The pademic hasn’t been great for so many people’s health and fitness. Many are staying home, living more sedentary lives than before, on top of lives that were already probably pretty sedentary. That’s exactly why, now, over a year into it, it’s time to invest in our fitness again. If not now, then when?
I’ve actually been able to get far more into fitness over the past several months than I ever had before. Since I don’t have to spend an hour and fifteen minutes each way on a daily commute, I’ve been able to split the extra time between more time with my kids and putting in time working out. I’ve been running for a while, but it’s only recently that I’ve actually begun to consistently put in a 20 minute strength workout pretty much every morning, and I definitely feel results. Everyone should take any time they can to take even a few minutes for themselves each day to get more fit.
I didn’t invest a whole lot in my own fitness much throughout my early life and 20s. My fitness and activity was on and off at best. I played soccer for a year, did some swimming, practiced Taekwondo, and that was about it for years. In high school, I somehow managed to do the presidential fitness test for running a mile in twenty minutes, slower than I now hike with two five year olds and an old dog. My twentys were only slightly better.
I didn’t run or workout at all until I was nearly thirty. I wish I could say I didn’t worry about it, or didn’t need to because I had high metabolism, but none of that is true. I did think about it, especially as my weight crept up after college, just not enough to change anything or do anything about it. As I went from walking around a college campus with lots of steps, to a commute with some walking, to one where I drove, all while continuing to eat everything and too much of it all, I kept getting heavier.
Finally, around the time I turned 28 or 29, I agreed to do something about it. I started P90X, the at home workout that had a moment of fame in the early 2010s with a high intensity workout with a variety of areas of focus. We completed the first sixty days, but got a bit more sporadic with the workouts in the last thirty - it was ninety days, hence the 90 in P90X. Some of the workouts were just a bit too long for the evenings when I would finally get to them. I also came to realize during this time that I was much more likely to workout consistently in the morning than after a day of work and other priorities. We even bought weights to use for this, the same set I am still using several years later. I even managed to start dropping weight during this time. It started slowly, but once we got into a regular schedule with working out almost every day, I started dropping a pound or two every week.
Once I finally dropped some of that weight, I was able to consider other forms of exercise. We flirted with P90X and some of its cousins like Insanity - remember Sean T - and some fit challenges from various websites, but nothing really stuck. In the meantime, I started to pick running back up again, getting more serious from my handful of recreational runs in college. In 2014, I signed up for, and began training for the NYC marathon, picking up the amount I ran and the frequency of my runs ever since as I ran more and began focussing not only on distance but an actual training schedule. Last year, I ran my farthest distance ever, my first 50K, and all throughout COVID have been able to run on a regular basis throughout the week.
What really changed for me recently though was when we got our Peloton bike, and maybe more importantly, the digital membership. It wasn’t immediate, but once we got it, we started doing strength workouts more frequently, culminating in daily arm and core workouts each week. We’ve experimented with the set programs too, but I actually prefer a daily 20 minute - the maximum time I can focus on a workout without feeling like a huge time suck, but enough to get a good workout - strength workout that I can change frequently thanks to the huge back catalog and frequency of new workouts each week. For whatever reason, whenever I start to feel motivation slacking, there’s something to pull me back in to my daily routine of workouts. It could be a new class with a music theme I like, or a new one from one of my favorite instructors, or seeing an entire month filled out on my workout calendar, or the introduction of new features like the strive score to pump me up for one more workout.
Through the pandemic, I’m down another ten pounds, and for the first time in my life, I can start to see the outline of some tone on my arms and stomach, though I’m still battling the effect of all the craft beer. But the effect goes way beyond just the weight loss. I have far more energy now than I did when I was carting around an extra eighty pounds in my 20s. I sleep far better, both from being exhausted and from breathing far easier with a dramatically lower resting heart rate. I also just feel better about myself and have more pride in myself which translates in my mood and outlook.
I wish everyone could feel this way. I wish I could have had an extra decade of feeling this way had I decided to invest and focus on my fitness and health earlier on. Everyone can benefit from a few minutes of self care each day to greatly improve their physical and mental health. For me, running is my meditation, but a bit of strength work has become my stress relief and improved how I feel about myself. If I knew I could have all of this from the small investment of time I’ve put in, I would have made this time years ago. I’m glad I discovered it now while I still have many years of benefit ahead of me, rather than waiting too long. If you haven’t yet, it’s time to start making the investment in yourself.