Archives for posts with tag: Exercise

I finally got back to exercising ways the other day. I’d been injured after a run and this seemed to set off a chain reaction of twinges and aches in related parts of my body, so it was slightly over 2 weeks since I had last exercised.

I go the gym first thing in the morning, before I start the normal family or working day. If it’s regular exercise like the gym, the only time I will go is the morning. After about lunch time I can’t be bothered, so the only exercise I’ll contemplate in the afternoon or evening is proper sport.

Anyway, I bounded back to the house an hour later, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, all chirpy, full of the joys of spring and whatever other cliche you can conjure up. It got me thinking about the paradox that is the least-most principle of exercise. The less you feel like doing something, the more you need it and the more it will benefit you. The longer you don’t exercise, the more you don’t want to do it, the longer you put it off and the harder is to get back in the saddle.

I didn’t want to get up and dressed for exercise in the cold. It took some effort but finally I was up and ready to head out. Once I’d got to the gym, I was fine. When I finished I felt great and I was set up for the day.

For me the least-most principle of exercise always holds true. The least I feel inclined to do it, the most I need it, and the most I get out of it.

Whenever we want to improve at something, or fix something, we devise a plan – or an expert helps us do so. Then we have to commit to the plan. This is true for almost any change management exercise in business, which is another way of saying anything worth doing in business. Change is a constant after all.

This also applies to diet, exercise and health of course. It I want to get fitter, stronger or faster, I get a training program. If I’ve had an injury, an operation or an illness, I get a rehabilitation or recovery programme.

Let’s say you have a bad back, and you want to strengthen the lumbar region, improve your posture, or avoid slouching in your seat. You get some exercises.

But what’s the point of exercises that advise you to do them three times a day? We’re busy people and unless we do this stuff for a living it’s hard enough making time to do them once a day. Three times a day is too much of an ask.

I’ve had a few calf strains the last few years, and I’m advised to do sets of balancing and hopping exercises, three times a day. I’m usually good the first day or two, then I settle at one a day, then 3 times a week when I remember, for a few weeks until I decide I have recovered. Then I reoffend. My point is, I could probably spare 40-60 mins first thing in the morning and get it all over with in one go, but I can’t spare 20-30 mins spread over 3 instances in a 24-hour period. As George Herbert Walker Bush used to say, not gonna do it.

I know, if I was more organised, and maybe set my phone to remind me several times during the day, that I might increase my chances of success. I also know that there is a purpose to doing the exercises a few hours apart on a regular basis. What I don’t know is how you stay with the regime in a non-life threatening situation when you’re a busy person with demands on your time.

In business these days, and especially in fast-moving industries, it rarely pays to compromise. Compromise in my view is not BATNA, the Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement. No-one’s happy when you compromise. Both parties end up sharing the middle ground – results-wise – of mediocrity and missed opportunities.

Life and work should be about doing your absolute best and not settling for your second best work. What’s the point otherwise? It’s no longer enough to be ‘good enough’, because that’s not going to last ‘long enough’.

I was reminded of this fact the other day when I went to the gym. Three things happened that made me think of the folly of compromise.

Firstly, our gym is on the first floor, on the floor above the changing room and the pool. It’s two flights of stairs, and there is also a lift to the first floor to access the hotel rooms, for elderly, disabled or heavily laden residents. I saw someone about my age taking the lift. Up to the gym, and down again later. Defeating the object of exercise surely?

Secondly, there are two banks of treadmills.  On one treadmill I saw a guy walking slowly. On his mobile. While he was walking, which was pretty slow given how distracted he was. Could he be making less of an effort, short of stopping altogether?

Thirdly, the gym happened to be playing a collection of really good dance tracks, presumably to help with motivation and atmosphere. Except that each track was a cover version, and a pretty poor imitation at that. Talk about ruining the user experience.

If you compromise, on effort for convenience, or on quality for reducing cost, you make it harder to get to your target, which is a happier customer, co-worker, friend or family member. Or a happier you.

If you’re a healthy person trying to get fitter, or indeed an unhealthy person looking to get healthy – and you’re serious about it, I have one piece of advice for you.

Being in good shape is of course a complex blend of lifestyle, genetics, circumstances and so on. This is not the advice part by the way. Some of these things are beyond our control, but we can to a large extent get or stay in shape by managing our diet and exercise.

It seems to be that you need to do both. We’re subject to a basic calculation: calories in and calories out.  In that sense we’re a bit like cars, taking in fuel and using it up to do work.  The more we exercise, the more we can eat, put in an over-simplified way. If you burn less calories than you absorb, you gain weight.  If you burn more, you lose weight. You could do 100’s of sit-ups a week, but if you can’t cut out the rubbish, you won’t see the benefit.

Now I’m partial to rubbish. Very partial. Cakes, sweets, biscuits, chocolates – these are the 4 basis food groups as far as I’m concerned. Added to that, I’m not as sprightly as I used to be, and nor’s my metabolism. So this is only going to end one way if I’m not more careful.

Here’s where I get to my advice, which if course I already gave you in the heading. Keep a food diary. I have kept one for the last 5 years, recording in general terms what I’ve been eating. It’s not particularly scientific, but what I do find is that it helps me acknowledge exactly what I’m eating, and that for me is half the battle. If you ate 4 chocolate biscuits after your tofu salad, then record them. I also try to record how much water I drink (I can’t stand water; it’s an effort for me to drink it) as well as tea and coffee. Finally, I also record any exercise I do that’s more strenuous than a walk around the block.  Any day without any exercise is recorded as ‘Black Day’.

Recording exactly what you eat reminds you of exactly what you eat. When you’re monitoring it, you’re effectively measuring it. And as the business gurus will tell you, if you can measure it, you can manage it.