My simple fitness hack

3 May 2018

I’ve been going over my survey results recently (as you may have noticed!), and one of the most frequently-requested topics was… fitness. You very kind ladies wanted to hear about my fitness routines, and to that I say: LOLOLOLOLOLOL. There are many things I feel I’m qualified to talk about, but fitness is probably not one of them.

I don’t have a great track record, after all — at least post-pregnancy. Before June arrived, John and I had a good routine going: we ran a few times a week, would take long (20-30 mile) bike rides on the weekends, and played tennis with friends. I also once used up a full 20-class pass at Pure Barre and for a few months I became a ballerina again before scheduling issues got in the way.

bike riding

Currently, my main exercise comes in the form of a brisk walk as many evenings as possible (usually 5/7 in warm weather months!). We also hike maybe one weekend a month, and June and I go for a walk amble many afternoons, as well.

Noticeably absent from that list? Anything approaching strength training, and anything that results in heavy breathing. So clearly there are holes in my fitness routine that I look forward to addressing when our kiddos are a little bit older and/or we have a little more room in our budget for babysitters.

BUT. Just because I can’t at this stage of my life completely overhaul my routine as I might like, that doesn’t mean I’m completely stuck. Little by little progress can add up, and I’ve learned I’m most likely to make that progress when it’s easy, for better or worse.

Recently, reading The Tech-Wise Family gave me an idea. Here’s the quote that inspired me:

As popularized in Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein’s fascinating book by the same name, nudges are small changes in the environments around us that make it easier for us to make the choices we want to make or want others to make. Nudges don’t generally make us do anything, but they make certain choices easier and more likely. They don’t focus so much on changing anything about our own preferences and ability to choose well; they simply put the best choice right in front of us and make the wrong choice harder.”

Longtime readers may recall this is very similar to the idea from The Happiness Advantage that inspired our guitar placement to great effect.

Once again, I put the best choice right in front of myself: I moved my free weights to the floor of our master bathroom. Then, while June takes her nightly bath, I work my way through a few arm exercises: bicep curls, tricep curls, and other-things-I-don’t-have-a-name-for-including-raising-my-arms-out-to-the-side. I do each until I can feel the burn, and then I move on to the next one. Nothing too fancy.

I’m going to be in the bathroom for those ten minutes anyway, the weights are already there, and so there is almost literally NO WAY for me to avoid doing those arm exercises. That’s the kind of workout I need! I’m proud to say I’ve already moved from two to five pound weights :)

Have y’all ever used this trick to form a habit? It’s a good one!

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May 3, 2018 7:07 am

I like your weights idea! I’ve used this trick to try and eat more salads for lunch because when I bring a bread or heavy food option I get very sleepy about 2 hours post lunch (right when I teach my middle school kiddos). I just started buying only salad stuff so that when I went to make my lunch my choice was made for me! Now I really love the salads and miss having one if I eat different lunch on the weekends! I also have enough afternoon energy to keep up (mostly) with my craziest students :)

May 3, 2018 7:39 am

This is fantastic Em! I think that the theory of “it’s easier to do something all the time than once in a while” applies here too. I’m thinking of trying to add a plank pose or some squats to my daily routine. As you said, it adds up!

May 3, 2018 8:31 am

I love that idea, putting the best choice right in front of you. I’m definitely going to be looking for ways to put better choices in front of me so it’s easier to make that choice into a habit.

May 4, 2018 6:20 am

I have been meaning to ask you how ballet class was going! I’m sorry to hear the schedule didn’t end up working out. Not too long till June can go!!

I used to keep my weights and kettlebell in my living room when I was doing Tone It Up workouts every day so I am a big believer in this advice! Right now, I’m trying to do things that help me to remember to pray throughout the day. I’ve been trying to add some sort of physical reminder in different places where my mind is often idle (like above the sink for when I’m doing dishes). So far, it has been helpful, though there are still a handful of places I want to hit :)

Kelly Strawberry
May 4, 2018 12:23 pm

LOL at “other-things-I-don’t-have-a-name-for” :) I’m so clueless with strength training too!

May 8, 2018 10:18 am

I keep weights & bands out in my room, too. It does drive me crazy because they’re just under my dresser, but I do use them daily. I started going to a personal trainer (with a friend to cut down on cost!) once a week and I love it because our trainer gives us a routine each week to do several times/week at home. It takes the thinking out of it for me AND the accountability is crucial here. Sadly, I get too complacent/unmotivated otherwise. I find that there are a TON of great, quick workouts on youtube, too and it helps me to keep things interesting and to see a guide so I know that I’m doing it right.