Jan. 10th, 2013

pktechgirlbackup: (pktechgirl)
I didn't do a New Year's resolution this year because I was (am) in the middle of a paradigm shift and I didn't want to tie myself to the old paradigm.* But I noticed something with my recent attempt at stretching that I think illuminates a useful way of viewing the world.

Only thought of my shiny, shiny reward kept me stretching for the first two or three weeks. But eventually, I started to notice a difference. I both felt more relaxed immediately after stretching, and noticed a general upwards trend for total muscle relaxation. I don't know if my range of motion has improved because I'm not actually tracking it, but I feel better. Maybe it just took that long for it to work, maybe it was starting massage therapy. But the massage therapy wasn't making me feel particularly better on its own, in a lasting way. And after a few weeks of that, I started to feel the need to learn how to do the stretches (which are fairly finnicky and have a delicate set up process) properly, as opposed to just looking at the final picture and copying it. And the stretches got more effective still. Now it is weird, because I have all this decreased muscle tension, and that has to be good for me, but I feel like I'm supposed to be doing something with it and I don't know what.

The easy lesson here is "bribery works." Desire for a toy was clearly necessary to get this stretching thing off the ground, and equally clearly will not be necessary forever. Although I'm not giving it up yet. This month I'm getting a keyboard case for my nexus 7, a toy I had no use case for and no idea I wanted until work gave me one.

I think this is two layers of the same lesson, which is my body won't start improving something until there's space for it. The task had to be "stretch" not "learn to stretch well" because part of me didn't trust that I would keep stretching, which would render the whole effort moot. That's a waste of effort, I'm nothing if not efficient. But after almost a month of stretching, the efficient thing became learning to do it well, so I did.

Which brings up some interesting questions, e.g. could this be why it's difficult to remember to take vitamin D even though it's so helpful? It gives me energy to do more things, which means I do more things, which means I am tired. If I had already committed to doing the things (n hours at work, cleaning, etc) and being miserable about it, and the vitamin D let me maintain the same pace but with less misery, would I remember to take it? This is clearly highly related to that lesson I drew from Steve Martin's autobiography, that the trick to getting good at something was to put yourself in a place to fail at it millions of times. Maybe it's not just giving yourself space to learn something, it's incentive.

*Which is not to say that I otherwise would have made a resolution, I almost never do. This just happens to be this year's reason.


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