Create a sustainable exercise routine
I'm not the most physical person in the world, so I knew this one was going to be really tough: I wanted to establish a sustainable exercise routine. My goal was to gain some general strength, as I found out I lacked the stamina to play a full round of golf.
I decided to do a daily seven minute workout, every morning, right after getting up.
- the seven minute workout offers a strict schedule, so no need to create a schedule.
- it is only seven minutes a day, so there are no excuses.
- you don't need any equipment
I planned to exercise in the morning because I'm generally too tired in the evening. I also thought that it would lift me up and set me in a good mood for the day. Getting up is also a good trigger to form a habit.
My exercise calender
I tracked my exercises with TapLog, a customizable Quantified Self app for smartphones. It felt good to log the exercises in the app, and look back on a list of successful workouts.
As you can see in the calendar above, the first week just flew by, and I never missed a workout. I felt great and proud I managed to exercise every day. Somehow I felt I deserved a break on Sunday - this was a stupid thing to do. Suddenly, exercising on Monday was hard, and I started to employ means of making me do the exercise, one thing that helped was focusing on showing up: Whenever I started the timer, I also finished the workout. I still took the next Sunday off, and my routine slowly deteriorated. In weeks 3 and 4, I convinced myself that Saturdays are optional as well. I managed to get back to 6 workouts per week during weeks 5 and 6, but it all fell apart after week 7.
Too boring, too hard, too lenient
I underestimated that doing the same exercises every day can become boring really fast - I would have profited from a larger variety. There were also some exercises that I felt were too hard - I should have replaced them with others that are less strenuous. I'm not sure if doing the exercises in the morning was a good idea, whenever I didn't feel like exercising I tended to stay in bed longer and get in a bad mood. I also allowed myself to break the chain after only seven wins - I should have known better and avoided goal erosion, or I should have made this a rule from the start.
I'm quite content with the first six weeks. I felt I was getting stronger, I doubled the amount of push-ups I can do (still a laughably low number). This timer was also really helpful - the pauses are really short and there's no time to dwell in discomfort. You also know when you're done.
I will revisit this experiment with some variations
- exercise in the evening, and create a dedicated time slot
- exercise on a few days a week, but regularly
- a less strenuous, but longer and varied workout
Despite the initial failure I'm optimistic it will work better!