I started and sustained my fitness habit for 30+ days. Here is what I learned

Yesterday marked the 34th day in a row that I completed my workout targets on the Apple Fitness app. To those who aren’t familiar, there are three rings. The red ring shows how much calorie is burned in a day, the green ring records how many minutes you work out and the blue ring refers to the number of hours in which you stand at least for one minute. I set my goals as 550 Calorie, 50 mins of workout and 11 hours of standing. Here are the lessons I learned after the last 30+ days

My challenge has been going on since 4/25/2021

A sprint or a disciplined marathon

While I could have gone for 1200 Calorie a day, I knew that sort of target wouldn’t be sustainable. I wouldn’t be able to keep that level of commitment for 30+ days. Hence, I set a target that is both challenging enough for me to put in real effort and realistic enough for me to maintain it for a month. Think of it as a choice between a sprint or a marathon. You can run at a high speed, but that burst of energy won’t last for long. After a couple of days of heavy workout, I’d probably take it easy the next day and completely fail the challenge. In some cases, rest would be precisely what my body requires. But I chose not to give myself that excuse. So, before you embark on a similar challenge, think of an appropriate goal for yourself. You can slightly low-bar it in the beginning and raise it gradually in the process. Just don’t start too big and fail too soon.

Pulling through the moments of demotivation matters

There were days when I woke up feeling energetic and couldn’t wait to start a workout. On the other hand, there were days when my level of motivation was low. You know what it feels like: a bad sleep, mood swings, effect from a gloomy weather, stress from work, fights with your loved ones. I had plenty of that during my challenge. There were times when I had to pull late workouts or put everything I had into a HIIT because I was behind. It’s tough to force your mind to go through those moments and commit to the mission at hand. But. I guess it’s one of those things that can help me mentally deal with other aspects of my life. As I am fully vaccinated, it increasingly becomes difficult to stay here and not to be able to return to Vietnam to visit my family, friends and girlfriend. It’s tough, but I definitely feel this little challenge helps a bit.

Yoga or HIIT

At 550 Calorie, I couldn’t sit around all day and meet the quota. Usually a long yoga or at least 20 mins of HIIT is necessary to get the job done. The question now becomes whether I am up for spending an hour on yoga or sweating out with maximum effort for 20 minutes. When your days are overburdened with commitments, a HIIT is a better option, but do you have the mental fortitude to go through 20 minutes of hard work? When your energy level is high enough for a HIIT but your body is sore from the day before, are you patient and committed enough to complete an hour of yoga? The same applies to real life. I am sure my writing would be a lot better if I spent 10-12 hours a day without a job on writing. The progress in a short period of time would be significant. On the other hand, I could choose to write less intensely but over a period of time and with a financial cushion from a day job. The progress would take more time obviously. What then is your preference in that case?

Sometimes it’s just too late

Here is how the Stand ring works. To record one hour on the ring, you have to stand for at least one minute straight during a clock hour. Somehow the motion tracking on Apple Watch can see if you are standing or sitting. It means that if you set your goal at 11 hours of standing like I do, you can’t load up everything by standing for 11 minutes straight in one hour and call it done. You have to stand for at least one minute between 7am and 8am, another between 8am and 9am, so on and so forth.

I have a friend whom I am doing this challenge with. One time, he texted me around 8:30pm and said that he still had 5 more Stand hours to go to meet his daily goal. I told him that he wouldn’t meet it that day because he only had 4 available hours left at most. The lesson here is that if you don’t consciously plan and start your standing early enough during the day, you likely won’t be able to succeed. It’s like coming into a 60-minute exam whose questions require at least 25 minutes to complete, when there is only 20 minutes to go. Or if a flight is about to take off in 30 minutes and you are still at home that is about 30 minutes or less away. Sometimes, it doesn’t matter how much money or effort you put in, time’s not available to buy.

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