I write a lot about running on this blog, but I’m going to let you in on a little secret….I don’t love running. When I think about what I do in a week, running makes up less than 10% of my weekly activity and in the words of my three year old son “it’s not my favorite”. What I do enjoy is a good challenge which on most days means strength and high intensity cardio…and lately boxing (which I will get into in one of the later posts). Over the next several weeks I am going to post a series on what I really spend my time doing…and its not running. The series will be broken into several parts including the journey thus far, the nutrition, the work/activity, tips, tricks and lessons learned and thoughts about what is next for 2018. As always, each post will include a summary of what I’m doing/have done and key lessons I’ve learned….so let’s jump in.
For those of you who have read my earlier blog posts, you are pretty familiar with what got me started on this fitness journey, but for the sake of any new readers I’ll do a brief recap. For 2016, I set a goal to run a 5k each month. I set this goal in December of 2015 when I was doing nothing…and I mean absolutely nothing. No exercise or really any effort at any physical activity. I wanted to be fit and healthy (who doesn’t) but my actions did nothing to support this desire. To get myself motivated towards this goal and to keep myself accountable, I decided to take it public. Once I professed my 2016 goal on Facebook….there was no turning back. I was not going to give up. There are a lot of strategies you can use to hold yourself accountable, and broadcasting to the masses is one of them.
Since my goal started in the winter, most of my weekday runs were on a treadmill at my work fitness center. This was fine for awhile and then I started to get seriously bored on that damn treadmill. One day, I decided to venture into a class that was offered at my gym to try something new and it pretty much changed my life. While I made the decision to take that class and each subsequent class and training session since, I credit a lot of what I have been able to do to the convenience of my work fitness center and the amazing instruction of our fitness center superhero Stephanie. She makes learning to build a healthier lifestyle enjoyable and attainable. I started taking her classes and haven’t looked back. She opened up a whole new world of health and fitness for me. Fast forward two years and 5 million burpees later, training and working out is the best part of my day. If I could, I would spend most my day training. The key for me and this lifestyle come from a few basic concepts that I have outlined below.
1.) Make it fun….i.e. enjoy the process. If you find working out a dread, find a way to keep it interesting. This may be working out with a friend and using it as a time to catch-up. This may be taking a Zumba class which is a seriously good cardio workout that doesn’t feel like you are working out. It may be doing strength training while listening to an audio book and using it as a time to “read” more books while building your strength. Find a crafty way to trick yourself. Personally, I think group fitness classes are a great way to start. I like the atmosphere of a group class, and a good instructor will explain modifications that can be performed to make the exercises harder or easier depending on where you are at.
2.) Hold yourself accountable, set goals and track progress. As I mentioned earlier I typically build accountability for myself by making my goals public. This is not for everyone but there are endless books on building good habits. To get you started, I recommend anything by Gretchen Rubin. Another key way to hold yourself accountable is to set measurable goals. My goals are always evolving with what I have going on in my life, but I’m always setting small goals and then tracking my progress.
3.) Make it convenient. This is a big one. I don’t want to gloss over the point I made earlier about having a fitness center at work. I realize that this is a huge luxury and that it isn’t easy for everyone to use their lunch hour to workout. What you can do to make it easier is to take out some of the guesswork. Plan your workouts for the week in advance so that you don’t even have to think about it. While you are at it, plan what you will do in each workout. Unless I am taking a class or have a training session, I always know exactly what I am going to do before I workout. Another tip to get you going, set out your clothes the night before so that you don’t have to fumble around in the dark looking for your socks. Take out the barriers preventing you from getting to that workout and you will find that it becomes less of a task and more of a habit.
4.) Finally, make small incremental changes to see sustainable results. I really believe in making small incremental changes rather than big bold sweeping changes. I was recently discussing an approach to start working out with a few colleagues at work and challenged them to consider starting small. Making small changes makes the process seem manageable and eventually these small changes become easy and then you layer on more small changes. These small changes get you closer and closer to your bigger goals. Small changes are where it is at and it has helped me sustain and maintain all of the positive changes that I have made.
5.) It’s a journey without a destination. What took me the longest to learn is that being fit is a journey with no end. What happens on the day you reach your ultimate fitness goal? You either start a new fitness journey or you stop…and I’m guessing that after all that work and effort that you aren’t going to stop.
Next time, we talk nutrition.