I love New Year’s Day.
This didn’t used to be the case. New Year’s Day didn’t used to really resonate with me, probably because from the time I was a kid until a few years after I got out of college, my brain associated the start of the fall academic semester as the beginning of my year, not January 1st. Only after I started hanging out in Corporate America, and especially after my parents wound down their careers as college instructors did I start really thinking of January 1 as the beginning of my year.
Despite liking New Year’s Day as a time of reflection and goal-setting, I am not a big fan of the ubiquitous “New Year’s Resolution”. Seems to me like setting a resolution that starts on January 1 is a virtual guarantee of failure in a lot of cases – mostly because it seems like a lot of people choose the arbitrary date of New Year’s Date to try and change, add, or break a habit that they aren’t really ready to address yet. This is why I’m very careful about what resolutions or goals or whatever I pick, and also the timing of them.
What I’m Not Doing This New Year’s: Giving Up Diet Coke
The single biggest vice I have in my diet (and by diet, I mean “food and drink I regularly consume, not a specific weight-loss plan) is that I drink diet soda pretty much daily. This is not a good habit – caffeine and artificial sweeteners are definitely not things that anyone ought to be seeking to have MORE of every day. I sometimes think of ditching it, but when I really think about it realize that I really don’t want to do that yet. It’s stupid, and continuing isn’t terribly healthy, but the fact is by not adding the stressor of a resolution about quitting Diet Coke to my life, I’m actually better able to do some other things that are more important to me. I do look for ways to reduce the Diet Coke consumption from time to time – some of them last longer than others – but I don’t really feel like making a resolution that is doomed to fail because I don’t actually want to do it. Not the way to start my 2013.
What I Am Doing This New Year’s: The Workout Goal!
On the other side of the coin, I do have a workout/activity goal for 2013. I don’t really consider this a resolution so much as a plan to continue doing something I started previously. In 2010, I joined a gym and hired a trainer. In 2011, I continued working out at the gym and with the trainer and added a couple of things like Pilates and Swimming to the mix. At the beginning of 2012, I decided I wanted to make a measureable activity goal, so I set the objective to work out 200 times in 2012, which averages to about 4 times per week. Meeting that goal was actually harder than I thought it would be, but was one of the best things I could set for myself. I set up my environment to make it easy to track this goal – noting each workout on the wall calendar in my bathroom where I also log my weight every day. I told people about the goal, and I updated some of my friends and coaches on my progress. And at the end of the year, I had worked out 201 times.
For 2013, my objective is to beat my 2012 activity goal by 10% – so I’m going to work out 220 times in 2013. That is an average 4.23 times per week, every week, for 52 weeks of the year. I thought about making it more, but I decided that setting an objective that is more than 2012 but still feels attainable would put me in the best position for success. After all, I’m trying to work out and be healthy, not train for the Olympics or the Reebok CrossFit Games. This 10% increase is significant, but also leaves me room to try and continue upping the bar in future years if I choose.
So what is a workout, anyway?
I had a number of people ask me what I count as a workout when I was doing the 200 in 2012 challenge. After all, without some concrete criteria, it would be terribly easy to fudge the workout number. Here’s the method to the madness.
Stuff That Counts
- Attending a class or personal training session at a gym counts as a workout. Pilates Reformer class, CrossFit WOD, CrossFit mobility – all of those count. If I decide to buy a few one-on-one sessions with a trainer, that will also count. If I take 2 classes in one day, each counts as a workout.
- Long training sessions can count for multiple workouts. As an example, when I trained to walk a half marathon in 2012, I had a number of long training walks that took multiple hours. Because the intensity of training for this event somewhat limited my ability to get to the gym as many days in a week as I would have liked sometimes, I counted one workout for each full hour of training I did. Thus, a 3 hour training walk to get in 9-10 miles counted as 3 workouts.
- Getting more than 6000 steps according to my pedometer counts. If I do this on a day I also did a class, I do NOT count it because it’s highly likely a large percentage of the steps were attained in the class.
- Getting more than 30 floors of stairs according to my pedometer counts. On a normal day, I get anywhere from 4-8 flights of stairs registered on my pedometer. Again, if I do this on the day of another class, I don’t count it.
- Doing 20 minutes or more of meaningful activity outside a gym setting. An example of this is doing a Crossfit Travel WOD when I am unable to get to the box for a proper class, or doing a workout DVD at home.
The primary rationale behind the steps, stairs, and meaningful activity items is to give me a means to get a workout in when I might otherwise skip completely. While I find that I get a much better workout by attending a WOD at the box, if I’m not able to make it, I find that it is far better for me to spend some time taking a walk or doing something at home than it would be to completely skip activity.
Stuff That Doesn’t Count
- Days where my only activity is 100-day-challenge exercise. If I were to count a workout for each of my 100-day-pushup-challenge sessions, it would be far, far to easy to hit my 220 workout goal for the year. Since there are only 2 exercises in my current challenge, pushups and squats, it only takes a few minutes to do my challenge exercises. Should I start a challenge where the activity takes 20 minutes or more, then it would count as a workout based on the last criteria above.
I’m really looking forward to seeing how well I can do with this activity challenge this year. If you are looking to commit to making a positive change in your life, I strongly consider thinking about whether you can make it measureable and trackable to increase your chances of success!
Workout 1: Scheduled for Thursday, 1/3. Pilates Reformer. Can’t wait!