Friday, March 28, 2014

Starting My Exercise Addiction: 50 Miles in March

As part of my ongoing quest for consistency over perfection, I set a goal to walk 50 miles in March. I really didn't think it would be difficult, except that I tried and failed to do it in both January and February. I blame the never-ending winter of illnesses for those failed months, but what really changed in March was the start of my walk streak

Today will be Day 28 of the walk streak (or #walkstreak if you want to join me on Facebook and Twitter) and it really has changed the way I think about exercise. I track my daily walks on RunKeeper, an app that I've been using since 2012, but never as successfully as I have been this past month. 

The thing that is different this time is that my goal is not one that is far off in the future - like a future race or losing 10 lbs. The goal for this month was two-fold: 50 miles in March and at least 1 mile each day for my walk streak. 

Tracking my walk streak gives me both daily accountability and a daily reward. 

I love logging my miles each day, it is the psychological equivalent of getting a gold star. The RunKeeper feature of having cumulative goals is encouraging as well. Rather than training for a race, I'm training each day to get 50 miles done for the month. Each day after I log my miles I check my goal's graph to see how far I've come and how much further I have to go. 

Yesterday, on Day 27 of my walk streak, I achieved my goal of 50 miles. I am thrilled. The hardest days weren't the ones where I walked 3, 4, or 5 miles. The hardest days were the 1 mile days, when I used to just not exercise at all. There were several nights where I didn't do my walk and had to do a walking DVD at 10 pm to get it in. Why? Because I'd already gotten to Day #15 or #25 and I didn't want to go back to Day 1 again on my streak. 

Now that I've reached my 50 mile goal for March, I'm starting to think about what my goal will be for April. I've decided to up the ante to 60 miles, which averages to 2 miles per day. I'm sure I'll still have a lot of 1 mile days, but I'm looking forward to seeing what the additional challenge will do for my health. Of course, I plan to continue my walk streak as well, I look forward to Day #61 at the end of April! 

Are you looking to start a consistent exercise habit? I'd love for my readers to join me on my #walkstreak. Leave a comment if you are in! 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Starting My Exercise Addiction: Why I Chose Walking

As I mentioned in my first post of this series, I've had lots of exercise plans over the years, but I've struggled with long-term consistency. This time I'm pulling a George Costanza and doing everything the opposite of what I've done in the past.

My past workout plans included:
  • I will sign up for a half-marathon and then I will have to get in shape for it. 
    • Except I'm still a SAHM to the twins who are still young enough to need me all of the time. We have no family nearby to help out, so every time they get sick or we can't get out to the gym childcare, there is no workout time for Mommy. I finished the race, but then afterward I took 4 months off from exercising at all.
  • I will come up with a very complicated plan for each day of the week, including times of classes at my local gym that coincide with childcare hours. I will go every weekday to the gym, even though I secretly hate the gym.
    • Except... I always feel like missing one day screws up the "whole plan" and it's darn hard to stick to a plan when you hate going. I'd rather be outside playing with the kids. It's pretty hard to stick to a workout plan that you hate.  
  • I will just be super intense. The harder I workout, the more calories I will burn and muscle I will gain. I will channel my inner Biggest Loser and workout with all of the intensity. 
    • Except... My immune system hates me. Last year, I got bronchitis THREE DIFFERENT TIMES and also had a lovely bout of Shingles. Now, I'm only in my early thirties, so that was a pretty big shock to me, but apparently stressing my body by exercising in a super intense way is a really good way to end up having to take a month or more off to heal.
  • I will do a yoga DVD every day at 6 am. 
    • This seemed pretty reasonable, but it turns out all I want at 6 am is to hit the snooze until Little Man bounces into my room at 6:30 and wants breakfast and a cuddle and to ask all of the questions. I keep trying to convince him to stay in bed until 7:00, but it's just not ever going to happen (his sister sleeps in, I think he likes it that way). Also, all I want in the morning is a lot of coffee. Until that happens there is not enough coordination to pull off a tree pose. 

This time around I wanted to come up with a goal that was easy to execute, attainable, and something that I enjoy. I really sat down and thought about what was realistic to accomplish. These are my new requirements: 
  • Must be able to do it outside whenever weather permits. I hate being inside on a nice day. 
  • Able to do this every single day. Rest days, for me, turn into rest weeks and rest months.
  • Nothing so intense that my immune system will quit on me again. 
  • Need to be able to do it with the kids or without. 
  • Needs to be something that I can fit in at the end of the day indoors in my living room if I haven't gotten to it before. 
So for me, the answer was walking. Plain, boring, walking. There is no big finish in walking. There are no fans cheering whether you walk 3.1 miles or 13.1 miles. Almost anyone can walk, it's not even a big challenge. It's just so... pedestrian. 

It is the exact opposite of every other workout I've ever done -  
that is precisely why I might actually be able to stick with it. 

Today is Day 18 of my #walkstreak. I've walked at least a mile every day this month, but I usually aim for more. I set a goal of 50 miles total for the month of March and so far I've walked 33 of those miles (66% of my goal). I've hiked outside a few times. I've walked while my kids rode their bikes. I've done many Leslie Sansone Walk at Home DVDs when I couldn't get outside during the day. Each day, I'm making it happen - no more excuses.

This feels like the start of a real exercise addiction. Something I can do, even when life gets crazy. Something I enjoy. Something I can build on as I get stronger and more fit. Something we can do together as a family.

I'd love to hear from all of you on this, do you walk for exercise? Would you ever consider doing a #walkstreak?

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