Myra Bridgforth, Counselor

Get Unstuck and Find a New Way
October 6th, 2014 in Uncategorized

How to Get Unstuck #3

Do a 90 in 90.

My workout bag lives in the backseat of my car.
It holds my workout shoes, clothes, and the lock for a locker.
You get the picture.
Reading this, you could make the logical assumption that I work out.
A lot.
That I’m in great shape.
Perhaps you think – she’s probably a gym addict.
Alas, oh no.

I am not good at working out and I am not naturally disciplined.  In fact, sadly — I don’t think I will even truly like it. But about a year ago, I tried doing a 90 in 90 — and I learned some useful tips.

Walk with me.

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90 in 90 comes from the recovery community. Early in the recovery process, folks who are in treatment to get sober are often directed by their treatment program (think Alcoholics Anonymous, Al-Anon, Narcotics Anonymous, etc.) to go to 90 meetings in 90 days. In my practice, when I suggest this to clients, I explain the truth behind this theory: It is hard to get to a meeting every day for three months. It’s a pain in the neck. It messes up the rhythm of your whole life. And that is entirely the point.

Getting to a meeting at 6:00 in the morning so that you can get to work, or at 12:00 noon because it’s your lunch break, or after work at 7:00 at night, means that all of your regular habits are messed up. Getting yourself to a meeting becomes the most important event in your day. It’s the event around which everything else that demands your attention must circle. Doing a 90 in 90 resets your priorities. Getting sober and staying sober starts to feel like the most vital part of life.

If you want to change something in your life — certainly if you want to get unstuck from an addiction — give the 90 in 90 theory a try. Even if the thing that has you stuck is not addiction, doing something every day for 90 days in a row will begin to get you unstuck.

On the day that I decided to give it a try, I wrote in my journal:

I am dissatisfied, disappointed, embarrassed, ashamed, generally dejected about being overweight, not working out, pants too tight. I say over and over that I am going to change this pattern. I certainly know how to do it, have a gym membership I pay $50 for, have the time in my workday to do it and I keep not doing it.

Then I asked myself what would I ask any of clients in psychotherapy, “What keeps getting in the way?” I certainly believe that I deserve to take care of myself, don’t want to have to buy all new clothes in a bigger size.  I am active creatively, active socially, active in my work, but physically — a sitter. A movie watcher, a painter, a writer. I can change this, something radical like 90 meetings in 90 days. Could I work out for an hour for 90 days?

Thus I began.

I kept track of my workouts every day. Either I went to the gym and did something for an hour, or I met up with one of several friends and walked for an hour. I never fell in love the workout — the shower at the end was still the prize — but I liked how strong I felt and the satisfaction from sticking to my plan. Closing in on 50 days, however, I came down with a nasty viral infection and had to miss days and then yes, I confess: I stopped.

Looking back at this now, I know that I could have chosen to get back on the wagon of being active. A friend of mine pointed out to me that being the self-described “unathletic child” in a family of athletes had always made me feel badly about being a “sitter”. Almost shameful. In the middle of doing 90 in 90, I was fighting that shame and moving through it.

My workout bag is still kept in my car. I am much more aware now of how I choose to spend my free time. I’m not going to the gym every day, but I get there regularly. It helps me to schedule a gym visit with a friend to make it an even bigger commitment. My resistance to doing something I don’t want to do is still just as strong. But I recite the Benedictine Order’s wonderful saying: Always We Begin Again”.  Getting unstuck requires that you do something, even if you try a 90 in 90 and you don’t make it all the way through, as I did not, it will help your brain take a big step in a better direction. Always we begin again.

Give the 90 in 90 a try.
See what you notice and check back in for Step Four.

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