Variety is the Spice of Life

Life is all about learning from our mistakes.  Part of the purpose of this blog is sharing my experiences with becoming more active and losing weight to put out the successes and failures I’ve learned by trial and error.  The hope in writing posts like these is that it gives you ideas for switching things up a bit and inspires you to start making those changes as well.

One of the things I am the most proud of since getting the Get Well Cat gimmick going almost a year ago now has been that I have managed to avoid any major or really even minor injuries.  In a previous post I discussed the importance in being preventive and not pushing myself when something feels off or sore.  Another reason I would attribute to my success this time around has been the variety of means to which I have remained active over the past year.

Previous weight loss attempts were heavily focused on one activity in particular, primarily either running, biking, or using the elliptical machine.  Looking back over time I either became bored of that activity or got sidelined by an injury .  The bottom line is  I didn’t follow through long term.

This time around, I started with activities I enjoyed and started to add variety to those activities.  I started small by going for daily walks and visiting the gym 2-3 times a week to strength train, ride bike, or use the elliptical machine.  Rarely would I get bored of doing one activity because I was switching up the activities up so much.

It’s also important to recognize that there are many different ways you can complete an activity.  For example, you can walk or run for speed or distance and look to track your progress.  I’ve found success with the Nike+ running app on my smartphone as it tracks milestones such as your longest, fastest, or farthest run.  I now look to do two runs a week, one in which I run a 5k (3.1 miles) and look to keep a consistent pace and a second run in which I look to run 1 mile as fast as I can.  You can also think about adding resistance as a form of variety, such as walking/running on an incline or hills, biking in higher gears, etc…

Another popular method of training is called high intensity interval training (HIIT).  HIIT works by varying high intensity intervals with low intensity in your activity.  This is essentially how I learned to run again, by running for 15-30 seconds followed by 30-60 seconds of walking.  After doing HIIT running for several weeks, I then moved on to a Couch to 5K (C25K) app that gradually increased the running periods from seconds to minutes to miles.

Now that the weather is getting nice again, I spend less time at the gym doing my cardio activities and more time is spent outside.  I have a loose goal of running, biking, swimming and strength training twice a week for each activity .  Some of these activities overlap and I may run in the morning and go lift or swim in the afternoon.  The thought is by working different muscle groups through varying activities I can get stronger, lose more of the excess weight, but most importantly avoid injuries caused by over-training and being repetitive.

You may not be able to even run a block, but I know you can walk a mile.  You have to start somewhere right?  Try incorporating short bursts of jogging in with that walk to get the heart rate up a bit and that energy going.  Try running uphill or increasing the incline or resistance on your bike, treadmill, or elliptical machine.  Try to set new goals for speed, distance, or duration and crush them!

Being active can take on many forms, so I  encourage you to switch it up a bit and add variety to your routine. As the old saying goes, variety is the spice of life!

Until next time, get well!

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