Sometimes we can really surprise our selves if we simply try.
Today I completed my 365th day of exercise. That is, I’ve done some form of exercise or work out for the last 365 days. If you’d asked me before at any time in my life if I could have reached today’s goal, I probably would have laughed and said, “There’s no way that will ever happen.” But it did.
How I got here
A year ago, I needed a change, and a supportive confidant said, “K what I think you really need to do is get outside and exercise. You need to take time for yourself each day.” I was so focused on achieving my career goals and ensuring that everyone else was taken care of, that I was forgetting to appreciate and take care of myself. That left me feeling unfit and candidly at times, unhappy. I am so grateful for this “intervention” if you will. That afternoon truly altered my life… for the better.
It Starts with 1 Step
When I started out year ago, it began with a 15 minute walk around the block. That’s all I felt I had time for and all I felt that I could accomplish. After a few days, the 15 mins felt too easy or a cop-out, so I walked for a longer period of time – about 20-30 minutes. I kept saying to myself, I want to promise to do this at least 3 times a week, but I also know that it will take about 21 days to form a habit* and I know if I don’t, I’ll just make excuses and quit after a few days, so I should just keep going until I can’t. Well sometimes I can get stubborn and after about 10 days straight I said, I’m going to go for that 21 days straight and eventually that turned into a goal of 30 days.
*I’d read this 21-days plan several years ago, thought no there are many articles now that refute that belief. Still it was a goal to work towards at the time so I went with that.
Candidly, the first 60 days were less challenging that I’d thought, and into the next month, I’d decided to go for 100 days straight. When I hit 100, I texted several friends and got really wonderful responses, so I decided to keep going, setting mile stones of 150, then 200, then 250 and if I could get 250, why not another 100/or a year.
Note, this was NOT to say that in any way, shape or form, any of my goals were easy to accomplish. I am also NOT a lover of exercise, not even after 365 days. It’s still challenging to make myself do it every day. And believe me, I sometimes have to be a cruel taskmaster to get myself motivated or to even simply complete the workout. However, it really all started with that 1 step. I just kept putting that one foot in front of the other for as long as I could and for as often as I could.
Have a Goal in Mind
One of the promises I made early on was that while I did want to lose weight, ultimately I simply wanted to just feel better, so I promised not to get on a scale. For me I knew that if I weighed myself that I would become too preoccupied with the numbers on the scale and I didn’t want that. I’m proud to say that I have yet to get on a scale, (aside from two doctor’s visits, where I refused to look at the scale or let the nurse to share the number with me). I have used a tape measured however. I take measurements periodically, typically around a milestone, e.g., 100 days, 250 days etc. The first measurement was 67 days in and I do have some regrets that I didn’t do it day one, but again when I started out it wasn’t go to for a year. My real goal was to just to get out there and to start appreciating myself; to almost say to myself that I deserved a happier and healthier life.
I am happy to say that I have lost weight and I can tell by how my clothes fit and by the reactions of others who haven’t seen me in a little while. That’s been really nice perk. It hasn’t been an easy journey. As I said at times I have to be the evil task-master who says, “NO! You cannot go out until you’ve exercised!” I’ve also had days where it’s felt like I cannot get through a workout – and therefore have only been able to accomplish a 15 minute walk or 20 minutes of exercise, and that’s OK. For me, it’s still getting active for that amount of time that I would have otherwise spent sitting in front of the TV or my computer.
How I Did It
You don’t have to have a lot of money to get fit. Really. I did not spend more than $100 this entire year on this goal.
I started by walking – which is free. I did this for at least the first six months. I also took advantage of free trial periods of Yoga – which I still dislike and will NEVER do again, or a Barre class here and there. A summer yard sale yielded a few $1 exercise DVDs that really made a difference too. I also utilized my local library – again free – and borrowed tapes to mix it up and keep it fresh. The most money I spent was actually on some workout shorts and tights, and none of those were more than $25 at TJ Maxx and Marshalls.
My 3 Favs:
Jillian Michael’s 30-Day Shred By far my favorite and it really “shred” the pounds in the last several months. Plus the workouts are only 25 mins or 30 if you do both the warm up and cool down. I find the workouts challenging and everyone has 25 mins. Jillian’s not for everyone, but she did work for me – even when I yelled “at” her on the DVD!
Shape: Ultimate Bikini Body Workout Again another 20 mins (Are you seeing a trend?), and they have 10 minute workouts that I found challenging, but not impossible.
Barre3 Now this is a studio and the classes are $23 each where I live. I bought 3 for $45 as a new client intro and candidly haven’t used all of them yet. The first class I tried was free and sometimes they offer free classes. Plus they have a lot of promos. In the fall, my local studio offered a free class with a donation (food) to the local food pantry. I also prefer Barre3 to other Barre programs. Barre in general, consists of a mix stretching, moves that are similar to ballet and other general exercise, like planks, push-ups and crunches. As I took ballet when I was younger, I’ve really enjoyed these classes.
Tip – Work out first thing. It lessens the ability to make excuses later in the day on why you “cannot” exercise. (e.g., my favorite show is on. I have to go out with my friends.) Get up and Get it Done was my motto. The more I work out in the am, the better I also feel during the day. I’ve already accomplished something before going to work.
Tip – Share your goals and accomplishments. I found that by sharing my goals that I was accountable to someone else, or at least that’s how I approached it. I also shared milestones with friends and family. They rooted for me, which kept me motivated and on track when I needed it most.
I know this isn’t my usual appreciation post, but it does involve my appreciation of self. I really never thought I could mentally accomplish this goal, or that my body would be able to physically accomplish it. I also know that this journey has made a difference in the balance that I bring to my life, and that if I set my mind too it, I can accomplish anything. And not to worry, I will be writing my confidant a heartfelt thank you note for what he did for me. (I’d just wanted to make sure I got there first!)
I’d be happy to share more details, or tips that helped me. I also know that working out every day is NOT something that should be taken lightly. It’s not something I’d recommend for everyone to try. Not everyone’s body can handle it and that most people really need to rest in between workouts, so this is not the norm. It worked for me at this time in my life.
Next Up… My next goal is to make it through another/the next 83 days until Memorial Day. In these next 80+ days, I’m going to try to improve upon what I eat. I haven’t done that as well as I could have this past year and am curious to see the results when I’m eating better while exercising! Here’s hoping for great results, but it’s OK if I miss here or there. As long as I do my best, is all that matters to me.