Whether you made a laundry list of lofty New Year’s resolutions or none at all, moving from “excuse-itarian” to “do-er” doesn’t need to be complicated. Becoming a “do-er” simply means “do”ing something, and then doing it again and again. It doesn’t take a lot of skill or experience, just some curiosity, willingness to be a beginner and a single action. Since we become what we repeatedly do, the little things that we do (or don’t do) make a difference! If you ever wanted to become a “runner” – you don’t have to be a endowed with world class sprinter genes, you just need to start running, and do it again and again. Before you know it, you will actually BE a runner. How do you know that someone is a runner? Well, they run!
This year, my articles will delve into the barriers/excuses that prevent us from becoming better versions of ourselves. Each article will focus on a particular barrier or “excuse” and discuss an action to experiment with to render the excuse powerless and help you move toward establishing a new normal.
When I told my son about my theme idea for the year, from “Excuse-itarian to Do-er”, he suggested that I find a more creative word for “do-er” to fit better with “excuse-itarian”, and I agreed. Then, we both reconsidered, since “doing” is often the simpler and easier choice, while the effort that goes into “not doing” is often overlooked. We create excuses to justify not taking action, and then have to deal with the natural consequences of not eating well, moving our bodies enough, or getting adequate sleep, etc., which often involve health problems that creep into our lives. Let’s say enough is enough to being comfortable being uncomfortable and wasting our energy with excuses… and make 2017 the year of simple, intentional action.
Since everyone is in a different place with barriers/excuses, think about your life and figure out where you want to be and how you want to feel. What would a better version of you do on a daily basis? Keep in mind that it is impossible to steer a parked car, you have to get rolling. Don’t overthink this and let yourself become a victim of paralysis by analysis! It is all about taking action in the present moment and checking in with yourself afterwards. Experiment instead of trying to “stay safe” crouched behind the excuse. Remember the words of Mark Twain, “if you do what you have always done, you will get what you’ve always gotten.” Is keeping that excuse alive and well actually serving you?
First up… No time to exercise!
Life seems to get busier by the moment, with responsibilities and opportunities playing a game of tug-of-war with our time and attention. Truth be told, though, we all still have the same 24 hours each day, (unless you are traveling across time zones), no matter who you are, and we make choices about how we spend our time. The “I’m too busy to exercise” excuse is quite seductive. It is easy to justify a day full of “must dos” and forsake physical activity. We also know in the back of our minds that if we don’t exercise, it won’t be the end of the world.
On the other hand, how does it feel to obliterate this excuse with action? Think about one of your busiest days and how amazing it feels to get your blood pumping and body moving in the morning, halfway through your day or before you call it quits. The better you are able to deliver oxygen to each of your trillions of precious cells, the better you will feel and perform. Elevating your heart rate and respiration through physical activity, significantly improves mental clarity, essential for getting a lot done on those crazy days. There is also time saved in the long run. I’m sure that you have also heard the saying, “Those who can’t find time to exercise, will have to make time for illness” …And that’s not fun!
So, how do I banish the “no time to exercise” excuse on days that are so packed, there is hardly room to take a deep breath? The 7 Minute Workout! Resist the temptation to rolls your eyes and mumble, “Oh, yippee, another unrealistic program that won’t stand the test of time” – let me explain.
The 7 Minute Workout was described in the American College of Sports Medicine’s journal by Brett Klika and Chris Jordan and then featured in the New York Times, as a time efficient method for working all major muscle groups. It consists of 12 different moves, done for 30 seconds each, with 10 seconds of rest in between. It truly meets you were you are, as it can easily be modified to be less strenuous or more intense, overall or move-by-move. Since the Workout is based on time, it is perfect for beginners only doing a few repetitions or those more advanced and able to pick up the pace. The variety keeps your interest while achieving full-body engagement. When you focus on maintaining good form and making each 30 second stint the best it can be, the Workout will be done before you know it!
While I agree with most of the moves, I always recommend that people do tricep kickbacks instead of the tricep dips, as they can cause shoulder impingement, strains and spurs. For tricep kickbacks, get into a lunge position with a straight back, and bend forward at your hips. Place one hand on your thigh (on leg in front) for support. With a bent elbow, lift the other hand (loose fist) to chest level, and then extend arm backward (behind you), focusing on using your muscles to resist the movement. Form is key and slow is best. Remember, you get back (results) what you put in (effort).
When I started with my first 7 Minute Workout, I accepted the fact that I was a beginner and I focused on not being critical. Some of the moves were more challenging than others, and while it felt a bit awkward, I knew that I could only get better. To date, I have completed the 7 Minute Workout 425 times (the app I use keeps track). I have made this a habit by connecting it to something that I already do. My friend and I do the 7 Minute Workout in the stretching room at the gym, after our cardio on Tuesdays and Thursdays, before heading out to use the weights. On Mondays, Wednesday and Saturdays, I do it after my outdoor runs. I don’t turn it into another decision that I have to wrestle with (and use up willpower), I just do it. I feel great afterwards.
The 7 Minute Workout is completely portable, as no equipment is needed. If I don’t have access to a safe surface on which to do step-ups, I simply jump side to side and front to back (or I pretend that I am jumping rope without a rope, which makes it easy, as I never trip!). Have fun finding ways to modify each of the moves to fit you right now: your version of jumping jacks could be arms moving over your head as you alternate tapping your toes from side to side. You might upgrade a simple squat to a jump squat or the jogging with high knees to an upright mountain climber move that adds reaching up to the sky, one hand and then the other.
I have done the Workout in our room, the playroom, and the living room, outside on the sidewalk, in the driveway and in the garage, in a hotel room, and in a hotel gym, just to name a few places… I have done it with my students on a rainy day (during a break during a 3 hour class), with my dad, my kids and I even taught my daughter’s soccer team how to do it. Some of those soccer players are doing amazingly well being consistent about it (you know who you are)!
Some of my athletic students want to dismiss the 7 Minute Workout when I first mention it, but are often surprised by how challenging they can make it. Done at an intense pace, the 7 Minute Workout can certainly fit into the HIIT (high intensity interval training) camp and be repeated 2-3 times in a row, but it can also be a way to start getting active again, or add some needed variety to a your current routine.
There are many different 7 Minute Workout apps for smart phones, many are free and they all use the same 12 exercises. An app is helpful for pacing (tells you when to rest and move on to the next move) and keeping track of the number of workouts you complete. Most also have optional notifications which will provide a little positive encouragement if you haven’t done your workout yet that day, such as “You know you have 7 minutes to do this!”
We all have different logistics to work around, so figure out what might work for you and give it a try. If you haven’t been doing much intentional exercise lately, perhaps you will find success by connecting the 7 Minute Workout to a different activity that you do each day (do it before you take a shower in the morning or as the first few minutes of your lunch break, or in the evening before dinner). Have fun moving your body and crossing the “No time to exercise” excuse off of your list!
As with all suggestions around exercise and movement, err on the side of caution and if in doubt, discuss the idea with your doctor.
Timaree Hagenburger, a registered dietitian and certified exercise physiologist with a master’s degree in public health, loves being a soccer mom and working with her students, as a nutrition professor at Cosumnes River College. Timaree also conducts local events, corporate wellness work, has a regular segment on California Bountiful TV and published her first cookbook – The Foodie Bar Way: One meal. Lots of options. Everyone’s happy. available at www.FoodieBars.com – where you will also find details about Timaree’s upcoming events (cooking demos, book signings and talks about the incredible power you yield with your fork!)