From the lovelies over at Project Reverb: Why should December have all the fun? To keep ourselves inspired, each month the #reverb team will send out a prompt around the middle of the month. We hope it’s a chance to think about how the month (and the year) is going and to project into the rest of the month (and the year).
Routine | Have you started a new routine this January? Is this routine different from last year? Is it the result of a resolution or goal you’re working on? Tell us about your days. How do they flow? If you’d like, maybe give us a full “day in the life” or just some snippets.
I am not good at ‘routine.’ Not because I don’t want one, because I desperately, desperately do. I crave routine. But because the moment a routine or plan has to change to accommodate something non-routine, I melt down. A routine may, to many people, imply a pattern of sameness that is repeated over any given time frame (daily, monthly, whatever. But when I think of routine, all I can think about is all those little things that are going to mess it up. All the times my perfect plan will have to change.
I cannot handle that.
A Case Study
Aaron went out of town in December for work for 4 days. The only real added responsibilities I had due to his absence revolved around our dog, Basil, as Aaron usually walks and feeds him.
The 20 extra minutes for a walk in the morning and the 38 seconds it takes to feed and water him in the morning and evening threw me into a complete tailspin so much so that I nearly cried in joy when Aaron arrived home and told the dog, “Now, leave me alone for a long while.” It didn’t help that the change in routine also frustrated the dog, who firmly believes that the entire world radiates from Aaron (see: he feeds and walks him), so he spent every night asking to go out every 2 hours to check the gate to see if Aaron had come home yet. We were a hot mess.
Another Case Study
Last winter, I decided I wanted to not focus just on running, but add some strength training as well (which would ultimately make me a better runner, because the human body is tricky like that). I figured winter would be a perfect time for it because I loathe the treadmill and was not yet a confident winter runner. I bought the book New Rules of Lifting for Women because I liked their overall premise that women should lift heavy and stop panicking that they will “bulk up.” The book includes pretty prescriptive workouts and suggests you do 3-4 lifting workouts a week.
I became militant about getting to the gym 3-4 times per week for these workouts, sacrificing nearly everything in my path: sleep, healthy meals cooked at home, outings with friends, my own free time to get household chores done. And, unsurprisingly, I never finished the plan because I completely burnt out after 15 or so weeks. I was so sure that a tiny change to the routine would derail my progress, I refused to change the routine and my progress was eventually… derailed.
This winter, I made the same decision to follow the same workout plans. But I was much less routine. First, last year the plan said for the first 4-6 weeks, no cardio. Which means no running. Which does not work for me. So I added a running warm up to all the workouts, because it works for me. Then I said, “I can’t do this 3-4 times a week every week. And I’m not going to.” I stopped pre-scheduling workouts months in advance and decided I would go when I could. And if I skipped a gym workout because we were blessed with 40 degree weather in January and I wanted to run outside instead? Then so be it.
And I am 100 times happier. My progress might be a bit slower, but I am not burning out and I am enjoying the workouts a lot more. Plus, I am not totally sacrificing my running this year.
Operating without a routine is both outside my comfort zone and the only logical way to keep myself sane and not panicked about change. It allows me to got to Timberwolves games 2 or 3 nights a week without worrying (too much) about what isn’t getting done at home. It allows me to look outside the window at work, see that the weather is great, and text Aaron, “Hey. Should we ski tonight?” Sometimes it means that I schedule over the top of things that ought to have gotten done, like grocery shopping or that pile of laundry. A lot of times it means scrambling to get out the door in the morning (which has become so much a part of my ‘routine’ that it feels weird to not rush around). The lack of routine has become my routine, as dysfunctional as that sounds.