27 August 2014

Getting back on the productivity track

Like a lot of Americans, I lead a sedentary lifestyle. My job involves sitting in front a computer for eight hours a day, my hobbies are all done sitting done, and I have three teenagers to handle the bulk of the household chores. Because I sit a lot, it doesn't take much for me to feel productive. Today, I marveled at the tasks I completed that barely qualify as work but that made me feel like I had gotten something done:

  • I cleared all the junk off the three counters and the island in my kitchen.
  • I went out and turned my compost heap.
  • I swept my bedroom.
  • I sent a voicemail comment to one of my favorite podcasts.
  • I updated 18 apps on my iPad (that red number is finally gone!).
Even writing this blog post feels productive because I haven't blogged since January. I get such a positive hit from accomplishing little things that I often wonder if it stops me from doing bigger things. 

Getting in shape is a prime example. Last year it took me three months to lose 15 pounds. That is five pounds a month, which sounds healthy, right? Except that I was eating less than 1000 calories, taking diet pills and exercising every day to do it. Also, I saw no improvement in my body shape, my breathing, or my endurance at the end of that three months. I know all you fitness buffs out there are shouting, "You need to keep going!" Intellectually I know that I shouldn't expect instant gratification from the pursuit of better health. That doesn't stop me from feeling that diet and exercise is nothing but deprivation and sweat with no payoff, especially since many of the diets that other people try (low carb, Weight Watchers, etc.) don't budge the numbers on my scale at all.

A few months ago, I said that I was going to be happy with the the little goals I hit and not dwell so much on whatever I didn't do. I lost my way for a while (I got a new job I hate, while my husband lost his), but I realized I can't do anything about those setbacks so I might as well keep moving forward.
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