As of today there are 45 days left in 2019 and I just logged my 260th workout. It’s Sunday so I worshipped at the church of Zwift, riding 27 km in one hour in virtual London, England. Doing some basic math here that means I’ve got 40 workouts left and 45 days. Given that I also aspire to one day rest day a week, the math should work out perfectly.
I’ve often enjoyed having some sort of challenge through the holiday season to keep me focussed on exercise and not letting that be the thing that gives way in the face of all the extra socializing, shopping, hosting, wrapping, cooking excetera excetera. In the past I’ve done running streaks from American Thanksgiving through until New year’s short distances say 1 mile a day. My running days are over so this is probably a better focus for me anyway.
What will the next 40 workouts look like? My guess is we’ll be spending some extra time in the virtual cycling world of Zwift given a bit of extra flexibility around my work hours. I’m either walking or riding to work most days and doing some extra activity to make that count either yoga at home or planking. Sarah and I were talking this morning about making it out to the hot yoga studio in Guelph finally. And I’ll be sure to get some weight lifting in as well either with a personal trainer or on my own.
Tuesday this week, I had a super long day ahead of me, with really challenging work. Somehow, I got out of bed and went to a 6 am spinning class. (Then I might have been really annoying about it on FB).
I’m not a crack of dawn worker-outer — but something in me just knew that this class was a thing I would need for my day. And my day was hard, but I navigated it with a certain amount of ease.
That spin class was workout #304 for 2019.
Not that long ago, I wrote about hitting my 250th workout for 2019.” In that post, I reflected on how taking on the “217 in 2017″ challenge nearly three years ago had transformed my relationship with working out — and in fact in some ways, has actually transformed my identity. I used to be a person who worked out often, but there was a lot of negotiation and whinging about whether I really “felt like it” or not. More times than I can count, I got as far as putting on running gear but never getting out the door. (Christine wrote about this kind of exercise procrastination last week. It’s definitely a thing).
Somewhere in the past two years, I turned into a person who works out every day, pretty much, unless something seriously prevents me. I’m not sure exactly when or why it happened — in 2017, I had to stretch to hit my 217th workout on Christmas day. In 2018, I hit 218 by August, and kind of gritted my teeth to reach 300 before the end of the year (302 in total). This year, I sailed past 300 last weekend, and felt confident about setting a goal of 350 by the end of the year.
A casual observer might think that reaching for 350 workouts this year might be a slightly obsessive manifestation of my weird affinity for counting things. (For a very non-data-driven person, I take an unseemly satisfaction from hitting cumulative numbers of workouts, steps, kilometres ridden, streaks). But I had a realization last week that it’s something a lot different than that — working out in some way almost every day this year has had a pretty profound effect on my emotional landscape.
A couple of months ago, my business partner commented that I seemed so much more patient these days. And despite some intense work stress and considerable lashings of perimenopausal PMS and hormonal swings, I’m actually feeling an emotional buffer — dare I say emotional regulation — that I’ve sought most of my life. Since I was a small child, I’ve had a lot of anxiety and stress. (Picture poor little 7 year old me crying on the couch, clutching my stomach and freaking out my teenage babysitter, because we were about to move. Then multiply that for countless other experiences throughout my life). Most of my adult life I’ve had a tendency to impatience and irritability, with a fair bit of volatility at the worst points in my life. I’ve taken anti-depressants, run marathons, meditated, yoga’ed, and done a ton of “inner work,” as they say. All of those things have helped steady me — along with the magical seasoning of being past 50 — but I don’t know if I’ve ever felt as in balance as I do right now. Stressful stuff still happens — and I feel it — but I can hold it at arm’s length, breathe through it, detach from its power — in a way I never have before.
The 305.5 workouts I’ve done so far this year are a melange, ranging from a brisk 4 km walk or hour of restorative yoga to 7 hour bike rides and cross-fit classes. Turns out, for more emotionally regulated, balanced me, it’s not about intensity of any given episode of exercise, but about a steady stream of them. I don’t know exactly what brain/metabolic process is being triggered here, but it’s definitely a good thing.
This realization doesn’t mean I’m going to grimly trudge through a prescriptive roster of movement, for my own good. 95% of time, I fully enjoy whatever exercise I’m doing, once I’m doing it. It’s the starting to exercise part that has always been a source of avoidance and irritation. Somehow in the past three years, it’s stopped being optional — it’s just is a thing I do. This realization about the impact just reinforces that shift.
What about you? Can you actually feel the difference for your mental and emotional health of regular movement?
Fieldpoppy is Cate Creede, who lives and works out in Toronto.
I’m sure everyone who reads the blog knows that a bunch of us here are in an accountability group with the goal of working out 219 times in 2019.
And Sunday I met that goal. My 219th workout was a spin class as part of my cycle instructor training.
What counts as a workout for the purposes of the challenge? Whatever works for you. Some people are aiming for working out 219 days in 2019 for example. I count discrete chunks of intentional movement. Like Cate, I count 4 hour paddles as 1 and I count a 30 minute lunch hour exercise class as 1. I count 100 km bike rides as 1 and 10 km local commutes as 1. I figure it evens out in the end.
The one exception are my bike commutes to work. They’re too short. Just 4 km round trip. And they’re part of my baseline of physical activity. So I count them only if I also do something else. So I count a bike commute plus dog walk as one, a bike commute plus abs as one, etc. It’s all about motivation to do more.
