As we near our Woodshed Total meet on October 4, it’s a natural time for us to take stock. Did you have a great summer? Moving back in time, were you ready to have a great summer? Did you feel strong, healthy, happy, and ready to take advantage of all the awesome things New England throws at us in the summertime? If not…well, let’s fix that this time around.
Our view here at Woodshed is the long view. This is more unique than we wish it were in the fitness and self-help industries. We read about battles to be waged, cleanses and detoxifying routines, how much weight you can lose or add to your bench in four to six weeks, and we wonder why so few people talk about doing the simple things right every day and letting those small, good chips fall where they may. It’s not very sexy because it’s process, not product. But it’s the best way we know how to get at a stronger, fitter, happier life.
There are, by my count, 34 weeks between October 5 and Memorial Day Weekend. Get a notebook or a post-it with enough spaces on it for 34 tick-marks. Here’s your plan for this winter:
1. Strength train 2 to 4 days a week. Come to Woodshed and do what’s on the board, come to Woodshed and do your own program during open hours, do a mixture of both, do some pushups and squats, do DDP Yoga, pull a sled and push a wheelbarrow…your choice–make it happen 2 to 4 times a week for at least 20 minutes each time. Consider that 3 is a # of sessions/week that works really well. Folks who are 40+ and/or have some mileage on them, consider using one of these sessions for dedicated recovery as need be (stretching, foam rolling, contrast showers, Epsom salt baths).
2. Get your heart rate up once or twice a week for 5-10 minutes. You can do this by sprinting, rowing hard, biking hard, carrying heavy things, walking with a heavy vest on, lifting or hitting bodyweight movements in a circuit. Remember that you don’t need to do someone else’s routine to make this happen–especially if you are just getting back into the swing of things, running or biking at what feels like half or three-quarter speed may get that heart rate up just fine.
3. Pick a sensible way of eating and stick to it. This can be Paleo, Primal, using a calorie counter like MyFitnessPal or LoseIt, Weight Watchers, the No S diet, eating good food to satiety three times a day, carb cycling, whatever it is pick it and stick to it. In your 20s? Take a day a week and go off-plan. In your 30s and 40s? Take a meal or two a week to do the same. In your 50s and above? Have that meal off-plan as well, but consider gently reducing portion sizes from time to time. Whenever you go off-plan, make it fun with friends and family, and whatever way of eating you pick, make it something you like and will stick with.
4. Prioritize eight hours in bed every day, either day by day or on the average. If it’s possible, this should be from the end of the day to the beginning of the next morning. If not, do your best to average this amount over the course of the week. Sleep as much as you can.
5. Do something you enjoy outside once a week. Pick apples, go snowshoeing, Christmas Carol, make a snowfort, etc.
Make a tick mark in your notebook or on your post-it every week if you make these small things happen. Add it up on Memorial Day when you take stock of how much stronger, fitter, and happier you’ve gotten over the winter without, possibly, noticing more than a few times that it was happening.
That’s Project 34. 34 weeks, one by one.
If you add all that work up and it’s less than what you might do cumulatively over the course of the next 8 months or so, by all means get after what you’re already doing. But if sticking to this routine would represent a step up in work–even if that step is a very small step above what you already do, day by day and week by week–then let’s get at it.
34 strokes of a Sharpie. 34 marks. Probably less than a minute’s worth of time to tick the marks all at once, if you were to do so. A few small, good things done with consistency, day by day and week by week.
Let’s see what we can do with this one, Woodshed.