Fresh insights from my new exercise regimen

Prolog

Like many of you, I have been struggling to add exercising to my life for the past 15 years. My typical stint has a halflife of a few weeks with the longest stint at 3 months πŸ™‚ I am 43 and I realized that its about time I succeeded in this endevor before health issues start cropping up.

As many of you know I fancy myself to be a Change Management professional. One of the most important theories in my repertoire is the ABC theory from Dr. Aubrey Daniels.

Exercise & ABC Theory

If you think about exercising through the ABC Lens, you will realize that it is a PFU (positive future uncertain) – in other words the rewards are in the future and it may or may not come. This is why its extremely hard to do this. Before the rewards kick in we have already stopped because exercise is boring for most of us.

Again from ABC theory, we know that PIC (positive immediate certain) consequences really work. In other words how do I make exercise give me some immediate rewards which will keep me motivated? [It is this PIC aspect of incentives Dan Pink’s tirade on incentives completely misses, but that would be a whole another post]

Antecedents

First, I wanted to eliminate any excuses my mind puts up for exercising (my mind is extraordinarily good at this πŸ™‚ )

1. The gym is within 500 feet of my house within the colony I live in. So no driving needed. If you know Indian driving conditions this is a big plus.

2. I workout on saturday and sunday. No excuses due to my meeting schedule during weekdays that go from 730 am to 930pm (yes I do have some gaps but creating a standing schedule is hard). This is an important insight because if I did workouts during weekdays and I have to travel (I do it often due to my job) my routine stops and when I come back it becomes very hard to resume the routine.

3. Workout starts at 5pm or 6pm on sat/sun and lasts 1 hour. No need to wake up at ungodly hours in the morning which my mind makes very hard to do.

The above are the Antecedents (A in the ABC).

Behavior

Once in the gym I do my own version of what is called interval training – trying out multiple equipments so that the boredom from using the same equipment over and over is eliminated.

I first start on the Elliptical machine and do 15 min bringing my heart rate to a certain level. Then I do crunches, weights and other types of equipment for 15-20 min.

Then I begin the final assault. I get on the treadmill and hit my target heart rate of 125 (actually 115 to 130) and keep it at that rate for 20 min. Around the 10-12 min mark, it becomes painful, but I push myself to get to the 20 min mark. By the time I finish with a cool down, there’s a feeling of elation. This is a great feeling.

Consequences

This my friends is the PIC (positive immediate certain) consequence of my exercise regimen. I actually look forward to going to the gym to obtain this feeling of elation.

If you’ve noticed I don’t mention anything about calories. In my view bringing the heart into the zone is key. Burning calories should be a byproduct of your regimen not the core product.

Head Fake

On top of this, I have added Golfing to my routine. I try to go atleast once or twice a week very early in the morning. I will be adding tennis and/or badminton also. I think playing games is a great Headfake to bring exercise into your life.

Epilog
Please don’t begin any physical exercise without consulting a physician. One of the reasons I wrote this post is to make a public declaration of my program. I think this will force me to keep at it because my blogger friends will ask me how is it going? What’s your exercise routine? BTW, usually my posts drip references and research and that makes it harder for me to write a post due to the time involved. So I decided to write without any citations. Can you please help me find references or research material that supports what I am saying?


Comments

  1. Quote
    Saravanan (subscribed) said November 21, 2010, 10:32 pm:

    Sukumar,

    I hit the gym five days a week (at least) for a 40 minutes work out, mainly to keep my cholestrol/triglyceride/belly line of course under check. ( I am 34 years young. :-)). One thing I noticed in the gym, the trainer does not even come near me or for that matter anybody like me who is trying to maintain their belly line. The trainer’s focus is always on the body builders who are trying to shape up their body.

    The message I got from this is, BAU (Business As Usual) does not get anybody’s attention. It is only the new development work that interests people. πŸ™‚

    Thanks
    Saravanan

  2. Quote

    Hi Sukumar…Working 14 hours a day itself is a big no-no πŸ™‚ Call it a day faster & hit the gym 5 days a week.And no, you don’t get to move meetings to the Gym πŸ™‚

    I go to a Gym nearby my office & try to make it 5 days a week. Unlike what Saravanan said, the trainers there are real nice & I always get scolded for doing something the wrong way πŸ™‚

    Efx-20,Cycle-10,Treadmill-10,rowing-5 . And 2 sets of stretch exercises. Abs crunches after tht.
    1 day Cardio, 1 day Weights.

    I agree on the feeling of elation after a good work out. Guess it also helps making friends at the Gym … keeps one motivated.

  3. Quote
    Sukumar (subscribed) said November 22, 2010, 4:01 am:

    Thanks Saravanan. 5 days a week is excellent. Interesting that the trainers aren’t paying attention to you. See Ranjit’s comment.

