I’m a serial overcommitter. I’ve always been bad at not having some sort of side project going – at least one. But last year, I really overstretched, and it showed. Having a baby/toddler at home, going back to work full-time, and doing an MBA on the side would have been difficult in normal times. Add a pandemic, and it became a recipe for constant exhaustion. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not trying to glorify “being busy” (quite the contrary)! I’m not burnt out either, not in the true sense of the word. I’ve sailed close to it a few times over the last year and a half though – too close for comfort.
As a result of my overcommitment, I didn’t exercise nearly as much as I wanted. In fairness, some other factors also conspired against me achieving my “221 in 2021” goal – the pools were closed until May due to Covid, I caught a few of my son’s daycare colds, etc. I made it to just over 160 and was honestly a bit disappointed with myself. But I’m trying to take a page out of Christine’s book and go easy on myself this year (see also: here. Christine is really killing it!).
My new year’s resolution this year is to try undercommitting. I’m nearly done with my MBA – I just need to finalise my thesis/field project, which is nearly finished, and take a few more online lectures. The only things I want to do more of this year are reading (which also fell by the wayside last year, mostly because I’d normally fall asleep after a couple of pages) and exercising. I’ve joined 222 in 2022 and we’ll see how I do this year. Here’s to hoping the pools stay open, but I also want to bike, run and hike a lot, which will be easier as the days get longer and my weekends free up from MBA coursework. A bit of yoga every once in a while would be nice too, but what did we say about overcommitting?
How about you – are any of you trying to commit less this year? And how are you planning to do that? Let me know! I’ll keep you posted how it’s going for me (I’ll confess I was very close to making a monthly check-in commitment on this here blog. But I won’t. Ha!).
It’s December 10, 2021. 21 days left in the month and year. There’s a lot on my schedule:
grade a whole lot of papers and logic exams;
carefully attend end-of-year gatherings with friends and their dogs and cats;
assess holiday gift situation and purchase or make and wrap gifts;
drive a long way to see my family for the holidays;
do 10 more workouts to complete my 221 workouts in 2021.
I’ll say this, which is a surprise to no one who’s met me: I’m a just-in-time delivery gal. I tend to get things done, but they’re often done at the last minute. This pattern has carried through to my posted workouts in the Facebook group I’ve been a part of for several years. The methods I’ve used to count workouts have varied– some years I count everything done in one day as one, and other years specific workouts get to count on their own (e.g. swimming and cycling this year).
But no matter the details of my life, physical health, or schedule, I tend to slide into mid-December with a bunch of workouts left to do. So here I am, on December 10, 2021, with 10 workouts to go.
Is this a bad thing? No, not at all. I’m realizing: this is my pattern. I’ve got the data to show it. Another thing I’m realizing: I kind of like the relatively modest-to-me number of workouts. It feels doable. It’s been doable. I have do-ed it! I’m doing it this year.
A bunch of folks on the 221 in 2021 group have done way more than 221 workouts by now. Many are in the 300-range, and some have broken 400. I say, yay FB workout folks!
What I’m seeing in my workout patterns over the years is a series of speed-ups and slowdowns in my physical activity. They’re caused by a bunch of life events. Vacations tend to increase my workout logging, and illness or bad weather slow it down. I also have noticed that I’ve adjusted what counts as a workout in accordance with those events, lumping a days’ worth of fun under one workout sometimes, and other times, counting 10 minutes of stretching on my yoga mat as a workout.
This seems fine to me. I know I’ve not been consistent over the year in terms of criteria for workouts. But what counts as a workout isn’t consistent FOR ME in any given year. Things happen, and I like having the power to adjust what counts as movement in response.
Of course, numbers are numbers (I have no idea what that means, but…) I am feeling the motivation to push to move 10 more times this year. I’m sure I will. What will it look like? Depends on the weather, on how my grading goes, how I feel after my Moderna booster this weekend, and on other as-yet unknown future events.
But come December 31 (hopefully before), I’ll join my 221 workout in 2021 Facebook pals in celebrating. Remember, from my previous post, DFL is better than DNF is better than DNS! Keep this in mind as the year ends, my friends!
Readers, what goals are you homing in on as the year ends? Are you making adjustments? Are you rejigging? Are you walking away? Have you roared past the,? I’d love to hear from you.
