How I got myself to exercise today

July 5, 2014

Question:
“How do you become more productive?”

Richard Branson:
“…. work out”

cheetah
TL;DR: I came. I saw. I conquered. Kidding. I gamified cardio exercise today by using a heart rate monitor & doing random things to keep me in ideal zone. Time flew, it was fun, hope to do it again.

There are two kinds of guys.

The 1st guy is into physical activities (football, hiking, running, outdoorsy)
The other is into mental activities (reading, learning, puzzles, strategies, thinking)

The goal, I guess, is to be a healthy balance of both.

I’m in the latter camp.
I can work out my brain as much as possible daily and it’s fun. I like to read books, articles, listen to audiobooks, use spreadsheets, blog, listen to speeches, podcasts, play strategy games, think, journal, on and on.

I don’t understand exercise at all. I don’t like doing it. I dont want to do it. I dont understand how people do it.

The problem with this is that exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. Exercise increases overall energy, so that thinking becomes better.

And I have yet to figure out how to get myself to exercise regularly.

In the past 16years, I’ve tried:
– weight lifting with three different buff friends
– joined countless gyms
– hired four different personal trainers
– p90x
– ddp yoga & yoga for regular guys
– bought two heart rate monitors
– wii fit
– pull up bars
– kettlebell swings
– exercise bands
– walking
– tae kwon do lessons
– dance lessons
hackers diet exercise
– jillian michaels dvds
– bodybuilding books
– blah blah blah

I had to first define what exercise meant for me.


1. Feeling good
vs
2. Being muscular (or other specific fitness goal)

Feeling good takes a little bit of exercise/daily movement. It could be walking, jogging in place, jumping jacks, throwing the football around, walking up and down the stairs a bunch of times, etc.

Being muscular means a regimented schedule of intense workouts & nutrition.

I decided to start with just trying to feel good physically.

And I had to admit that I’m starting at a complete newbie level.
It’s day one. I’ve been sedentary for far too long.

That is hard to admit to myself.

Most programs fail because I’m trying to take graduate level classes when I really belong in preschool.

Today’s successful experiment:

Last nite, made a mental note that I wanted to work out this morning. Had no clue what I’d do. But just a mental image of me doing something.

This morning, ate light breakfast.
Did NOT want to work out.

I have some options:
1. kettlebell swings – kind of a hassle
2. exercise bands – bigger hassle to set up
3. ddp yoga mp3 version – ive done this many times before, hard for me to listen to same thing over and over
4. hackers diet exercise – super easy but don’t feel like doing it.
5. walking in place, jogging & jumping jacks – my modified version of high intensity interval cardio, where you go high intensity for a while, then low intensity. This seems like the way to go.

So my mind does not want to do anything. It’s day damn one of preschool. And I dont’ want to go!

I decided to take the smallest baby step.
Let me put on my polar heart rate monitor, just to see how it feels. And to check what my current rate is. It’s been a year since I’ve put it on.

Ok, done. Heart rate is around 75.

Then I thought, what is cardio anyways?
I guess getting the heart to beat at a certain range for a certain amount of time.

I popped in the ddp yoga dvd. Immediately felt this sudden urge to not want to do it.

Ok, is this going to be another failed day of not exercising?
I pace around my apartment like a cat not wanting to go to the vet.
Oh, my heart rate went up. To like 85.

I fiddle with the heart rate monitor to see that it shows a range.
125 – 160 beats per minute is the range for me, it says.

Wonder if I can get myself to 125?

I reach for my iphone and play the Brock Lesnar WWE Theme song, which someone made into a 30 minute loop. To pump me up and to distract my thinking mind.

I start jogging in place.
Heart rate goes up to 125.

That didn’t take much!

I start doing jumping jacks.
HR goes up to 145.

I stop and start walking in place.
Slowly, the HR goes down to 122, a beep goes off on my monitor indicating I’m about to go below my target range.

I start running in place.
Got it up to 155.

Then stopped and paced around the apartment.
Slowly went down to 122.

I repeat this process of doing random things to spike my heart rate, then doing low intensity walking.

This is the basic essence of high intensity interval training. Bump up the heart rate, then let it fall, repeat.

Just so happens, my version of high intensity is jogging in place for like 30 seconds.
I’m in preschool. That’s ok. It has to be if I want to get to kindergarten someday.

This became kind of a game. I’m sweating. The Brock theme is on loop. My eyes are glued to the heart rate monitor like it’s a video game.

I check how much time has passed.
23 minutes & 19 seconds! What? That was fun & easy.
282 calories burned! What?? That’s all it takes?
18 mins 18 seconds in my target heart rate zone. Cool.

I guess I did some cardio today!
And I feel pretty great.

Day one of preschool wasn’t so bad.

Bonus Story: Jeff Bezos does not use an elevator

I saw an interview with Bezos where he said he does not use the elevator in his (11 story?) building. It’s his way of exercising.

“Exercise & me don’t get along,” said Bezos. His solution was to build in exercise to what he does daily. He has to walk up and down the offices for meetings all day.

And he built up a streak of days, months, years of not taking the elevator. That’s his motivation to continue walking, he does not want to break the winning streak.

This is similar to Jerry Seinfeld who writes every day.
And places an X on the calendar when finished. This gives him added motivation to continue because he does not want to break the winning streak.

The point of these two stories is:
1. Build exercise into what we’re already doing (important for thinker types)
2. Build up a streak as motivational tool

I hope to somehow incorporate both of these tools.
And will let you know the (winning) results!

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