Committing to Daily Physical Activity

Back in December of 2020 I went out for a day of splitboarding with a few buddies. I hadn’t been exercising regularly but I was working out here and there and I had a great mountain biking season in 2020 and felt like I was still reasonably fit. Well I was in for a rude awakening… granted it was an ambitious day for my first day out of the season but I got my ass completely handed to me, on a silver platter with a side of muscle spasms. It was at this point that I resolved to increase my level of activity to avoid similar embarrassments in the future. Inspired by a good friend and one of my splitboarding companions on that particular day, who shall remain nameless although some may know him as Big Daddy Z (BDZ), I made a commitment to myself to get some form of physical activity every day from that point forward.

I have long understood that fitness is something that you acquire over a long period of time in small increments through continued commitment. But understanding is one thing, execution is another. Over the past several years I had gone through various different roles at work with wildly varied hours and stress levels. I have gone long periods of time without regular workouts and I have gone through stints of intense training playing catch up, usually in advance of the mountain biking season or some ambitious goal / trip.

Side note: I have a tendency to learn most lessons the hard way… and I learned first hand the effect stress can have on your mental and physical health. After one especially stressful role that was a year in duration it took me six months to bounce back physically and up to year to bounce back mentally to the point where I felt fit and healthy in both regards.

The summer of 2020 was one of my best mountain biking seasons in many years. We completed a bucket list ride in Rossland, British Columbia called 7 Summits which we spent the entire summer preparing for. That ride was the highest point for my fitness level in the last number of year however is began to taper off from there leading into that fateful day in early December.

On to my personnel commitment and how it relates to sweet outdoor activities. Inspired by a BDZ who had made the same commitment a year earlier, I decided to get some form of physical activity everyday. I set the bar low so there’s no sensible reason for me to make excuses. Some days my daily activity is as simple as a nice long walk ensuring I hit a target number of steps. Other days I hit the trainer in the basement for a solid 30+ minute interval session. I’m also fortunate to have a squat rack and olympic lifting bar / bumper plates in my basement (along with a few other odds and ends) that proves very useful for building strength. This approach worked great during the winter months and getting out for ambitious splitboarding days became a lot less demoralizing. Also, utilizing a sweet outdoor adventure has turned into my favourite way to check off my daily activity.

This all ties in very nicely with my earlier post where I described my other commitment to myself to get out for some form of adventure every week. It’s now spring in Calgary and more often than not I’m able to get outside in the evening for a bike ride (even if just on the local pathways on my commuter bike) to achieve my daily activity. I’m more motivated than ever to get outdoors and some weeks I’ve been fortunate enough to get out for multiple adventures.

As of the writing of this post (Apr 2020) I’ve completed some form of daily activity for over 140 days in a row. I achieved this by setting incremental goals of 10 days at a time to make it more palatable. Initially, I decided that hitting 90 days in a row would be a solid accomplishment. This seemed like a foolishly lofty goal which, if I’m being honest, it was a lofty goal at the time considering my lack of commitment to exercising regularly up to that point. But leveraging the bite sized goal approach I have been able to remain focused and continue to get some form of physical activity everyday. Full disclosure, there are some days that I put it off until super late and end up going for a walk around my community at 10:30 at night to get my steps in. Other days I’ll have a video call and a fews beers after the end of the workday on Friday and then hop on the trainer an hour or two later to sweat it all out again. I wouldn’t say I’m back to peak fitness level but I believe I have developed a solid foundation that has allowed me to get more ambitious with my weekend adventures and allows for a quicker recovery afterward. Below I’ve included a few shots of a few of my sweet daily adventures over the past 4+ months:

If you have been experiencing a similar pattern to what I have described of various ups and downs in fitness level over a long period of time I would encourage you to make a similar commitment to yourself. I have always found that the hardest part of going to the gym was the act of just going and putting on your workout clothes. Once that step was complete it became exponentially easier to workout. I have taken a similar approach to my daily activity. Just do something, which is why I set the bar low for what counts as an activity. Once I start doing something it regularly turns into more. Similarly, it’s important to set small incremental goals for yourself. Essentially whatever increment allows you to say to yourself “oh I can do something for the next X number of days easily”.

If you found this post relatable, if you have made a similar commitment in the past, or if I have inspired you to make a new commitment for daily activity, I would love to hear your story. Feel free to reach out via email or through the Contact page. I’m also toying with writing a longer post every two weeks (like this one) as opposed to a short post each week. If you have been enjoying reading my posts and have a preference one way or the other I would love to hear about it as I’m still figuring this whole blogging / writing thing out.

Happy Trails!

Dave T

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