPOSSIBLE. It just is. It doesn’t matter how “perfect” I am – the MATH doesn’t work. 24 x7 gives me a specific number of hours, and there aren’t enough to do everything on that list.
The other thing I noticed was that some of the things on my list are not good for me. I mean, things that have entered the general canon as considered “Healthy.” I do not do well eating only chicken and fish, and avoiding red meat, for instance (even my doctor recommends that I eat red meat). But “eat only chicken and fish” made it onto the Perfect list. As did, “eat more fruit,” which my body does NOT like. Vegetables are good, and I eat a lot of those, but most fruit tends to upset my system. (Occasionally I’ll eat an apple with some peanut butter or something, but that’s rare.) It was interesting to see how much info I’ve absorbed and accepted, even when it directly contradicts what I know is best for ME.
So. Perfection. And the all-or-nothing mentality. How can I make that work for me? Maybe I could practice being Perfectly Sane. 😉 (I’m not sure what it says about my mental state that I think that might be a pretty good idea. Ha!)