In todays article we are going to dive into workout consistency and the many ways to go about it. I have found in the 15+ years that I have been a coach, consistency is the main thing holding clients back from results. This is 50% of the reason I get hired (whether it is known or not) at the beginning of training. It is certainly known by the end, that is for sure.
Now, what exactly am I talking about here? I am talking about the week in, week out commitment to your health, by moving your body. They can be classified as workouts, but I like to simplify it to something as simple as; movement that elevates your heart rate and gets your body in motion. This is for good reason as you will see. Examples are; classic gym style workouts, stretching, yoga, group fitness class, cardio on a machine, running, walking your dog, playing a sport, participating in a fun activity like frisbee golf, playing with your kids, yard work, cleaning, doing renovations, having sex, the list goes on and on…it all counts!
My point is that most people identify working out or getting in shape with only typical gym style workouts or stereotypical cardio on a machine. People these days don’t consider the accumulation of daily movement and activity from tasks like yard work, or taking a daily walk with your best friend. I do understand this view point because today we as a society are moving less and less with every new invention that makes our lives “easier”. Some people do not have as much opportunity for movement like if you live in an apartment and don’t have a yard to look after or a dog to walk. Thats a fine excuse, but there are literally hundreds of other ways to get and stay active. At the end of the day it is a choice. You can take the stairs or the elevator. You can go for a hike or sit on the couch. You can join a sports league or watch sports on TV. You can wake up early and run or you can sleep in. You can scroll social media for two hours or you can do a high intensity workout followed by some meditation. Choices people, choices.
Now it is a fact that someone can not do typical gym style workouts or trudge away on an elliptical every other day and be a fit, healthy, happy person. With the right mindset, environment, and support system you never need to set foot in a gym. Someone with an active job, a healthy nutrition base, and an active partner will most likely be successful at being a fit, healthy person. They will have a lifetime of results based on their lifestyle.
Let’s use a construction worker (Bob) with an ideal situation so you know what I mean here. For 10 hours a day Bob lifts, carries, walks, uses his hands, sweats, and generally uses his muscles in a strenuous way. He is outside almost year round. For 10 hours! He eats clean because his wife helps him out in the kitchen and makes sure he has a great breakfast, his lunch is packed, and they cook dinner together. There is always a bowl of fresh fruit on the counter so Bob grabs an apple to snack on if he’s hungry – because its out in plain sight. He has the energy to keep up with work demands as well as maintaining an extensive yard at home because of his overall great nutrition habits. Cutting the lawn, trimming the trees, raking leaves, building garden boxes, etc. His two dogs beg him for a run when he gets home so that is just a part of his day, and he loves it. Bob knows that construction work takes a toll on his body along with his hockey league he plays in once a week, so he does stretches and release work every other day, right before bed and when he wakes up in the morning. On the weekends his wife loves to hike so they hike for 20 km with the dogs. With no kids its an easy, relaxing way to get even more fresh air and sunshine. He takes the day off from movement on Sundays to watch football and his body thanks him for it. His wife also loves meditation and got Bob to try it. Bob found that it helped calm him down after a frustrating day at work when co-workers were slacking off. With all this activity and movement, Bob sleeps soundly every night because his body NEEDS it. His 4 pillars of health are in check (Movement, Sleep, Nutrition, Mindset) and he is at a very healthy weight, feels fit, and is happy.
To call this an ideal situation for being fit, healthy, and happy would be an understatement! Its perfect right? We don’t all have this luxury. In fact most people are in the opposite boat. Maybe something more like this…
Joan is an office worker with a 30 minute commute to work. That means she is sitting for 9 hours a day – just for work. Joan has huge demands at work and rarely finds the time to get up from her desk. She lives is a small apartment and is mentally exhausted from her workday so she takes the elevator up to her apartment. She knows she could use a walk and get some fresh air after work but makes every excuse to herself not to. When she gets home her partner is watching TV and having a beer; he invites her to join. Of course she would after a hard days work! Her partner doesn’t cook and is a bit of a couch potato, so suggests ordering in some food so they don’t have cook. A full night of binge watching TV and eating Chinese delivery, for them and the kids. There are always chips lying around the house, plus sugar loaded snacks for the kids that she finds herself nibbling on throughout the day. Joan cleans the apartment every weekend but quickly runs out of physical tasks. She wants to be fit, so once in a while she looks up a pilates workout on youtube. Most of the time she gets lost searching for funny videos or commenting on friends social media…on the couch. Joan has an indoor cat and doesn’t like sports. She spends some of her free time picking up and dropping kids off at activities – more sitting. She loves photography and sometimes will take landscape pictures of the sunset from her balcony. Joans sleep habits are all over the place because amount other factors, her inactivity inhibits her from getting a goods nights sleep. On top of that her nutrition habits leave her feeling bloated, and uncomfortable. Her 4 pillars of heath are out of whack and she is overweight and generally not happy. She gets stuck in the daily grind of being mentally exhausted, nutrient deficient, sleep deprived, and generally sedentary. Add kids to the mix and it gets tough – really tough.
