A Year of Small Experiments: Exercise
As I fell into consistent habits with my sleep schedule and protected morning time as well as strict adherence to the Whole30 rules, I realized my energy levels were stabilizing and I felt really good, mentally and physically, throughout the day. I knew through observation, reading, and past experience that regular exercise would only enhance my already good feelings.
March would be the month to focus on exercise and make that part of my schedule into habit.
I have never been intensely committed to exercise. I understand the importance and benefits; I just didn't grow up in a family that emphasized or prioritized athletic endeavors. I took dance classes for years growing up, and I loved them, so I certainly participated in physical activity, but it was a twice a week kind of activity. It wasn't competition; it was physical but not athletic; it was about creativity; it was always for fun.
Once when I was in middle school I announced to my family that I wanted to start running, and I was specifically discouraged. It's bad for your knees. It's probably not the right fit for you. I listened to those voices; I took it personally; I never ran while I was a student.
The point is that I landed in college and post-college employment with no commitment to exercise. I also landed in a family of in-laws with deep, lifelong commitments to exercise. Because of the influence of my in-laws and the basic knowledge that exercise is important for good health, I began dabbling in different activities: spin classes, body pump classes, rock climbing, running 101/5k training, yoga, hours on the elliptical, P90x, road biking.
So what have I most enjoyed, and what will be most sustainable in this season of my life?
Spin classes? Ish, maybe down the road.
Body Pump? I adored it, but then it caused all sorts of shoulder problems for me. As I did Whole30, I unintentionally lost some weight and began to feel like I needed to combat that with strength training and muscle development. I'd need to find another way that didn't aggravate my shoulder.
Rock climbing? No, thank you. That one year membership in 2010 was enough to last my lifetime.
Running? 5k training? Yes, to both. Running 101 was an 8-week class that taught me the basics of good running form and endurance development; it made me truly enjoy running. I took that class in the fall of 2013, and in the years since I've come back to running in each of the warm seasons and have done a couple of 5ks. So running is one I'm sticking with.
Yoga? Yes. I've been drawn to it over and over again, but I've never made a consistent effort, which I've mostly blamed on less than ideal class times.
Elliptical? Hard no.
P90x? Maybe, just not as the place to get started.
Road biking? Um...in the summer when the weather's perfect and my bike is tuned up and I've developed some endurance and a couple of spin classes are checked off my list and...
After a little consideration of the above activities and working out the logistics alongside my husband's own exercise schedule and work demands, here's what I landed on:
Monday & Tuesday: walk/run intervals on the treadmill + YouTube yoga
Wednesday & Friday: 5:45am yoga class at the gym
Thursday: youtube yoga + strength training session
Weekend: youtube yoga
Everything I had planned for the week (except that strength training session) would happen before my daughter wakes up in the morning, which I knew was crucial for my success in maintaining a schedule.
At the end of this focused month, here's what I can offer. Some weeks were good, other weeks were better, and none were a total failure. I did some amount of yoga every day. Scheduling challenges prevented me from attending a few yoga classes at the gym, but mostly I attended those and really looked forward to them. My treadmill running was variable, but most of the time when that was on the schedule I at least spent some time walking.
As the months have passed since March, warm weather has allowed me to take running outside; I've stuck with the at-home yoga and strength training session; and summer has meant that life in general has been active.
With the physical practices of sleep schedule, eating priorities, and exercise in place, it was time to move into some more creative endeavors.
Check out the other posts in this series: A Year of Small Experiments