Last week I wrapped up my 20% project (for now), but I learned some valuable lessons that I will apply going forward. The unexpected upshot of the project was that I engaged in some metacognition about fitness. In other words, I thought about how I think about my own fitness. I also found that regular exercise helped reduce my stress levels and regulate my mood a LOT. I think I achieved at least two psychological, if not physical, breakthroughs:
(1) I really can get motivated to exercise in the afternoon. I've always exercised at one of times of day: evenings (6:30-8:30) or mornings (7:00-10:00). I tend to feel less energized in the hours between lunch and dinner, and so I got into a mindset of "I CAN'T exercise in the afternoon." This was an unnecessary mental road block. I CAN do it in the afternoon, and I MUST, because that's the only time my schedule allows. Even when I have to drag my tired body to the gym at 4:00 pm, I just need to start slowly and then crank up some dance tunes until I get energized. It works! The music makes it so much more fun that, if I forget to bring my iPod to the gym, I go back home and get it. It's essential.
(2) I am still young enough to snap back in shape quickly. I was surprised how quickly I improved my cardiovascular fitness. When I started going regularly, it took me only about 3 weeks before I could power through an hour of Zumba no problem. Not bad! I have lost a lot of muscle over the past 2 decades, but I am confident that, with regular weight training, I could get a lot of it back. Also, I was surprised to feel little pain my hips, which still feel the aftereffects of a long-ago sports injury. Perhaps this is due to some improvement in my body alignment in the past few years; I stopped wearing high heels on the advice of my physical therapist and my podiatrist.
Here's where I think I could have done a better job with my 20% project:
(1) I didn't do the HIIT-specific fitness routines with enough regularity to reach a conclusion about how they compare to traditional circuit training.
(2) I never developed a regular schedule, for example, lower body plus cardio on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays, and upper body plus cardio on Thursdays and Sundays. To stay on track. I need to write those things down in my calendar and treat them as an obligation. I continue to feel that a commitment of 5 days a week is a good goal.
I have a few final thoughts. I continue to be plagued by endless computer and paper work that I can't seem to set aside. I have heard about these magical walking desks that allow you to exercise and work at the same time. Subject for a new 20% project? They're ghastly-looking but possibly effective. Read this article: