It’s the Least I Can Do

A descriptor I used in my last post generated this email comment:

“You say you exercise ‘a lot’. Your side bar says your exercise goal is 30 minutes a day. Which is it?”

Good question, and thank you, Ms. Picky Precise for allowing me an opportunity to clarify. By “a lot”, I mean consistently, as in (usually) 5-6 days a week, each and every week, for four years now.

I hope that answers the question, but for new readers who may not know my personal (ph)itness philosophy, I’ll continue rambling….

When I first decided to follow the tippy-toe path, I chose to adopt an attitude of eating and exercising for better health (knowing that weight loss should follow) and to set achievable and sustainable goals. I had read that great health benefits could be achieved in exercising a measly 30 minutes most days each week, even if it had to be broken up into several shorter segments when carving out a half hour proved difficult, but to be honest, I didn’t really put much stock in it. Somehow I’d gotten it into my head that unless I was out running marathons or spending hours in a gym, I wasn’t really exercising and wouldn’t/couldn’t lose weight that way. I feel a little silly now, but certainly not ashamed. I’m not the only one who has been caught up in that whole diet mentality. Don’t even get me started on that!

The good news is that what came from it all was a subtle shift in thinking–from “getting skinny” to “getting healthy(-ier)”–that allowed me to clear away the fog of the diet trap and see the benefits of even moderate exercise. A little over four years ago now, I made a commitment to myself that no matter what the scale or the tape measure said, or how busy I was, or what the weather was like, I would build a habit of exercising at least 30 minutes per day. I knew that this needed to be a lifetime commitment, and 30 minutes seemed to be something I could do forever.

As it turns out, it was entirely possible! In just a few short months, I moved exercise from a semi-annual event into an almost daily occurrence! Along the way, my capabilities and endurance increased so that I was able to up the intensity, and that’s been the one change to my long-term goal–from 30 minutes of moderate exercise to 30 minutes of vigorous exercise six days each week. Although I’ve been tempted on occasion to set a goal of longer workouts, I’ve chosen to keep my eye on the forever aspect of this plan and leave the stated goal alone. By keeping my mindset on “the least I can do”, I’ve avoided setting goals that time, talent, and the pursuit of good sales at Target won’t allow me to sustain over the long term.

All that said, I do usually exercise more than 30 minutes per day. This is my DailyMile training log:

september training log

September to-date, Minutes Exercised Edition

This is a combination of strength training, walking, and cycling. As you can see, I’m not setting the exercise world afire, but I am exercising consistently and exceeding my stated goal regularly. That’s largely because the workouts or routes that I have in mind (and have time for) generally take a little longer. Plus, I regularly miscalculate distances and taxi fares are too expensive for getting back home.

The bottom line is that I feel good–both physically AND mentally–following this plan, and I’m (mostly) able to maintain my weight loss. I aim for “the most I can do” on any given day, but when life gets in the way, 30 minutes is “the least I can do.”

By now, you’ve no doubt noticed that the graphic shows a blank spot for September 19th. I should fix that by getting my fanny to the gym!

Wishing you all a most happy Monday!

10 thoughts on “It’s the Least I Can Do

  1. Consistency is the real key, Cammy. Which you already know. Sure, you could train for a half marathon, do it, and then become a couch slug forever. And yet people would think of what an athlete you are for doing that. However, doing consistent fitness almost every day of the week gets an opinion of how much exercise you do and whether it is ‘a lot’ or not.

    You really don’t have to justify on your blog anyway on what ‘a lot’ is. It’s different for everyone.

  2. As I have said so often, you have a great approach! For me, I started longer workouts for several reasons: my husband was going longer than I was (he’d keep on after I stopped and I felt guilty), I was not losing weight (big reason!), and I felt that if they could do it on Biggest Loser so could I! With no job, I had no excuse not to spend more time. That said, I have also learned over time that consistency is the most important thing. And if I can’t fit in my long workout, it is better to do 20 minutes than nothing.

  3. Cammy you have such a sensible approach to maintaining your healthy lifestyle. I think that’s why you have enjoyed so much success. In every area you have set manageable, moderate goals.

    I think you should write a book about it!

  4. I totally agree with the consistency being more important than the intensity. I have also felt “less than” because my commitment is 10,000 steps per day as measured by the pedometer which is glued to my body. Some argue that “walking” is not exercise unless speed walking and including ALL steps in the 10,000 doesn’t count. I strongly disagree and am perfectly happy with my exercise routine. Rarely does a day pass that I don’t get those 10,000 steps. It’s the most consistent habit I’ve ever had. I hiked today and am proud to say at this moment, I have almost 21,000 steps!

  5. This is exactly why you are so successful; you’ve figured out what’s right for you, and have tailored it to fit YOUR needs. My ears always perk up when I hear about your regimens and routines; I learn a lot from them.

  6. I LOVE THIS CAMMY – LOVE HOW YOU FOUND CONSISTENCY & HOW TO DO THAT FOR YOU!!!! Consistency is so key AND that you can live with it forever. As we all know, like 80% of the people that lose weight put it back on due to either going for the quick fix or setting unrealistic expectations that they can’t live with long term or both & more.

    Thank you for this wonderful post!

  7. Yep. I was exercising longer and longer for a while, and then decided that I couldn’t keep that up for the rest of my life. So I set a time goal that I was willing to give to exercise every day. MOst days I make that easily (thanks to my motivational partner Noah.)

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