The truth is, my high-flying fitness plans aren’t going all that well. I’m swamped at work and life is… well, being life. I miss moving, but I just don’t have time to do more than swimming once a week and maaaaybe a run, if I’m lucky. I look at my count in the 221 in 2021 challenge and it’s just laughable at this point. There’s no way in hell I’m going to make it, and as a completionist this bugs me more than I’d like to admit.
So I’ve been thinking about how I could get more movement in. I used to get a lot of my exercise through my commute, either biking or running. But now that the tiny human goes to nursery at the staff kindergarten where I work, I’ve been going by car every day and I’ve completely lost those workouts. If you look at the old post about my run commute I’ve linked above, you’ll see that I work up a very steep hill from where I live. Biking up with a normal bike and a kid’s trailer is just not feasible.
That’s why I’m very seriously contemplating an e-bike. I see other parents with kids in the same daycare do it and I get an itch. It would be perfect. I’m going to do it, I just need to find the right bike and make friends with the idea of parting with a whole bunch of my hard-earned euros (wow, these things are expensive!). Wish me luck on my search!
I love the 221 workouts in 2021 group. They are active, honest, fun, and very good online companions to have along my way to 221. I’m at 145 or so now, and I think I’ll make 221 by the end of December.
Lydia– one of the 221ers– is already at 202, so she’s practically staring 221 in the face. Go, Lydia, go!
But you know, workouts aren’t all endorphins and triumphant Youtube coverage. She wrote an account of what her actual swim was like on Monday morning. I edited it lightly to fit the blog format. Read, enjoy and relate.
Great–I’ve been able to book swimming at 7.30 am, on Thursday. Tony (my patient husband), says “Good”.
The night before: Check I’ve got goggles, ear plugs, hat, underwear, towels, shampoo etc, car keys and 20p [pence, for those of us not in the UK] for the locker.
Next morning 6.30 a.m. : check the above, dress ready to swim, lose car keys, find them, drink tea. Oh no– its 6.50! Get in car, check purse and phone. Okay, I have them. Drive to baths.
7.10am: arrive, lock car, check car is locked.
7.15am: select locker, undress. But first lay out ear plugs, hat goggles, glasses case & 20p Put 20p in lock, put ear plugs in, put glasses in case, find hat. Close locker.
Can’t see the number, can’t see to do up the wrist band. Oh where are the goggles? “Hi”, says the guy about my age next to me. “Can you see my glasses?” “No”, I reply. “My glasses are in the locker.” “Nor can I”, says another gent.
We find the glasses. “What number is my locker?” I ask. We all peer at the door. “Number 23!” they say in triumph.
We join the queue waiting to swim. We swim, and then our 45 minutes is up. Now, which is my locker I think. I go to the showers and peer at the bottles of hair stuff. Now which is shampoo and which is the other stuff? Can’t see, so take pot luck. I need a rest by the time I’m dressed. But I wouldn’t miss my morning swim for the world.
Readers, does this approximate any of your workouts? What do you lose, need, get help with as you do what you do? Let us know.
p.s. The cover photo is Canadian Olympic swimmer Maggie MacNeil, who won a gold medal but had trouble seeing the results without her glasses. This makes me love her even more.
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?
[I should probably start with a disclaimer: I have no stake in Apple at all, and I don’t even want to convince people to get an Apple Watch (which I myself hesitated over for years). I’m just saying how I’m using it and it’s helped me.]
Yesterday Cate wrote about slumps, and a few of us had something to say about them because it’s a thing these days. Towards the end she alluded to my new Apple watch. I’ll get to that in a minute.
I was in a serious slump. Usually I can pull myself out of them with a blog post in which I remind myself of all the things that usually work for me: keep it simple; start small; do less. But I wasn’t there. Looking back to a couple weeks ago, I don’t even think I was ready to be talked out of (or to talk myself out of) my slump. Everything besides sleep and the gentlest of gentle yoga seemed like SO. MUCH. EFFORT.
And then our covid case numbers started rising again. And this pandemic felt like it would never end (it still does). And we were on the eve of another stay-at-home order. A few months I had been asking around about fitness trackers and running watches and the like. My Garmin forerunner is a dinosaur and not the sort of thing you would wear any other time besides running. It’s been unreliable in booting up. People kept recommending the Apple Watch and the Garmin Vivo-something (I forget what exactly). So I bought nothing at first.
