I exercised 142 times in 2021.
When I took a count in July, I anticipated missing about 10 workouts through the remainder of the year, but I actually missed just one.
At 3x per week, I was lucky enough to work out about 47 of 52 weeks. That makes 2021 yet another good year in terms of physical activity and exercise compliance.
Here is the monthly breakup:
|Jan||9||Skipped the first week|
|Mar||12||Skipped the last week|
|Jun||9||Skipped the second week and missed one session in the first week|
|Aug||12||Missed one session in the first week|
|Dec||11||Skipped last week|
|Total||142||~ 12 more than the anticipated range of 120-130|
Currently, I am at the fag end of the two-week year-end break.
What next? Nothing unusual. This is just a milestone. There are no finish lines.
As I look forward to redoing it all again in 2022, I want to recount a few principles that have helped me maintain solid exercise compliance since 2014.
The most important principle:
- Tying my habit to my identity. I learned about this technique on James Clear’s blog. I keep reminding myself that I am the kind of person who don’t miss workouts. This helps me prioritize exercising and get back on track when I fell of it.
Here are a few other tricks and quirks that work for me:
- I expect to work out only three times per week: full body on Mondays, upper body on Wednesdays, and legs on Thursdays. Each workout is about 60 minutes and gets me about 150-180 minutes of physical activity over the week. No less. No more. I don’t have time to do more, and any less is inadequate. Three is the ideal number for me. There are also a few more advantages of planning to do only three workouts a week.
- Exercising only three days a week leaves four more days to rejig and complete the workouts in the busier weeks. Ideally, I would exercise Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday. But pragmatically, it could be any combination of three days between Monday and the following Sunday.
- Just three workouts a week means completing each one gives me the satisfaction of achieving 33% progress. If I could drag myself to complete the first exercise of the week (usually on Mondays when the motivation surges), I would have garnered significant momentum to do one more. Then it is just another workout to ✔️ the week.
- I purposely plan to miss out and skip some days here and there because life happens, I am too busy, or simply not in a mood to workout. I am not stubborn, and sometimes I will swing with everything else. That’s normal. Trying to exercise like a maniac without missing a beat is impractical, demotivating, and frustrating.
- I’m not too fond of gyms. I believe gyms charge for using their equipment and add an extra commuting overhead. So instead, I bought my own kettlebells and workout from home. I started home workouts in 2018, years before Covid forced everything to happen from home. I intend to buy some more equipment as we go.
- My trainer is my friend and a past coworker. I am lucky to have them plan my workouts according to my ability and equipment, and hold me accountable. I pay them weekly that’s much lower than a typical gym subscription but still amounts to significant money over the year. That’s one of the best invesments I make in myself.
- I exercise at the end of the day, so I eat mindfully throughout the day to keep myself conditioned to work out.
- My week feels incomplete if I don’t get three workouts done. Whenever I exercise, I mark it as E on the giant wall calendar and the weekly planner notebook. That depicts the momentum visually and keeps me going.
- Exercising with weights is a significant part of my physical activity. Still, I also embrace other forms of physical activities at varying frequencies, like vacuuming, lawn mowing, weed pulling, walking, running, and playing with my son.
Years ago, I read Gretchen Rubin’s book on habits titled Better than Before. One of the takeaways from that book had helped me prioritise exercising when I first started in 2014. Gretchen says everyone should focus on four foundational habits: eating well, getting enough sleep, some form of physical movement, and decluttering. I am unsure if decluttering is foundational (although I like to declutter), but I agree with the first three and have prioritised exercising ever since. This, plus being in the company of people who love and promote a healthier lifestyle, and importantly, how I feel when I exercise, gets me going.
Looking forward to continuing my momentum into 2022!