Today, I nailed it. Again.
My goals were 12 hours in which I stood up (for a minute or more), 30 minutes of vigorous exercise, and 600 active calories expended. My actual totals were 14 hours standing (I'll probably make 15 before bed), 98 minutes of vigorous exercise and, as at the time of writing, 868 active calories.
And it was easy!
I listen to podcasters talk about the "fitness rings" that the watch displays, often right on the watch face in a complication and how each person has their own ring of doom that is always hard to fill and the easy peasy ring that they complete every day without effort. I'm often surprised by what some people find easy and hard.
The fact I whipped all my goals so soundly today was because I did actually exercise. But most weekdays, when I'm working, I can nail my goals – just – without actually exercising. Well, by that I mean I do not do anything which is solely exercise. I build exercise into my regular day, and because of that, it's pretty easy. Here's how I do it, ring by ring.
The turquoise standing goal is my ring of doom. I work in a largely sedentary job – I'm an IT worker. I spend a large portion of the day sitting in front of screen and keyboard and sometimes I am either in a conference call or other times just head down, busy when that 10-to-the-hour reminder pops up. Many, many times I've suddenly remembered the warning, looked down at my watch and seen it is 5 past. Argh! But, when I can, I stand up. I will occasionally just wander around near my desk, but most often I will take the opportunity to grab any rubbish on my desk and take it over to the rubbish bins in the kitchen area. Or head off to the toilet, going the long way around the floor, or sometimes just go for a lap of the floor. It's my ring of doom when I'm properly busy, but otherwise it's pretty easy to manage 12 hours. Even on those bad days, though, I get the last few hours at home.
The green exercise goal is my easy peasy ring. All it needs is vigorous activity for 30 minutes a day and it is a rare work day I don't make that. Actually, I wish I could set that goal higher, but it is fixed. Why is it so easy? See below.
The red active calories ring is the one I fail to complete most often, though I don't call it my ring of doom because it's the one I understand best and I know I can beat it any day if I really want to. Here's how I do it: I go to work, I go out to grab some lunch, and I go home. That's it. That's usually enough to hit 600 active calories in a day. So how do I turn a commute and a feed into 600 active calories (and 30 minutes of exercise)?
First up in the morning, I drive to a local railway station. Yup. I drive. I could easily walk, but I prefer to drive to one further from my home that would take over 20 minutes to walk to, because I am more likely to get a seat. I'll end up waiting up to 15 minutes for a train, so often I will do a lap of the platform while waiting. The platform is about 200m long, so a complete lap is around 400m. I walk briskly enough that it adds to my active calories but usually not my exercise ring. Then I sit on a train for 15 minutes and relax.
When I reach my destination in the city, instead of taking the direct 1.1km route through the city to the office, I instead take an indirect but gorgeous 2km route up the waterfront. This 25-or-so minute walk is now an ingrained habit. Because it's mostly unimpeded by road crossings, I can set a cracking pace for most of it and usually do. This usually adds at least half of my exercise minutes for the day and about a third of my active calories goal. Sometimes a bit more if I really push myself.
At lunch time, I always get out of the office, and whenever possible I go to my favourite lunch place, Pita Pit. Instead of taking the direct 350m route to the nearest outlet, I go to my favoured original outlet, but I don't take the direct 650m route to that. Instead, I go back out to the waterfront, retracing some of my morning walk, for about 1.1km. Then I go direct back to the office with my hot lunch in hand. More exercise minutes – I often hit the 30 minutes goal on this walk – and more active calories to the total.
After work, I reverse the morning's trip. 2km down the waterfront. So, on a typical day, by the time I get home I've walked around 6km, mostly at a brisk or faster pace. Depending on what happened in the rest of my day – if I left the office on an errand, for instance – I may have hit all or most of my goals by the time I arrive home. Today was such a day. I was one hour off my stand goal, already well over my exercise goal, and within 35 active calories of my goal 600.
Then I went out for a walk, for exercise, with my wife. We generally do about 3km and there are inevitably hills. And when we walk, it's no stroll. We rarely fall below 11 minutes per kilometre, about 5.5km/h. On such walks, I use the fitness tracking app on my watch to keep stats of our walks so we get an idea of the different routes we take to vary the scenery, length and difficulty. (Like do we walk up the 63 stairs.) The rest of the day, my watch is just keeping a general eye on me and not specifically tracking activity.
So that's how I can comfortably nail my goals 5 days a week. It is somewhat dependent on weather. I tend not to do my lunchtime walk if it's pouring with rain. I will almost always do the morning and evening walks in full length in the rain, though I draw the line at horizontal rain in my face.
I have a treadmill sitting in the garage which is responsible for me hitting any goals on the weekend, and I find that a LOT harder than simply going to work. I feel like I have to exercise for a long, long time to hit the goals on a weekend, even if I go out for a walk with my wife. But that's no excuse. And the treadmill removes my excuse for those week days I don't get my standard 6km in, too. I said before I can beat it any day if I really want to. Some days, my willpower isn't up to it if it involves the treadmill.
So if you find the goals too hard and lack the willpower to deal with it, rather than lower your goals, why not try what I've done and build up some habits that make it easy to get that daily satisfaction.
Because I am used to the effort and time taken for my circuitous routes, if I'm under the weather or really need to get to/from the station quickly, I have some serious shortcuts I can take. But almost without fail, rain or shine, I habitually walk nearly three times as far as I need to. I enjoy the view, sometimes the solitude (when it's raining not many people go that way), and I nail my goals.
Banner image by Jose Bodalo.