I just love this time of the year. I’ve been in a sweetspot of visioning, planning, and goal setting for a couple weeks.
I’ve got the VCW, family, and Inland calendars more or less in one place. I’m working in the VCW budget and have already done work on the family one (healthcare benefits changed again so we had some good and hard conversations at home).
Having recently had another check up at NitroFitness, the gym I’ve been going to for over a year now, I’ve found my body fat is down about 4%. Not where I want it but definitely moving in the right direction!
That reminded me of an article I wrote a couple years back about excercise called “The 15’s: Fitness for the Rest of Us.” It’s published in a few places including SelfGrowth.com. This is what helped me get started on a regular excercise habit. I offer it to you now in it’s entirety.
The 15’s: Fitness for the rest of us – By Marc A. Pitman Â
Weâ€™ve read it all before. Exercise is good for us. 20 minutes of aerobic exercise, three times a week will increase our energy levels and change our life. If we want to have a long and enjoyable life, we need to be intentional about our physical fitness. If we want to lose weight, we need to take in fewer calories and burn off more.
Health clubs probably make a mint off of all of us that have signed up during the high of a New Yearâ€™s resolution to get in shapeâ€¦and then never used the membership to its fullest. I travel a lot and often choose my hotel based, in part, on whether it has a fitness â€œclub.â€ But I rarely use it. Do I feel more virtuous by being in the same building as one?
A few times in my life Iâ€™ve gotten into a really good routine of aerobic workout. Then some pivotal life change would happenâ€”graduating from college, a child being bornâ€”and Iâ€™d be off track for months. Even during those â€œonâ€ times, something seemed off. For one thing, why did it always seem to take much longer than 20 minutes to get 20 minutes of aerobic activity?
WHY DOES 20 MINUTES TAKE SO LONG?
Every one thatâ€™s watched a Richard Simmonsâ€™ video knows you should stretch before and after a workout. But to stretch without warming up is to do your muscles an injustice. Who wants to be unjust? So, youâ€™re there at least 15 minutes before you even get your heart rate up. Then it takes 5 or 10 minutes to hit â€œofficialâ€ aerobic activity. Then, if you can make it 20 minutes, you are supposed to cool down, letting your heart recuperate from actually being used. After that is the obligatory stretch.
For overachievers like myself, the stretching was modeled after the hour long aerobics classes Iâ€™d taken on and off over my life. So not only was it another 20 minutes, you still donâ€™t want to be unjust, but it really ended with a relaxation/meditation sequence. All of a sudden, the 20 minute resolution Iâ€™d made in a fit of virtue is now taking 90 minutes and Iâ€™m late for work! Strangely, every morning I seemed surprised that 20 minutes really took 90. Every morning. When will the madness end?
Some of you have no problem at all with this. Exercise is a normal part of your daily routine and you budget your time accordingly. Wonderful! Then there are the rest of us. Iâ€™m not a medical expert but getting exercise to be as normal as eating is one of my magnet goalsâ€”one of the goals that make up my daily compass. Hereâ€™s something that Iâ€™ve stumbled on that may help those of us that donâ€™t have it all together. I call it â€œthe 15â€™s.â€
Shortly after I turned 30, I bought a treadmill. (For some reason, my wife thinks the two are connected.) One of the cool features of this treadmill is a simple set of lights that tells me if my exercise is merely â€œwarm up/cool downâ€ activity or â€œfat burningâ€ intensity. I found that if I do a 15 minute mile, a â€œ4â€ on our machine, Iâ€™m in the â€œfat burningâ€ mode the whole time. I love to read and at this speed Iâ€™m still able to read a book. This pace is a quick walk for me so Iâ€™m not bouncing around as I would if I were jogging. And, since itâ€™s walking, I donâ€™t feel I need to stretch. It would obviously be better if I did but I rationalize it be saying I donâ€™t stretch after walking to the store.
This system worked well for me but I noticed that my upper body wasnâ€™t getting as buff as Iâ€™d liked. So I started doing 15 crunches and 15 push ups. Those take no time at all. And the pay off is incredible. The â€œ20 minutes of exerciseâ€ really is 20 minutes. And I find myself benefiting from those 20 minutes all day long! I wake up as completely-â€”or more completely-â€”than with a cup of coffee! So I get to actually savor my coffee later at breakfast. And Iâ€™m still reading my books!
I shoot for doing my â€œ15â€™sâ€ three times a week. Thatâ€™s 3 more miles per week than I was doing before. I know itâ€™s better if I add the warm up and cool down and increase the aerobic time to 20 or 30 minutes. But Iâ€™m just glad to be doing something. Especially something thatâ€™s working consistently. [Disclaimer: Iâ€™m sharing something that Iâ€™ve found beneficial. You should always consult your physician before starting this or any exercise program.]Â