I’m trying to figure out what to include in a fitness journal.
I love the idea of recording my plans and ideas and then writing my reflections on my practices but I know better than to try to put all of that onto a blank page.
If I have an open-ended journal, I will feel like I have to write AllOfTheThings AllOfTheTime and I will start avoiding journaling.
I looked for a fitness journal I could buy – thinking that a structured set of questions would be like ‘containers’ for my thoughts – but mostly I found fitness trackers.
Keeping track of the details may be part of my journaling but what I am really interested in is recording and reflecting on my physical and emotional experiences.
So, I am taking a DIY approach – choosing a set of 3-5 fitness-related questions to put on an index card that I will use as a bookmark in a regular journal.
I figure that if I have a set of questions ready it will not only help to structure my thoughts but I can also just number the answers in my journal and not create any obstacles for myself by having to rewrite the questions each time I journal.
I’ve found lots of suggested questions online (see links below) and I am mulling those over – not looking for perfect questions, just seeing what feels interesting to me.
But, speaking of interesting, I’d be interested to know what *you* think would make a good reflective question for a fitness journal.
What do find useful to consider about your fitness practices?
What do you wish you had made note of when you started something new?
What kinds of feelings or experiences do you think I should reflect on?
If you’re interested, here are some of the articles I found online. (I think Sam suggested the first one in a previous Facebook post.)
I love a good set of prompts. I have dice, cards, apps, and prompt sheets for writing, improv, storytelling, drawing, and all kinds of creative activities.
Prompts help me to avoid getting stuck in decision mode (a huge pitfall for my ADHD brain), and they offer just the sort of constraint that helps creativity to thrive.
Since I also have a bit of a decision challenge with exercise (trying to strike a balance between consistency and avoiding boredom makes for a tricky endeavour a lot of the time) I was intrigued when the all-knowing algorithm served up this set of exercise prompt dice on Monday afternoon.
I usually have to decide things in advance – knowing the what and the when and the timeframe helps remove the ‘Ugh, I will be doing this for the REST OF MY LIFE, I don’t even want to start.’ feeling that my brain automatically generates. But, when I use prompts, I usually only have to decide when and how long. (I guess the prompts only offer a certain range of ‘what’ so my brain is ok with that.)
I couldn’t help but wonder whether my brain would be ok with choosing a time and the length of my exercise session but leaving the exercises themselves up to the dice.
Then I looked closer at these particular dice.
I won’t do burpees. I know they are a great exercise but they make my head spin so I already know I won’t do them.
I’m not quite ready for pistol squats or ‘jackknifes’ so I would need to adjust or substitute something else for those…
And I don’t even know what is on the other side of those dice. There could be far worse things in store for me.
So I won’t be ordering those.
I am still intrigued by the IDEA of exercise dice.
And I just so happen to have a set of wooden cubes like these…
So, I am going to create my own exercise dice.
And this will probably work better for me because instead of having to roll one die over and over, I could roll a whole set of exercises at a time and have a very clear end point for my set or for my session.
Now I just have to decide what exercises to write on each die.
Elan Paulson is an exercise-curious, occasional guest blogger on FIAFI.
The world of business has many concepts to describe how it sells things to people. One is innovation. According to Clayton M. Christiansen here and in other places, there are two main kinds of innovation.
Sustaining innovation refers to how businesses with many resources (those that dominate the market) make a product better for their target consumers.
Disruptive innovation refers to how businesses with fewer resources explore new ways of meeting the demands and interests of new or underserved consumers.
According to Christiansen, sustainers focus on improving a product, while disruptors challenge sustainer dominance by focusing on changing processes (of product creation, distribution, etc.). Disruption occurs when the innovation becomes mainstream.
There’s more to say about these concepts, including my critique of them as lens for sense-making, but for the moment I want to use them to understand WayBetter, a subscription service that has emerged in the health and wellness app industry.
In its About section, one of the WayBetter co-founders describes its services as “a whole category of games that help people stick to their commitments” because “life is better when you can turn work into play.”
This is what he means: Users bet their own money that they can accomplish a specific time-bound exercise goal. After the allotted time, users who achieved the behaviour-based goal receive back their own money (through a point system) as well as a cut of what was ponied up by those who did not meet the goal. Picture-taking and sync-ups with exercise tracking technology are put in place to minimize cheating.
In Christiansen’s terms, WayBetter is a disruptive innovation for how it has found a new process to promote exercise behaviours. (Its name suggests that it has literally found a “better way” to exercise). While other companies sell on-site, group-based fitness memberships and training services, WayBetter offers the flexibility of anytime, anywhere activity as well as the support of a group. WayBetter emphasizes how the process is fun: pay yourself for exercising. WayBetter has developed a market not in exercise programming but in exercise motivating.