I’ve written before about possibly shooting for 300. If I’ve already done 219 workouts I would need to do 81 more to make it to 300. There are 94 days left in the year. Is that manageable? Maybe. I’d get 13 off days roughly one rest day per week. Certainly it would be good motivation to see me through the dark days of November and the holiday busyness of December.
I think I will. Shooting for 300 workouts in 2019 is my new goal now. Wish me luck!
My practice still was not easy. My progress was slow. I continued to struggle with both mental and physical yoga demons. And I often despaired that my body was just too old now, too out of shape. I feared I was “over the hill” and would never get back what I had lost. But I kept showing up. I kept rolling out my mat every day, getting on it, and doing the practice.
Reading this opened up for me the possibility that the d.. d… d… disc-i-pline (this is such a hard word to say, much less do) of every day movement practice would become a part of me, a treat, a haven, a reward, a pleasure in itself.
This is the thing that hits me in the gut: the idea of committing to a daily something-or-other that never ENDS. That’s never DONE.
It feels like those really long staircases that you see in various places around the world.
Some people (who are these people?) look at all those stairs and think, “oh fun! I’m going to tackle them and get to the top!” When I look at a lot of stairs, I worry. I get anxious. I proactively feel tired. They don’t motivate me, energize me, mobilize me, inspire me. They just make me feel ashamed that (hypothetically, as I haven’t even taken one step yet) I will be:
to enjoy the (too far away to even imagine them) pleasures at the top.
I decided to do the 218 Challenges in 2018 because a bunch of the bloggers were doing it, and I wanted the support and the push to be more self-aware of my physical activity. I wrote about my process and finish (on Dec 30, 2018) here: 218 in 2018: Today’s the day! Sam wrote about her finish that year, too: 218 in 2018: Achievement unlocked with a week to spare! Cate’s post yesterday, Workout #250 for 2019, about her journey through challenges, spurred me on to write about how this year’s challenge is going for me.
This year, doing the 219 in 2019 challenge, I feel like I have the mental space to think about what life is like in the process of climbing all those stairs. Sometimes I do feel weak or scared or tired or slow (and usually sweaty, too). And I am doing it myself, for me alone.
The challenge, though, offers me another viewpoint on that staircase. Although I’m in charge of getting to the top myself, there are others walking on that same staircase, on their way up and down. I can:
keep going up with them
stop and take a few breaths
talk with others on the way up
pick up my pace
ask people on their way down how far it is to the top
ask for help
decide to stop and head back down
I like this way of thinking about challenges. I can go at my own pace, and when I need a hand, it’s there for the asking.
There’s another challenge I’m a part of– a September is for Yoga challenge, run by our blogger Christine. Like the 219 in 2019 challenge, we get to decide what counts as doing yoga that day, and we can post about it (or not) on our FB page. When we do post, Christine gives us a gold star. For whatever we post– successes, attempts, emoting, whatever– we get one. And who doesn’t love a gold star?
Back to my original fear about challenges: the daily practice, the commitment to doing something every day, engaging in a process that doesn’t end, but rather continues ad infinitum.
Turns out, I need help with follow-through, with maintaining consistency and continuity of process. I need help when life’s vicissitudes are visited on me through injury, overwork, family crisis, anxiety, etc. In those times I need support around adjusting practices, suspending them (to resume in changed ways later on), or persisting in them, being reminded that they are part of the solution, not the problem.
Challenges do that for me. At least these do. They help me do the physical activity I want, all by myself, with them, any day I want, for as long as I want.
Readers, what are you current views about challenges? Do you like them? Avoid them? What made them work for you? What made them not work for you? We’d really love to hear your stories.
Awhile back I posted about hitting 100 workouts en route to my goal of working out 219 times in 2019.
Now that 2019 is more than halfway over I thought I’d check in about my progress.
On July 9th I was at 142 workouts. So 219 seems very doable. At that pace I’d hit 270 workouts in 2019.
Checking in again on August 1. I’m at 176. That means I’ve worked out 25 times a month since January 1. If I keep this pace I’ll hit 300. Not sure if I want to aim for 300 though. Fall term is pretty busy for me and while I’ve been enjoying all the summer riding it won’t be that easy once shorter days are here. It’s a stretch goal for sure.
Maybe I’ll just aim for the biggest number I can that’s over 219 and see where I land
How do you feel about goals that are possibly too big? Motivational or too scary and off putting?
I’m trying to work out 219 times in 2019. Truth be told I’d like to work out 300 times in 2019 but I likely won’t make that. But today was a milestone either way. Today I hit 100. Yay!
Where does that out me? If keep exercising at this pace where will I be on the last day of 2019?
Let’s do some math: Today Thursday May 16, 2019 is …Day 136 of 365 days. After today there are 229 days remaining in this year. Or to put it differently 36.99% of the year has gone. Doing some quick back of the envelope math–as they say? but who says that anymore? who does that these days? Well, I did–that means by year’s end, working out at the current rate I’ll make it to 268 workouts in 2019. More than 219 but not quite 300. And that’s fine.
But back to today and my 100th workout. What did I do? I walked Cheddar with my neighbour Judy and her dog Cooper. It’s spring and the neighbours are outside again! And then I got on my Brompton and biked to my office. It’s sunny and warmish and I’m smiling!