The Workout Plan

Exercise has long been a problematic thing for me. It’s not that I don’t like the idea of exercising, or the results. It’s mostly that I just don’t have the time for it. I’m sure this is a pretty common excuse given, but I think it’s especially true in the case of someone who has a hobby they devote a lot of their time to.

Here’s my typical schedule these days, to give you an idea. I wake up at about 6am to get ready for my day. I leave home at about 7:15am to get to work, and then work straight from 8am-4pm (I prefer to skip a lunchbreak and eat while I work so that I can be out of the office sooner). The entirety of the commute home (including picking up my wife from work) takes about an hour, so 5pm. Once I’m home, if I assume a tight scheduling of 90 minutes for reading/writing/general decompression and about 30 minutes for dinner, that gets me to 7pm. I go to bed between 10:30pm and 11pm, so let’s say that I’ve got about 3.5 hours to myself then. This of course assumes I don’t have any outside projects that are pressing (game scripts under deadline, reviews to write, stories I’m trying to complete) and that I’m not doing anything like house-hunting or other various random items that crop up in the course of daily life.

With my schedule as it is now, that’s 3.5 hours to fit in all my general relaxation and TV watching and hanging out with my wife and, yes, exercise. Now, to exercise properly is about 60-90 minutes at a minimum, I figure. So, it’s been a tough hurdle for me to convince myself that getting back into the shape I once had is a fair trade off for only having about two hours a day to myself during the week.

I decided to change my way of thinking about the exercise process, though. Rather than thinking of exercise as an interruption to the routine or an imposition on my schedule, I’ve opted to think of exercise as a means to fitness, but also as a means to liberate my own schedule. Including this extra chunk of task in my day will become a way for me to train myself to not check work e-mails at home and to try and squeeze in more writing during breaks and slow periods at work. If I can use exercise to develop some peripheral perks, that may help me keep it in the loop consistently enough that it can become a habit and then its smooth sailing from there.

What’s the specific plan, though? I’m going to start out pretty light. The extra steps of prepping for an traveling to the gym are part of my barrier to entry to exercising—I just don’t like that extra wasted time. So I’m going to try to do things from home to start off. On alternating days I will approach the very simple 100 Push-ups and 200 Sit-ups programs. These are essentially just guidelines for escalation in doing these two very basic workouts, but having a metric and set plan that someone has created for you to follow is a nice thing to have, especially when it doesn’t cost as much as a personal trainer. The meat of my exercise, though, will be going out running. My primary goal is to lose weight (the dream goal would be dropping as much as 25 pounds, but I think 15 is the most realistic), and I think running is my best option for that. To start, I’ll be opting for endurance style training. I’ll set a timeframe for my running—let’s say 30 minutes to start—and opt to run that whole time without stopping. Previously when I would run, I’d always end up reverting to my sprinter’s past and doing sort of interval style distance running, but I think that didn’t really set me up very well for being able to increase my distance over time. Over time, I’d like to be able to get to the point that I can tackle 90 minutes of running with little issues.

What’s another great way to ensure I stick with my plan? Beyond incentivizing myself by having exercise help define my schedule more, I’m also going to make sure I’m giving myself the little toys to make things easier. So, I’m buying a little armband for my old-school 1st-gen iPod Shuffle, ensuring I have tons of podcasts loaded up so I can feel like I’m getting in some edumacation while I run, I’m grabbing a cheap little athletic watch to time myself, etc. etc. Buying these small, inexpensive items I think will help make things seem more official and more special for me. I don’t really do much personal shopping, so getting to buy stuff like that might help me look at all of this like some sort of a treat.

Anyway, that’s the plan. We’ll see how it goes.

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