In years past, I’ve used various strategies to get motivated. I’ve committed to doing triathlons, or joined a new gym, or taken up a new sport.
But nothing was working. I just didn’t feel like it. Days went by in which I found myself too busy to jog or hit the gym. An expensive gym membership began to feel like a waste of money.
I began to despair a bit, because exercise is actually quite important to me. Like everyone else on earth, I’m getting older, and the more exercise I get now, the more pleasant my life is going to be 20 years on. And I may even get to see what life is like 50 or 60 years on, with some luck and some diligence.
Also, exercise keeps my stress levels down, and I think it keeps my immune system up, as well. And as long as I’m exercising regularly, I feel as if I’m taking reasonably good care of myself, which is in itself mood-lifting.
There was one strategy that a lot of people swear by that I’d never tried. People say that finding a workout partner can make all the difference, but my schedule is a bit wacky and I don’t know anyone who isn’t overscheduled these days. It just didn’t seem probable that anyone in my life was going to be available to work out when I was.
One of my closest friends, who happens to be Chris Hendrickson who has been writing the Valley News and the city council coverage, has also been an avid exercise buff for years, and she, too, was in a slump as winter drew to a close.
Then her boyfriend came up with a bright idea.
“Why don’t you do guys do 90 in 90?” he said.
For many in recovery from addiction or alcoholism, that is a very familiar phrase. A lot of times, people who are just starting out are advised to attend 90 support group meetings in 90 days while stabilizing in their new lifestyles.
I did 90 in 90 myself 10 years ago, and it was key for me.
So it seemed to Chris and I that it might be equally efficacious applied to exercise.
Chris and I were never going to find the time to work out together, so we decided to work out every day on our own for 90 days and together on the odd day it was possible, and keep a blog to track our progress.
Chris maintained the blog, and I reported my activities in the comments.
I don’t know if it was the challenge of it, the partnership aspect of it, or the public accountability, but both she and I did it.
We finished last week.
It was hard. I found myself quietly doing pushups at my parents’ house on a weekend visit. There were a lot of times I did yoga at midnight after a long day, or ran a couple miles in the rain because I didn’t have time to get to the gym.
On days when we really had no time, we did 50 pushups and 50 sit-ups and called it good. We weren’t training to be Marines, just getting ourselves back on track.
For about two months, I didn’t think it was doing me all that much good. I continued to run at a dismal pace, and pushups felt like torture.
But then, rather abruptly, it all started paying off. I ran the fastest mile of my life. Then I ran the fastest two miles of my life. If I was in exercise class, I realized I was not scared of anything the instructor was likely to pitch at us. My arm muscles got bigger than I’d ever seen them.
The best thing was that I got my confidence in myself back. Working out every single day took a discipline I hadn’t been sure I had anymore.
So I thought I’d write about the experience because we sure can’t be the only two people struggling to get motivated to exercise. If that sounds like you, see if you’ve got a friend who will accept a 90-in-90 challenge, and keep track on Facebook or a blog.
It worked for Chris and me.
But this week, I tell you, I’m not doing one single pushup.