The “How I Changed My Life In 30 Days” series was born out of my desire to create exponential growth in my life. I knew there were certain habits that would help, but I’d been inconsistent in implementing them. So, on my 34th birthday in May 2018, I committed to adopting a new habit each month. My aim was, and still is, to excel in all areas of my life by making positive, lasting changes. Maybe you want to join me?
Can you believe we’re on to the third habit already?! This one kicked off on July 18th and I’ve already kinda, sorta cheated a bit. My bad! (More on that below.) But let’s take a look at some simple ways you can smash this challenge and incorporate extra movement into your day.
(If you missed the first two challenges you can catch up here: How I Changed My Life In 30 Days series)
Regular exercise is one of those habits I’ve fallen out of. Before we move to the US a year ago, I used to go to the gym about 3 times a week, and had a personal trainer guide me. Now that I don’t have that accountability anymore, I’ve struggled. (And by ‘struggled’ I mean I haven’t set foot inside a gym since.)
Also, given that Scout’s a bit older now and at school for a large chunk of the day, and that my job largely involves sitting on my arse in front of a laptop, I’m more or less living a sedentary life. And that needs to change, for my own sake and my family’s.
And thus the daily exercise challenge was born.
Now, I don’t plan on going to the gym every day, nor am I going to be doing hardcore workouts. I’m starting small, with things like a few push-ups, some squats, a little bit of cardio, a few lunges… Just something that guarantees I’m getting my blood pumping for at least a minute or two each day.
So how have I cheated? Well, the whole idea was that the exercise would involve any movement that went above and beyond my daily activity. Something that I wouldn’t normally be doing in a day anyway.
In case you missed the memo, we’ve just moved house. Technically, packing, carrying, and unpacking boxes was part of my routine for those few days so I should have done something extra. But look, it was a huge, exhausting job so I was happy to mark that down as my daily exercise and call it good.
Now, in case you’re NOT moving home and you’re wondering how on earth you’ll manage to find time to exercise every single day, or how you’ll work up the motivation to get going, here are a few ideas and recommendations for you:
1. Follow a YouTube video
There are an insane amount of workout videos out there; all you have to do is find one that suits you. Whether it’s yoga you’re after, dance videos, zumba, aerobics, etc. what you seek will be in the search results.
If you don’t like working out, it’s because you haven’t found the right type of exercise yet, so do some research.
2. Sign up for a class
Having a set day and time to exercise can provide the accountability so many of us need. You’ll also most likely find much more motivation and enjoyment in exercising as a group than you will alone. You might even make a new friend.
While you probably won’t go to a class every single day, particularly if you’re paying for the privilege, even a weekly class can get you moving when you might not otherwise.
3. Get yourself a personal trainer or training partner
Again, this is all about the accountability and the motivation factor. I always worked out much harder when my trainer was with me than I did if I was alone.
A trainer will ensure you’re getting the most bang for your workout buck, and that you have good form so you don’t end up doing yourself an injury. But they’re expensive, so it can be just as effective in terms of motivation to find someone else who’s equally keen on working out. Go running together, take a class together, go hiking…
When you have someone waiting for you, expecting more of you and encouraging you to push for that last rep or that last half mile, it’s hard not to show up and give it your all.
4. Start super small
OK, I know I went kinda big with the personal trainer, but remember that when you’re exercising daily, it won’t all be hardcore, hour-long sessions (if ever). Sometimes you just need a few jumping jacks in the morning to get your heart pumping, or a few squats in the day to keep the flabby buttocks away.
For day one, I did two sets of five push-ups each. I barely broke a sweat, but it got my heart rate up, got my muscles primed, and boy did my abs ache the next day!
The idea is not to push yourself to breaking point every day, it’s simply to implement the habit of movement on a daily basis. Even something as small as getting dressed for a workout can give you the little push you need to get you going.
5. Mix it up
Your body will get bored of the same ol’ same ol’ so be sure to surprise it. There are two main types of exercise – cardio and strength training. Try to get a good mix of both into your week.
Also, when it comes to strength training, you don’t want to be working on the same muscle groups each and every time or they’ll quickly tire out and you’ll hit a plateau (or snap something). Do exercises that target different muscle groups – chest, arms, abs/core, back, glutes, and legs. Focusing just on your bottom half, for example, will have you looking like Hulk Hogan from the hips down and Harry Potter from the waist up.
And all that strength is no good to you if climbing even one flight of stairs is a struggle, so keep up the cardio.
It’s all about balance.
6. Incorporate it into your normal day
While I said it had to be something over and above your normal movements, remember that those movements can be upgraded. Ironing clothes? Stand on one leg while ironing one garment, and then switch to the other leg for the next. Keep alternating for a great workout.
Brushing your teeth? Do some calf raises. Raise yourself up onto your toes and then slowly set your feet back down. A few of those will have your calves toned in no time.
Climbing a flight of stairs? Jog instead of walk. Walking to the kitchen? Pump your arms in the air as you go. Carrying the shopping? Do bicep curls with those heavy bags.
If you’re reasonably mobile, there’s no excuse for not raising your heart rate slightly above normal levels on a very regular basis. Just exaggerate your daily movements. Hop, skip, and jump your way to good health.
As we discussed last month, “stacking” habits is a great way to ensure they stick, so for the next 30 days I’ll be waking early, reading something inspirational, and getting in a (very) quick workout before my morning shower.
And remember that you’ve got a whole cheering squad behind you in the dedicated Facebook group. Hundreds of other people are all going through the same thing you are and are there to encourage and support you. So hop on over.
I’ve been terrible about updating these, but here’s another table so you can keep track of my progress and what I’m doing each day to meet this challenge. I’m also going to note the difficulty level (on a scale of one to five – one being 'no sweat' and five being 'I'm dying') so I can monitor any improvement over the month.
TYPE OF EXERCISE
5 push-ups x2 (morning and evening)
Packing, carrying, & moving boxes
Packing, carrying, & moving boxes
Packing, carrying & moving boxes
20 squats (bodyweight)
At the end of the thirty days, I’ll be posting a video here and to YouTube about my experience of exercising for thirty days, including what I learned, any tips I have, and whether or not I’ll be keeping it up. (So far I only have a 50% success rate of adopting positive new habits. Again, here’s where you can catch up on previous challenges: How I Changed My Life In 30 Days series)
Ready to feel the burn? (Or at least get that blood pumping?) Let’s do this!
This is the year of exponential growth and learning.
This is how I changed my life in 30 days.
Are you in?
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