By Gavin Buehler
Wow, we’re already well into 2023. How did that happen? The last two years seemed to have gone by faster than most due to the vacuum of COVID. 2023 feels like the first year since the pandemic where fresh starts, goals and resolutions can regain traction. To reach those aspirations it’s necessary to put in place the right systems and surround yourself with the appropriate environment. Famed Greek poet Archilochus has a quote that states, "We don't rise to the level of our expectations; we fall to the level of our training." James Clear tweaks this idea slightly in his book Atomic Habits stating, “You don’t rise to the level of your goals; you fall to the level of your systems.” Your habits create that baseline, but to create the right habits, you need the right system.
I wasn’t entirely sure what to write about to kickoff this New Year Newsletter, so I’ve chosen to give you a first-person snippet of my life that highlights a part of my system that fosters the habit of exercise. Maybe it will just be an entertaining read of the internal thought process that I go through most nights of the week, but hopefully you can also take something away from it.
Part of my system is creating a space easily accessible and equipped with the tools I need to reduce the friction of excuses as much as possible and motivate me to move. Exercise is the habit; and because I have a good system in place that bolsters that concern, I can adjust that habit to fit into my life as it fluctuates. Exercise is a lead domino for me. When I exercise regularly a lot of other positives occur such as mental clarity and healthier eating habits. So, my system is built to support this key element. Within the habit of exercise things can vary as you’ll see, but it’s important to me that it stays constant.
2022 was an absolute blur. Although blessed with plenty of moments to celebrate with our two additions to the family, having a household with 3 children under the age of 3 does come with its challenges. Mornings are now filled with baby wrangling, and personal time has been reduced to a few moments during the night after we’ve settled the beasts into a slumber of unknown length. We never know how long we have before at least one will break the peace. I’ve had to migrate my usual morning exercise routine to a much less favorable time in the evening after all the excitement, when energy is low, and excuses are high.
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Exhausted, I reluctantly head into the garage. I had turned the heater on in advance which gives me an early mental prep cue. It also makes me less likely to give into the negative mental chatter since I’ve made the effort to preheat the garage beforehand. It’s a less than ideal time to get in exercise but immersing myself in the conducive environment created for such occasions triggers a habitual prep routine. I think of my post workout smoothy as it is damn tasty, and I can’t have one unless I earn it. Sadly, this is a serious driving factor right now.
As I start to move, the initial discouraging self talk begins its usual argument.
“You’re too tired for this.”
I shimmy a touch closer to the heater and suppress the negative nags with visions of Arnold (Schwarzenegger) from the 1977 classic Pumping Iron. I tell myself, “Arnold would stay in the garage.”
I made it out here, so I might as well do something. Plus, I want that smoothy!
I move through some positions and floss through different areas of my body checking in with everything before making the call on how to proceed tonight. The big battle has already been won. I showed up. These days I’ve learned that I can’t always stick with the plan I’ve written. Sometimes things just don’t feel together enough for the plan and my nervous system won’t let me load much weight. But I can pivot. Tonight I’ll have to reduce my scope and stick with something simple, quick and light. The important thing is maintaining the consistency. The effort be it big or small will vary from time to time, but it accumulates if you keep showing up.
I opt for some squats and push-ups. Even if it’s just for 5 minutes. 5 good minutes can change everything.
I hope that you found this information helpful and as always, this video is for entertainment and educational purposes only. Please consult a health professional before attempting new exercises or protocols, as the content of this article may or may not be appropriate for you.