Regular exercise has become a habit since 2015, when I lost 20lbs in about 6 months (5 feet, I got down to around 100lbs from 120lbs). At the time, I live 7 minutes to work so was able to work out almost every day for one hour. Fast forward to the beginning of 2019, I've been at the new job where I have a 50-mile, more-than-an-hour one way commute. For the past two years, I couldn't seem to find a good routine that fits my schedule while juggling a demanding job. I've tried mornings, tried after work, even dabbled in lunch workout, nothing ever quite stuck.
The last few months, however, witnessed a substantial progress towards a healthier lifestyle. Specifically two big changes took place:
1. I got into the habit of exercising first thing in the morning.
For the longest time, I've resisted morning workout. I just don't run as fast. But due to work schedule, long commute, morning is the only time I can make myself work out CONSISTENTLY. Too many variables stood in the way of later-day workout: the meeting ran over, too much traffic, just ate a snack so still full, etc.
No such excuses exist for the morning. Splash some cold water on my face to wake up and I'm ready!
Depending on how early my meeting starts, I can usually squeeze in 30-50mins exercises.
2. I built in much more strength training (resistance exercise) into my workout.
I used to be the cardio queen - running as much as 6 miles a time on a regular day. Spending an hour on the elliptical. Little did I pay any attention to lifting weights. Growing up in China, it's a culture of admiring skinny beauty. Not so much emphasis toning.
Meanwhile, I didn't understand the science either. In addition to increasing your muscle mass, which you lose as you age, strength training offers a plethora of benefits. CDC recommends strength training at least two times a day for healthy adults.
For me, a couple useful resources I've found to incorporate into my routine:
- Jeremy Ethier's Youtube Channel - a science-based youtube channel, where Jeremy offers great content on strength training-related topics: best way to lose fat, science-based workouts for various body parts, how much rest time you need, etc. What I love most is every recommendation is based on research literature, not just personal experience. I used this recommendation to build out two routines for upper body and lower body respectively.
- BodyFit by Amy workout videos - I stumbled upon this YouTube channel and absolutely loved it. Amy is a certified personal training. She recorded lots of 20-30 mins interval cross training videos. She possessed a really positive, pleasant energy that makes each workout a treat. She also offered modifications so you could adjust based on your fitness level or how you feel that day.
- Free FitOn App. A truly FREE fitness app offering a variety of workouts. You could filter by intensity level, targeted body part, or trainer. I mostly used it to tone/sculpt a specific body part if I happen to have 5-10mins break. The app is well designed and user-friendly. Most importantly of course, it is really free!
So this is the mid-year check-in. I hope these habits stick as the colder days come. Will do another check-in in the end of the year!