Friday, May 22, 2015

Much Obliged, Buddy

I really admire people who find running fun and recreational. In all honesty, I envy those who can relax by their sneakers hitting the pavement. The habit has never been one I've easily acquired. Of course, a couple of trips on the treadmill and a run around a track now and then can hardly add up to much trying. Now that I'm older I have more excuses, I'm not sure they are good ones but an untimely death or permanent disability are fairly reasonable fears. As I contemplate a couch to 5k program, I know finding the reason to start and maintaining the new habit are big hurdles for me to face.

So I was intrigued by the quiz a friend posted on Facebook this morning. The quiz was based on Gretchen Rubin's Four Tendencies. She proposes that there are four different ways people will face the expectations of changing habits. The quiz can be found here. She calls the tendencies: the Upholder, the Questioner, the Obliger and the Rebel.

I wasn't surprised that I came up as an Obliger. An Obliger is described as those who "respond readily to outer expectations, but struggle to meet inner expectations. In other words, they work hard not to let other people down, but they often let themselves down." This is true for me. I've always said the easiest diet I ever succeeded at was when pregnant with my first child. Diagnosed with gestational diabetes and told if I didn't follow this nutritional plan my baby would be born "fat and stupid." Probably not the best way to describe the consequences but very effective for me. My eating directly affected my baby, I would do whatever I could to protect her. 

Gretchen Rubin's suggestion to help obligers create new habits is finding external accountability. Obviously, maintaining a pregnancy is an unrealistic option for external accountability. However, my dog, Buddy, helped provide some external accountability this morning. Buddy and I take a short walk each morning so he can relieve himself. As a responsible pet owner and considerate neighbor, I keep plastic bags in a dispenser attached to his leash. I try to make sure the dispenser is kept full because the thought of having to leave Buddy's deposit on someone's yard is completely embarrassing to me. I was enjoying the beautiful spring morning thinking maybe tomorrow I should try to jog a little. But knowing I wouldn't even though it would be good for me.

And then Buddy started his "poop circles," the dog can't poop without running in a circle first. I reached for the bag dispenser and realized with a lot of fear that it was empty. I had used the last one the night before but forgot to put in a new roll. And that was just the kind of external motivation I needed to take a morning jog. Buddy and I took off running for our yard before he could do his business. With great relief, we made it to our yard before his business came out.

While it was just short jog, maybe a block or so, I did learn several things.  First, I didn't die. Second, I probably could have gone fa
rther. I only have one question now, do you think Buddy could hold it for a 5K?

How are you with making new habits? Did you take Rubin's test, what was your tendency?