Week in Review and a Thought

First of all, a quick apology to my own commitment, for dishonouring it in the first week I started it. I said I was going to post Friday and it is now Saturday. I don’t believe it’s Friday in any part of the world right now, so I can’t even claim that. I kept putting it off and then at the last possible time I had to go do something about it, there was a movie on tv I wanted to watch, and I dissoved into a pile of tv-watching goo.

I’m now re-inserting some backbone.

It was A Good Week:

My Mom’s cancer hasn’t dissoved any of her bones and it hasn’t appeared in any of her organs (yay!). I had a terrific meeting with my daughter’s school team which I will probably say more about on Tuesday BITS. I got to meet in actual 3-D with an old friend, sing at my voice lesson and dance at my tap dance class. In other tap dance news, we had our group picture taken — which is hilarious when you think about it; a bunch of grown-ups posing for a class photo like we were 11-year-olds. My brochure is nearing completion and the scheduling difficulties I was having are almost resolved.

Also in a good news/bad news situation:

I believe I have found the address where my headaches live and it’s called TMJ (temperomandibular joint disorder). So, that means the headaches aren’t going away tomorrow or anything, but I can get rid of most of them soon with muscle therapies and most probably 1.5 years of (sob!) orthodontics. I would love to hear from actual people who have dealt with this condition, if they have recommendations for things that work for them or things that didn’t work at all or very well. Not interested in being solicited by people who are selling pillows and mouthguards. I believe the guy I’m going to can help me, but it’s going to cost many $$$’s so I would like to know if there are less expensive but effective alternatives out there.

And finally, the thing I want to talk about:

The Dip (or how to succeed while being inconsistent)

I’ve been involved with The Coach Approach at my gym. It’s for people (like what? 90% of us?) who have had trouble making exercise a consistent part of their lives. You meet with a coach at ever-lengthening intervals for approximately 6 months (although it took me 8). The coach and you come up with long-term goals, break it down into short terms goals. You sign a contract agreeing to these things. You have discussions about strategies and obstacles. She designs a workout for you. She gets you hooked up on FitLinxx, which is basically an online exercise tracking program. The great thing about Fitlinxx is that a large portion of the tracking can be done right from the machine, so you don’t have to remember how far you went and how many calories you burned. The machine sends that information right from its little brain to the Big Fitlinxx brain. And every month Fitlinxx sends me a little report card telling me how many elephants I lifted that month and how many chocolate sundaes I’ve burned off. It also compares activity across months. And all this is free with my gym membership which I think is actually pretty great.

Since I started this programme in mid-September 2008, I have lifted 215,000 lbs over 3,359 reps in 241 sets. I have logged 65 hours of cardio time over 115 visits and burned more than 25,000 calories. And I did it while being what appeared to me to be wildly inconsistent.

Now, here’s the thing. I’m not a model graduate by any means. My April chart was lower than my December one for various reasons, mostly due to Lorelei. I have had a stressful year and my coping methods include (but are certainly not limited to) self-medicating with chocolate, staying up too late watching guilty pleasure television, and talking myself out of anything that resembles physical exercise, (because I loathe my inner cheerleader with a passion normally reserved for the Crusades and the Beatles). In the past, after the spectacular failure of April, I would have cancelled or indefinitely postponed my next meeting with my coach, or flat-out lied about how well I was doing — because they want you to succeed, and I feel like if I’m failing, it’s my fault. They want you say “Wow, I never realized before that I feel better after I exercise.” And the pressure to agree with that is just so tempting.

Instead, I admitted it. Sent a message to my coach that said “I’m flailing, I need some help here.” We had a phone conversation which helped. I got myself kind of back on track. I went to our regular meeting as scheduled and said “I’m not doing the things that I agreed to do. I’ve lost some ground in my fitness level and I don’t know what to do about it.” We came up with more manageable goals. I backed off some ambition so that I could be successful. And she could point out to me, that I haven’t abandoned it altogether even when I had a bad month. That I’ve averaged 8 hours of cardio a month. Averaged. So, that means, some months I’ve done much better than 8 hours per month.

So, in a weird, haphazard, inconsistent way, I’ve been consistent.

I’m wondering if This is The Dip that Seth Godin talks about. I’ll have to get that book. As I understand it, the Dip is the failure just before the success. Things are on a rise and then they dip. If you can get through the Dip, success is on the other side — unless of course, out and out failure is on the other side. The hard part is distinguishing something that’s just simply not working from something that’s going through The Dip.

