Tuesday, August 05, 2014

The Power of Constraints

My kids spent last week at my parent's house. It was hard to tell ahead of time who was the most excited about the upcoming visit: my kids, my parents, or Mr. Snarky and me. All three parties had a wonderful time.

Mr. Snarky and I had a lot of fun revisiting our pre-parenthood days. We went out to eat. We slept in. And we exercised. I know that last one is a bit "one of these things is not like the others," but San Diego has a beautiful climate and some wonderful opportunities to enjoy that climate while getting some exercise. Before we had kids, we did something active every weekend. We are starting to return to that pattern now, as our kids get old enough to make it feasible. But we have a way to go before we're back to our old habits, and the activities that work with our kids right now are not particularly strenuous.

So we were excited to get the chance to kayak and rollerblade. We had planned to also take a really long (i.e., several mile) walk on the beach, too, but that didn't pan out. Even with "just" kayaking and rollerblading, it felt a little odd to be packing so much into such a short period of time, since we both kept our regular exercise schedule, too. But we had one week, and so we used what we had.

Thinking about that made me realize why I've been having such good luck sticking to my twice-per-week running schedule. I greatly prefer to exercise in the afternoon or evening, so I go for a run on the days I am working from home and can easily accommodate a run in my work day schedule. I have agreed to be onsite at a client's office three days per week. Therefore, if I want to run, I must do it on the other two days. There is no wiggle room. I can't say "I'll do it tomorrow."

Apparently, for me, exercise is more likely to happen if I am constrained in the times at which it can happen. Interesting.

I'm thinking about how to take this insight into my psyche and use it to get myself to exercise more (I need to add a strength routine- I'm experimenting with kettle bells- and I want to add kickboxing back in, too) and do other virtuous things.

Also, since I know I have some other well-endowed women among my readership, I'll briefly mention another type of constraint: the sports bras that make it possible for me to run and do other high impact activities. This is the style I wear now.

Sadly, I went to buy more and discovered they no longer make them in my size (38F, but I can get by with a DD). So, I visited the excellent Title Nine bra section and have picked out some other styles to try, at great expense. Most bras that will provide the support someone my size needs cost at least $80.  This is why I loved my current style- it was "only" $45. I mostly don't mind this- it is just how my body is, after all. But just last week some dude was waxing poetic to me about how great it is that running is a free form of exercise, and that rang out in my mind while I was sending a couple hundred dollars off to Title Nine. Which led to this:




Have you figured out anything about what keeps you on track for virtuous things such as exercise? Share in the comments!

13 comments:

  1. Good on you for settling on a plan for exercise! I'm struggling a bit since I have kitchen time in the morning and that is also my best time for exercise, I try to do something every day, but I may have to get more disciplined. The afternoons are just too hot for outdoor exercise.
    My favorite bras are from bravissimo. It is in the uk but the prices are very reasonable as is shipping. Let me know if you'd like to try splitting an order :
    http://www.bravissimo.com/products/lingerie/sports-bras/max-sports-bra/black-white/be53bw/?

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    1. Wow. That is a good price! If the ones I bought don't work out, I'll talk to you about splitting an order.

      Delete
  2. Anonymous12:14 AM

    Although what I do seems very different on the face--I'm a semi-pro aerialist--I think the heart of it is the same: remove the option to not do it. I train aerials when I'm either teaching or have an upcoming gig to rehearse for. I don't have the practical option of not doing it. Prior to that, I ran when I was on a track/cross-country team (and so had structured practice) or had committed to a distance race. I believe that if there is a secret, it's to find exercise that's fun and non-optional.

    --Miriam

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    1. Oooh. I am sooo tempted to try aerial arts. There is a studio near me. But I keep coming up against the reality that a class just doesn't fit my life right now.

      Delete
    2. Anonymous9:56 PM

      Is the studio Aerial Revolution by any chance? I've known two people who trained there and both were phenomenal (one is now teaching there, and I believe is a full-time circus pro). If you are able to try it, be prepared to be in a lot of pain after your first lesson. Don't be discouraged by that... that just happens the first or first few times, and it's because aerials targets a lot of muscle groups women rarely develop (unless you come from a gymnastics, rock climbing, ballet/jazz/modern, or Pilates background). Everyone builds strength more quickly than they think they will.

      Do you think your daughters would be interested? I remember your eldest does competitive cheer. I know some studios try to coordinate kid's classes and adult classes so that everyone can take a class at the same time.

      -- Miriam

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  3. So I've not really found any sports bras I liked on their own, even expensive ones, but I found that by wearing two all was well. Even two cheap ones seem to work just fine when worn together. Since two cheap ones often cost less than the top-of-the-line ones, this seems to work out.

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    1. I have a hard time finding bras that are big enough to go the double bra route. I hate being smooshed.

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  4. I actively promote this in my graduate students. Once they are done with classes (2 yrs), they actually could do research all day every day for about 3 years. For most, it's very disorienting and they procrastinate a lot. That's why I have them either take some classes outside of their main specialty or work as TAs; these lectures give their week some structure. For most students, a little structure is a great thing and boosts productivity, no structure (too much freedom with their time) actually hurts output.

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    1. Yes! Structure is good. One of the interesting things about my current work arrangement is that I have to provide my own structure. So far, I'm doing OK at that, but it is certainly a factor that I keep in mind.

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  5. @Cloud - did you go to Title 9 in person or just buy online? I'm never sure stuff will fit that way, especially for a sports bra where it's really important.

    The "running is free" guy apparently never bought a pair of good running shoes either. I know you can find them on sale, but I've never paid less than $80 for good supportive ones.

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    Replies
    1. I ordered online. Stores rarely carry my size. Title 9 has a good return policy!

      Maybe the running is free guy is into that barefoot running trend?

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    2. Anonymous3:37 PM

      Barefoot and naked :-)

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  6. I started a couch to 10K program at the beginning of summer. I downloaded an app, put together some good running music, and it's been working well - three runs per week. I'm 8 weeks in and it's the first time I've ever stuck to a running program. I just signed up for an 8km run in October - my motivation at the moment is to not totally humiliate myself. I have my running nights (I go after the kids are in bed - they are still early birds) in both my calendar and DH's calendar. On the nights I don't want to go, he prods me out the door - usually with reminders about how great I feel afterwards.

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