Brutalist Bookends

Accordion gestures

My main fitness goal is to not fall into a debilitating depression. Which is not exactly a storyline that would get you cast on a reality TV fitness show.1

The meat machine that is my body shares this goal and has recently — and not unreasonably — demanded more activity. It controls the bulk of the seratonin supply, and throttles flow when it feels neglected. I haven’t gone running for many weeks now, for a variety of excuses that are too flimsy to deserve full sentences: “Well, you know, ah… “ or perhaps “Eeeee, yeah, I’ve been kind of, uh…” while my hands writhe about like they’re manipulating an unfamiliar accordion.

A photo of my needy-ass body from a recent neighborhood walk.

I’ve offered my body a compromise: a few minutes daily of gym-class warm-ups. Squats, push-ups, jumping jacks, that sort of thing. Actually just those three things. It’s a minimum payment. Just a little something to let it know that I know what my body is still owed.

A few minutes each morning helps. And it’s so easy it makes a guy wonder why he doesn’t do it every day, why he hasn’t been doing it every day his whole life, but I guess… *accordion gestures*

I’m debating whether to add this routine to Streaks. There’s a whole category of things in life that I’ll do happily until it feels like I have to do it. Then? Middle fingers raised at some invisible authority figure. Sometimes tracking habits helps me stick with them, sometimes it has the opposite effect. A quantum uncertainty; measurement affects the outcome.

But I did push-ups yesterday, and I did push-ups today, and I’m going to do them tomorrow, damn it. Christmas push-ups! Are you watching, Santa? I am trying to be a healthy boy! Bring me a treat.

  1. Or maybe it would? I mostly only watch Queer Eye and home makeover shows on hotel cable. And the occasional Ninja Warrior binge.
Brutalist Bookends

Shut up, you

Been using the app Streaks for close to a year. I know this because I borrowed the idea for a “Don’t Die” habit from @hotdogsladies, and that one is closing in on 365.

Habit tracking is about building habits, right? Obviously. You want to read more, so you make “Read for 5 Minutes” a habit, and if you get used to doing that, reading for five minutes or more a day becomes habitual, to where you eventually don’t need the reminder. Except that’s not really why I use it. It’s not the main benefit for me, anyway.

The main reason I track little “good things to do every day” habits is so I can tell the ugly little voice in my head SHUT UP, YOU. If I’m putting too much pressure on myself, or was just unable to pull off any uniquely productive work in a day for whatever reason — I didn’t write anything worthwhile, didn’t take any good pictures, maybe didn’t even leave the house — I can still look at Streaks and say “Today wasn’t so bad. You read. You texted with a friend. You did DuoLingo. You flossed. You ate a vegetable.” And so on. Or, if I didn’t do any of those things, I can still say “No big, man. We’ll get a jump on it tomorrow.”

I mean, I’d rather not be someone who has to regularly remind himself that he’s not a worthless piece of shit. But I am that someone, so I do. Have to remind myself, that is. And habit tracking helps.