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.
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.
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.