Change in Plans Yesterday
Yesterday I had the day off. It was a school day for the kids. I got up at my usual time of 5 AM, which allowed me to enjoy a good cup of coffee, a quiet house, a little writing, and a bike workout before the kids got up.
After dropping the kids off at school, I realized how nice it was outside. I checked the weather app on my phone. 42 degrees in January! In central Illinois, you have to take advantage of these nice winter days when you can! I thought, Man, I should have planned to go for a run today, instead of riding the exercise bike.
I had plenty of things on my "to do" list, but I really wanted to get outside for a little while. So despite being showered, dressed, and ready for the day, I threw on some running clothes, and I went for an (unintended) second workout. It felt great to run outside in the fresh air.
I didn't always feel this way.
There was a time when exercise was something I absolutely dreaded. It would have been painful enough to do one workout... and there's no way I would have considered a second!
Yet somewhere along the way, this changed for me. Exercise was no longer something I had to do, but something I genuinely wanted to do. It became something that I truly enjoy.
How did this happen?
Well, I can tell you it didn't happen by accident. I had to go through a difficult period before I got to this point. The best way I know how to describe what I went through is culture shock.
I've traveled/moved a fair amount during my life, and I used to work with international students. So culture shock is a concept I know well.
Culture shock is an experience a person may have when one moves to a cultural environment which is different from one's own; it is also the personal disorientation a person may feel when experiencing an unfamiliar way of life due to immigration or a visit to a new country, a move between social environments, or simply transition to another type of life. 
When you decide to embark on a new, healthier way of life, it's a culture change. Although you are not traveling to a foreign place, you are still venturing into new territory. As you leave your old way of life behind and become accustomed to this new way of life, there are four natural stages you go through. These stages are:
Stage 1 - Honeymoon. In this stage everything is new and exciting. Enthusiasm and motivation are high. Differences between the old and new way of life are romanticized.
If you are currently in this stage, enjoy it! But beware... It won't last. Be prepared for what's coming next.
Stage 2 - Frustration. In this stage, differences between the old and new way of life become apparent. The excitement wears off, and frustration sets in. You realize that this new way is not comfortable and not easy.
The important thing to keep in mind here is that this is completely normal. It's really tempting to give up and go back to your old way of life, where things are not so difficult. But it's important to hang in there. If you can make it past this stage, you're golden!
Stage 3 - Adjustment. In this stage you are becoming accustomed to the new way of life. New habits and routines start to feel more natural. Your attitude/outlook improves.
This is when you realize, Hey this isn't as bad as I thought. This is getting easier. I'm feeling pretty good!
Stage 4 - Adaptation. In this stage you are able to participate comfortably and fully in the new way of life. It feels easy and natural.
This is when "have to" has evolved into "want to." You might find yourself doing things that you once thought were insane -- like heading outside for a second workout. :)
It gets harder before it gets easier.
As you work on a healthier lifestyle, I think it helps to:
Be aware of the steps involved in this process.
Be prepared for frustration (which is normal).
Not be too hard on yourself when you slip up (which is also normal).
Pick yourself up when you fall, and keep moving forward!
Over time it does get easier. And you will learn to love this new way of life much more than your old one.
1. Macionis, John, and Linda Gerber. "Chapter 3 - Culture." Sociology. 7th edition ed. Toronto, ON: Pearson Canada Inc., 2010. 54.
This post was originally published on January 4, 2017.