Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The maintenance

Have you ever gotten on a big diet and exercise kick?

You get all super motivated. You lose a bunch of weight. You fit in skinny winny jeans. You feel fabulous! You haven't been that skinny in years and oh, it's so great!

Then you maybe gain a couple pounds, because you can't maintain that level of starvation fervor forever.

You have all this enthusiasm for the getting there. But how do you stay there?

Because, crap, in order to maintain, you have to keep this up.

For the rest of your life.

Somehow it dawned on me, just yesterday, that the bulk of life is just maintaining.

This is something I have historically sucked at. I was good at leaving, moving, starting over, getting a new job, quitting a job, falling in love, falling out of love, starting a project, getting bored in the middle, moving on to another project...

The beginnings and endings I could throw myself into. They tend to be filled with anticipation, drama, motion, commotion.

It's the middles, the maintenance, where I've struggled. And fallen down.

I thought about this yesterday when picking up Jordan's toys and my clothes for the gajillianth time. You pick all this stuff up...just to take it all out. And pick it all up again tomorrow.

Dishes are clean. Dishes are dirty. Same with clothes. Floors. Carpets. And so forth.

I'm not in a woe-is-me place, or thinking my life is an endless cycle of drugery.

If fact, I actually really like my life more than I ever have. And lately it's been calmer and more normal and routine than pretty much ever.

I used to pull the rug out from under myself whenever anything got routine. And now, I fully realize that my life is one routine after another.

Perhaps it always was; I just had larger, more chaotic circles of routine, of dramatic start and stop, rise and fall.

I'm just wondering - do most people struggle with the maintenance?


  1. YES! I think it's because I have no attention span. I can be in a routine and maintaining, perfectly fine, then...ooh, shiny! Combine that with the usual Grass Is Always Greener Syndrome and maintenance is an absolute bitch.

  2. Absolutely. I've never classified it as maintenance and think that is a fitting label. I find comfort in routines and am the happiest when things in my life are stable. It is hard to realize when you're spending too much time maintaining one thing while neglecting another and perhaps missing out on life when something new comes along and no energy is left to pursue it.

  3. totally. i suck at maintaining. currently i'm in the middle of losing again to try and maintain again. down 25 lbs but still have 20 more to go (groan). i wish i liked exercising as much as i like food; it would make the entire process that much easier!

  4. i sometimes do, yeah. now that you point that out, it's something im often stuck with too... the middles. i find if i get too comfy or dare i say.. complacent?, i get the urge to shake things up a bit. yet, then there are days when i just simply can't get enough of the routine, the calm, the predictable.

  5. Lisa - Yes! I am so very much the "Ooh - shiny!" person. Thankfully, the grass is greener episodes are fewer and further between lately.

    HKW - Interesting. That definitely happens as well, and I hadn't thought about that. I love the input I get here!

    mrsmac - My weight is down, but I'm still nursing and I know that as soon as I stop I'm going to start putting weight back on. It's just so hard to find workout time!

    brookem - You know, I would have to say I alternate between the two as well. I didn't think about that.

  6. Yes! I'm horrible at the maintenance. It's so boring.

  7. I am not so good with the maintenance, unless I have external motivators. For example, I was incredibly tidy when I had a roommate. But living on my own? My little condo explodes with clutter and junk mail.

    I even found it easier to go to the gym when I went at 5 am, and knew that the other 5 am regulars would know if I skipped a day.

    Maintenance is hard to self-motivate, for me.

  8. I struggle with maintenance, and I often feel that if something isn't growing, isn't getting bigger or better (ie, career, paycheck, ambition) then I'm actually going backwards.

    Then again, I put on 15 pounds last year. How's that for going backward?

  9. 100%, yes... but I didn't realize it til now.

    Which is precisely why I love your words.

  10. You have just vocalised an uncaptured thought that has been rolling around in my head for months. I couldnt put my finger on it, didnt know how to describe my obession with continual study, DIY on my house, looking for a better job, oooohhh look shiny and yoyo weight issues. I am not good at maintenance I love the start up and the finish up but dont do the everyday stuff so well. I need to look at this I feel.

  11. Oh YES! I had that same thought a few years ago when I was buying groceries - I am going to buy groceries just to eat them and then repeat the cycle for the rest of my life. Same with laundry, dishes, bills... It makes me exhausted to think of things that way, though, so I try not to.

  12. Maintenance can be exhausting....then other times, it doesn't really get in the way!

  13. ah, Lisa, I know I rarely comment, but this, THIS, this is a topic I can talk about. this where I know something... Routine, maintenance, all of it. that's the struggle and the goal, imo. We all seem to want predictability, but you strike me more like me. It's great in small doses, but it's the variation of life that makes it exciting, worth living, something bigger. I love to run away. A vacation is what everyone needs in difficult periods, in my experience. oh sunshine and roses and margaritas and sand! yay waves. boo whatever is weighing me down. The weirdness is it's the days that I do nothing and watch my girls in a blow up pool with four inches of water that make me feel my best, but also make me feel my worst. It's THE struggle of parenthood. What do I need to make me feel like my best mama versus what makes me feel like my best me. I need to do and feel and run and be busy and productive, but sometimes being the best mom is sitting, listening, watching and nothing. I'd love to ignore the dishes every day, but then I'm sad when I wake up to a sinkful of crap. yin and yang. laundry, dishes, making kids eat fruit and yogurt and drink milk... it's the same battle daily. and some days I love it and find peace and other days I think I might lose my mind, but alas, that's life. keep up the posts, Carrie

  14. I think so - for me, anyway. I know that it's been historically impossible for me to maintain anything for long. The middles have always sucked, even as I've yearned for routine and calm and quiet.

