From Pyjamas to Gladiator: On Willpower & Learning to Kick Ass

If you’ve ever struggled to break a bad habit, this post is for you.

2013 will always be remembered as the year that I staged my very own “pajama-vention” – otherwise known as “that time I realized I was getting gross and decided to do something about it, and learned to kick-ass in the process.”

In December and January I participated in the Stratejoy Holiday Council. I learned how to let go of 50 things, made vision boards and set goals – some which I’ve already accomplished (!) I enjoyed the experience so much that when it came to sign up for the Stratejoy Willpower Council a few months later, I jumped at the chance. With my schedule now busier than ever, I knew I’d need to tap into my willpower to really “get shit done.”

One of our first tasks was to choose a bad habit that we’d like to change, or a good habit that we’d like to create. I knew right away what mine would be:

THE PYJAMAS.

As I’ve mentioned before, being a freelance writer and/or working from home does come with it’s shares of perks: a flexible schedule and dress code with a commute that never is longer than the distance between your bed and your laptop. The downside is that when you’re not even required to wear pants on a daily basis, things have the tendency to get gross pretty fast.

After almost a decade of working in a corporate office environment, when I started freelancing I embraced the novelty of being able to work in my pyjamas. However, what began as a fun and comfortable way to give the middle finger to my former office attire, soon evolved to the point where I was wearing my pyjamas all day, everyday. Unless I was leaving the house, I wouldn’t even bother showering or putting on clothes until late afternoon. As someone who is naturally prone to anxiety, my pyjamas weren’t just a wardrobe choice, they were like a security blanket – one that covered my whole body.

I jokingly nicknamed my well loved leopard print pyjamas my “freelancer’s business suit” and when I wore out my first pair, my Mom and sister lovingly purchased me new ones for Christmas complete with matching booties. You can file the photo below under “reasons I might be single.”

 I hadn’t realized how bad the situation had become until my Mom and sister sat me down and told me I needed to start wearing real clothes around the house again. I agreed, but then told them I thought they were enablers.

“If you want me to stop wearing pyjamas, why do you keep buying me such awesome ones?! I mean, the matching booties: genius.”

My sister looked me in the eye and said, “Put on some real clothes Simone or I’ll burn those pyjamas in your sleep.”

The irony is, when I envisioned what my life would look like as a freelancer I didn’t imagine myself wearing flannel all day. Instead, I imagined myself wearing cute, casual basics as I wrote and worked on projects in my fun, colourful office. In other words, I wanted my day to day life to look more like my Internet Idol & Girl Entrepreneur Crush Jen Ramos (top left & bottom left.)

I could totally be the kind of person who spent the day working in funky striped dresses or a pair of leather leggings & a fun top. I already owned these kinds of clothes, so what was stopping me?! However, instead I settled for some approximation of this:

I knew I had hit rock bottom when I caught myself doing a phone interview with the head of marketing of a major Canadian bank wearing only a pink nightie, with a brown blanket wrapped around me.

That’s the thing I have learned about bad habits: they’re self sabotaging. We want one thing but we do another. I picked out clothes that embodied the vision I wanted for life, but stashed them away in the closet and instead, did exactly the opposite because it seemed easier somehow.

It wasn’t just the pyjamas that were the problem. It was my whole morning routine. I’d set my alarm early but  instead of getting up, I’d lay in bed for 45 minutes running through everything I wanted to accomplish, instead of actually getting up and doing it. When I’d get up I’d be stressed and in a rush, so I’d reach for my “security blanket” instead of real clothes.

The first step to breaking a habit is figuring out why you have it in the first place. What’s the pay-off that you get from the behaviour? What need does it satisfy? Why did I feel stuck in my pyjamas?! Was it because I yearned for comfort or a slow ease into my day? Was it a deep seated desire to wear as much animal print as possible in a non judgemental environment? Was I just naturally gross & slovenly?!

After a lot of soul searching, I realized that I wore the pyjamas because I wanted to live my life on my own terms. The corporate world always seemed stifling to me and I wanted the opposite of that. Instead of a hectic commute, I wanted a slow ease into my morning and the freedom to plan my day – including what I wore to the “office.”

I spent a whole week experimenting with different morning routines to find one that would stick. Getting up and reading for 15 minutes. Getting up early and going for a coffee. Getting up early and doing Pilates before breakfast. Etc. However, the one that stuck was the most simple: getting up and showering immediately. I’d actually forgotten how good it felt to start the workday clean! The “comfort” of my pyjamas and lingering in bed was soon replaced with how awesome I felt when I got up early and got dressed.

I also learned that a simple maxi dress & a pair of flats is just as comfortable as pyjamas, plus I get the added bonus of feeling good about myself.

Except for a few days where I was legitimately sick, I’ve been pyjama free since the end of April. It’s amazing how much more confident and professional I feel in real clothes!

