Most people (including me) think they exercise more than they do. My Nike+ app just turned over 400 miles, so I thought I was walking and walking. But then I took a deeper look.
Last year I sometimes walked as much as 50 or 60 miles/month, averaging 36 miles/month from June through December.
I thought I was walking about the same amount this year. Turns out: Not.
So far this year my highest months were 30 and 35 miles, averaging only 24 miles/month from January through June.
I had no idea. I think of myself as someone who walks all the time. But, things came up more than I thought. Meetings. Deadlines. Laziness. Rain. Traveling. Laziness.
So I’m trying a fix. It’s based on this principle: We get what we measure.
You can use the steps below for walking, running, lifting weights, or any activity you want to make sure you do with a certain frequency.
- Set a monthly time or distance goal. I’ve set a goal for July: 48 miles. That’s 3 miles x 4 days a week, with allowances for partial weeks at the beginning & end of the month and a break for the week I’ll be traveling.
- Put specific dates on your calendar. For every day that I’m planning to walk, I added an appointment to my electronic calendar, with a pop-up reminder.
- Add goals for each week. I printed a paper calendar page for July, and wrote the miles for each week on the Sundays. (It can be any calendar, just so it’s visible enough that you’ll use it.)
- Record progress with each workout. Every time I walk, I’ll log the miles (the Nike+ Running app is great for this).
- Track weekly subtotals. On Saturdays I’ll add up the miles, write the week’s total, and compare that with my weekly goal.
- Total the monthly time or distance. At the end of the month, I’ll add up the weekly miles and see how I did.
- Celebrate! I’m thinking about a fun reward to give myself for making this goal. Maybe even little rewards on Saturdays and a bigger one for the 31st. And no, not chocolate cake, because that would amount to walking backwards.
Why This Will Work
Specific. One of the things I like about this approach is that it is specific. I know what to do and I have a plan for when to do it. I’ll either meet the goal, or not.
Realistic. For me, this goal is not too hard or too easy (either of those can mess with motivation).
Flexible. I can change the time of day or turn an unscheduled day into a walking day. All the miles count.
Fun. As soon as I set July’s distance goal, I started thinking about exceeding it. So now it’s a little competition with myself.
P.S. If you try some version of this, I’d love to hear about it. What activity did you select, how did you track it? How did that work for you?
App: Nike+ Running (free)
Article: Fitness: Tips for Staying Motivated