I’ve written a fair amount on the things that finally helped me get healthier this year. Now here’s the cautionary side. There are many reasons it took me so long to figure out what worked. Here are just a few:
When I first started with the app Zombies, Run! I had this notion that to do it “right” I’d have to actually run. Never mind the app itself said to go at your own pace. No. I was determined to be a true runner.
Running is hard. Dreading my exercise made it far more likely I’d abandon it, as in fact happened, a few different times. Now that I’ve given myself permission to simply walk, I’m consistent and my health is improving.
2. Pure determination
Until I began to drill down to the bedrock of understanding my ADHD, willpower always seemed like something that happened to other people. When I told my mother in law that my husband and I could “no longer afford to coast on our health” my only plan was to really try hard to improve. This never works. It doesn’t matter how sincere and strong the belief is, if there isn’t a solid, new, plan and strategies in place, nothing will change.
As motivations go, guilt is one of the more popular ones I’ve heard about being used. Some people operate solely on guilt. This doesn’t work for me at all because it adds pressure and makes me want to avoid the topic altogether, a typical ADHD response. As I’ve said so often in the previous health blog, fun and joy are going to carry ADHD a lot further than guilt and shame ever will.
There was a brief time where I made up a YouTube playlist of some cool looking exercise videos. The women in them were cheerful and encouraging, but they didn’t work for two reasons. For one, except for the women in the videos, I was alone. I’m beginning to get a sinking feeling that having an exercise buddy is essential to me. The second reason was I just made the playlist and hoped I’d return to it, without scheduling time when I would actually do this.
5. “Don’t buy any unhealthy foods.”
This is some advice I’ve heard for dieting and it makes sense, up to a point. The problem with me is if we don’t buy chocolate, I’ll eat marshmallows. If we don’t buy chips, I’ll eat jam from the jar. If we didn't have jam or marshmallows, I'm pretty sure I'd eat straight-up sugar.
In many cases, I'm an Abstainer (as Gretchen Rubin would call it), but in the case of food, I'm a Moderator. I’ve decided I can buy chips and candy once a month. I also don’t buy cookies from the store, partially because there are very few cookie types I like better than homemade, and partially because the work involved in making cookies is a barrier that self-moderates my consumption. When I am not depriving myself, I don’t eat jam from the jar.
6. The Gym
As I’ve mentioned before, three steps between an ADHD person and their intended goal isn’t three times harder than one, it’s fifty times harder. The gym was like this for me. Walking on the trails near my house has all the same steps as working out at the gym in addition to packing a bag, driving there, parking, checking in with a card, finding a locker... Well, you get the idea. The fewer barriers/steps between me and my goal the more likely I am to do it.
What’s standing between you and better health?