The Practical Effects of “Everything Counts”

The July Project: Day 16

I’ve written a couple of times before about Rule #2: Everything Counts. Today will be one of those days when I invoke Rule #2. I put in a long work day, then packed my bags and took off for Galveston. I didn’t get here until after 10 p.m., ate a late dinner, and then settled in to write. As soon as I publish this post, I’ll go for a walk. It’ll be after midnight, so I only plan to walk the four blocks down to the Seawall, then maybe a few blocks along the beach and back. That’s okay, because in this game of getting some exercise every day, everything counts.

I don’t entirely grasp the psychological mechanisms at work in Rule #2, but I know that it works. Maybe it’s a sort of mental safety valve to keep my obsessive tendencies from reaching critical pressure. I’ve also tried to understand it with the metaphor of a truce: maybe everything counts is a way of mediating between two warring impulses in my character—the one that wants to be healthy and fit, and the one that would rather relax and take it easy.

But the practical effects of everything counts are clear. On the down days, the impossibly long days, the icy-cold days, the sick-in-bed days, the surgery recovery days, it’s a compromise that lets me get to the end of my day still able to say, “But I got some exercise.”

More often than not, when I reach the exercise part of the day ready to invoke Rule #2, I find that I have a bit more left in the tank than I thought. Instead of walking down to the corner and back, I walk a mile. Or instead of walking a mile, I stretch it to two. Sometimes I discover that I have a whole hour of exercise energy left after all.

Maybe it’s as simple as this: Half of what it takes to exercise is the will to begin. Let everything counts be your safety valve, the truce terms in your internal struggle, or the little white lie that gets you to the starting line. Then do as much as you can of what you came to do. It counts.

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