Simplicity in fitness: Tracy gets back to basics

Image description: 8 simple dead dry flowers against snow (minimalist photo in high key style, photo by T. Isaacs).

Contributing to the blog over the past 8 years has been a way for me to notice changes in my fitness routines, habits, and attitudes. When I first started blogging I felt that walking and yoga, which were the mainstays (really the “only”-stays) of my fitness life weren’t helping me develop the strength I felt I needed to take me into my fifties.

I added weight training and running. Within less than a year, developing an interest in triathlon, I added swimming and cycling. Soon, as I set a goal to do an Olympic distance triathlon by my 50th birthday, I let go of yoga because otherwise I couldn’t fit in all the training sessions required to develop strength and confidence in the swim-bike-run. I could only do so much in a week, and yoga went to the back-burner. But I missed it.

And so after I met my triathlon goals and then realized I really hated the bike and gave it up, I inadvertently made space in my week for yoga again. And I’m glad I did.

Last year when I was recovering from an injury and not running much at all, I really rolled things back. For many months, in fact, I was right back to yoga and walking. And yet the years of weight training and running in between added a quality of strength to both. I kept up the yoga with a daily practice that continued right through to June — a consistent home practice, the actual goal of the Iyengar yoga training that was the foundation of my yoga practice for more than a decade. I reintroduced running in the late spring 2020, having made a commitment to run or walk every day just to get outside for something allowable during the pandemic.

And now, with a new stay-at-home order, no desire to get back to the yoga studio any time soon (and it’s closed in any case), and a resistance to running that has snuck up on me over the past few weeks, I’m back to basics: yoga, weight training, and either a walk or run almost every day (but mostly a walk because as I said, I’m not feeling it when it comes to running).

The simplicity of this routine, regular, daily, achievable (well, I confess that I don’t always achieve my daily commitment to getting outside for a walk or a run) makes it work for me. I think one reason it’s working so well right now is that where I used to be outcome-oriented (I wanted to get faster, or leaner, or stronger, or more flexible), now I’m way more process-oriented. I have the things I plan to do, and if I do them I consider it a win. Simple. There is no super-charged intensity around this plan. It’s just a daily checklist of things that give my pandemic life a bit of structure. For me, that’s a comfort.

I have other things that punctuate my days: morning meditation, check-ins with friends, a daily gratitude list that I write to keep me aware of the glass half full (or even more than half full), kitten-related tasks and joys. And of course I have work, and my weekly movie nights with a friend who lives elsewhere (this is a major highlight!), and a bookclub with that same friend, where we read the same book at the same time, talk about it when we’re done, registrer each of our ratings of it, and move on to the next one on an ever-growing list (which you can find on goodreads if you’re interested).

It all feels very basic and grounding. In the past I’ve blogged about the motivating dimension of goals (see “The Thrill of Signing up for Scary Goals”). But I’ve really come to grasp that, for me, different times call for different measures. And I’m appreciating the lack of intensity and absence of “outcome” goals. Right, simplicity and predictability in my fitness life feels exactly right.

What’s right for you these days?

5 thoughts on “Simplicity in fitness: Tracy gets back to basics

  1. Love this and completely agree about the different times, different modes of working out. Last summer, for the first time in years, I didn’t ride very fast or very far, outside. I was scared of crashing and needing medical services. I know that wasn’t likely, but still. It didn’t feel like the time for riding far from home. There was nowhere to stop for coffee, few open bathrooms. I could’ve managed but still. It wasn’t really about the world. As you say, I just wasn’t feeling it. These days I’m riding far and fast virtually. Loving it. But it’s as much about mental health as anything. After sitting all day it feels so good to move hard, to really sweat. I’m tired after and I sleep well. Riding and racing in the evening is right for me, right now. Will I keep it up post pandemic? We’ll see. But it feels right now.

    1. Maybe this is a theme we can pick up in our new project — the “different times, different modes, different needs, different moods, different routines and intensity feeling right.”

  2. I am using the pandemic times to explore new things. Most are dance related, and free, found as random things that pop up in my Facebook feed. There is no particular rhythm aside from powwow workouts, which tend to be offered on Thursdays (but not every week). My grounding comes from weekly ballet classes, and I have been trying to do daily yoga, something that used to be just occasional for me.

  3. This is a great post and really speaks to my experience over the past years. And especially during the pandemic. Back to basics means for me right now: coming to terms with my mental health issues as they are now (through meditation, therapy, acupuncture and medication); slowing down and experiencing what it’s like to include movement in a particular day, and not include it in another; and, in the space that slowing down and breathing creates, finding the moments of pleasure in movement (or not) when it’s happening. It’s not fun, but there’s a satisfaction in dealing with the basics. Your post speaks in solidarity with that. Thank you.

  4. The shift takes only one second for me. I can feel so bad to be far of my goals and it seems unattainable and once I shift my thoughts focusing more on the process which is for example do and enjoy what I can do NOW, it makes the whole difference and really makes me feel good. Once again the secret is just to be focused on the present… the outcomes will come by themselves at the right time for us to receive them. And so cool that you have a friend to keep up about reading and movies!! So motivating. Hope I had one too. Best to all ! 🙂

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