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Procrastination and Exercise

The last few weeks, the weather has been difficult for asthma. It’s been cold and rainy, with some snow dusting thrown in for good measure. That means I’ve not been exercising like my body needs and the scale this morning let me know it. Yes, literally. I’ve been avoiding the scale for a couple of weeks now but knew I couldn’t do it forever.

I’m not saying I need to be a fitness model (especially at this age); but I would like to keep my health and feel strong. Whenever I eat cleaner and healthier and exercise daily, I feel so much stronger as a person and I absolutely love how that feels. So why do I keep having to start over (or at least feel that’s what I’m doing?) Why is it so hard to follow through with healthier eating and moving more?

Procrastination can really be a problem for me. It’s usually no big deal since I set a lot of deadlines and make a lot of lists and I even joke that getting close to a deadline works as inspiration for me. So, in thinking of procrastination this morning, I wondered - how do you define the word “procrastination?” I define it

as stalling, delaying, postponing, dragging my feet, avoiding what needs to be done when it needs to be done. But in looking up the “real” definition of procrastination, I was prompted to the Latin word “cras” as its root. “Cras” in Latin means “tomorrow.” That makes complete sense to me because when I procrastinate, I put off what I know I need to do today until tomorrow or the day after that…and tomorrow may be too late. And with things like exercise and healthy eating, the effects are cumulative.

However, I saw a 2015 study this morning in the Journal of Human Behavior that found the average person loses over 55 days per year procrastinating – wasting around 218 minutes every day doing unimportant things. 55 days per year – that’s almost 2 months every year! This study also indicated that if you think you have the will power to stop procrastinating, you don’t. Why? The brain is wired for instant gratification. The brain goes for “present” rewards, not rewards or benefits you may get in the future. So forget about will power.

Some reasons I realized I procrastinate – not just with healthy eating and exercise:

I can be a perfectionist. I want everything I have and do to be perfect. I pay too much attention to minor details, I get stuck in the process, I’m afraid I won’t get every single thing “right” so I don’t even start.

I’m a dreamer. I like to create an ideal plan more than I like taking action.

I’m an avoider. I think it’s better to do nothing than it is to make mistakes. I worry about making mistakes.

I’m a crisis maker. I delay doing the work to the very last minute because I think I’m at my best when time’s running out. Not so. I need time to review my work to make that work be the best it can be.

I’m a “busy” procrastinator. I have trouble prioritizing tasks because I have too many of them.

I was wishing this morning, while working out for the first time in a few weeks, that I could put my life on hold, go to a fitness camp where I could focus on eating healthy and exercising. Realizing that 218 minutes every day is over 3.5 hours, I asked myself if I thought I would (could haha) actually work out that much in a single day. I don’t think so. I know my fitness level is not that high and I tend to set unrealistic goals that feel impossible to meet. (One reason I struggle with motivation and procrastination). Could I simply do the 30 minutes strength/HIIT in the morning, the 30 minutes of walking at noon, and the yoga in between my clients? I don’t know. We’ll see. But I’m going to try to remember the 218 minutes each day and the 55 days per year and see if I can lower my average anyway. I’m going to remind myself that, on my good days, I’m only allotting about 90 minutes total. Within that 90 minutes is a 30-minute wonderful reconnecting time while we walk with my husband and dogs in the middle of the day and yoga stretches between each client to help me reset and release any emotional energy that I might have picked up from the previous client. Surely I can do that much. I’ll let you all know how it goes this week. Not sure what I’m going to do with the rest of the 128 minutes left. Hahahaha

I would love to hear from you! Leave a comment with your thoughts and ideas for overcoming procrastination. It would be such an encouragement to me!

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