Then I decided to look into the Garmin and it turned out to be the same price range as the Apple Watch. And then they announced the lockdown. And I went into a spiral of: “I used to travel!” “I used to go out for dinner with friends.” “I used to go to a yoga studio and pay for passes.” “I used to DO THINGS.” Waaaa! Waaaa! And somehow by the end of that I had made an appointment to go the Apple Store the last day I could go (before everything went to curbside pick-up only), which happened to be the next day, to talk to a “Specialist” (lol) about a new watch.
The watch does lots of different things. But the best thing it does is the fitness “closing your rings” thing. I’m not a big fan of fitness tracking and step counting (as my experience with my workplace’s step-counting team competition has proven not once, but twice). But this ring thing! My friend Vicki invited me to be her “activity friend” on the watch, which means I can see when she’s made progress on closing her daily rings and she can see when I’ve made progress on mine. (I wouldn’t suggest becoming activity friends with anyone other than your good friends)
The outer (red) ring measures your movement (in terms of calories burned). You can set it to low, medium, high or custom, and it depends on things like height, age, weight. I chose medium and that seems about right for me. It’s manageable but not overbearing. The middle ring, sort of neon green, is the workout ring. The default is 30 minutes but I changed my daily target to 45 minutes since that seems pretty easy for me when I consider yoga, walking, running, and my superhero workouts. The inner ring (blue) is for standing, for at least one minute in 12 different hours in the day. You can change the number of hours in which you have a minute of standing to fewer than 12 but not more than 12. I kept mine at 12 and that seems reasonable but challenging on days when I am at my desk for hours in zoom meetings because it seems weird to get up and move around if I have to have my camera on. When you close all three rings you get a graphic on your watch that is sort of like the rings version of fireworks.
Okay. I know this seems somehow too simple to be motivating. But I have hit my targets all but one day since I got my watch a couple of weeks ago. Now keep in mind that though it counts steps, I do not have a step target and I don’t do 10,000 steps every day. In my pre-pandemic life steps were easy. But some days it’s all I can do to get myself out the door for a walk around the block.
Remember too that my watch was meant to replace my running watch. So in order to do it right, I did a little research and invested in a running app for the watch called Intervals Pro. It was costly for an app — $11.99 (CDN) — but it is so simple to set up custom interval workouts, with time or distance intervals, at set paces if you want, and it keeps a record of your training runs. And that too has added to my joy because my Garmin, ancient as it was, had exactly the kind of functionality for custom running intervals that I needed. I don’t know why I worried that something released almost ten years later wouldn’t be able to do at least as much. To be fair, without the app the Apple Watch wouldn’t have been able to do at least as much. But the app is a game changer for anyone who likes to pre-program custom run intervals.
Finally, and I am aware that this might make me sound superficial and self-indulgent, I have discovered a whole world of third party Apple Watch straps that you can order online for super cheap in all sorts of styles and colours. It is very easy to change the strap, and I do that several days a week. I also bought a protector thing that snaps on over it and affects nothing about how it looks and how it works, but will protect it from getting banged up and scratched.
Long story short: the watch has motivated me to run again, to get out for walks at lunch time or at the end of a work day, to stand up from my desk and stretch my legs more than I used to, and to include at least 45 hours of scheduled workouts in my day.
I’m now activity friends with two people (Vicky and my friend, Diane, who I actually convinced to get a watch so that we could be activity friends). And I like seeing their progress through the day. It motivates me without making me feel competitive. It’s more in an inspirational way.
As I write this the night before I’m scheduled to post, my watch just reminded me (ever so gently, not at all in a “you should be standing!” way) that I can still get a “stand” in, bringing my daily total to 11/12 with just one more to go before bed. That’s all I need to do to close my rings today. So I’m doing it.
Usually when people associate guilt with working out it’s guilt over NOT working out. I don’t agree with guilting ourselves over that but that’s not what I want to talk about. Instead, there is a new kind of guilt creeping into my awareness since I started being a part of a group that tracks workouts. This year it’s 221 in 2021. The fact of counting our workouts generates no end of hand-wringing, especially among people who are new.
