When I began my lifestyle change, I recognized that exercise had to be an integral part of my life. Though I knew from past experience that I couldn’t rely solely on exercise to lose weight, I realized that to live a healthier life, exercise had to become a regular activity. To be sure I didn’t overwhelm myself when I began my lifestyle change, I waited a few months to integrate that part of my plan.
A few years after I achieved a healthy weight, I began to feel oppressed by my exercise commitment, driven by the fear of gaining back unwanted pounds. A number of big things had changed in my life–I finished graduate school, moved 650 miles away, started teaching full time, met Michael and got married, and got some awesome dogs. Suddenly, I had a whole lot more commitments than living alone, basking in the last days of the intellectual indulgence of writing a dissertation and teaching just two classes.
Eventually I reconsidered the role of exercise in my life. I didn’t want to feel trapped by my self-imposed obligation of walking 5 miles a day, 5 days a week, especially because where I was living wasn’t a great place to walk, like the Rails-to-Trails path just outside my backdoor in Connecticut. I tried a stationary bike for a while (pretty boring), got an elliptical trainer (the repetitive motion was a killer), and tried a treadmill (much less interesting than walking outside).
I love hiking and go every chance I get when nature cooperates. I also really enjoy walking, which I regularly do. Still, I needed something that gave me a good cardiovascular workout and helped to strengthen what I expect are the weakest core muscles in the world, but was interesting, I could do at home, and didn’t take too long.
Enter: The (Sort of) 7 Minute Workout
It was about the same time that the 7 Minute Workout became popular. I downloaded it onto my iPad, something similar to this, and then tailored it to what I could and couldn’t really do. Even if my life depended on it, I couldn’t do push-ups to save my life and lunges make my knees ache.
This program provided a really good starting place for me to do some interesting activities to make me sweat, burn some adrenaline, and get my whole body moving instead of just the repetitive motion produced by equipment. I knew that if I forced myself to do some of these activities, I just wouldn’t do the program. Instead, I switched out some stuff, added others, and repeat or increase the duration of many of them so that I exercise for about 30 or 40 minutes per session.
If you’re looking for a new activity to mix things up, try the 7 Minute Workout and change it up if it’ll make you want to do it–I actually really enjoy doing it. I actually like doing the running It’s taken ages, but I’m finally getting better at doing a squat. And I love the challenge of planks and triceps dips, even though I feel like I’m going to collapse by the end. I even–okay, only occasionally…–work on the ab crunches and push-ups. I try to make sure I lift some weights at the end of each session, but I’m having a tough time committing to that. More on that challenge in another post…