Twice a year, like clockwork, I suddenly wake up and realize I haven’t been getting nearly enough exercise in my day.
January is one of those times.
And so, being very much an all or nothing person, I go all in and hit it so hard: I’ve joined gyms. Set up at-home gyms. Hired trainers. Found the best yoga classes. Found the best online yoga classes. Started 30-day challenges for every muscle group in my body. Bellied up to the Barre. Survived boot camp. Taken hip hop. Found Pilates. The only thing I think I’ve never signed up for is Cross Fit, because…Cross Fit.
I find my thing, get super into it for six weeks, and I feel great. I’ve got my playlist jammin’. Water chugging. Heart rate up, pounds shedding, skin just glowing.
And then, without fail six weeks later, I hit a wall of sheer unsustainability. The pace at which I’ve thrown myself into my fitness regime starts to cause more stress than stress release because it consumes too much of my very busy day. And so, I drop it down, cut out one day, shrink back the total time, reduce and reprogram the routine…until even that feels overwhelming, and I throw my hands up and just forget about it.
I am not proud of this pattern, but I do recognize this pattern, and so, as someone who is committed to recognizing and learning from patterns, I’ve decided to break said pattern, and you guys, I think I’ve just discovered an epic secret of life, and of keeping it in balance.
It started with a conversation at work the other day, when the subject of “15 minutes a day” came up, and how, if you do one thing every day for 15 minutes, the cumulative effects add up to almost two hours a week. That’s a lot of found time, for finding very little time on its own.
Then my thoughts cut to how many times I pick up my phone to check in on social channels and I almost felt ill.
I wondered what would happen if, while waiting for my kettle to boil in the evening, I held a power pose instead of scrolling through Instagram. And so, taking my cue from 30 Rock, in which Jack Donaghy takes “thousands of micro naps” during the day, the micro work out was born, and therefore an answer to “How to work out when you really don’t have time.”
Now, I am squeezing in a work out whenever I find myself waiting for something. Kids’ oatmeal is cooking in the morning? I’m doing counter push ups. Video is uploading? I’m dropping into plank. Train is nowhere to be seen on the platform? I’m calf raising and ab tightening. I’m stretching as I get out of bed, holding tree pose while I brush my teeth, jumping jacks while on hold, doing crunches (for a few minutes) while I watch a show at night.
And it’s amazing.
The micro work out means I am more actively thinking about my health and strength throughout the day, and that my body is more consistently engaged throughout the day as well. This has affected the choices I make when it comes to food, and has naturally shifted my overall perspective: now, there’s nothing to hit hard, it’s just a mindful response to filling those tiny, daily time voids. There’s nothing to put off or get stressed about consuming too much time, because it’s happening right here, right now, wherever I am. There’s nothing to even commit to, because it’s just a shift from my small motor (cough, thumb) skills, to gross motor skills for the same amount of time.
We’ll chat in six weeks to see if this is still true, but until then, get on board; I’d love to know if the micro work out jives with you, too.