Things need to change. If you have been following “Today in the Monkey House” you will know the monkeys have been poorly. As a result I have been mostly quarantined at home, taking temperatures and wiping noses. One plus was less running around, giving more time for some straight thoughts. One thought was that, unknown to me, I had slipped off my to do list. My runs had reduced from three times alone, to once with the pushchair. With the addition of buggy boot camp, that is only two sessions of exercise a week, no “me time”. How is this possible? I’ve spent my year so far advocating “me time” and running my 5k challenges, how did I fall off the list? Well when you understand the process of change, you soon begin to see how these things can drift up on you. All part of the course on the bicycle of change.
Prochaska and DiClemente’s Cycle of Change.
In 1983, James Prochaska and Carlo DiClemente produced a model of the Transtheoretical Stages of Change also known as “The Cycle of Change”. The six stages of change, as set out in the model, are Pre Contemplation, Contemplation, Preparation, Action, Maintenance and Lapse. The theory is that as we become aware of an issue, that requires change, we move through the stages on the cycle. There is no time limit on each stage and it is possible to move backwards and forwards between each stage.
Using artistic licence, I am adding to this model. Change is like riding a bicycle. Once you get the hang of balance, gear changes and a sometimes uncomfortable seat, you can travel great distances and achieve great things. Additionally, only you can ride your bicycle and it is impossible to ride two bicycles at once. To clarify, it is easier to tackle one major change at a time. Let me explain in the context of my current situation.
Let’s action some change
This is where I was a couple of weeks ago. Running my 5k challenges. Thinking I was doing really well, but slowly slipping off my to do list. Missing my running sessions in favour of putting the needs of others first. (Nothing wrong with that, until you drop off the edge into no me time land). Certain behaviours creeping back in. Eating out of boredom, grumpy, short tempered and tired. Completely unaware of my need to shake things up again.
The dawning realisation that I have slipped back into an old pattern of behaviour. My sister summed it up for me when last week she said “once mastered, 5k is a manageable distance”. I realised when she said this, that she was right. As a result you become complacent. This whole challenge was not about completing the 5k races, it was about motivating me to keep running every week. Making time for just me to feel better and feel more “me” again.
Despite now being in the possession of this knowledge, this stage is not the time for action. Sadly at contemplation stage there is limited motivation to change. Exactly how I felt during poorly monkey week. My only motivation that week was to sneakily eat big bowls of cereal at 9pm at night with the monkeys full fat milk and honey. (Why have I banned monkey treats from the monkey house to keep them healthy when all I want is chocolate and biscuits?)
This is the stage I have been in the last couple of days. I know I have to take action because returning to feeling lethargic, easily stressed, shouty and tightly squeezed into the few clothes that fit, is not an option. Besides, I do not want to unwittingly unleash the monster. Not now that we have an understanding that I am in charge.
In this stage, you start to plan. The monster has interfered a bit here. Sowing some seeds of doubt. “You stopped running so much because you haven’t got time”,”They need you more than you need ‘me time'”and “you are not doing a good enough job if you are putting you first”. Do you know what monster? I am determined. I need to get this running train back on it’s tracks. So I worked out the pros and cons and came up with a plan.
The plan? The Runners World Run Streak (#RWRunStreak 2016). Run at least one mile a day from Monday 30th May to Monday 4th July. Thirty six days of running. Also known as a minimum of 20 minutes freedom every day for thirty six days. Those following on Twitter will know that on Monday I ran 4K or roughly 2.5miles. Tick one. After making my plan today I was compelled to take action. At least three monkeys annoying each other and my blood pressure rising helped too. I put on my trainers, and my emergency running clothes (my good kit was in the wash) and I went out for a one mile lap of the park. Tick two. Despite my emergency running trousers falling down a bit (a lot really), it felt OK. In fact it felt like control. It felt like freedom.
This is where it gets a bit harder. The challenge is to maintain the action. Keep running for me, not just my 5k challenges. In order to achieve this, I have made it public over all my social media. I have brought Mr LMR and the monkeys up to speed and I have set a plan for my next run. Each mile clocked up and accounted for.
Before I sign off this post I need to mention lapse. Now don’t be frightened a lapse does not have to be as sinister as it sounds. It does not have to mean failure. Part of Prochaska and DiClemente’s cycle, is the idea that, as you move through each stage of the process, you gain knowledge. About yourself and what works for you. Should you lapse, as you almost certainly will, you do not return to the beginning again, with no chance of further change. The bicycle of change doesn’t work like that. As a child, when learning To ride your bike, you probably fell many times. Every time you did, you learnt a little bit about what went wrong. Every time you climbed back on, you tried it a little bit differently until you mastered the skill.
Change is like this too. Every time you lapse or relapse look in the mirror. Ask yourself what positive changes have you made and how do they make you feel? What went wrong this time and what can you do differently next time? Tell yourself you haven’t failed you just fell off your bicycle.