I get it. When I first started I wanted to know what people “count.” But it’s only since COVID that I’ve noticed people expressing guilt that maybe they are counting too much. I mean if I count a Sunday 10K run as one workout, does a 20-minute walk at lunch count equally? If I counted a vigorous hour at the yoga studio back in the days before COVID, does one of Adriene’s 10 or 15 or 20 minute practices count?
Some people have an idea that it has to be at least 20 minutes to count. Many, including me, work with the idea of deliberate movement. But even then, I often will combine a short walk with yoga of whatever length as one, even if they were both deliberate and at different times. I do this because now that I am working home, almost every time I move it is deliberate. Sometimes I make myself do a short yoga session or go twice around the block or do a short run with hill repeats at lunch just to move. I don’t use a fitness tracker, but I bet I’m not reaching 2000 steps some days. That is not how I used to live pre-COVID. I used to walk a lot. The workouts I counted were at least 45 minutes because I didn’t really do other kinds of workouts back then.
I think there is a worry lurking behind some of the stress people are experiencing over counting too much is that they are somehow cheating. But cheating whom, I ask? There is no prize. There is no “system” to “game” here. All we are doing is tracking workouts. And to me, if someone deliberately works out, then yay! That’s a win.
It’s hilarious actually because lately I’m doing Superhero workouts 4-6 times a week, yoga pretty much daily, and a run or a walk every day. In January I counted them as three separate things most days. Now I’m more likely to count the superhero workout as one, and the yoga and walk or run as one.
It’s the end of February and I just hit 110 workouts. That seems somehow impossible, almost halfway to my annual goal. In fact, I’m bored of counting my workouts. If the point of it was ever to get a habit going, then I’ve achieved the goal already. And now it just feels embarrassing or something to be racking up so many workouts.
I wondered whether this was a “woman-thing” where we deny our achievements and want to downplay them. Kind of took me back to when people were all impressed when I signed up for the Kincardine Women’s Triathlon and I would say “it’s just a little triathlon, not an Ironman or anything.” Why do we do that to ourselves? It was a big thing to me, never having done one before! I was terrified and I did it. Yay me. No need to downplay it. Is that what’s going on now with the guilt of counting deliberate movement as workouts during COVID?
We are living through a global pandemic. We are housebound, sometimes in an actual lockdown. We are doing our best to show up for hour upon hour of virtual meetings for work (well, this is my reality) and stay upbeat even when the idea of one more hour on zoom is soul-crushing. We haven’t been able to sit down to dinner with friends since the patios closed last fall. We didn’t see our families for Christmas. We wear masks to the grocery store. We’ve lost family members and friends and not been able to mourn them together in person because of COVID restrictions on travel and gathering and touching one another. We have been unable to make solid plans. We don’t know what life will look like post-COVID.
We have cobbled together home workout spaces over time, tucking our yoga mats and dumbbells in the corner when we’re not using them to make space for our (albeit truncated) daily lives at home. We are actually using that equipment (remember back in the day when we bought stuff to workout at home and it just gathered dust? Remember?).
Given all that, it’s pretty darn awesome if we do something active on purpose. Maybe we’re on track to 650-700 workouts this year and without COVID we wouldn’t be. Silver linings and all. Go us! Let’s check the guilt at the door.
I keep telling the blog that I am zooming ahead in the 221 in 2021group because working out for me still ticks off some pretty important boxes–my bike racing and weight lifing is social, and it’s fun. Likewise, I know it’s good to get outside with Cheddar for walks and I enjoy some quiet time with Adriene on my yoga mat. And it’s also true that lots of the other fun stuff in my life just isn’t available.
But, but, but…I also sit for hours at a time.
I feel like I’ve added in more workouts but lost a lot of everyday movement.
So when a Guelph RMT started posting activities to do on the hour during the workday, I thought I’d play along. The first two, Monday and Tuesday below, are ones that are extra good if you’ve been sitting too much. Also, they are ones I can do in meetings if I just turn the camera off for a few minutes. Now thats only true if I’m not chairing.
I don’t always get breaks on the hour so setting a timer and doing some mobility exercises has been good for me. Let’s see if I can keep this up.
There’s a bunch of us in the 221 in 2021 group speeding along, racking up big numbers of workouts. It’s just the start of February and I’m up to more than 50 workouts.
