Focusing on the Foundations
Goal: Consistent exercise
If I put exercise on my resolution list, I end up feeling guilty. But I feel guilty if it's not on my list, so it might as well stay there.
Last spring my reasonably good exercise habit was sidelined by an injury. Nothing serious, but it hurt to walk, and since walking was the heart and soul of my exercise, all things ground to a halt for half a year. Longer than that, actually: I was feeling better after six months, but by then I was out of the habit and into the holidays. But in that time I could feel my body deteriorating, much more than ever before, so I know I must make this a priority. And an important part of the plan must be alternatives so that minor injuries don't devastate the whole enterprise.
One thing I've learned is that for me, at this point in my life, I have to make the plan simple and easy. Part of the struggle was designing a workable metric. After all, "consistent exercise" is not a very specific goal. In the end, I stripped it all down to time. More than any specific exercise goals, I just need to get moving. I almost reduced it still further to "exercise events," i.e. one point for every time I got out the door for a walk, or took the time to do some pushups, or whatever. However, I did want to complicate things enough to include in some way the whole trio of "frequency, intensity, and duration." And so, voilà! the "exercise-minute."
The exercise-minute takes into account the intensity of an exercise. For normal walking, biking, and swimming, 1 minute = 1 exercise-minute. For running, sprint biking or really fast swimming, 1 minute = 10 exercise-minutes. I just made that ratio up; the point isn't to be specific in terms of health benefits, but to encourage activities that will provide more cardiovascular benefits. In addition, I want to include other exercises, such as those for flexibility, balance, and strenthening my core and upper body, and I can't do (say) 30 minutes of pushups with the ease I can walk for the same time. For the moment, I'm using the same 10:1 ratio for these; as I said, I need to keep it simple or I will spend all my time tweaking the metric and not setting foot out of the house.
Here's what the graph looks like so far. Like the sleep graph (and unlike the reading charts), it's not cumulative; I want to see how I do from day to day. I began on Monday, and have as yet done nothing but walk. But a start is a start!