221 in 2021 · fitness · motivation

Tracy hits 221 in 2021 and…stops tracking

Image description: overhead inside shot of a purple tulip, starburst formation with some sprinkles of pollen, blur of leaves in the background.

Last year a few of us, myself included, discovered that the pandemic changed the shape of our workout life so much that we hit last year’s 220 workouts in 2020 by early summer. For me, working from home eliminated the everyday movement I had taken for granted before stay-at-home orders and lockdowns were a thing. The pandemic meant that most movement had to be deliberate or not happen at all. For me, anyway, that meant lots more deliberate workouts and a lot less incidental movement. And so by mid-June last year I’d hit 220 and I blogged, “220 in 2020: goal achieved, now what? Hint: Keep going.”

This year I got there about two weeks sooner. And I do plan to keep going with my workout routine. But I’m no longer tracking in the group. For those who aren’t sure what I’m talking about, workout tracking groups like “221 in 2021” are online groups where people share with the group when they’ve worked out, with the annual goal creeping a little upward each year. So in 2018 people aimed for 218 workouts and in 2019 it was 219, last year 220, this year 221. You get the idea. The groups are just the right combination of support and (for some perhaps) competition to motivate people to stick to their workout routines.

For me this change from last year’s attitude to this year’s attitude is really an example of needing different things at different times, and being mindful to consider why I am doing something. What did being a member of the group do for me last year that it’s not doing for me now?

When I posted about meeting the goal last year I said, “the goal of being able to record a new workout often did motivate me to get moving.” I also said that I would continue… “not to accumulate a higher number (though I will, if I keep reporting in the group), but because it’s now a thing I do that is a positive part of my life. And recognizing that, it makes no sense to stop.”

This year, I feel almost the same way, that is, I will continue. It is a positive part of my life.

But I won’t keep counting or posting about it. While posting my “number” helped motivate me last year, this year it just felt tiresome. I have solidly internalized the habit of working out in some way daily, at least once, often more than once. I really don’t do it for anyone but myself. Perhaps that is selfish, in that it’s possible that for some people, seeing others “counting another workout” inspires them to workout too. But I have long been of the view that my workout life is one area where I do it for me and me alone. I’ve also long been of the view that tracking and counting isn’t something I love. It’s fine for a while, but (for me) it’s no way to live.

This could also be part of my more general orientation of late away from social media (FB specifically), where the tracking group was one of the only things that kept me going to FB on a daily basis. Sometimes I ask myself with respect to a thing that has become a habit, “what value is this bringing to my life?” I did this check-in with respect to FB not too long ago and the answer was “not much.” The community feeling that FB has always given me was great when it was a supplement to a full life of regular in-person connection, but its existence in my life as a poor copy for real connection has become clear to me during the pandemic. My real relationships do not take place on Facebook. My real sense of community doesn’t come from clicking into a virtual community. The relationships that give my life meaning these days come from one-on-ones with people who reach out or to whom I reach out. I realize this thought might be more existential than a post about why I don’t want to track my workouts to an online group anymore needs to be, but I’m sure it has contributed.

The long and short of it is that my enthusiasm for counting my workouts and posting them to the group has fizzled. I don’t care if anyone knows what number workout I’m on. And I myself no longer know (or care) what workout number I’m on. And while it’s great to see others feeling good about their activities, I don’t really need to know what number they’re on either. In keeping with my word-of-the-year, mindfulness, I know what I’m doing today. And today I’m working out in some form or other because that’s what I do now.

I understand that being a part of this type of group actually can and does add value for some people at some point in their lives. It can be motivating and supportive. It did so for me for two and a half years. And I know that if I decide that’s what I need again, the group will still be there (I haven’t quit; I’ve just stopped visiting).

Are you a member of a workout counting/check-in group and if so, what does it do for you?

6 thoughts on “Tracy hits 221 in 2021 and…stops tracking

  1. I’ve been thinking about the counting part and wondering too. But two things. First counting does motivate me to do some things I wouldn’t otherwise do. For example, I commuted by bike today and while I wouldn’t count that alone, I would count that and yoga as one. Second, I love seeing what others are up to. I don’t care what number they’re at but I love the range of physical activities that group members get up to. I often feel inspired to try a thing because others are trying out. Again, it’s not their number I care about, it’s the supportive community of active people doing a variety of stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I have found it to be a supportive community but after awhile it started to feel a bit hollow to me. I’m sure it’s just where I’m at in my life right now. The virtual world just isn’t cutting it at the moment.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. You’ll be missed Tracey!

    I still like the 221 in 2021 group because it’s supportive and motivating (I went from 112 workouts in 2019 to 155 and counting in 2021) and, like Sam, I like seeing what interesting movement others are doing.

    Hopefully, we’ll see you back next year (or whenever it serves you).

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Like you, Tracy, I have used (and continue to use) the 221 workouts in 2021 to motivate and support me in my movement. For me, daily deliberate movement is still not automatic. Seeing the movement the group members record is heartening and motivating for me. I’m at 110 or so now, and feel confident I’ll hit 221 in good time.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. You’re right on track and the group is motivating to you still. I get it. I have felt that way about it too. I wonder for me whether it also has something to do with the size of the group and no longer knowing most of the people. It’s great that it’s grown but it’s not the same as knowing everyone and feeling genuinely invested in their success rather than only more abstractly so.

      Liked by 1 person

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