About a month ago, I set a goal for myself to go to the gym every day for a month. The idea was largely predicated on a principle that I've seen in many other areas of life. Basically, if you do something often enough for it to become a habit and part of your routine, you end up feeling weird if it's missing.
For something that really should be part of my daily routine for the rest of my life, that seemed like a pretty good approach.
I'd heard people throw out a 14 day timeframe for things to "become a habit". In my own experience, however, that's proven to be wholly inadequate unless I already was inclined to do the thing.
So, I basically doubled the "conventional wisdom" and rounded to 30 days. The hope was that at the end of the 30 days, that mechanism in my brain that makes me feel guilty about not doing other stuff would be employed in keeping me going to the gym.
I used Don't Break The Chain as a quick way to track whether I complied with my rules. I also kept an ad hoc kind of notebook along with my other notes for things like my weight and body fat percentage. I wasn't as thorough as one should be for really understanding what happened. However, I'm also pretty sure that if I'd imposed greater measurement requirements, I would have abandoned the whole thing.
While I don't have access to the REALLY accurate body fat measurements (i.e. the big water tank), I *do* have a scale that reports my body fat percentage along with the weight. It's the same scale I had when going to the weight loss doctor and the numbers were always fairly close to the ones that the more expensive equipment in her office reported.
I measured my weight and body fat percentage about 1-2 times a week for the duration. I logged those numbers along with the actual body fat in pounds, as calculated from the numbers that the scale spit out.
All of the workouts were between 30 and 60 minutes with most between 30 and 40 minutes long. I didn't track this for very long before patterns started to emerge. Most consisted of 25-35 minutes on the treadmill followed with 10-15 minutes of weight training.
The treadmill portion consisted of walking at 2.8mph at 9% incline with interval spikes of either a 15% incline or 1% incline and running between 6-7mph (only on some days). That consistently got my heart rate into the recommended range for cardio conditioning. I'd love to have gotten my VO2 measured before this (and should probably look even now), but didn't.
Weight training was mostly squats, bench press and seated row. From a training perspective, I pretty much just aimed to slowly bring up my condition without pushing things too far, so the weight stuff wasn't terribly intense.
The actual goal was not achieved as I didn't actually make 30 days in a row: only 27. This is due in large part to my poor planning. The decision for the starting date was dictated almost entirely by the day that I finally got fed up and just jumped in. Had I looked at the calendar on that date, I would have noticed that I would be out of town in rural Iowa (where my gym is not) for my sister's wedding at the tail end of this 30 days.
However, once back in town, I started back up and it's clear that the *spirit* of the project took as going to the gym is now a habit. As such, I consider the project a success.
Weight and Fat
I expressly did not include any specific goals with regard to weight or fat loss.
At the beginning, my total body fat was 81.28 lbs. As of this morning, that's dropped to 74.24 lbs, for a drop in body fat of about 7 pounds. At the same time, my actual weight went UP from 253 to 256.
The combined math says that I gained 10 pounds of lean tissue and lost 7 pounds of fat in the last 30 days.
I wish I had tracked some things in this area better. Alas, it's probably unlikely that this will improve much going forward either. I *do* know that my endurance for bursts of running has improved pretty steadily.
Since the goal was to establish the habit of regular exercise, I do plan to keep this up. I've now been back on track for 2 days straight and see no reason to stop. There will undoubtedly be days like the wedding weekend where I can't get to the gym, but it looks like the habit is getting ingrained enough that those won't derail me.
I *have* heard from several people that I shouldn't be going every single day because I'll "overtrain". To me, that makes little sense, sorry. I spend 8-12 hours a day sitting in front of a computer plus 30-60 minutes of exercise on a treadmill and a few weights. That, compared with the amount of physical activity *demanded* of 99.99% of the population for all of human history except the last 30 years or even my own youth is preposterous.