An aside: Want to join us? Here’s how. It’s a very friendly, supportive group.
We had a discussion the other day, those of us who are often working out more than once a day, about why.
Here’s me: “Yes, I’m working out more than once a day most of the time in these strange pandemic stay at home times. It’s partly the Yoga with Adriene January challenge. It’s partly lifting weights with adult serious lifting offspring who has moved back home. Family bonding over sandbag deadlifts! And then it’s Zwift team stuff. I’m taking Saturday as my rest day with a a commitment to no serious lifting and no Zwifting. But even then there are extra long dog walks and yoga.”
So why? And will it last through 2021?
This pace of working out certainly won’t last once there’s evening work commitments out in the world plus theatre and music to go see. So the part of the explanation this year is that it’s a thing I love doing that I can do. I’m missing out on a lot of my work and entertainment activities. There’s no gallery openings and no theatre. No parties on the weekend, no lunch Sunday brunch with friends. Options are somewhat limited right now.
I do read books and watch some shows but when I am stressed I can have a hard time concentrating. I have a short attention span when I’m worried and I’m worried a lot through the pandemic. Again, moving my body in ways that challenge me phsyically is both a thing that I can do-it’s an available fun option– and it helps with stress. I sleep better if I exercise in the evenings and go to bed physically as well as mentally tired. See Bikes and Books, about the dangers bikes may pose to books, and Virtual Communites, which talks about my international book club.
There’s very little everyday movement in these stay at home lives. All movement, it feels like, is intentional movement. I’m either sitting at my computer not moving much at all, working some ridiculously long days, or I’m working out. In the run of the day on campus I do a lot of walking between meetings. I also bike commute to work. There’s none of that anymore. As Cate said, way back at the start of all this, we’re all indoor cats now.
Not everyone has the space to set up a home gym or the means to buy exercise or sports equipment. But we’ve got a lot of stuff and some space. That said, things are cramped even here. I’ve got a combo home office/gym and it contains my desk and computer and several monitors as well as three person’s worth of workout gear including three bikes, a lot of free weights, and soon, a rowing machine. It’s all here. It’s nearby. And I’m wearing workout clothes to work (with some dressier clothes thrown over top) and that makes working out easy. Again, this won’t be the same when I’m back in the office.
So, yes I’m working out more than I usually do during the pandemic for a slew of reasons. You?
I’m not sure I’ll go back to the gym. Maybe the hot yoga studio. Maybe. What about you?
And I’m pretty sure I’ll work out less–but I’ll also have more everyday movement–once the pandemic is over. You?
I keep telling myself that January will have been the hardest of the pandemic winter months. I’m not sure that’s right but it felt hard. For the first time in a few years I didn’t fly or drive south with my bike for a week. I’ve had a run of very lovely wintertime breaks. In years past I’ve gone to Florida 2020 and 2019, Arizona in 2015 and 2010, and South Carolina for bike club training camp also in 2015.
Here we are:
This year instead there’s been a lot of Zwifting–so much Zwifting–806.6 km worth to be precise. My first pandemic Zwifting goal way back last spring was 100 km a week and then I upped it to 160 km this fall and now I’m averaging just over 200 km a week. Whee! Between that and Yoga With Adriene it’s a busy month fitness wise.
Outside has been dark and cold and windy and icy. Sarah and I got in a couple of long, happy fat bike rides and I’m hoping for lots more in February. Depending on how my knee holds up I’m hoping to get out the snow shoes at the farm in February too. We did have a yurt reservation at a provincial park for winter camping and some actual vacation but that’s now cancelled in light of Ontario’s ‘stay at home” orders.
“As of January 21, campground and backcountry campsites and roofed accommodations (including cabins, yurts and cottages) at Ontario Parks will be closed during the current provincial restriction period in order to help stop the spread of COVID-19 and support Ontario’s stay-at-home order.”
I get it. You can’t both stay at home and go winter camping. But still…
At work we’re making plans for summer and fall and that makes me hopeful. Sarah and I will make a bunch of summer camping reservations in hopes of spending time in Algonquin with the canoe. I’m also looking forward to a summer of local bike rides and Snipe racing.
How are you getting through the winter? What are you hoping for in the spring and summer?