Science Wednesday: Do your homework.

There’s an email glitch in the machine at Chez Wellness Playbook right now. Several emails I’ve sent, and several that were sent to me, simply disappeared. I didn’t get mine, my intended recipients didn’t get theirs. When you run a business that depends on making personal contacts with many people over the course of one day, often over email, this can be, shall we say, just a little stressful.

Do you feel like this when things just aren't going right, and it feels like stuff is breaking all around you? Me too. What to do? Read on. (Image courtesy of Prakairoj at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)
Do you feel like this when things just aren’t going right, and it feels like stuff is breaking all around you? Me too. What to do? Read on. (Image courtesy of Prakairoj at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

As a child, things were always breaking around me. I remember a dishwasher door that opened too fast, a ceiling that perpetually leaked, and other little details around my family’s house that were just not “quite right.”

I thought that was how life went. There wasn’t much you could do about things. My father lost his full-time job when I was in fifth grade, and he never held another solid job for the rest of his life. Things just happened to you. And there wasn’t much you could do about it. So you just had to “cope” with it. I knew that word by the time I was ten.

That’s how I used to think about my health, too. Things just kind of were as they were. Some people got lucky: beautiful faces, trim bodies, attractive people attracted to them. They won the Popularity Olympics when they were kids, so other kids flocked to them.

And as adults, we do the same things to each other sometimes, don’t we? Compare what we have to what others have, and decide that some people are just luckier than others. One acquaintance of mine (ironically, a very lucky one – she married a tech executive who invented a product you’d absolutely know if I wrote the name here, and lived in a mansion in Massachusetts when I knew her well) called them the “beautiful people.” (And from the way she said it, she didn’t consider herself to be one of them.) Ah, yes, the Beautiful People. The people for whom everything seems to go right in life, 24/7/365.

So, what does all of this have to do with fitness, health, and Science Wednesday, you ask?

After almost six years of paying really close attention to my health, I’ve found out that I can still get all gummed up with thinking that problems only happen to unlucky people. And then I cast myself in that role. When things go badly we could leave the broken door unfixed, the missed emails problem unsolved – or we could become massive, major-league problem solvers.

And that means doing our homework.

“Do your homework” means asking big questions and being insatiably curious about the answer. When I started to lose weight, I began to pay attention to all of the decisions I was making during the day that could potentially affect my weight loss. I changed my grocery list, went from looking for “healthy hot dogs” (which actually are sort of awesome) to unprocessed foods, to growing my own vegetables. I changed the way I worked out. I played with the equation constantly. And that landed me on a set of tools and habits that, almost six years later, makes me look to some people in the big ol’ world out there like I’m one of the “lucky ones.”

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Here’s my Every48 message today. if something isn’t going right for you – in your health and fitness life, or your work life, or your family, or your relationships – get insatiably curious. Ask questions. And then keep asking questions. If you don’t like to exercise, try something new. Try something fun. If you can’t get excited about how you’re spending your days,  ask yourself if you’re doing the work that you were put here to do, and then see what you have to do in order to get to a place where you’re doing it. Ask for help. Don’t give up and say, oh well, that dishwasher door will always be like that. Keep asking questions.

Life is sometimes like a big puzzle with the pieces strewn all over the place. But if we become problem-solvers, sometimes the pieces all start to make sense. Keep asking questions. (Image courtesy of jscreationzs at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)
Life is sometimes like a big puzzle with the pieces strewn all over the place. But if we become problem-solvers, sometimes the pieces all start to make sense. Keep asking questions. (Image courtesy of jscreationzs at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

The “lucky ones” in my life – the people who seem to have it all – are, in reality, the hardest-working, most insatiably curious people I know. They just don’t take “no” for an answer. (One of them had the first company he started completely fail on him. So he started another one. And another one. And he’s a big-time success story today.)

The best athletes aren’t the ones who were born with their talent; they’re the people who don’t skip their workouts. The people who write best-selling books aren’t the ones who tinker with a manuscript from time to time; they’re the people who constantly engage with their material, get it in front of the best readers they can so they can get the right feedback, and go back to the page to work it all out.

When we start doing things like this, our brains change. I am completely convinced of this. Read the prologue to Charles Duhigg’s excellent book The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business to learn the story of a woman who changed everything about her life, so completely that the National Institutes of Health now studies her brain patterns. And exercise was a big, big part of that particular equation. That’s what happens when we decide to become insatiably curious about our health.

We get stronger. We get tougher. We become problem-solvers.

And not just in health. In life.

So what’s the answer to that “missed emails” question? Well, it turns out that Gmail has a whole page devoted to solving that particular problem, and I’m going to delve into it during my down time today so I can figure it out. Problem Solving 101, happening as we speak, at this very writing desk.

That’s what we’ve got for you today at Every48. Get out there and get your workout on – and then, get insatiably curious, and become a problem-solver.

Yesterday’s #Every48 workout: Proof, once again, that morning workouts are my friend. A BIKE workout at the gym – 15-minute intervals at 90 RPMs with 5 minutes rest in between each one, just a shade over 50 minutes for the whole workout. In the afternoon, a fabulous hour-long WALK along the water near where I live. Yummy – and great for dreaming big dreams. Then, back to work.

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