Three of us are reading Nia Shanks’ The 100 Day Reclaim: Daily Readings to Make Health and Fitness as Empowering as it Should Be.
Read about Day 1 here.
Here’s our reflections on Days 2-10.
My main goal with this book is to find ways to make it easier for my ADHD brain to manage the logistics of daily exercise. In Days 2-10 there are several questions that are helping me to get into the heart of that problem.
I particularly liked Day 7’s focus on how your daily actions help you build the life you want. That is a reminder that I often need. ADHD makes it challenging for me to see how the pieces of a project add up to the whole. This is especially true for me with exercise since the tangible results can be a long time coming. It’s hard for me to remember to include something in my day when I can’t always see the overall purpose it is building to.
It’s one thing to *know* that it will lead to feeling stronger over time but remembering that in the moments when I am planning my day is a huge challenge for me.
Some of the information in Day 8 can help me with that issue though. Day 8 is about recognizing ‘wins’ of all sizes and if I can keep in mind the lessons of Day 2 – which were about focusing on the process rather than the results – I should be able to come up with a way to make my daily exercise a ‘win’ that I can focus on.
I’m finding it interesting to discover, though, that some of the questions aren’t relevant to me at all. For example, I don’t need to work on disconnecting my self-worth from my appearance and my goals are not connected to improving just a single area of my body. Shanks has advice on both of those fronts and while her questions are thought-provoking, I don’t need to put a lot of energy into those areas.
I know that Catherine has some issues with how Shanks keeps using the concept of choice in this part of the book. I can completely see why framing things as ‘choosing who you will be today’ and ‘choosing your lens’ would get on someone’s nerves – there can be a slippery slope between the language of ‘choosing’ and the language of the law of attraction and victim blaming.
My mind didn’t go in that direction because in my coaching practice I get my clients to think about choices but in a different way that you might interpret it here. I use language around choice to help people work on areas where they feel dragged along and reminding them that they do have opportunities to choose can empower some people. However, it does need to be employed judiciously because, depending on someone’s background, it can feel dismissive or like you are blaming them for their situation, which is never helpful.
I have some issues with the ways she discusses goals and eating and weight loss and I feel like there are some value judgments in there but since I am not her audience for those topics, I suspect that she is generally doing what she can to bridge the gap for people who are used to thinking of exercise and fitness in terms of weight loss and visual results.
Nia spends a lot of time on days 2—10 talking about control. I’m reminded of Janet Jackson in the 80’s; likely that will be my tune of the day…
Here are some of the ideas she uses:
- free yourself from constraints (of worrying about what others think)
- take advantage of what you have control over—what you do today
- you can choose to remove the colored glasses (of the way you’ve viewed food, exercise, etc.)
- decide how you want to define who you are
- every day is a new opportunity to choose who you will be
I get it that she’s suggesting that we would be better off if we had more agency and control over our actions and emotions and decisions. Maybe that’s even true (because my day job is philosophy, I think agency and control are complicated). What I don’t see is how she thinks we can get more control just by deciding. If that were true, life would look really different.
What I think we can do, and what I try to do in my life, is aim for more perspective and support around our goals. With perspective, we have a little space to look around and see some of those constraints Nia talks about. With support (from friends, family, therapists, coaches, and yes, Nia, too), we can achieve and celebrate some of those daily triumphs. I experience this every day and am grateful for my community. I can’t achieve fitness just by deciding. I can go to a yoga class or walk or ride with my friends, or supported by my community.
I suspect Nia’s audience is younger and more angst ridden than me. Some of the lessons in days 2-10 are ones that I think I learned years ago. Yes, I’m doing this for me. I’m not exercising to impress or please others. I’m not focused on looks. I know we all make mistakes and I don’t think in all or nothing ways. So instead, my approach to days 2-10 was to think about the bits that did speak to me.
I liked the focus on thinking about the things you can control. So for example, don’t fixate on outcomes–whether that’s running 5 km in 25 minutes or benching 150 lbs–instead put your attention on areas you can control, such as doing the training required. We might not have as much control over the daily habits as we think. See Catherine’s point above. But we do have a lot more control over the daily habits than we do over the end result. That was Day 3, focus on the process, not the prize. I also liked Day 7, focus on daily actions which is a similar idea.
I also liked Day 8, on acknowledging small wins such as being neutral about food and getting out for a walk to manage stress, or something really simple like getting to bed on time. Today my small win is going to personal training before a workplace festive event. My hair might be messy but I’ll be in a better mood, I’m sure.
Are you reading along with us? What did you think so far?