Remember those Pillsbury refrigerated biscuits from your childhood? The ones where, when you twisted the canister with just the right level of tension, the dough would suddenly pop out in a gooey cloud, like a deployed air bag? Long before the days of video games and biscuit bullet urban legends, that visual spectacle alone was considered high entertainment among the latchkey kid crowd. Part toy, part tasty after-school treat. All you needed was some warm butter, a little strawberry jam, and a rerun episode or two of The Brady Bunch (dating myself here), and your afternoon was golden.
Why yes, you say. Good times. But what does that have to do with this fitness post?
Everything, when that canister is now your favorite pair of jeans, and your stomach the dough that one day busts through and breaks the zipper while you’re trying desperately to join button to slit, all the while holding your breath like Houdini under water. (Because we all know that makes a difference.)
Everybody who’s ever recommitted to an exercise program has a similar “Oh, hell no, this is the last straw” tale. In the end, it doesn’t matter what drove you to finally get serious. The point is, you’re fully plugged in now, and laser-focused on the work ahead. Everything’s in place. Gym membership – check. Sports bra – check. Water bottle – check. You start scoping the gym facility and class hours, thinking about what time you have to be at work, how early you can dip out of work, calculating whether you have enough time to run home, shower and change before circling back to work, and oh, yeah, what about Tuesday and Thursday evenings when you have night classes and only 90 minutes to get there after you leave work…
And so begins the first few unraveling threads. Yes?
Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. (Seneca, Roman Statesman, Philosopher, 5 BC – 65 AD).
There’s no luck involved in getting and staying in shape, or maintaining good health. You either show up, or you don’t. Every day. And the answer, I learned, does not lie in how rigorous your exercise regimen is. Consistency is the only measure that matters. Can we all agree that 60 days of diligent exercise and careful eating, immediately followed by 60 days of slackdom and gluttony, yields the same outcome on Day 120, as it did on Day 1? Your jeans don’t give a rat’s ass what happened in between, and will render the same judgment at either end. (Sometimes worse. See Pillsbury canister.) Thus it seems foolish to let all our initial effort go to waste, if we’re ultimately not going to follow through in a way that counts and yields lasting results.
So, once you get serious about making exercise a regular and non-negotiable part of your new healthy lifestyle, you can’t let a little thing like logistics consistently derail your fitness efforts and cause you to neglect your health.
Make no mistake. I’m not preaching from a lofty ivory tower here. Through much of my own trial, error and occasional lapses into slackdom (to include MANY see-sawing weight loss/gain cycles), I’ve learned that setting and achieving fitness goals has nothing to do with intent, but is all about actively eliminating the source of all “can’t‘s” from my landscape, be they physical or mental. And that meant being prepared to cram my workout into all the little narrow nooks and crannies of my daily life, and keep everything moving in one streamlined direction. No backtracking to home base, criss-crossing or circular movements between Points A, B and C.
Plan it. Pack it. Park it.
Maybe it’s my former life as a Lean Six Sigma-trained process improvement geek, but it irks me to be stuck with a clunky process that creates waste on multiple fronts…time, travel and lost opportunities. When I’d finally had enough of skipped workouts due to tight scheduling, I made my own Home-to-Work-to-Gym-to-Date (“PPP”) mobile kit to eliminate obstacles (the “can’t‘s) and keep my fitness program on track. Nothing new, really, and I’m sure many of you fellow gym warriors have developed a similar system. But for those who haven’t, here’s how it works:
After your workout, move with purpose in the locker room. Set up your area, and work processes in parallel (i.e., put hot curlers in BEFORE you get in the shower so that your hair can set and semi-air out at the same time.) Remember the concept of “good enough.” This is not the time nor place to demand or expect the model perfection you’d normally seek at home. Your hair and makeup don’t need to be runway perfect. (And with that post-workout glow your skin will have, why would you need to even bother trying?) With practice, to include perfecting the art of the 5-minute shower, you should be able to get in and out of the gym locker room within 20-25 minutes. And on to the adjacent item in your day planner.
In closing, mastering the PPP system will finally allow you to move through your day in one continuous linear flow, with no time or workout opportunities wasted. It works whether you exercise before or after work. (Personally, I’m a big proponent of AM workouts, but that’s the subject of another post.) Most importantly, it leaves no time or space for the “inertia gremlins” to step in. You know what I’m talking about. You leave work with the intention of stopping by the house to change into your workout gear and grab a quick snack, before heading back out to your local gym. Once you turn your key in the front door and shut it behind you, the house begins to work like virtual quicksand, sucking you in deeper. Your refrigerator, which reminds you of the tasty leftovers waiting to be prepared for dinner. Your favorite comfy armchair in front of the TV. The warmth of the heat coming through the vents, in contrast to the cold winds blowing outside. Before you know it, you’ve lost 30 minutes moving around your house in circles, getting psychologically farther and farther away from the workout you’d be doing right now if only you hadn’t stopped at home first to collect “your stuff.”
Some other handy travel-sized tools in my mobile gym kit:
Read more from HotYogaChick at shelovesgloves.com.