A Fitness Regimen That Works

I used to be fit enough that when I was applying for a new job with some old colleagues, one of them remarked "You look really fit!"  Of course my first thought was "can you say something like that in a job interview?!"  And then later I thought "wow I guess I'm really fit".

Back then, my workout was simple.  Every morning before my shower, I'd do a bunch of push-ups and sit-ups.  That was it!

Now that I'm 40 (argh) and now that one of our Fire Island neighbors is a ridiculously fit and good-looking man, and now that several of my friends of similar age have health problems related to their lack of exercise, it's time to GET FIT.

But how?  As with sleep discipline, the main thing is finding designing a routine that is especially chosen to be attractive to you, habit-forming, and easier to do than to avoid.

That means:
  • I do some form of exercise every day.  This rule is important because then my day feels incomplete unless I've done some exercise.  It is designed to trigger my mild OCD - a day without exercise ain't right!
  • The day's exercise always comes before the day's shower.  Taking two showers a day is a waste of time that horrifies me to the point that I'd avoid exercise with the rationalization that the second shower consumes time I can't afford to lose.  It's a stupid rationalization but I've done it plenty of times.  So exercise must precede the day's shower.
  • To complement the previous rule, it's completely good and acceptable if that exercise is the 7-minute workout.  Usually, anything I learn from the New York Times is considered false until proven otherwise by other sources.  But in this case, the content of the workout closely resembles what my expensive NYSC trainer used to do with me for two years of workouts, so I consider it quite likely to be good.
  • There is a wonderful interactive guide/timer for the 7-minute workout: http://7-min.com.  Check it out!  With this guide, it's easier to do it right than to do it wrong.  Just follow the damn instructions.
  • I must get at least 90 minutes of exercise per week.  I log all my exercise using the RunKeeper app.  I love to run, which is how I found the app in the first place.  With two 30-minute runs and five 7-minute workouts, I get over the 90 minute mark.  I can easily track how I'm doing towards my 90 minutes on my RunKeeper report page here (I had to upgrade to Elite to get this, $20/year).
The final component of the system involves a horrifying penalty that raises the specter of mass armed anarchy, an endless cycle of escalating gun violence, children running armed through the street.  It's really quite neat.

My friend Todd and I have an ongoing bet.  If either one of us gets less than 90 minutes of exercise in a given week, then a donation is made to the National Rifle Association in the name of the person who didn't get enough exercise.  The first donation will be $25, and it will double each time.  If sending $25 to Wayne isn't enough to make you exercise, how about $50?  Or $100 or $200?

That's an anti-charity, a concept I first heard about from a wonderful site called Stickk, which was founded by the brilliant Prof Dean Karlan who does groundbreaking work in behavioral economics.

(For those of you who think the NRA does good work, please don't be offended but rather be pleased that your cause can only stand to gain from this setup.)

So, do you think it will work?  Care to take a bet?  :)  How do you enforce exercise discipline?

No comments:

Post a Comment