Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Food (and fitness) for thought

I'm not an extrovert. Although I'm very social, I do best in places I'm comfortable--work, with friends, in my classroom--and it takes me a while to feel comfortable in new settings or surrounded by strangers. Being at a party, no matter how much I ultimately enjoy myself, saps my energy and I need to reboot with time alone or with my family.

Recently, Lolly posted a link to The 8 Colors of Fitness. I must admit that I am a sucker for personality tests of any type. It's the Connector in me--I love to figure stuff out, to analyze it, to take it apart and put it together in a way that makes sense and that is usable in new situations.

This 8 Colors thing is based on Meyers-Briggs personality types, and connects your personality to what will work for you in fitness. And, though some of it doesn't fit exactly--like the fact it says I'm an extrovert (borderline, however) I found this part of the description really interesting and fitting for me:

"...Silvers...find exercise success by keeping activities uncomplicated, unremarkable, and easy to accomplish. The Keep it Simple Silvers might even become rigid in their program, in contrast to the flexible approach they apply to the rest of their lives, convinced that if they deviate from their routine—or try to improve on it and change it—it might fall apart. For Silvers whose interests often pull them in so many directions, many report that regular exercise makes them feel more balanced and in control of their lives....Convenience is a must. The more decision points Silvers must navigate, the less appealing exercise becomes. Whether they belong to a fitness center, practice yoga, Tai Chi, or run in the park, Silvers don’t want to spend too much time in transition. Their schedules are tight and time is valuable. Convenience, after all, relates to flow—moving from one activity to another with little effort—much the way Silvers connect ideas....With their busy lives, many Silvers also enjoy exercising alone, finding satisfaction and balance in reflection. A walk at night, a run along the bike path, or solo time at the gym provides an opportunity to be with their thoughts and clear their busy minds."

Last summer, I started running again. I didn't make a big deal of it, because when I do that then I self-sabotage. But I did. Short runs, nearly every morning, starting in July. I continued through the start of the school year and, now, the whole first quarter of the school year. I'm averaging 2-3 miles a run, 3-4 times a week, and I completed an 8K fun run two weeks ago.

I had to come to the decision that:

  1. exercise wouldn't happen on its own
  2. I couldn't depend on anyone else (e.g. my family) to accompany me
  3. I needed to do it in the morning, first thing. This is the whole efficiency thing--I hate showering and dressing multiple times a day. It bugs me. Plus, if I wait until the afternoons and evenings, there is too much I can use as an excuse (kids, grading, cooking, exhausted, etc.) Morning provides no excuses.
  4. I had to give myself permission to be slow.
  5. I needed to do it by myself. I tried running with my neighbor the year I was home on leave; it was a terrible failure. I don't like having to converse; I don't like having to go at a certain time (unless I set it for myself); I don't like worrying that I'm slowing someone down or keeping them from their own goals. And--as you can see above--I like the solitude and the introspection!
  6. Running is the simplest and most time-effective cardio for me
  7. I needed to have some goals (time, distance, events) that were low-pressure but hovering over the horizon
  8. My exercise needed to be no excuses. The running clothes hang on the back of the bathroom door, the iPod is by the stairs, the shoes are by the front door unlaced and ready to go. After the alarm goes off at 5:05, I can be hitting the street by 5:10 and back before M's alarm goes off at 5:45.
There's no wrong way to get your exercise. For me, this is what's working. And I think it's interesting that the "8 Colors" description matches so well what I had already decided on my own. Maybe they're on to something?

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