Consistency is key to having and maintaining a good and healthy lifestyle. I have a fitness goal to work out five days out of every week. In order to hit that goal, I have to get five workouts done in a week. This might seem like circular logic or common sense, but achieving that goal is more challenging than it sounds. My week starts on Monday and ends on Sunday. I can give myself two free days off from working out in that week and still hit the goal, but if I wait too long into the week to get my first workout in, it becomes much more difficult to hit this metric. So the sooner in the week that I get the workouts done, the better. Optimally I'd go to the gym every weekday and have free days on the weekend, when I am usually busy doing other fun things, eating less healthy food, socializing, and playing music (though I have to tell you, an intense aerobic workout before a gig definitely energizes my rock-n-roll performance). But life sometimes gets in the way, particularly if I work out later in the day when I am more fatigued and there are alternative activities vying for my attention. That's why I allow two days of cushion in this fitness goal.
Optimally, I'd get up at 5 AM and head to the gym at the butt crack of dawn to just get my workout done and checked off my daily TO DO list. There are almost no disadvantages to this other than that I enjoy sleep and I am not a morning person. A solid morning workout fills me with mood boosting endorphins ("runner's high") and energizes me for the better part of the rest of the day. Also there are no annoying kids at the gym at that hour and the facilities are much cleaner than they are in the evenings after being soiled by hundreds of sweaty humans all day long (the gym staff clean everything overnight between 11 PM and 2 AM). Conversely, a lot of people seem to have this same idea, because the gym can be quite busy in the wee hours of the morning. The spinning class, for example, is usually close to capacity at 5:30 AM, whereas the evening ones only have a handful of people. That all being said, I much more commonly go to the gym in the evening, after 6 PM and spend more time there doing various activities like spinning, weight lifting, and/or lap swimming. It can sometimes be a challenge mustering up my will power to go the gym after a long day and if the gym were not as close to home as it is, I would probably fail to make it there a lot more than I care to admit. I also enjoy going to the gym with Deborah and we encourage each other to go, and sometimes take the free classes together. That's motivating.
Last night Deborah wasn't feeling up for the gym and I wasn't feeling particularly motivated to go either. But it was Monday, so I wanted to knock one of the five weekly gym outings out, because then I would only have to achieve four workouts in the remaining six days of the week. 4/6 (0.666) is less than 5/7 (0.714). So I went. I did 40 minutes of exercise biking and about 15 minutes of swimming in the lap pool (six round trip laps) before chillaxing in the hot tub for a few minutes. I was rewarded for my efforts by the bathroom scale this morning, which reported that I was 219 pounds, down two pounds from the prior day's weigh in. The down side of getting my five workouts done during the week and having my usually hedonistic weekends free from exercise is that I tend to gain back a little bit of weight on the weekends. But the net change in my weight over time is trending downward and that's really the ultimate objective of the five daily workouts goal. I have an overall objective to reduce my weight to 210 pounds by December 31 as part of the 100 Day Challenge I am undertaking with my Mastermind accountability group that meets weekly on Wednesdays. I've gotten down as low as 217 pounds during the past couple weeks and I am still on track to lose nine net pounds in the next 45 days or so to hit my objective. That's a pound every five days on average, though I am aware that this will not be a linear function and the last four or five pounds will be the hardest to shed. But weight loss is psychologically self promoting. The success of losing a couple of pounds is compelling and makes me want to lose more through good nutrition and exercise. It's not rocket science. All things held constant, diet (calories in) and exercise (calories out) are the only variables you have to work with when it comes to weight control. I find that writing blog posts like this helps me stay focused on my goals and objectives and keeps me honest and accountable.
When working out becomes a part of your life rather than something external that is viewed as an obstacle to be overcome, then working out becomes an integral part of your LIFESTYLE. It's just something you do naturally, like eating or sleeping, and you don't really see it as an unnatural chore. I was never much of a gym person before, so in the winter, my exercise levels dropped and my caloric intake went up because of the holidays. Thus I slowly gained weight over the years, notwithstanding that my spring and summer months were full of energetic outdoor activities (mainly bike riding and power walking to places). The gym we joined is really fun though and I like going there. The staff are very pleasant and engaging. The pools make it feel like a holiday vacation spot rather than a chore. They also have hot tubs for soothing tired muscles after a good workout. There's a sauna too, though I haven't used it much. I should. The membership isn't cheap in absolute terms, but using the holiday vacation analogy again, the monthly cost of the gym membership is still less than the daily cost of a decent hotel in a holiday resort getaway sort of place. The kids are still a nuisance, but like I said, they can usually be avoided by going to the gym earlier in the day, which has other goal-hitting advantages as well.