My wife and I were talking tonight as she begins to workout a bit again as her health stabilizes. She shared a really interesting perspective that I wanted to blog about. She recounted when she was younger and worked out a lot, she kept adding to her routine to keep it interesting and challenging as she got in progressive better shape. The problem was that she started looking at 60+ minute workouts and that became daunting from a time-committment and started to feel like a chore. It became something she had to push herself to do, and make sacrifices to make work schedule-wise. Right now, she’s doing little things in small doses so she can fit them in, and they’re almost too short and simple to even begin to question doing – but they’re enough that she’s noticing the good feeling she’s getting as a result.
I told her about how I’d do 70 minutes of elliptical work every day before I got my masters (which is when we met), and it just worked for me, I didn’t think of it as a chore, didn’t question it, but did build my life around it (single, no kids, no real plans any given night after work, etc).
This is the key learning – it boils down to finding the right mix for you where it’s enough of a challenge to do something for your body, yet not so much that you really question doing it. Remember, Principle 3 is “don’t question it” – one way to avoid questioning it is to develop a routine that doesn’t even risk triggering the part of your brain that would question it.
That balance isn’t set in stone. It varies by person, by situation, by time of day/week/month/year/your life, and will vary based on the exercise in question. For some people, lifting will trigger an instant question, and for others, they can lift all day, but suggest a 5 minute run, and they start consciously or subconsciously building excuses to get out of it.
So, work at it, and try to figure out where your balancing point is. If you can find it, you’re much more likely to stick with your workout program and see results. That’s how you enlighten.your.body.