Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Changes to Physical Activity During My Journey to Better Health

Good afternoon!

I thought I would continue with my posts on the changes I have made on my journey to better health today by talking about physical activity. Like I did in the post about the nutritional changes I have made, I will break this post into the following: an overview of what I was doing prior to starting, what I started out doing, what tweaks I made along the way, what I currently am doing, and key learning points. Again, feel free to ask me any questions if something isn’t clear or you want more detail about something. 

  • Prior to Starting: Before I made the commitment to work towards my better health journey, I avoided physical activity in every way possible. I spent a lot of time sitting on the couch watching TV or surfing the web. Honestly, because I was in such poor condition health wise, even walking fairly short distances was difficult.
  • What I Started Out Doing: I started to add physical activity to my plan about 2 weeks into the journey. Since the weather at the time was cold since it was still winter, I began with doing Walk Away The Pounds DVD’s 3 days a week after work. You can see some the titles I used here.  The thing I liked about those DVD’s is that although they were challenging to me they weren’t so above my really poor fitness level that I couldn’t complete them. 
  • Tweaks I made along the way: There have been lots of changes that I have made throughout the journey. Once warmer weather was here during the first year, I switched from doing the DVD’s listed above to walking outside. I started with 30 mins a day and worked my way up to about 90 mins by the end of the summer. Here is a benefit to my job here, I’m off both June and July so I had much more time at my disposal to focus on getting workouts in. I also was trying to do more activity just by changing the way I did some everyday things like parking further from the store, taking the long way to the dumpster, etc. When the weather turned colder again, I switched back to doing the DVD’s. I had invested a little money into getting a couple of new DVD’s in the Walk Away The Pounds series to try to keep things fresh. I also was doing them about 5 times a week. By February, I was seeing that I was bored with doing the DVD’s. This is where cycling comes into play for me. I had gotten my Trek Hybrid Bike a few years before this and I had hardly used it. I kept thinking I wanted to have a stationary bike but I really didn’t have the funds to purchase one that would be good quality. I found an awesome deal on an indoor trainer   that I could attach my bike to that would allow me to use it like a stationary bike. So, I began riding 30 mins for 5 days a week. Once the weather got warmer that second spring, I started riding outside, and found I loved it! By the end of the summer I was riding 6 days a week for an hour. During that summer I also started to incorporate strength training by using dumbbells and resistance tubes and did that twice a week. Again the cold weather set in and I went back to indoor trainer and kept with my strength training. I started cycling outside once the weather got warmer and by the end of the third summer I was riding 6 days a week for anywhere from 12-18 miles at a time. Also during that summer, I was adding an hour walk in about 4 days a week in the evenings.    
  • What I’m doing now: Well I had a bike accident this past September that put an early end to my outdoor rides this year. (Note to self: taking a turn at 20 miles an hour when there is gravel, the road is wet from rain the night before, and your back tire is worn down is just asking for trouble!)  During my recovery, I switched over to my indoor trainer but it took about a month for me to really be able to do any strenuous workouts on it. I also was seeing that I was getting bored and a little frustrated with using the trainer during that time. So I knew it was time for a change up. I still wanted to stay in shape to cycle once the weather goes back to being warm but I also knew I needed to take a more balanced approach to my overall fitness. So currently I still ride on the indoor trainer, but I’m focusing on interval training when I do. I am also doing fewer sessions a week. To help balance out my fitness I have turned to doing workouts on my Wii, with their Active game, new DVD’s that are more challenging and more circuit training focused, and I have made my strength training sessions longer and more frequent. So far I am seeing changes and also seeing my overall fitness and strength changing for the better.
  • Key Learning Points:   I learned the following key things about physical activity that work for me: 
    • Starting slow was best for me and building up to higher levels of activity kept me challenged but kept me feeling like I was failing because I couldn’t do so many things in the beginning.
    • Riding my bike outside has been not only good for my physical fitness but is also good for my soul because it allows me to discover the beauty in nature in the areas I ride. 
    • Change, even though it makes me uncomfortable at times, is necessary to keep moving towards better fitness. 
    • The stronger I get the more confidence I gain.
    • I would much rather workout outside than inside.
So did you notice something about my progression with physical fitness? Maybe you didn’t pick up on it but I never once have stepped into a gym to workout. I even have a free membership to the campus gym because I’m an employee, but I have never gone there to work out.  There are a couple reasons for this. First, being that when my fitness level was so poor I was too embarrassed to go. Second, is I like doing things on my schedule and having all the tools I need at home takes away of the excuse the gym is closed. And finally, learning how to workout at home has taught me I can workout anywhere, including when I’m away for work or on vacation.

So maybe you are confused about my desire to be a personal trainer but I don’t workout in a gym. Well my plan is to ultimately start my own personal training business and train people from their homes. I will likely start with a part-time job at a gym while I still hold my current position, to get experience but eventually I will break out on my own.

Questions for you:
What does your fitness plan look like?
What changes have you made over your journey to better health?
Are you a gym person, workout from home, or a combo of both?

Quote of the Day: 
“Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity.” ~ John Fitzgerald Kennedy


  1. Great post. I love your philosophy of starting off slow. It's so reasonable. That's why fad diets and weight loss plans don't work, because it's like BAM! DON'T EAT THIS AND WORKOUT THIS MUCH! You go from nothing to HUGE changes in one day, which is why people fail. I did notice you didn't go to the gym, and I think that's fantastic. I used to not like gyms, but since I can't run outside (ankles and shins can't take it) I really can't do much without good gym equipment. I do speed walking sometimes outside though. I like to use my yoga and pilates tapes in my home too, plus my ball and bands!

  2. I don't find it strange that you don't work out in a gym. I was working with my trainer today and he was talking about how you can get such a great workout with a small number of pieces of equipment. The program he has given me to take home kicks my butt and I already owned most of the necessary pieces. (I splurged on a Bosu Ball-well worth it!)

    Best of luck with your career!

  3. I was doing 30 minutes of walking 3 days of week and wii fit 2-3 days a week for 30 minutes so I was exercising 6 days a week, but in smaller increments. Now that it's freezing(literally) I've been doing wii fit plus 5 days a week and going to the gym one weekend day, and I'm getting super, super bored. I've asked for a stationary bike and some new workout dvds for christmas, so hopefully this will have been the last week of boredom! :)

  4. You've got a great point there. Everything must start from the mind in order to achieve the goal of having a healthy body. I am glad that there are sites like this that gives information to people in order to get healthy and have proper solution.