Inertia is a strange beast. I remember my High-school physics teacher explaining that an object in motion naturally wants to continue its current motion and direction, but once it stops it requires more effort to get it moving again. That is an oversimplified definition. The webpage PhysicsClassroom.com explains it much better:
An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.” Objects tend to “keep on doing what they’re doing.” In fact, it is the natural tendency of objects to resist changes in their state of motion. This tendency to resist changes in their state of motion is described as inertia.
Ironically enough – at my small school the physics teacher was also the gym teacher. He used to tell us it is easier to keep running even if we have to slow down than it is to stop and walk and then try to start running again after catching our breath.
It is true for running, it is true for knitting and it is true for weight loss. At the beginning of the year, I entered a Lose2Win contest and lost a total of 20lbs. Won a snazzy new BMW gym bag and was feeling on top of the world. I was feeling like I could take a breath from weight loss. I started indulging in a few forbidden foods and skipping my daily exercise. Fast forward to two months later and I’m finding it impossible to start running again. Both literally and figuratively. The fruit I buy goes rotten before I can be bothered to eat it. Overgrazing has rendered all household snacks extinct. I can’t break my inertia and get myself moving. Because I haven’t stepped on the scale since the final weigh-in, I’m scared to face reality and see how much damage I’ve done.
Don’t worry – I’ll eventually get myself moving again (I’ll post when I finally do) but it also makes me think about my knitting students and some comments that they have made to me lately:
“I want to keep working on my project but once I set it down I don’t know how to pick it back up again.”
I know that I often stay up knitting until 3am because of inertia.
“I just can’t put it down.”
“One more row.”
“Let me just get to the next color change.”
Inertia is a very powerful motivator but it can also hold us back. Like weight loss, it is more psychological than physical but once we leave a project sitting too long we start to wonder how long it will take to remember what we were doing. Will we have to back-track and figure out where we were? How long will that take? Will I be able to get back on track? What if I can’t find my way again?
I have a feeling that a few sentences ago you were thinking that this lady should just get back on the jogging trail and the sooner the better. Just do it! Hurry before you lose all your progress! Don’t think about it – just do it. You will be so happy you did.
It is great advice and it applies to BOTH OF US. You pick up that old project that you’d love to finish but that’s been stalled by that beast named Inertia and I’ll get back on my running trail and give myself a bit of my own advice.