  4. Quote
    Sukumar (subscribed) said November 22, 2010, 4:06 am:

    Ranjit,
    Thanks. Yes 14 hours is a no-no indeed and I am working on reducing that number. But what I found is, if I did weekday gym, given my schedule my mind makes up some excuse because I’m unable to have a standing schedule. A standing schedule is very important for a new behavior. Once my weekend gyming gets rooted as a new behavior I’ll tackle weekday gyming.

  5. Quote

    Interesting start.

    1. I started by telling I will listen podcasts only when walking fast or watch movies. I get up at unearthly out of 5.30 AM to watch a movie. Oh yes, everyone including the maid give me a strange look watching a movie at 5.30 in the morning. πŸ™‚ Immediate gratification Do exercise watch movie. Also have a good collection of audio books to motivate me.
    2.Don’t be greedy take it slow as you tell start 2 days/weeks. But do it consistently for 2-3 months.
    3. We usually go all out and injure ourselves.
    4. As you get older the inertia is more and muscles are tighter. Take it easy you are not going to win gold in Olympics anyway :-).
    5. Playing games are trickier. You got be very conscious. In the heat of moment you push yourself and get injured. How many times I have done god only knows. Even now played badminton last week injured waiting to recover so I can start my running again.
    6. A running partner of mine says WARM-UP / WARM-UP / WARM-UP + COOL-DOWN/COOL-DOWN/COOL-DOWN most of miss this part. Very important and MANDATORY.

  6. Quote

    Another simple trick is to learn to enjoy walking/running. This reduces dependency on gym/other equipment/environment etc. This suits me better with my travel needs. There is always a place to walk or road anywhere you go. πŸ™‚

  7. Quote
    Sharad Bhargava said November 22, 2010, 7:20 am:

    I can understand long workdays with seemingly endless meetings. I do sometimes go out for a walk during meetings where I am invited as FYI types or I have to wait for my turn to provide inputs. 2-3 such incidences during the day easily add up to 30-40 mins of walk. Point is that one need not set aside time for workout but rather look to find opportunities to workout. Research has shown that exercise done in installments has same beneficial effects as a done in a single block. Another thing I have tried is to break the routine now and then, doing same thing over and over again bores me out. So some weekends I will just go for a long walk, others I will go for hike, and sometimes I will go for a run.

  8. Quote

    This is a very interesting way of looking at motivation for exercising! πŸ™‚
    In my experience, what can be more motivating that a PIC is a Negative Immediate Future Certain. When your doc tells you that you have an irregular pulse, obesity-induced diabetes, Cholesterol and a Thyroid problem…the future looks bleak enough for you to impel yourself in a combination of exercise and diet to get yourself fit!
    And three months later when you are feeling extremely fit (fit enough to run the 5k BITS Marathon and finish ahead of those much younger than you) you have created the change required to continue with it for life! πŸ™‚ And it’s a double bonus to find out that the test results handed over to you in the first place actually belonged to someone else!

    I agree with Sharad that you don’t necessarily need to join a gym to get the exercise you need. As long as you can get in ten-thousand steps a day…you’re going to be fine.

    All the best with your schedule. And I certainly will be asking you how it’s going! πŸ™‚

  9. Quote
    Vamsi (subscribed) said November 22, 2010, 9:53 am:

    Sukumar

    Good to see your post as I myself added exercise routine since last week. Your application of ABC theory is cool. Need to explore that more. Also your point on trying to get elation rather than counting calories is very insightful. I should remember this.

    One thing is for sure, after I started exercise how it affected my diet – I have to do eliptical cardio for 40 mins, and burn ~360 KCals. Then we I realized that two coffees I take a day with cream and sugar is > 100 cals, I feel like reducing my portion size or quit one time. I consider such thinking as a positive effect of exercise regimen.

    Your two days a week is pretty good. I think if you can make cardio longer ( I am not sure what your doctor advised), that should be more than enough. Also when you are on the road, I believe you will be staying at good hotels which have gyms. May be you can squeeze in 20-30 mins for a quick cardio.

    I myself am doing just cardio for now. I will switch to some strength training, once I get into grove. I am going to Planet Fitness at the Powder Mill Plaza on Rt 10 (I think you know that area better than me :-)) They have an outrageously low price for a gym (10$ per month) and the facility is pretty good. Best is it is on my way home. So a quick 50 minute stop is all needed.

    Wish me good luck and all the best for your routine.

