Today is a major milestone for me – I’ve worked out every day for the last 600 days. I thought I would share a bit about why I am doing this, what I consider to be a workout, and how this has improved things for me.
I am a person who responds well to habits. When I can integrate a task into my every day flow, I can stick to it. But intermittent activities are harder for me to keep it going. When I started exercising regularly a few years ago, it was often hard for me to keep it up. I would skip a few days, telling myself I didn’t have time or energy or whatever, and that I would do more “tomorrow”. Then when tomorrow came, my motivation was low because my long workout seemed overwhelming.
I’m not sure when it came to me, but at some point I decided that perhaps I was doing things wrong. I decided to start working out every day, at least 10 minutes a day. If I felt like doing more, I would, but no matter what I would commit to that 10 minutes.
There is no way to convince yourself you can’t find 10 minutes in a day to exercise.
You might be thinking: but you can’t lose any weight exercising only 10 minutes a day. And you are right. So what’s the point? Remember that 10 minutes is just a minimum. The goal is really about establishing a habit. Also, even if I’m not losing weight, I’m boosting my metabolism. I’m increasing flexibility. And reducing stress.
So, what do I consider to be a “workout”? I’ve decided to only count things that I wouldn’t already be doing. So even though I walk outside with my mom twice a week, I don’t count that. But it doesn’t have to be intensive every time.
The best workouts for me are low friction. It has to be so easy to start that it requires very little set-up. I used to ride bicycle for my workouts, and I still do occasionally, but riding bike has too much friction for a regular workout. (I have to check the tires on the bike, change my clothes, put on my cleats, helmet, etc.) I’d have the same problem if I was trying to workout in a gym. Too much preparation and additional time.
So a better approach for me has been workout videos. I have a variety of DVDs and instant exercise videos on Amazon. They range in length from 10 minutes to around an hour, and they include a variety of workout types: pilates, yoga, strength training, aerobic, etc. I try to mix it up so that I’m not doing the same routines every day. If I feel lousy, I’ll do some very basic yoga poses or perhaps some simple pilates. If I feel good, I’ll do aerobics or something that pushes me more. For example, today I did 30 minutes of aerobics, and 10 minutes of yoga.
And I’ve constantly increased the minimum time. When I started, the minimum workout time was 10 minutes. These days, my minimum is 30 minutes. I’ve done that for 328 days in a row!
Tracking what I’m doing really helps. I have a spreadsheet where I log my daily workout. I note the amount of time I worked out, which workouts I accomplished, if they involved weights or a distance I include those stats too. I also write my current days-in-a-row numbers on the white board in my office. I makes me happy to see those numbers go up every day.
These days my average monthly workout length is 40 minutes. All by just starting with a commitment to do 10 minutes a day.
This may not work for you. Some people like the flexibility of workouts on a different days. Others won’t like the types of workouts that are low friction. And for others, if your focus is initially on weight loss instead of feeling better, this may not be a good fit. But for me, this has helped me to keep my metabolism up, my weight down, and I feel more flexible and relaxed.