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This may be the awesomest post EVAH!!!

Creatures of Habit – Managing the Funk

I am, for the most part, a creature of habit as I believe most people are.  For the longest time after I quit drinking, I had to break the habit – or more aptly stated, the pattern of behavior – that landed me in a bar, hammered.  While that transformation was occurring I had to also change my habit of slacking and sleeping in so I could hold a real job.  While menial at first, the jobs I held progressively got better and paid more.  As I moved up the ladder, the tasks became more demanding (as did the responsibilities and bosses).  I had to adapt and change my habits.  The same went, and still goes for my marriage, and has expanded to fatherhood.  When my youth no longer kept me at a decent weight I had to change some habits in the way I ate and the amount I exercised.  The exercise and eating habits have changed considerably even over the last two years, where I gave up a 4,000+ calorie a week cola habit and more than quintupled my weekly mileage by adding bicycling – from road to mountain biking.

Unfortunately, changing all of that takes time and practice.  I find that as I evolve, some of the changes in habit are easy but most aren’t.  An easy example would be waking up early to prepare for work and without a snooze bar.  I’ve been waking up at or before 4:30 am for years, and the longer this has gone on, the easier it gets and I can count the number of times I’ve slept in longer than intended on one hand in all of those years and it was actually a pretty big change – I had a love/hate relationship with the snooze bar.  I loved the extra 10-20 minutes of sleep for the longest time, until I strung a few days together without it and realized that I woke up more refreshed if I didn’t use it.  From there it was just a simple choice – I decided to not hit the snooze bar, no matter what, for two weeks.  At the end of the two weeks, I was infinitely more happy about waking up so I just kept with it.  Now I’m almost always up well before the alarm.

Other changes require a lot more mental work.  An obvious one would be not drinking or keeping a positive and good marriage.  For some, implementing a fitness/diet plan would fall into this category.  Just over the last two days I wrote about a little “funk” that I got into and came out of in regards to getting my miles in, and I believe the way I manage to slog through the funks is important, if not critical, to minimizing their duration and effect on my happiness.  This is where this all gets wrapped up with a nice little bow on top – managing funks takes a lot of practice.

Before we jump into the “how to”, it’s best to go through a little bit of the how, first.  There are two distinct “types” of funk – the “I’ve just come off the pink cloud” funk and the “I’m a seasoned vet at [insert item here – work, running, riding, relationship, etc. here], I shouldn’t be going through this” funk.

The pink cloud funk is considerably different, but easy so we’ll deal with that description first.  You’ve just started running and found that you absolutely love it.  You run like there’s no tomorrow, gains are fast and furious, and your life makes sense again…  Then running becomes work all of a sudden and you don’t know why or what to do about it.  You’ve just fallen off of the pink cloud.  This is where many fitness noobs run into trouble.  All of the sudden the shine and excitement of finally doing something to be fit wears off and you’re left battling to stay on the move.  There are dozens of ways to bring back the excitement, but in the end, it all comes down to want to.  You either have it or you plop back down on the couch until you try again, falling from the pink cloud once more to complete the process.  If this describes you, fear not.  Help is two paragraphs away, and don’t worry – almost everyone goes through this.  This is also called the “honeymoon effect”.

The seasoned pro funk is a little tougher to deal with – you’ve maintained your “want to” for a considerable amount of time, changed things up a bit after falling from the pink cloud, and created a nice little habit.  Then one day you come to the conclusion that your heart just isn’t in it any longer – you’ve lost your “want to”.  This is a very tough scenario to deal with, losing heart.  We can push through it hoping we find our “want to” again, we can change things up a bit, we can quit, or we can fall into a pit of despair (of course, quitting and the pit of despair are usually one right after the other).

The How To: (more…)