Thursday, June 10, 2010

Exercising: Part Two

Exercising: Part Two

Ok, the honeymoon period is over. I’ve been going to the gym for three months now, always twice a week, most of the time thrice, and I don’t see any results! My weight is the same and my pants are still tight.

When I moaned to one of the trainers, he asked, “have you noticed anything different?”

I had to recollect, “Well, I can keep up with my husband on our bike rides better.”

“That’s one. Are you doing the same weights as when you started?”

“Well, no, I’m lifting more weight?”

“That’s two.”

“And more reps.”

“That’s three.”

Ok, there has been change, but not enough fast enough. Does that sound like some of your students? For me and fitness, the hard part is about to begin, I must change some habits with my eating: how much and what.

With students the habits are often how they practice. I remember the quote, “if you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always got."

How often do students play the same part over and over hoping that they will get it right? Then they get it right once and go on. I think my smart students do this the most often because they know that they can “get it.” Then they beat themselves up because they didn’t get it AGAIN. I want to instill in them to “work it” rather than “get it.”

The brain doesn’t discriminate. If you get it wrong four times and right once, the next time the brain has to pick which way to play there is only a 20% chance of getting the correct repetition. I have been told to do cardio for twenty+ minutes. I think when I stop at sixteen minutes it’s like the students stopping after playing a section one time correctly; I’m only giving my body a small chance for success.

When you are practicing and you get it right, do it three more times then the brain has better odds of grabbing the correct version. When I’m working on a section I go for three times in a row or ten times total. I came up with that because some days I just couldn’t get it that third time, and I didn’t want to be a failure.

For my students, I rephrased it in a more positive way that actually is less stressful and makes it a game with the potential of a reward: play it ten times correct, and if you get it three times in a row, you can stop. For myself it works better too! I have a more playful attitude, seeing if I can buck the system to get that third time. Rousing my rebel spirit gets the adrenaline going: I work better, more efficiently and for longer stretches.

Often, when I think “nothing” is different, what I’m really saying is, “I haven’t reached my goal.” To really address that I need to determine why. Usually, it’s because my goal and my habits can’t coexist. Then I need to be honest and ask some hard questions. What needs do my habits serve? Is that need still relevant? Am I ready to move beyond what I think I am to what I can become? Can I deal with some discomfort? What needs will reaching my goal satisfy? Are those needs mine or someone else’s? (Often a parent, partner, teacher, peer, religious leader or social mores impose values on us, that we don’t question.) What am I willing to spend (money, time, effort, sacrificing an easy pleasure) to achieve my goal?

Sometimes the answers are something we don’t want to hear—we aren’t ready or willing to change, the price is too high, the goal wasn’t really our own… Then it’s time to move on. Don’t hold on to a goal because you think you should. Sometimes the answers support the goal and free up energy to accomplish them with ease.

The next time you or your student thinks nothing has changed, look back and be honest. You might not have reached your goals yet, but I’m sure you can find at least three things that are different.