I started exercising in college and have been a pretty constant exerciser in the 20+ years since then. The times in my life when I don’t exercise have been the times in my life I’ve had trouble controlling depression, so I keep exercising to help keep my mental health on track.
Over the years my exercise routines have varied wildly. Here’s a list of things I’ve done: running, swimming, walking, biking, weight lifting, ballroom dance, yoga, parkour class, hiking, functional fitness, pilates, tap dance, Scandinavian dance, square dance.
In the past, I’ve found that I do well when I have a “thing” to work toward. Often, after the “thing” is over, I lose all interest in the activity. Example: I’ve walked a marathon, which I might do again at some point, but the training takes a lot of time and I don’t really want to give up that much time at this point in my life. Further example: I’ve completed a sprint distance triathlon. It was fun (except the part when the running part happened and it seemed like nearly everyone passed me). Once it was done, I made a bit of a stab at training for another one, but wandered away from that. I also signed up for a progressive run series (started at 5K, continued on through 8K, 10K, 15K and half marathon.) That one I needed more time to train past the 10K level and didn’t complete the last two races. A few years ago, I signed up for a 5K run series. I completed that, and wasn’t interested in signing up for the next year’s iteration.
Lately though, exercise has consisted of doing things I really enjoy doing. This has resulted in my continual participation. I’m walking into 100 days feeling two ways: like my exercise is at a very healthy level and I don’t need more; and also like it’s missing a couple of key things that I want to add, but can’t figure out where.
Here’s what happens with exercise now:
Swimming. I freaking love to swim. The water is one of the places my body feels at home. It’s also the only sport I’m actually good at. Right now I aim for three swimming sessions a week and probably average 2.66. I swim on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings from 6:30-7:10 or 7:20 depending on the length of the workout.
Tap dance. I’m in my third year of tap class and have graduated to the intermediate level. I also really love tap class. It’s crazy hard, but so fun, I don’t mind. Tap happens on Tuesday from 6-7pm.
Square dance. This is my first year of square dancing. Much like tap dance, I love it. It would probably be classified as an easy workout. I square dance on Wednesdays from 7-9pm. However, this is a lesson format, so I would guess I only spend about 30 minutes of actual active time during those two hours. For My 100 Days, square dancing will not have a lot of participation because my club goes dark during the summer.
Hiking. The boyfriend and I had a hiking vacation planned last summer and so went on hikes to train. Then we kept going on hikes after we got back, so hiking seems to be a thing. I’m not very good at hiking, but I like to go for drives. Matt does not like to go for drives, so his job is to read from the read-aloud books while I drive to the hiking destination. We theoretically go hiking every other Sunday, but it probably averages out to about .75 times per month. Our hikes are anywhere from an hour to three hours in length.
Walking. Walking happens as part of my day. I have a 7 minute walk to/from the train every day. On Tuesdays and Thursdays I get off the train early and take a 25 minute walk to work. Sometimes I walk as part of work, like when I drop off a deposit at the bank. That’s a 30-minute round trip walk. I also tend to walk to the grocery store and the library.
Overall, I easily hit the recommended 30 minutes of moderate activity daily and also meet the 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week.
There are couple things missing from my life: strength training and yoga.
I’ve gotten very clear about what I want from strength training: no excessive soreness. I’ve done strength training programs in the past that have resulted in it being difficult for me to walk, sit, and stand. I do not enjoy this and I’m looking to avoid it. That said, I know it’s important to do strength training and I want to maintain my muscle mass as I get older. But what to do? I don’t want to add two more mornings at the gym for strength training on the machines. I’ve done that and am bored with it. I don’t want to take a class, as my exercise budget is maxed out, and also classes tend to result in too sore to do anything. The place where I swim has classes, but I don’t feel as though I can squish another class into my schedule. I have a quasi-plan to do some of the workouts in the book Bodyweight Workouts for Men. (I got that book because all the women’s strength training books tend to trend toward weight loss, and that is dangerous territory for me.) When will I do these workouts? My quasi-plan includes me doing them after work, but that tends to be a plan destined to fail. Part of My 100 Days is figuring out if I can include strength training workouts.
Yoga. I really love yoga. In a perfect world I would start my day with either swimming or yoga and then also take a dance class in the evening. But I don’t live in a perfect world and certainly not with my current yoga situation. I can’t find a yoga class that works for me. None of the studios near me have yoga at exactly the right time for me. Not to mention if they did, the classes would cost money, which I don’t have in the budget. It’s very frustrating. After searching in vain for a 6am or 7am Saturday yoga class near me, I gave up and turned to YouTube. My plan is to do a 30-minute YouTube yoga video every Saturday morning to start my day.
So far we’ve covered things I love and currently do, things I love and want to do and that leaves one other exercise thing: running. My Facebook relationship status with running would be “it’s complicated.” As mentioned before, running has been involved in a lot of things that I have discarded once they were done. I’m not very good at it. I’m very slow, I feel very self-conscious while doing it, and that means I really only can go for a run when it is very early in the morning. For most of the year I’m running in the dark, which often leads to me tripping and falling, or spraining ankles. Running is something I stop doing a lot, so I never feel like I’m making much progress. I often have to convince myself to go for a run, partially due to the above baggage, partially because the weather is often crappy and my warm bed has more allure than going out in the elements to do something I’m not good at.
And yet, I keep circling back to it. I can’t figure out if I like it, baggage and all, or if there is just a general pressure from the exercising part of society that is biased toward running. The thing I like about it is that I can exhaust myself in very little amount of time. Because it’s hard for me, I often feel like I get a great workout from 15 minutes of running, or even run/walking. I never can get myself to walk fast enough to feel that same way, even with double the amount of time. And lately I feel like I’ve a little too gasp-y going up stairs. So I’m leaning in the run/walk direction. I have vague plans to run on Sunday mornings when we aren’t hiking. We shall see what happens with those vague plans.
Standing desk. I have one at work. I haven’t been standing very much lately. I walk in and think, “I’m too tired.” Although I’m mostly not too tired. I would like to at least start every day standing.
Here’s what I won’t do for the duration of this project. I won’t buy a fit-bit or other tracking device, and I won’t track actual minutes exercised. These tracking things tend to set me off on a very bad path. Instead, I will have a vague framework in my head, and take things day by day.
So that’s where I am with exercise.