It’s no secret that the last year has been a rough one for me as far as getting back on the fitness train. I have a real hard time staying at my much-needed 90 minutes a day minimum workout time.

It felt so daunting this year that just getting in 20 minutes on the bike a couple times a week counted as a win. Getting in 10 minutes of weights in the morning was just… agony. Churning out 90 minutes a day in fitness, for me, was like trying to churn out three thousand words a day in writing was for me not long ago – total agony.

But over the last few weeks, all that stutter-stop finally changed. I’ve been consistently getting in 60-100 minutes of fitness time each day, at least 5 days a week, and I’ve even started putting in 20-45 minutes on the weekends.

Here are some of the tricks that helped me turn the corner:

1) I like fitness videos. I have a whole library of them. The trouble is, you do them enough and they get achingly monotonous. It’s not that I couldn’t do that 15 minute video in the morning, it was just that the thought of doing it felt like too much to ingest at 5:30 in the morning. And 30 minutes? 40 minutes? Yeah, at 5:30 a.m., that’s just laughable.

I realized a while back that because I’d done these so many times, I didn’t need to listen to the sound, so I listened to music instead. But that only worked for so many minutes, because invariably, I’d listen to the same kind of music, too. It was monotony multiplied.

Instead, I decided to try listening to podcasts while I worked out. Audio books can work for this, too. The idea was to give my mind something else to occupy itself with besides the grinding monotony or how tough certain exercises were, or how tired I was. I needed a brain exercise that could trick my mind into staying busy so it didn’t obsess over what my body was doing.

And, sure enough, I went from throwing tantrums about having to workout 15 minutes in the morning to working out 30-40 minutes in the morning with ease. Time just clipped along, and before I knew it, I was fitter and more informed. Now I’m rolling out of bed in the morning actually looking forward to the a.m. workout instead of looking at it like something to dread.

2) If you have Netflix, you can stream it on your phone. Most folks who have Netflix know this, but sneer at the idea of watching something on such a small screen. Well, guess what? When you’re working out at a gym that doesn’t have little TV’s in the readout, this is an absolute lifesaver.

I was working out at my day job gym a couple times a week for 20-30 minutes, really struggling every time. Then I remembered Netflix had come out with its Android app.

Literally overnight, I went from doing 20-30 minutes to 50-60 minutes on the elliptical each workday. There are plenty of long-running shows to choose from. Start at season one, episode one, and dig in. I’ve already started associating midday and evening workout routines with the pleasure of catching up on my favorite shows.

3) I like video games. I also need to workout. But, as yet, I don’t have a Kinect, just a Wii Fit with the same half dozen games that I’ve gotten sick of. But if you have something like a stationary bike at home (much more compact and easy to manage in a house my size than our old elliptical was), park it in front of your TV and play video games to help take your mind off the burn.

I’m slowly working my way through God of War III when I’m not ingesting massive amounts of serial TV (we don’t actually have proper TV programming in my house, just Netflix. That means I don’t watch any season of anything until it shows up there, so I tend to get it in bulk).

4) Whenever I thought “fuck, I need to workout for 90 minutes. Where the hell can I find 90 minutes? How can I keep going for 90 minutes?” I just got discouraged. Instead, I break it up. I do 30 minutes in the morning, 30-60 minutes at the day job gym, and another 30-45 on the exercise bike when I get home. By breaking it up into chunks, there’s no one workout that feels like 90 minutes of death.

This being Friday, and wanting to having the full sum of my Friday night for leisure, I already got in my 90 (30 this morning, 60 at the day job gym), so when I get home, I don’t even have to concern myself with the extra evening workout unless I feel like it.

Now, all of the above is primarily cardio work, with some strength training in the morning mixed in. When I finally get to the heavy lifting stuff, I intend for that to be on top of what I’m already doing, but I’m sure that if I can figure out how to be active 2-3 hours a day instead of just 90 minutes as a sedentary writer-type -you’ll be the first to know.

 

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