The great thing about exercising willpower is that it builds confidence. With pyjama problem under control, I felt ready for anything! When my Barre Method Teacher mentioned that she also taught a “Gladiator Workout Class” at a Martial Arts Studio in a neighbouring town, I knew I had to sign up. Why, you ask?! Because after reading Nicole’s post about changing your story, I wanted to change mine too. As humans we create our own stories about our lives. Unfortunately, a lot of them are very self-limiting. “I’m bad with money”, “I don’t have much willpower”, “I’ll never be a morning person” – these are all things I have told myself at some point. However, because I created these narratives I can also change them.

The Gladiator Workout is  circuit training program that includes cardio, strength training,  kick-boxing, yoga, Pilates and elements of boot-camp. It’s pretty intense and it starts every morning at 6:45 am. Which means that I actually have to get up, put on gym clothes and be out the door at 6:30am. Yes, me. 

The crazy thing? I’ve been doing the Gladiator workout for a month and I love it. I never thought I was the kind of person who’d enjoy working out first thing in the am – let alone, do a workout that involves BOXING of all things –  but I’ve discovered it’s the great way to start your day. In fact, when I was away last week I actually missed it. I even have my own pair of boxing gloves now!

I feel like I'm living in a 90's teen movie about a former Ballerina who takes up boxing and learns to kick ass, which is basically what's happening here.

I figured with my knack for attracting weirdos, I should probably take this opportunity to perfect my roundhouse kick. The workout is very challenging and is totally out of my comfort zone, but as it turns out, was exactly what I needed. Half of the time I’m not even sure whether I’m more proud of myself for completing the workout or getting out of bed to complete the workout. Either way, I get to start my day with my own private victory, which is awesome.

From Pyjamas to Gladiator. If I can do this, you can do anything.  

What’s a habit you’d like to tackle?

  • MarinM

    Awesome!!! Sounds like an episode off HIMYM. Ive been working out with a trainer, and we meet every early friday morning and its sooo rewarding afterwards but that first step out of bed on the other hand…xx

    • skinny_dip

      Haha, I was thinking of all of their intervention banners while I was writing this. That’s so awesome that you’re working out with a trainer!! You’re right – the first step out of bed is always the hardest. xoxo

  • DeeDee Andrews

    My bad habit is screwing around on the Internet waaay too much instead of writing when I’m supposed to be. Social media, random articles, stuff I don’t even really care about – all of it distracts me. Yet when I have a very productive day of writing (and NOT being distracted), I always feel so amazing. So why do I continue to let this habit bog me down? I don’t even get any enjoyment out of it!

    • skinny_dip

      I definitely suffer from that too DeeDee! It’s so easy to get sucked in. My new rule is that if I need a distraction, I go and read one of my favourite blogs & comment – at least then it feels like I am interacting & doing something positive, instead of just “absorbing noise”.

  • I need to get my routine together too. My husband tells me a lot that I look homeless when I’m working at home. It’s because of these sweatpants I like to wear. In fact, I’m wearing them now. They’re just so darn comfortable!

    Anyhow, I used to exercise first thing in the AM and it was awesome to start my days. I’ve gotten so far off track though. This is making me think about what changes I an make so I feel more centered and ready to attack my day.

    • skinny_dip

      Oh, I hear you. I’m pretty sure I spent most of 2012 looking borderline homeless while I worked from home. It’s amazing how just a small tweak to your routine can change your whole outlook. Even getting up a bit earlier, showering and walking to the coffee shop was enough to make me feel better about myself and my work. If I can kick my epic pyjama habit, I know that you can totally do it! 🙂

  • Scarlett Wonderland

    I love LOVE this post. I’ve been in a bit of a rut for a couple of months now and I really need to get myself together. I work from home too so I’m so guilty of wearing pjs to the office everyday! From Monday I’m going to make the change that you did (and try to get up earlier to get a workout in) and hopefully I’ll feel better. Very inspirational! x

    • skinny_dip

      Thanks Scarlett! I’m glad the post was helpful! Seriously, I am the worst when it comes to rocking my PJs in the day time – but, if I can do it, I KNOW you can do it! Go get ’em Tiger!! xox

  • Jen

    This is an awesome post and so inspirational! Thanks for posting Simone 🙂

    • skinny_dip

      Thanks Jen! I’m so glad you liked it. xox

  • Jewels

    I love this article! I do a LOT of my writing in pajamas and justify it by saying that I work a 7 to 70 and when I walk in the door and actually put on my Senior Editor and Writer hat that I have earned my comfortable clothes. That is true BUT I like taking my writing seriously enough to be out of my bed, dressed, and at my desk when I do it. Plus, when I’m killing my to do list in a great outfit and a little bit of makeup I feel so much more badass than I do with my hair in a side pony and PJs.

    It’s not about not liking PJ’s its about liking myself enough to not be a slob. Mind you I don’t own a single pair of sweatpants and would NEVER wear crap clothes outside my house (not even to the mailbox) so at least there’s that. Great article! 😀

    • mike

      … “while I’m wearing these bad boys ? ” …combine your leopard flannels AND roundhouse kicks to the face… ULTIMATE !!!

      • skinny_dip

        Haha, I love it! 🙂