Emerging from my three months of illness, self-pitying, and self-loathing

Yesterday, I reported on my feelings after having a very painful and embarrassing performance in the Liberty Mile road race. I resolved to slowly return myself to health and fitness, starting immediately.

Recently, Leo Babauta wrote a great blog post that really spoke to me, “The Fear of Being Found a Fraud”. Basically, he writes advice, but he’s not perfect, and doesn’t always successfully do what he preaches. I periodically have feelings like that, since I write about stuff too and also post “advice” links on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. What would people think if they knew I have been failing myself in the past three months?

Well, I have to be honest. There’s no point lying. I sometimes know what’s best and what has worked for me, but don’t take my own advice. This in itself is not the big problem. The real problem is the second-order problem, which is that of believing that I’m not only imperfect (we all are), but sometimes ending also deciding to give up on myself. That’s the worst thing.

For example, after health conditions disrupted my “normal” routines, I ended up not getting back on track when in fact I should and could have, through a gradual process. In a way, I was too proud to adapt to reality. I was willing to operate under a different, better reality, but given the worse one, I chickened out, and entered a downward spiral of bad habits.

Meditation habit, destroyed

For example, I restarted a daily meditation practice for the new year, and entered into a 100-day meditation challenge. I encountered setbacks in my first month, but kept bouncing back. I even continued into a second month.

But then things got worse, and as you can see in the archives to my blog, I never wrote a report for the third month. According to my Insight Timer journal, I actually did meditate in March almost every day, so I could have written a blog post on that, but I didn’t. That was a mistake. I have found that public updates on progress keep me more accountable to myself; this is why I have written so much about my personal musical activities: not only to share my journey with those who are interested (because they are friends or because they are themselves on their own journeys), but also to keep myself honest about where I’ve been, what I still need to do, where I intend to go.

In April, my meditation practice started to fall apart. I missed April 10 and 11, then 13, 14, 15, then 18, 19, 20, 20, 23, and the rest of the month. In May I was erratic, till after May 13, I completely stopped identifying myself as a “meditator” and quit. That’s right: I felt so ashamed of myself that I did not meditate between May 14 and August 9 this year. Big mistake, this pointless shame, especially given that I know, empirically, that when I don’t “have time” to meditate, something is wrong with my life!


Also, my exercise schedule completely fell apart. “Normally”, I run every other day and do strength training the other days. None of this has to be a super-long session. Just enough to keep me mentally and physically alert. My strength training has generally been just a simple half-hour “core performance” type of workout at home.

Well, I lost the habit, partially because marathon training caused me to cut back on strength training and because after the marathon, I took a break from running. The big lesson I learned here is that marathoning is very disruptive to my ordinary life, and I do not plan to ever do a marathon again in my life. But apart from that, I had non-marathon disruptions also, such as the skin rash after a hike that I’ve been dealing with.

What I did today

Today is the first day of the rest of my life. Clean slate, forget the past.

I meditated this morning. And I will continue to make this a high priority and do it daily. I must make sure that if I slip, I simply get back on track, rather than feel shame or whatever. It must simply be a habit.

Since I ran yesterday, today was a non-running day. I decided that one way to prevent myself from completely slipping is to have a backup “very short” workout in case any kind of laziness or disruption causes me to think about just canceling a workout rather than do a longer one.

So today was my first experiment with a 7-minute workout. It’s intense, but fast to get over with. I highly recommend checking it out!

Here are more links to this type of workout:

Even if you’re lazy, surely you have 7 minutes a day to squeeze in this little circuit. I did!

The future

Back to meditating every day, just 10 minutes a day.

And I’m going to take it easy to ramp back up to fitness. I know it’s going to take months to get back to where I was earlier in the year. Patience is a virtue. I will start small. A little bit of slow running every other day, and the 7-minute workout every other day, to get started, before extending further.


It was time to stop my descent into endless self-pitying and self-loathing over all the misfortunes that have come my way in the past months. I’m taking my life back.

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