I used to get bored on long car trips as a child. This was before they sold SUVs with DVD players or iPhones or personal MP3 players. Back in the 80’s you played license plate bingo or you hit your brother. After 12 hours of driving from the Midwest to the east coast, this could get very boring and if I could have stopped the car and gotten out to watch some She-Ra instead I would have. I think this is one of the reasons people fail at weight loss. They get bored and they stop the car.
There’s a strange conundrum to weight loss, an oxymoron almost, that you must keep doing the same thing over and over again but differently enough to keep you interested. I have to exercise day after day, but if I do the same Pilates routine for too many weeks in a row, I start to dread rolling out my mat. I have to eat healthy day after day too, but if I eat the same foods over and over again my elation over Parmesan chicken breasts starts to wane. I have to remember to constantly challenge myself and try new things.
However, trying new things all the time can get quite exhausting too. I’ve been cooking lots of new recipes in the past month. While it’s been fun discovering some tasty new breakfasts, dinners and desserts, I’ve started to burn out. When I wake up in the morning I don’t always want to try something new. I want something familiar that I know I’ll like and I already know how to make. Learning new recipes and trying new sports requires a mental effort as well as they physical work of chopping vegetables or properly executing a sidekick. There’s a mental exhaustion and frustration that comes with learning new things. When I’m trying to follow a new exercise tape there are moments when I just want to hit the “Stop” button in frustration. Finding weird new items in the grocery store is tiring too. I hate scavenger hunts. I hate reading a million labels trying to figure out where they shelve the canned pumpkin. I still haven’t found it! (I should just ask a clerk, but half they time they don’t know either.)
I tend to go through cycles where I try lots of new things for awhile and then settle back into a comforting rut. Then I get bored again and start looking up recipes online or signing up for strange aerobics classes. I’m constantly fighting against boredom, but trying not to overtax myself and quit trying new things in frustration. It’s hard to live a life without boredom, in weight loss or in any aspect – be it love, work, or friendships. My mind always wants to be stimulated, to learn new things and face new challenges. But there is also comfort in a routine, of knowing what I’m going to do during the day and what I’m going to eat and not having to figure it all out on the fly.
I suppose it’s like a marriage. You’ve vowed to live your whole life with someone, but you need to keep some spice in the relationship to keep it from getting old. Or maybe it’s like being a musician. You don’t want every album you release to sound exactly the same. You want to progress and try new things, but still have your work reflect your unique voice. I’m always going to have to exercise and eat right, but I can’t expect to do the same things forever without getting bored of it. Parents sometimes threaten to stop the car if you don’t stop hitting your brother, but there’s no way I want to stop the car on this journey, no matter how bored I get from time to time. At least I have lots of exercise DVDs to watch, in my living room, not an SUV.