So why did I go to all the effort to describe the details of two people on opposite ends of the spectrum? To show you that everyone is different. Everyone is going to have different strategies and solutions depending on a variety of factors. As you can see there is more to workout consistency than meets the eye. Bob has every advantage working for him while Joan does not. Bob will be fine without planned workouts while Joan needs to make changes. Let us see how we can help Joan change her life dramatically with a couple seemingly small adjustments in her mindset, and daily routine.
Joan can’t change her mode of transportation or work situation. So Joan commits to walking everyday after work for 10 minutes which eventually grows into 20 minutes, and then 30 minutes, over the next couple of months. She started small and built it up over time. She brings the kids along to encourage them to get out of the house and join in with the exercise routine. No matter how mentally exhausted she feels, she knows some exercise and fresh air will do her good. Her partner won’t join her but that doesn’t stop her. She feels energized and generally a little better when she comes back. Having committed to walking she feels like eating something a little healthier would be a good idea to keep her rolling. She made a list and did some shopping on Sunday to prep for her week. She makes a kid friendly stir fry – enough for her and the kids lunches tomorrow as well – while her partner orders in. She really does love pilates, so she schedules in her phone calendar to do two classes a week with a live instructor. She has paid for the classes upfront to make sure that she keeps the commitment as she has learned doing it on her own doesn’t actually get it done. She builds momentum and realizes that she can turn her love of photography to help get fit. She decides to go out on Saturdays and take pictures while on a nature walk with her friend. With all of this new activity Joan is on a consistent sleep schedule and wakes up feeling refreshed. If Joan keeps up this very realistic routine she will be in such better shape for it mentally and physically. The best part is that it will continue to grow and advance with her goals. She’s doing something instead of nothing. Small changes lead to big results.
So what did Joan actually do to make these dramatic changes?
- She committed to an easy activity of walking after work which she knew she would like and the duration grew as she both enjoyed it and felt better
- She physically scheduled in specific days and times to do pilates workouts in her calendar
- She paid for structured workouts to ensure commitment – even though it is something she likes to do.
- She planned and took charge of her nutrition instead of using her partner as the excuse or reason
- She counted every activity as a positive towards getting in shape (Saturday photography day, walking after work)
- Her sleep naturally improved with increased activity
- She knows she can do all of the newly found activities and lifestyle changes because they were not dramatic and she actually LIKES doing them
- She doesn’t let her unsupportive partner drag her down or un-motivate her
- She includes family members (kids) into the her routine when they are willing
Some people need to schedule workouts and make a real effort in other areas to see changes. Some people naturally have everything lined up to ensure that they are healthy and happy. Some fall in the middle. To wrap it up we will look at the factors that induce real change. Those are your daily habits and actions.
- Schedule specific workout days and times – and commit to them. Start small and think long term rather than having an all or nothing mindset. Your going to do this the rest of your life, keep that in mind.
- Count any activity that gets your heart rate up and body moving as exercise or a workout. It all adds up and you will be surprised at the amount of energy expenditure you can change with fun activities, games, sports, or hobbies.
- Think long term and forget getting results immediately. It takes a lifestyle change to get the results your looking for not a diet or a “workout everyday” type of mindset. Those are short term strategies that will backfire and make things worse in the long run.
- Its all about the quality over quantity. Quality to me means that you enjoy it to some degree, its effective at getting your heart rate up, and you will keep it up long term in some form.
- Get creative with how you look at exercise and workouts. The gym is ONE option. Just get your heart rate up and have some fun!
- If pain or injuries are getting in the way of exercise its time to consult a Movement Specialist.