    Suddenly, though, I've found myself maintaining a marriage for 14 years. I cannot fathom that we got here and am surprised sometimes it's still working.

  15. When I got sober, I started hearing the words, "Be okay with being okay." And well? I thought that was asinine. But about two years sober and wanting the zest and drama, I finally understood what they were talking about. I KNOW how to do drama. I KNOW how to do emergencies. I KNOW how to face the firing squad. What I didn't know was how to embrace the peace that comes with knowing I'm okay. And today? Well - I mostly act like my 94 year old grandma, but I'm not ashamed of that. I love my routine and I may be pedantic at times, but that's me. And it's okay. You're okay, too. More than okay.

  16. I've been using an iPhone app called iLoseIt to track my weight: basically, you plug in your current weight, what you'd like to lose, and how long you'd like to lose it over, and it gives you a calorie budget. Stick to it, and you lose weight (I've lost 20+ pounds so far). The cool thing, though, is that once you reach your weight goal, your calorie budget actually increases.

    But - yeah, it's not easy. Some days easier than others. Other days I just want to mow down a whole carton of Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream and an extra large pepperoni pizza slathered in grease.

    I just try to walk as much as possible. That way, I don't feel guilty when I have Chipotle for lunch.

    (Like today).

  17. You know, I got so excited about posting on weight loss, I completely missed the point of your post until I'd already clicked "post comment." I, too, am excited about the beginnings and endings of things, and not so much about the middle. I need to slow down and read the paragraphs.

  18. oh dear god, yes, do i struggle with maintenance (and i'm not even talking about weight, which also is a problem) . . . i just diagnosed myself yesterday as "chronically disorganized." i would be an awesome rich person - i'd hire a bunch of people to keep me on track. and NOW i have to go back to work - hee hee!

  19. Hillary - It can be incredibly tedious, that is for sure.

    Dagny - I didn't think about that, but I also need external motivators. I'm good at hitting deadlines, but not good at creating my own. I leave things till the last minute, do them all at once - unless forced to pace myself. This is true for just about every aspect of my life.

    Miss Dallas - I hadn't thought about the forwards and backwards...but I can see it making sense, particularly in our society where everything is grow! more! bigger! faster! I suppose I think about these things more as ups and downs - but that's just semantics, really, isn't it?

    LiLu - I love hearing that! Thank you! And thank you for the link!

    Go-Betty - I am taking a long, hard look at this for myself. It's really not my strength, but it is most of life.

    Jane - Yes! I think about that with dinner. Such a production, just to get eaten, cleaned up, and started all over the next day. It is definitely a depressing approach if you get bogged down in it.

    kayare - Agree. Sometimes it's effort, and sometimes it's just what you do as you go along, without even realizing it.

    Carrie - Hi! YES. What you said totally resonated with me. "What do I need to make me feel like my best mama versus what makes me feel like my best me." - this sums it up completely. I love love love the Jordan moments. I want more ME moments. I want more time with him. I want time away. I want to run and leap...I want it to stay this way forever...

    Suniverse - I realized the other day that I've been working at the same place for almost five years. A record for me. I think constants are good - I'd just never had the ability to NOT CHANGE as many things as possible all the time before.

    Kate - I love this approach. It is so right on to think about the fact that you know how to do drama and emergencies and such, and that embracing the here and now day to day is hard. I agree with that entirely. It's a beautiful way to put it. Thank you!

    Malnurtured Snay - You are so right, though, in focusing on the diet part, because that's a huge part of life and requires constant maintenance. That app sounds really useful, I have to say.

    LJ - I so envy the organized people. I would love to be one of them. Hell, Nick would love it if I were one of them.

  20. Maintenance - what a great word for the day to day stuff that has nothing to do with goals and stops and starts. Or does it? Even during the most mundane of life's activities I tell myself that I have a choice about what I can do during the next second and how I can do it. Unfortunately I only seem to play that game with myself when I'm in a good mood.

  21. Anyone who doesn't struggle with the maintenance is lying or maintaining the wrong things. You got the important parts right - you like your life, your happy with your life - the rest, well, the rest is the occasionally maddening details.

  22. "the bulk of life is just maintaining"
    wow i love that...

  23. And it's freeeee, too. It's basically a digital Weight Watchers.

  24. Everyone I've ever talked to hates laundry. So I'd say, yes. Most people have trouble maintaining.

  25. I Was supposed to be up early catching up on all the mundane tasks that piled up since I was away twice this month. Weeding; bor-ring, and ugh, there's so much of it.

    But instead, for the last 4 hrs, I've indulged in avoidance tactics (fav blogs was SUPPOSED to be for later today, when the work was done). So now I'm all "Hey - I'm not more (or, LOL, at least not THAT much more) fucked up than everybody else, after all!"

    To paraphrase what Carrie said above, "Yay waves and LG. Boo maintenance."

  26. Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. The secret is finding your zen in the act of maintenance.

    Way easier said than done.


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