Newton’s First Law of Motion is generally described as a body in motion tends to stay in motion, a body at rest tends to stay at rest (unless acted upon by an outside force). I think life is a lot like that. It’s much easier to flip the switch and get into the groove and stay in the groove, than it is to get into the groove in the first place. And if an outside force acts upon you to get you out of the groove, it is really hard to get back into it. Some examples here:
Marriage and Family: very easy to get into a pattern where focus is on taking care of the “inelastic demand” items and then to have little gumption to refocus on those that are more elastic. If you remember from high-school economics, Inelastic Demand is a demand that does not change no matter how high the price. If you HAVE to go into work everyday and there is no way to car pool or take a bus, you’re going to purchase gas no matter how high the cost. For family stuff, Inelastic Demand items that I see are making sure kids are fed, bathed, entertained and have their school work done; a house that is reasonably cleaned; laundry cleaned; yard and cars maintained; food in the pantry and refrigerator. Elastic demand then is doing the things above and beyond this with your family or wife. Things such as emotional bonding, sex, talking about things outside that Inelastic area, teaching your kids sports or crafts… those types of things aren’t necessary for living, but are necessary for a fulfilled family life and marriage.
If you get into a pattern where your groove is to not do those extra things, you may survive but you and your kids or marriage likely won’t thrive. Instead, if you get into a pattern of making time for those activities, making emotional bonding, sex, and so forth a priority everyday, or nearly everyday, it is so much easier to maintain this momentum than it is to establish the momentum in the first place.
Self: Once you make it a pattern to change your eating patterns or exercising patterns, it almost seems silly at how easy it is to maintain this. I’m not a Paleo-nazi by any means, but that is mostly how our family eats.. the old 80/20 rule applies. We (as a family, though we let the kids be a little looser when not at home) usually don’t eat flour or bread and focus more on meats, fruits, veggies and nuts. Once we made the switch, I think we’ve all felt better. Holly doesn’t have nearly the blood sugar spikes that used to plague her and overall our family stays happy and healthy. Whether you eat like that or not, I don’t care, but if you make a global diet change that works (and not trying to “diet”) it is ridiculously easy to stick with it.
Hobbies are another thing it takes to build momentum. It usually takes both a mental and financial commitment as well as a humble attitude as it’s hard to learn new skills. Over the years I’ve picked up playing guitar, brazilian jiu jitsu, cycling, running, writing, brewing and wine making to name a few. My commitment to any of these has waxed and waned from year to year but I find that once I get into something, it’s easier to stay with it for awhile than to try and bounce into it for short times.
Exercise is another thing people really struggle with. In my early 20’s I was a fatter out of shape smoker and it obviously took some time to change this “body at rest” situation. But once I got into motion, I stayed there over a period of 10 years now. Once again, I find myself a little bit out of the groove. With my infection, hospital stay and hand surgery I couldn’t do what I normally do (lift, run, compete) for about a month. It was just last week I got the go ahead to move my barbell again, but my hand is still sore, my range of motion limits my ability to grip the bar, and I’ve become out of shape and lost strength over the last month. While I’ve lifted a few times thus far, to say I’m out of the groove is an understatement. During the cold, dark winter I was able to get up at 5:15-5:30 a.m. most days to lift in a cold gym and make some nice strength and Olympic lifting movement progress. Now, despite sunny mornings, it’s not happening. I haven’t made the switch in my mind yet that I’m back at it. I’m slowly getting back into the mix and building my strength back up but I haven’t committed mentally.
Basically, being cognisant that Newton’s First Law has a lot of merit is a good first step. If we can make those changes to start the ball rolling, and give the amount of mental energy to stay in the groove, it’s pretty easy. Falling out of motion is sometimes inevitable. Being aware that it’s natural and then getting back on the horse of being more aware of your behavior in your marriage, with your children, and in your own hobbies and fitness world can make a big difference in the quality and enjoyment of life.