Sunday, January 2, 2011

New Year, New Workout?

January 1 is a time of change for many, and often people start or change their exercise habits. While I don’t believe in any drastic changes at the beginning of the year, or for that matter at any time, I do like to assess what I’m doing in terms of exercise from time to time. And right now is as good a time as any…

My exercise “routine” is quite different today than it was a year ago. A year ago I worked out at the gym pretty much every single day. I rarely missed a workout and even worked out when I was quite sick. In fact, I had a really bad cold and sinus infection for several weeks and hardly missed a workout during that time period. Looking back, what I was doing was not healthy. In addition to working out while fighting a cold and infection, my weak ankle continuously bothered me. All the high intensity cardio was too much for my ankle to handle.

Why did I work out so much? Well, there were several reasons. First, the toddler really liked to go to the childcare at the gym and had numerous friends there, whom he liked to see. Second, exercise gives me my feel-good hormones without which I just don’t feel the same. Third, it is nice to take an uninterrupted shower and make use of the steam room… Finally, I think going to the gym daily became a habit, and it was kind of hard to break that habit. I guess that can happen with habits, good or bad…

So what am I doing today? I still work out most days of the week. But my definition of a “real workout” has changed quite a bit. I used to think a “real workout” meant sweating at the gym for at least 45 minutes to an hour. Today I consider any physical activity that lasts at least 20 minutes exercise. I do The 30 Day Shred workout DVD, lift weights at the gym, do barre-type workouts, do yoga, go hiking, do boot camp workouts, go for walks… 

Looking at what I used to do and what I’m doing now, what I notice most is the added variety in my workouts. I always knew that I had to “mix things up.” But, honestly, I wasn’t that successful when I was “addicted” to the gym. I pretty much did the same thing every week: 3-4 very similar weight workouts (even though I tried to “mix things up”) and 5 days of cardio, alternating between the treadmill, stepper, and elliptical. Not much variety. Not enough stretching and focusing on flexibility. Not enough “smelling the roses” and the crisp air during a walk or hike.

So what are my goals now? To keep a healthy balance when it comes to exercise. To not obsess. To realize that sometimes less is truly more, especially when there is an injury that needs to heal. I also want to continue to add variety to my workouts. I have found some amazing deals (up to 80% off the regular price ) on exercise classes via Groupon, Living Social, and Trubates. It’s a great way to try out new workouts  for little money and to mix things up once in a while. I also want to hike more, which is a free activity. Last year I did several long hikes (10 miles) and hiked a half marathon. I really enjoy hiking but it’s a rather large time commitment, so it involves some planning.

Questions: Have you assessed your “exercise regimen” lately? Are you happy with what you’re doing? Are you doing too much? Too little? Are your workouts varied enough? Is there anything you’d like to try? Let’s inspire each other either by sharing what we are doing or by what we plan to do!

Be well,