One of the most freeing decisions I’ve made was letting go of the idea of a perfect workout and fitness lifestyle . Somehow mainstream fitness culture and standard medical advice led me to accept thirty minutes to an hour of vigorous activity 3-5 times a week as being the minimum threshold to reap the benefits of exercise. So that’s what I aimed for.
But while I did reap the physical *gains* and health benefits of training in that style, the mental gymnastics It took to get myself to start my workout was exhausting and simply didn’t feel natural and sustainable to me.
I’d have to tap into my ‘why’ and rouse myself up to get my energy, mind space and motivation aligned before I could gather myself to begin a workout.
One of the mental barriers to me just getting up and ‘doing it’ was my unconscious association of ‘thirty minutes to an hour of exercise’ with other activities I consider ‘long’- such as:
-My 5k runs
-An hour in a hairdresser’s seat
-An hour at the nail salon
-30 minutes at the checkout line
-The hour before the flight’s scheduled take-off
Surely the thought of something I intended to do for the rest of my life ought not to feel exhausting.
I was stuck in the middle of wanting to train consistently and also wanting exercise to feel joyful and as instinctive as honouring my body’s hunger and satiety cues. I knew the way forward was a style that married the two.
And so, I decided to exercise my bodily autonomy- how I train, and how I go about it. I wanted to experience my body and journey through fitness in a way that suited me and my lifestyle, as opposed to playing to a one size fits all prescription for fitness that made me feel externally controlled.
During the period of trying to figure out how to move forward with my training in a way that was joyful, I didn’t stop moving. There were several points in my day that I could easily get in a mini workout but blocking out thirty minutes to an hour session wasn’t quite as easy and if it didn’t happen first thing in the morning, well, it likely wasn’t going to happen. So, I chose the path of least resistance.
I would do short bursts of exercise, usually around 10 minutes a time- while in the kitchen cooking, watching tele, at the playground with the kids, before jumping in the shower or randomly in the day when my energy and motivation was high. I would pick a part of my body to train, come up with 2-3 compound exercises and go for as many reps as possible. It still surprises me how much sweat I’m able to work up in a short time and have me feeling sore the next day.
Even though I enjoyed the doability of training with intensity for 10 minutes and the post workout feeling of accomplishment, I still had creeping doubts “does this really count as commitment to exercise?”, “will I see physical changes exercising for 10 minutes?”
Well, I can tell you this much after training this way for over two years: 10 minutes is enough to give you a great workout! When combined with a portion controlled whole foods diet, you can achieve a strong body and lose weight with 10 minutes of focussed daily exercise. Longer, harder, faster doesn’t always mean better.
If you’re not convinced, try any of the following exercises:
(40 seconds of work, 20 seconds marching in place/rest – repeat 10 times)
Let me know how it goes!