Wednesday, November 6, 2013

30 Day Challenge #2: Exercise Everyday for 1 hour Without a Gym Membership

Exercise is something that has been an important part of my life for many years. I am always striving to become more consistent with my workout routine, and to find what kind of routine works best for me and my fitness goals. One thing that I have discovered about myself is that I LOVE CLASSES. I first started out taking classes in college about 9 years ago as a way to start my day: Yoga, Dance Aerobics, Kickbox Aerobics, Step Aerobics, Pilates, Body Pump, you name it. I fell in love! Classes offered variety, a structured framework, and the mental stimulation that kept me engaged. When I graduated from college I transitioned to 24 fitness classes, and have tried nearly every class available. I also take advantage of the random Groupon at other fitness studios from time to time.

In recent months I have found myself less consistent with my exercise routine than in previous years/months. In a good month I would often complete 2 hours of gym classes after work ~4 days out of the week. Of course even then I wasn't content with that, as I really expected myself to exercise EVERYDAY. The point is, my exercise habits have always been a work in progress, with some periods being more consistent than others.

So part of the rationale behind this challenge was to increase my consistency. Consistency is EVERYTHING! You could have the most beautiful behaviors for days on end, but if you are not consistent you are not going to experience the results you are looking for. End of story. And like most people, consistency is something I struggle with in all areas of life.

To help increase my consistency, I lowered my expectations in the number of hours that I planned to exercise each day (1 instead of 2 hours), and instead increased the number of days I would expect myself to exercise (7 days a week, instead of 4-6 days a week).

Beyond increasing consistency, another part of the challenge was to see if I could create a successful routine without a gym membership. Deprived of my beloved classes and gym equipment, I knew I would have to get creative.

Part of the reason for this challenge was to save money on a gym membership for a few months. And another reason was that I felt it would help me expand my exercise horizons. And it did.

The following is a list of the exercise that I completed over the course of 30 Days:

Day 1
Solo Living Room Dance Party 60 Minutes
Walking 15 minutes

Day 2
Yoga 30 Minutes
Walking 40 minutes

Day 3
Dancing 60 minutes

Day 4
Walking 70 minutes
Dancing 60 minutes
Moving Heavy Items 30 minutes

Day 5
Walking 60 minutes
Dancing 30 minutes

Walking 30 minutes
Dancing 10 minutes

Day 7
Walking 35 minutes
Dancing 25 minutes

Day 8
Rollerblading 60 minutes

Day 9
Walking 35 minutes
Ab Workout 20 minutes
Running+Pushups+Squats+Abs 30 minutes

Day 10
Yoga 60 minutes

Day 11
2+ hours of packing/unpacking heavy items
2+ hours walking
5+ hours of dancing
(This was at YOUtopia music festival)

Day 12
3+ hours walking/hiking

Day 13
2+ hours walking
6+ hours dancing

Day 14
2+ hours walking/hiking/paking

Day 15 21
1 hour hiking

Abs 30 minutes

Day 17
Rollerblading 60 minutes

Day 18
Yoga 60 minutes

Day 19
Abs 30 minutes
Dancing 30 minutes

Day 20

Yoga 10 minutes

Day 22

Day 23

Day 24
Hiking 3 hours, 15 minutes

Day 25
Rollerblading 60 minutes
Walking 20 minutes

Day 26
Walking 2 hours
Dancing 4 hours

Walking 10 minutes
Hula Hooping 10 mintues

Walking 10 minutes

Day 29

Day 30
30 minutes walking
60 minutes hiking

In total I was successful 22 out of 30 days, not meeting the 60 minute criteria on 8 of the days. I am actually pretty disappointed with the results of this challenge, especially considering that some of the days I exercised the workout was not particularly intense (e.g. walking). But rather than beat myself up, I am going to examine my experiences and use them to refocus my energy in the future.

Some findings that were supported from this challenge are the following:

1) My favorite forms of at-home exercise include: dancing, rollerblading, hiking and yoga. If you do something you enjoy you are much more likely to be consistent with it.

2) Weekends are always a challenging time for me to work out, even though I tend to be fairly active during these times.

3) Overall it was very manageable to complete a consistent work-out routine at home.

4) I still prefer the structure, stimulation, intensity, and variety of a gym class.

5) It helps to start the day with exercise.

6) Doing an at-home plan allows for more fun adventures in the outdoors. I was able to explore hiking trails, and rollerblade by the beach on multiple occassions.

7) Solo dance parties are a lot of fun!!! It's a better workout than many dance aerobics classes and better music too! It's also a good exercise in letting go of self-conscious thoughts, and to improve your dancing.

8) Leading my own yoga routine is very possible, but not preferable to classes. It was particularly difficult to fill 60 minutes in my own routine compared to a class which seems to fly by.

9) Camping music festivals are the best place to get exercise that is both intense and enjoyable.

10) I need to do this challenge again.

I was fairly consistent with exercise, and had a decent variety but I could do much better. Additionally during this time I was striving for a healthy diet which I would say I did well 50% of the time whereas 25% of the time it was mixed, and 25% of the time it was downright horrible. Over the course of the challenge I lost up to 4 lbs, but ended up only losing a net weight of 1 lb by the end. Very disappointing...

I'm actually embarrassed to share this on a certain level, but my desire for scientific inquiry, authenticity and honesty outweighs my desire to avoid embarrassment. It's possible that a small amount of the variance is from muscle gain, but I have no way of going back and measuring that now. And even if there was some muscle gain that explains why I didn't lose very much weight in my efforts, I imagine the possible impact was very modest (~l lb).

In terms of my very limited weight loss, I don't blame the exercise as much as I do the inconsistencies with my diet. Years of experimentation with diet/exercise, as well as research I have done on the subject, suggest that diet is the most critical contributor to weight loss or gain. So while I plan on continuing my exercise routine and aiming for at least an hour a day, I know that what really needs to change is my consistency with healthy eating. (If my goal is weight loss that is.)

Which leads me to my next challenge...


Try to contain your gasps of disbelief and horror.

Until next time....cheers!!! *Clinks water glass*

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