Ugh. I know, right? Another list of amped-up workout-plans you’ll never stick to...
That’s not what this is. I’m not a trainer (but I know a great one). I’m not going to tell you how you should work-out.
I’m going to show you how to want to work-out. How to make activity fit in your daily life.
Fitness is health, and health matters above all else in this world. I’m not an Olympian, and if you’re reading this, I bet you’re not either. But that doesn’t stop me from sweating every day and feeling better for it.
This is how I make it work:
Something is Better Than Nothing
I’ve heard it all before: “All or nothing;” “Give 110 per cent;” “No pain, no gain.” Honestly—these idioms are idiotic. Even forgetting the oxymoronic and logic problems therein, hardcore workout slogans teach the fitness-newbie that if you’re not fully dedicated, you may as well give up. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Here’s a slogan that matters: "Something is always better than nothing." Even if all I can fit-in is 10 pushups right before bed, I do them. Sometimes I know ahead of time I won't get a free hour—so squeeze in some squats, spread throughout the day in groups of 10. Maybe it’s a full-on hour-long run? Then I've really earned my ice cream! For the rest of of the time—anything... even the slightest amount... is always better than nothing. Every movement counts if you make it count.
Which leads us to...
Keep the Regimen Real-World
Failing to maintain a fitness plan can have devastating effects on my state-of-mind. In the past, I’ve made a goal to jog six kilometres every day. Then one day I don’t do it—and it’s suddenly tempting to throw away the whole plan as unattainable. (Same goes for a new meal plan—one trip to A&W and it’s like screw it.)
That’s why it’s important to keep it real-world. I recognize my limitations and likely interruptions and I make a minimum goal that I can maintain long-term. The keyword here is “minimum.” I plan for 20 minutes of daily sweating. But I’ll keep it going to 60 minutes or more, whenever time allows. And I know that my Saturday hikes and paddles also count—even when it’s “just for fun.” Keeping a positive attitude is vital to fitness and meeting my reasonable goals on a daily basis has me beaming with positivity.
Also, I forgive my transgressions. If I fail to meet my goal one day, for whatever reason, I simply accept there is nothing I can do to change that. I remember tip #1—maybe I'll try to do some quick pushups or a a set of planks—and then I start again the next day.
Measure Yourself (Properly)
I’m not talking about weight loss, or taking a tape to your belly to see how many inches you dropped. I’m talking about measuring yourself by how you feel.
Do I feel stronger? Do I have more energy? Am I sleeping better? (This is a big one for me.) Has my mood changed for the better? (This one is for my wife.)
These factors are way more important than what’s on the scale. In fact, frequent weigh-ins and tape-measure-sessions are far more likely to damage self-esteem than boost it. And if I do see a massive weight-loss right out of the gate, it’s probably more indicative of an unhealthy or unsustainable diet than any type of long-term lifestyle change. Fitness is health and vice-versa. So if I feel healthier, I'm getting fitter.
I hate burpees. So I just don’t do them. End of story. I know they’re the “perfect exercise.” But there are a lot of exercises that workout your whole body. And I’m not going to be miserable. I like to jog, do pull-ups, push-ups and train with weights. I also like to hike, cycle and swim. That’s for me.
Other people might hate jogging. Or despise the gym. My wife loves workout classes; I couldn’t be less interested. Find an activity that you enjoy doing and that keeps you active. Indoor climbing? Birdwatching? Skateboarding? When fitness becomes your hobby, your body benefits.
Consider the Afterglow
I started this list by damning a few classic phrases. So I’m going to end it by espousing another: “No one ever said: ‘I really regret going to the gym today.’” I know—stuff like this is super annoying. What makes it annoying is that it’s true. However, this “afterglow” can come in many different forms.
I sleep better on days that I go for a jog. Sometimes, that’s my only motivation. I can sit on my couch into the evening and think of reasons not to jog, justifying how my lunchtime walk counted as my “20 minutes.” Then I imagine myself later... as the clock ticks past midnight and I’m tossing and turning, wide awake and full of regret. That gets me into running shoes.
My afterglow is falling sleep on the couch,
exhausted in the best possible way.
Fitness For Hikers
The Ultimate Real-World Plan For Hiking Fitness