A few months ago I started weight training as my regular workout, four times a week. I’ll be honest and say that I’ve been resistant to lifting weights FOR YEARS. I found yoga and loved it, and it worked for me, and I felt like that was good enough.
But after three-plus years of chronic stress, some of my MS symptoms resurfacing, and slipping back into chronic fatigue, I ended up at a place where I physically couldn’t do yoga anymore. Or at least not at the level that I once had been able to practice.
It took me a while, but after some trial and error I found a trainer who specializes in working with people who have disabilities, and MS in particular. The first thing he said to me during my initial consultation with him was that a fatigued body by default will burn less calories and be stressed by overexertion. He suggested that by trying to push myself to complete a one-hour yoga workout, I was just stressing and fatiguing my body even more.
So I’ve been taking a break from yoga to lift weights and I hate it. It’s boring. It’s repetitive. And it’s definitely no fun.
But I’ve been doing my workouts now for about four months, steadily increasing the weight.
If I hate it so much, why do I do it?
Because I like how I feel afterward.
Since starting my weight training, I climb stairs quickly and easily. When a new issue of Under the Gum Tree is delivered, I lift boxes of magazines in one, swift movement. I don’t have pain in my neck, shoulders, or lower back. Even walking feels easier, smoother, and more fluid.
I hate lifting weights, but I do it for my future self.
It’s so easy to resist doing something and give in to NOT doing it because we want to feel good NOW. We want to relax NOW. We want to enjoy ourselves NOW.
So we choose to sit on the couch, binge watch Squid Game on Netflix, and eat a bag of popcorn for dinner at 5:00 p.m., instead of spending an hour (or even less, in the case of my weight training it’s only 30 minutes) taking action on something that will make us feel proud, satisfied, and accomplished, like lifting weights or working on our book manuscript.
In fact, this very email is the result of me choosing to do something for my future self. I just got back home from taking a 45 minute walk, and you know what? I was tired. And a little bit hungry. I had to walk through the living room, past the couch and TV, where I was tempted to just sit down and tell myself I deserved a snack and an episode of the show I’m watching. After all, I did just take a 45 minute walk. But, instead, I told myself that I would be much happier with myself if I wrote this email first and THEN turned to the TV.
Most of the time the biggest hurdle is just getting started. It’s forcing myself to sit down, to type the first few words. But as soon as I get the first sentence or two down, I’m off—and it has literally taken me less than 20 minutes to write this email. But what would have happened if I gave into the couch and the TV first? I would have one more thing on my to-do list tomorrow, and I would be pissed at myself for not doing it today.
I’m writing this blog post for my future self. And for you.
Do you ever think about doing something now that your future self will thank you for later?
If you’ve never done that, I challenge you to try it and see if it makes a difference in how you approach things you don’t want to do. Sitting down to write. Your workout. Taking your vitamins and supplements (another thing that I sometimes struggle to do—it’s so easy to forget!). Drinking enough water. Sending a difficult email.
Whatever it is, ask yourself how you will feel tomorrow if you don’t do the thing NOW.
Comment below to let me know what you’re doing today for your future self.