  10. Quote

    My exercise routine used to be 50mins on the treadmill before I broke my leg. I got into the habit using the 20day principle (you do anything for 20 days continuously it becomes a habit). The reason I could sustain it was because it was one time I could watch TV for 50 minutes without feeling guilty. Otherwise 50 minutes of continuous TV watching at home is quite impossible. I used to record my favorite programs and watch while walking.
    Now, I have challenge. I am not able to use the treadmill and I find yoga very hard to sustain πŸ™‚

  11. Quote

    Excellent post Sukumar. ABC theory makes lot of sense. But here in USA, we have to do some kind of exercise in our day by day life, because as you know, here we drive car even to take mails from 100 feet away post box :). Based on my opinion, exercise became boring/unsustainable because of some pain from essential part of body. For example, as a software professional we would over react if we feel pain from lower back(because our job required long sitting) and hand(because our job required typing). Some of my ex-exercise regime broken because of those pain reason. But now i found out a better way of managing pain, which is swimming. After exercise, swimming for 10-15 minutes helps to cool off and good for pain. Now i’m running for 3 days and 4 days swimming, it helps a lot.

  12. Quote
    Sukumar (subscribed) said November 23, 2010, 4:21 am:

    Thanks Kumaran. Interesting techniques. Thanks for the tip on sport. I’ll be careful.

  13. Quote
    Sukumar (subscribed) said November 23, 2010, 4:22 am:

    That’s a good point. Thanks Kumaran.

  14. Quote
    Sukumar (subscribed) said November 23, 2010, 4:23 am:

    Those are useful tips Sharad. Varying the routine is key. Completely agree.

  15. Quote
    Sukumar (subscribed) said November 23, 2010, 4:25 am:

    Raghu, if you were talking about yourself there, I’m not surprised you ran a marathon and beat the youngsters. You were always athletic ever since I’ve known you.

    Please do ask me how its going. I need that pressure.

  16. Quote
    Sukumar (subscribed) said November 23, 2010, 4:27 am:

    All the best Vamsi. I did make a couple of feeble attempts at using that gym when I lived in powdermill heights.

    You’re right when you’re travelling you can hit the gym at the hotel. Good point.

  17. Quote
    Sukumar (subscribed) said November 23, 2010, 4:29 am:

    Archana,
    Interesting use of TV watching to motivate yourself. Given that you had a recent injury you may not want to do anything beyond yoga. Please consult your doctor.

  18. Quote
    Sukumar (subscribed) said November 23, 2010, 4:31 am:

    Thanks Subba. Swimming is one of the best for a full body workout. Unfortunately I have an aversion to public pools.

  19. Quote

    I’ve tried all kinds of exercise regimens over the years and given up on them. Finally, this year, I found something that worked: joining a running group with a defined target race. The group’s full of people in the same fitness category and the target race is the point of graduation into the next category.

    I joined Runner’s High in February, ran my first 10k ever at Sunfeast in May, and graduated to a half marathon at the Kaveri Trail Marathon in September. I managed to injure myself on the way, so the max I’ve done yet is 18 km, but I’ll do a half at Auroville in Feb 2011 and a full marathon later in the year.

    I haven’t lost any weight as a result of running, but that’s hardly the concern. I’m fitter, more active through the day, and most of all, have an exercise regime that I’ve been able to keep week after week for most of this year.

    Kiran

  20. Quote

    Joining a runner group is a great strategy Kiran.

  21. Quote

    Getting exercise in a group session (Yoga, Aerobics, Pick up Basketball etc) is a great way to keep the motivation. If some one else is witnessing our activity, it is a positive reinforcement. A sense of friendly competitiveness is also created which could be exciting

    Krish

  22. Quote
    Sukumar (subscribed) said December 2, 2010, 5:05 am:

    Krish,
    Doing exercise as a group is definitely a great idea and it absolutely works. Great insight.

    Kiran had suggested joining a runner group which is a similar idea.

    On similar lines I also find that having a buddy/partner helps to motivate each other. For my golfing program I have a buddy/partner without his help I wouldn’t have learnt the game to the level I have done so far (I’ve a long long way to go of course).

  23. Quote

    One more important thing as I learnt in a special sports coaching I am attending. Breathe! Breathe! most of us forget to do that properly when excercising.

  24. Quote
    Shetty,Ganeshraj said January 27, 2011, 2:13 pm:

    You might want to add diet discipline as well. It plays a major role. 10% gym , 20 % gens, 80 % is the food we take, makes up the body and fitness !! πŸ™‚

  25. Quote
    Ramanatha krishnan said March 2, 2011, 1:18 pm:

    hey Sukumar, how is it going πŸ™‚

  26. Quote
    Sukumar (subscribed) said March 13, 2011, 8:40 am:

    Thanks for asking. I have crossed the 6 month mark. I have only skipped 1 weekend and compensated during the week. Given my typical track record this is pretty good I’d say.

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