When I logged into FitLinxx at the gym, I got a shower of fireworks in the screen as it recognized me for my new graduation status. One of the other coaches congratulated me. She said “Good for you for finishing; not everyone does.” Interesting that it’s not a congratulations for meeting my goals, but for seeing it through.

I’m linking this thought to something else I’ve observed about people who come here looking for Fast ForWord information. People don’t come back to tell me how Fast ForWord went for them. And I wonder if that’s because it didn’t work for them and they feel like it’s their fault. I wonder if life got to them, and they couldn’t be as consistent as they felt they needed to be. I wonder if they felt it became a source of anger and angst in the household that they couldn’t take.

Let me be honest here. For some reason, mostly because I believed in it, knew the value of it and it was summer holidays, I was indeed able to be consistent with Fast ForWord. It’s one of the only things in my entire life that I was consistent at ensuring got done. BUT, I was not always cheerful about it. Some days it was an order and some days it was a loud order, and some days the kids did it because they knew Mom would be mad if they didn’t do it. I tried to lighten up about it, because I recognize that it’s easier for them to do it if they WANT to do it, but here’s the thing–they didn’t want to do it. Because it’s not as entertaining as an X-box game, or as fun as bouncing on the trampoline, or the host of other alternatives available to them. It sucks to be bad at something and it’s irritating to have to repeat the same exercise over and over again at pretty much the same level. It’s hard, frustrating, and aggravating to work your weaknesses. It wasn’t until several weeks in when I could point out that a graph had suddenly gone way up that they started to feel true success. And then they’re also starting to build some skills like oh, an attention span and a quicker processing speed that enables them to concentrate for longer periods of time. That’s when the fighting about it lessens, or disappears. But they were successful despite it being a source of agitation in the household.

And in the end. Fast ForWord has worked brilliantly for my daughter, less so for my son (although he has seen some benefits). And she doesn’t mind having to do Fast ForWord. My son does. There’s definitely a relationship there. It doesn’t work equally well in all cases. But you’re not going to know that unless you work through that dip.

This is my plea to all those parents who have tried Fast ForWord, or any other therapies frankly. Did it work for you? If it didn’t, it’s okay. It might not be your fault. Did life make it hard to be consistent? Did you see gains but not as much as you’d hoped? Did it create too much tension in the household? That is all legitimate. Leave a comment here, on my Fast ForWord page. I’m really anxious to have a conversation about this.

And for the rest of you. What do you think about this dip idea? Are there things that you’re beating yourself up about? Do you blame yourself for failure when you really just need to have a long talk with yourself about what’s really going on? I sure do. A clue for me is the phrase that goes like this:

If I could just make myself <insert action phrase here> then I would be <insert happy synonym here>.

Because that is truly the song that never ends. Yes, it goes on and on my friends. Somebody starting thinking it not knowing that it looped, and I’ll continue thinking it until I’m really hooped because…

About Tentative Equinox North

Theatremaker, Homemaker, Thoughtmaker. Great hair, Probably looking forward to my next nap.
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3 Responses to Week in Review and a Thought

  1. I find “The Dip” a fascinating concept. I want to read that book as well. What immediately came to my mind is the concept of something called an extinction burst. When working on eliminating a behaviour, you will often see the behaviour get far worse/see more of it until all of a sudden it will drop off. “Gee….when I screamed at mom she used to give me what I wanted. Now when I scream, she won’t give in. Screaming has always worked before…..hmmmm…I guess I just need to scream louder and longer.” But then all of a sudden, the person realizes no form of screaming or how long they do it gets reinforced and so the behaviour stops. It’s not being reinforced.

    “The Dip” sounds like an extinction burst but flipped.


    • That totally makes sense! My passive-aggressive relationship with the gym in April was an extinction burst. It’s almost like the behaviour itself wants to reassert itself, wants to prove that change isn’t possible. So, just ignore it and reinforce the good behaviour you say?

  2. Recently I started walking again my cancer set me back a long time and now I’m able to walk at least 30 minutes and still stand. However I’m like everyone else where I don’t stick with the exercize program so I’m content with walking.

    I recently joined the Susan Komen group and they ask you to tell your story and then tell theirs from which exercize (walking) is more important then the diet.

    So if I were answering your If I could question it would be try being more consistent with my goals.

    Blessings and thanks for visiting grammology
    Dorothy from grammology

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