However, WayBetter is a disruptor not because it turns “work into play” but because one could regard this as a betting service, or a form of gambling. (Waybetter). On one hand, the “game” is betting on yourself, and getting back your money simply by doing the exercise that you said you would do. On the other hand, an enterprising exerciser could choose “runbets” that other exercisers might be less likely to complete, thus maximizing their chance of a higher return than what they initially bet. WayBetter turns exercise into a game of predictive markets, and exercisers into investors.
So, it’s possible to think about WayBetter as a disrupter not for how it reaches underserved consumers (read unsuccessful/unmotivated exercisers) but for how it has created a new market—one of venture capitalism. Motivate yourself not simply to do exercise but to earn money off of the failure of others to motivate themselves to exercise.
At the moment, WayBetter’s dietbet claims 700,000 users, and the runbet website boasts that users have logged over 1,677,000 miles. I don’t know details about its income, but WayBetter takes a rake of each bet and uses third-party advertising. With no compensation, stock, acquisitions, or other company information currently available on Bloomberg, it’s not fully clear whether WayBetter’s disruptive innovation will become a sustained innovation.
But I believe it will become a sustained innovation because the value of its ability to change behaviour pales in its ability to change in mindset about exercise not (only) as a game but as a financial investment. WayBetter’s legacy may very well be how it and other services like it will change the very meaning of exercise by casting it (explicitly or implicitly) in market terms.
And, whether consumers win, recover, or lose their money, WayBetter still comes out Way Ahead.
I love a good massage for my muscles bothered by cranky hip joints and uncompliant vertebrae. But I needed to find some useful and affordable alternatives that would provide some relief in between appointments and training sessions.
In the last five years, I have collected and learned how to use some pretty nifty tools and I thought I would talk about how I use them and some possible options for cheaper alternatives.
When I first experienced problems with my back, my massage therapist recommended a theraband, which looked like a giant plastic sash. I usually wrap my hands around each end then flip it over my head to stretch out my back. You can also use it to strengthen arms. Put one end under your foot on the floor and then wrap it around your hand, tuck your elbow into your body and raise your hand to your shoulder or mid-chest.
The advantage of the theraband is that it can also fold up pretty small so it’s the size of a small wallet. That makes it very handy for toting on travels. I often see them at Winners (or TJ Maxx for our American readers) for cheap. A yoga belt can also work well, although I find for the back stretches, there isn’t the same give as what you get with the Theraband. If you think of it during spring time, one of those springy bubblegum pink skipping ropes will work as well and they have that flex you need.
When my hip joint decided to get all fussy on me, I had some pretty miserable muscle cramps. What gave relief was a rolling pin. I had an extra one that I didn’t use but if you don’t have a pin, a sturdy long-necked bottle from wine or vinegar will do as well. I just rolled my calf muscles whenever they felt twitchy.
If you have some ready cash, you can buy something similar called a tigertail. The company that makes them calls them a portable massage stick. It comes with a small index-card sized guide with nifty exercises and you can travel with it pretty easily. It’s thinner and longer than a rolling pin so you can get in more hard to reach places. There are different types with smooth rollers or bumpy ones. I prefer the smooth roller but you may find the ridged one better for your needs.
I travel for my work a fair bit so I started putting together a small kit I could pack. Along with the Theraband, I added a couple of portable handwarmers, my travel size tube of Voltaren, a topical pain relief gel, and a lacrosse ball. You can use a tennis ball but that’s squishier than a lacrosse ball. This bright orange-coloured ball, which is also about the same size as an orange, is very firm. As such, it does a good job getting rid of muscle knots. You can also relax your feet by rolling it with the ball of your foot, and you can also have fun trying to pick it up with your toes.
Most recently, I have acquired a Swiss ball and a textured foam roller. I borrowed the ball from my trainer after she showed me some exercises I could do at home to provide some relief for tension in my lower back. I loved it so much I ordered one for myself. They cost around $15 so not really a huge cost. They are slightly bigger than a softball and they are my new favourite way to use a wall or a floor to work out the knots. I usually put the ball just above the glute muscles and then shimmy back and forth against the wall. I will be honest: it’s not the most pleasant sensation when you start. However, about an hour after you stop, you will notice you can move so much more easily.
I haven’t had great relationships with foam rollers. I find it hard to balance on them for leg work, hence my preference for the tigertail or the swiss ball. If you are super flexible, you can sit on it and roll back and forth. I am not so I tend to use it right now just for my upperback.
I spend a lot of time sitting or standing over my laptop. This leads to hunched and very knotty shoulders. I put my foam roller on the floor and then I lie down on it so that it’s about three to four inches below the base of my neck. I roll back and forth gently and it really works out the kinks.
I lucked into my bright blue textured roller at Winners on deep discount. It’s also hollow inside, so if I wanted to take it with me on my travels, I could use the hollow space for my shoes or slippers, or a hoodie. But you can do similar exercises with the Swiss ball if you only want to invest and own one thing.
To keep the tools where I can see them (and thus remember to use them), I have a bascket in which I corral the works. As I like to learn and try new things, feel free to share in the comments what nifty gadgets you have found or used that can also work in a pinch for a massage.