(Note that I updated this on Saturday, November 10. If you already read this, you might want to give it a quick skim for some new information.)
I hope you had a great week. For my email this week, I'd like to give you a personal look at my surgery recovery and how it can hopefully help you.
Specifically, I want to share exactly what I'm doing for my new 10+ fitness minutes streak so you can see that I live this too in a variety of situations -- from starting again after a major surgery to other times when I'm at my peek fitness levels.
One of the best parts about a streak is that it is essentially a form of planning. I know each day that part of my plan will be to do a minimum of 10 minutes of fitness. I put this a coaching task into our new SparkCoach planner. I'll write more about this, but the SparkCoach planner is a very powerful new tool that is available on our desktop site as a beta-test (app coming soon). This feature includes a free 28-day program to follow. Give this a try if you haven't seen it already!
For the first month after my surgery, I did not want to start a streak. Instead, I just took walks with my dog Flash and a babysitter from the family to make sure I didn't have another brain seizure. Sometimes I'd lightly track, but I didn't really care if I tracked or not. I just wanted to take it easy, but walks were a great way to get out into nature including getting sunshine.
Now that my recovery is going extraordinarily well (partly from having good fitness and health levels going into the surgery according to my surgeon), I decided to start a new 10+ fitness minutes streak. In a transparent effort to show you just what I mean about how small steps taken one at a time can lead to incredible results, I will show you EXACTLY what I've done during the first 8 days of my streak:
Date Total Minutes Day Exercises
Nov 3 18 Mins Day 1 ** Walk 10, Stretch 8
Nov 4 19 Mins Day 2 ** Walk house 3 ** Walk 4 ** Walk 4 ** Stretch 8
Nov 5 19 Mins Day 3 ** Walk 2 ** Walk/light jog 10, Stretch 7
Nov 6 19 Mins Day 4 ** Walk/light jog 9 ** Play fight with Flash 2, Stretch 8
Nov 7 20 Mins Day 5 ** Walk 4 ** Walk/jog 9, Stretch 7
Nov 8 31 Mins Day 6 ** Walk/light jog 10 ** Walk/hike 12, Squats 1, Stretch 8
Nov 9 18 Mins Day 7 ** Walk 10, Stretch 8
Nov 10 24 Mins Day 8 ** Walk/hike 10 ** Squats 2, Pushups 1, Atennis 4, Stretch 7
Average minutes per day: 21
Sorry, this formatting is a bit hard to follow :).
In the "Exercises" information, anything separated by an asterisk means that it was done at different times of the day, while a comma means those items were done at the same time.
You can see that I am literally tracking exercise sessions as short as 2 minutes as I work to re-gain strength.
My biggest reason to share this is so you can see this is literally the exercise program I recommend as part of the 10+ fitness minutes program. Of course, as I build momentum, I'll start adding more challenging exercises. Like today I did pushups and squats.
If you are a new exerciser (raise your hand), this is all it takes to start turning exercise into a habit that could transform your life. Minutes per day doing activities that will become fun for you. I LOVE taking exercise breaks. By using my brain in a different way, I often come up with my best work ideas while taking an exercise break.
If you are an experienced exerciser who has trouble staying consistent for long periods of time becase life gets busy (raise your hand), this is all it takes to stay consistent. Turn this into a habit and you will always have exercises you can do at home in minutes that will keep you from falling off the wagon completely and needing to completely start over -- which psychologically can be CRUSHING to your spirit. I know because I've been there :).
A big point is that this strategy isn't just for beginners. I originally designed this program as a busy professional working at a top corporate job when I was also a fairly high-level athlete who could play near college-level tennis. I wanted to keep that ability even while working at a tough job. This program is what made that goal happen and actually helped me become a better athlete and tennis player.
The 10-minute hurdle is the minimum where you can be happy once you hit that minimum hurdle, but once you get started the odds are good that you'll likely do more than 10 minutes -- especially as you build momentum over time. This is a behavioral psychology trick since getting started can be the hardest part of exercise.
And believe me, I could make some form of streak for very advanced athletes all the way up to pros :). For example, I often have a 10 minute streak where 10 minutes is the minimum per day (can be multiple sessions), but I also set a goal for the number of minutes to average that might be in the 30-60 minute range (I won't set an average goal yet for this streak because that could cause me to push too hard). Or you can do do a "streak within a streak" where you try to really amp up some area of your program for a certain number of days. Or if you don't want the pressure of exercising every day even at 10 minutes, you could set a streak of the number of weeks in a row you reach a certain goal.
Does this motivate anyone to follow this plan? I'm excited to see what happens with this. I hope to keep it up, but would definitely stop if I have any setbacks from the surgery recovery.