Two years after turning 35 I realized that if I wanted to prolong my life, have mood stability, and prevent steady weigh gain – I have to start exercising regularly. I realized my days of cutting out carbs and going for walks to shed a few holiday pounds are gone. I needed to start regular cardiovascular exercise with strength/resistance training – and I have to do it regularly. Otherwise my risk of heart disease, diabetes, being unhappy and feeling less confident in my body go up, way up. As a skeptic of the diet and fitness industry, this was a hard truth to accept. Currently, I am about 40 days into building a lifelong exercise habit that will (hopefully) carry into my 40s, and I will write about what I learned in this series.
For a long, long time I was in denial that strength training was a crucial component of fitness. It never looked or felt particularly delightful – not like a step class or a brisk walk. I set out to prove that strength and/or resistance training was not necessary. But when everything I read indicated muscle loss with age is a real thing, I had no choice. So I built my routine, something super simple, repeatable that I can easily execute without much thought, day after day with both cardio and strength built into it.
We all know about cardio, the Internet is littered with info on Cardio. The idea here is to do something consistently, regularly for a sustained period of time (let’s say 30 minutes) to get your heart going. The KEY with cardio is doing something I enjoyed to get started. If I picked something I didn’t love – like running – it would have been much harder to continue. So I picked dancing as my starting activity and incorporated some heart pumping exercises – like jumping jacks and jump squats into my routine – to make it more challenging.
I have a definite favourite for Strength Training routine form Nerdfitness. I wanted to exercise every day to build the habit so I split the exercises in half and rotated. Once my habit was basically built, I switched to doing the full routine several times a week. And then once I was a bit more accustomed I added some weights (10lbs). It is working well for me, so I will continue to do it until I need to level up.
Putting it Together
- I picked dancing as an activity that was relatively easy and fun.
- I watched a few dance cardio videos on YouTube for inspiration.
- I created a 30 minute play list to motivate myself and to mark the beginning and end of my routine.
- I augmented the routine with common exercises designed to increase heart rate.
- I picked a basic strength training routine that seemed simple and effective.
- I did this combo as many days as I could in a week.
My basic routine is simple, easy, not super exciting. However, I cracked the code of regular exercise without sacrificing anything else that was important to me. I have a basic foundation I can build from and I have managed to exercise most days for two months so far. Not everything in life needs to be interesting, epic and Instagram-worthy. Give yourself permission to be basic and effective.
Check out the following posts where I get more into the 3 components of building the Exercise habit: