I Haven't Done My Butt Exercises in 192 Days
The Power of Breaking Things Down Into Tiny Ass Chunks
I haven't done my butt exercises in 192 days. That's after having installed an app on my phone specifically for butt exercises. That's even after having adjusted the settings to remind me to do butt exercises every day.
The road to personal hell is paved with good intentions.
I'm a relatively active person who's relatively happy with her shape. The one area of my body I feel could use some work, though, is, you guessed it, my popo. And so, roughly 192 days ago, I resolved to take matters into my own hands, to no longer feel the victim of my genetics, but rather the bootylicious-in-the-best-way-possible proactive put-together go-getter I know I can be, and make exercising my lower half a daily priority. It worked for the first couple days. I felt a tremendous sense of pride, delicious as the lingering burn in my gluteal muscles, after a feat so small as five minutes of lunges. But all too soon, this or that got in the way. I'd swipe the pesky reminder off-screen, intending half-heartedly to get around to it later, eventually just pretending I hadn't seen it. Instead of motivational alerts, the reminders became nagging to-dos on top of an increasingly gargantuan checklist. The buzz didn't signal today's agenda of squats, leg lifts, jumping jacks, etc. In my mind, it signaled today's and yesterday's and the day before that's and the day before that's. It was also the dozens of emails I'd forgotten to send, the dishes, that book in high school I never finished, this article. It was absolutely everything I was putting off, which made it irresistible to put off.
The funny thing is, I didn't once consider deleting the daily reminders. Though each additional skipped session left me sick with guilt, I was inexplicably resigned to the broken system. The worst of my negative self-talk flashed on-screen. That's right, you lazy bum.Add another day to the pile of missed opportunities. Couldn't possibly catch up now, so why bother? Swipe again. See you tomorrow. Thus, I conveniently gave myself permission to not even try — but felt bad anyway. Sort of a lose-lose-every-day-you-lose situation. It was as if I wanted to keep disappointing myself. I had wandered into a twisted feedback loop of shame, a perpetual snooze zone, postponing getting up and turning on, for anything.
The Beauty of Tiny Ass Chunks
A friend of mine, when likewise at odds with what seemed an insurmountable to-do list, featuring one similarly torturous to-do in particular, attempted to tackle her mountain by breaking it down into what she called "tiny ass chunks." The name's incidental double entendre cracked open a powerful insight for me. Tiny ass chunks. Okay, maybe I couldn't complete the estimated 960 minutes, or 16 hours of butt exercises I had skipped. Maybe placing such a daunting figure before me was already setting me up for failure. What I could do, was start with today's five minutes, which is really all any of us can do. Start with today, and go from there. See, the beauty of tiny ass chunks is that they're achievable. When we confront things that are actually achievable, we reclaim responsibility and control. We might not climb the whole mountain in one go, and my rump might not completely transform after a single five-minute session, but by Jove, I can move piecemeal in that direction, one tiny ass step at a time.
So, I haven't done my butt exercises in 192 days, and quite frankly, looking at it through that monstrous, guilt-ridden lens doesn't motivate me to do squat (or do squats, hehe). But, as long as my checklist items remain in line with my bigger picture ambitions — which is another story altogether — what's most important is that I do today's. If my popo-specific example isn't relatable to you, never fear, for pesky to-dos come in a multitude of varieties. At one point in my life it was English essays, at another point it was vegetarianism. Whatever the checklist item, it typically doesn't travel solo. In the same way my nagging butt reminders subconsciously prodded me to get around to absolutely everything I'd been putting off, so any personal agenda runs the risk of growing and snowballing and intimidating. No matter. Any item can be whittled down into a tiny ass chunk. The problem or goal then becomes simply what it is again, clarifying your path or process. This is not to say that the work suddenly becomes easy or enjoyable, but possible, for the first time in what's perhaps seemed a very long time.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go strengthen my gluteals.