Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Time and Effort: Making Space

Or, “Setting Yourself Up For Success”

This is the second in my series about my ongoing journey to a healthier me. Part One can be found here.

Where and When

The first step on the road to health and physical fitness is, of course, making the conscious and purposeful choice to do the work to get there. No amount of tolls, tips, and tricks can get you to a place you won’t work to get to. Be very clear what you are trying to accomplish and what you are willing to do to make it happen.

Once you decide to take this journey, the next step is to make it as easy as possible. And that starts with making space for it.

By making space, I am talking specifically about two things:

  • A physical place

  • Allotted time on your calendar

First, you will need a literal, physical place where you can workout, stretch, lift weights, or just dance about. This will look different for each person. It might mean paying for a gym membership, clearing out space in a garage, or rearranging furniture in a living room or family room. It might be a neighborhood route where you feel safe going for a walk, run, or bike ride. Whatever works for you may not work for others, and that’s okay. This is all about you and your place.

Second, you need to make your health and wellness efforts a priority. That means carving out time in what is likely an already full schedule. This may require flexibility and creative thinking and it’s not optional. If you don’t make the time, you won’t make the changes. It won’t be easy, but I’ll share some ideas that have worked for me. Hopefully, you can incorporate some of those into your own calendar.

Goodbye Cabana, Hello Fitness Center

For me, the perfect place started as an afterthought. We impulsively bought a Peloton Bike but hadn’t really thought through where we were going to put it. We tried to picture it in the dining room or the corner of our living room and even along a bedroom wall, but none of those options offered the room or the privacy I knew I would need. I also am an early-riser, and there’s no way to quietly workout on a stationary bike while in the same room with someone else sleeping.

And then I had a thought. We had really quit using our once-popular backyard cabana. One reason was COVID and a lack of visitors during the pandemic. More so, it’s because we built an outdoor lounge on the side of our house which is much nicer and has more room for guests. So the cabana became our “why not here?” choice for the exercise bike.

That was just the beginning, though. Once the bike was set up, we started to envision the whole space in a completely different way. Instead of a guest space with a bike, we saw it as a complete fitness center. Several Amazon purchases and a treadmill later, and our plans became a reality.

This is the cabana in our backyard.

This is it what it looked like before.

And this is the space now, fully converted to a fitness center.

In addition to the cabana, I also have an open floor space in my home office where I can stretch, do some strength training, and work out with some online fitness programs. I also have one-mile, three-mile, and 5k distances mapped out in my neighborhood that offer a safe place to get outside year round. I have plenty of places to be active, and I know that makes me fortunate. You don’t have to have all the options I do to be successful, though. You just need one space to start.

Calendar What You Can and Flex The Rest

Now that you have a place, you need to make time to be in it. I am fortunate in that I work from home, have no commute, and don’t have kids or pets or any other demands on my time. I can work out before work, at lunch, and anytime after work. But having so many options can be its own challenge in that I will sometimes think, “oh, I’ll make time later” and then it doesn’t happen.

The most helpful tip I can offer is that three 10-minute workouts offer the same benefits as a single 30-minute workout. If you can’t find a half-hour to work out, then find smaller blocks of time throughout your day and lift dumbbells, do the Marine Corps Daily 7, or stretch your body. What you do - at least in the early days - is less important than the fact that you are doing anything at all.

For me, I have a few physical habits I am working to develop:

  1. 30-45 minutes of activity at least five days each week

  2. Dumbbells, 5x per day every workday

  3. Stretching 2-3 times per week

The longer sessions are either before or after work. I prefer to do those early so I can feel good all day about having them done, but sometimes my pre-work mornings get away from me. If so, that’s okay. I get off work at 4:30pm and have plenty of time afterwards to get a longer workout in. All that matters at the end of the day is that I met my goals.

The Takeaway

If you are serious about wanting to make changes in your life and work on building a healthier, stronger you, it can happen. But you’ll need to make a commitment to yourself and honor that by doing what needs to be done. And that starts with making it as easy as possible to get your workouts in. Create a space and dedicate the time. You’ll be happy you did.

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