Healthy living and corporate life don’t always go together. Some people do a great job of balancing the two, but others (like me) find the many hours spent at the office are terrific excuse to not work out. And I am absolutely GREAT at finding excuses to avoid exercise. 🙂
Combine this with the appealing social opportunity of escaping work to go out to eat at lunch (or an after work drink), and pretty soon you have a twenty pound trophy around your waist. You could say it is corporate largesse at its most personal.
So now that I am leaving MegaCorp for early retirement, this should be a golden opportunity to address these long-waxing bad habits, shouldn’t it? I recall my Dad telling my wife’s Dad that “in retirement your new job is taking care of your health.” That’s certainly good advice. You can simply trade WORK for WORK OUTS!
That IS my plan, and with an extra 50 hours a week it should be a pretty easy trade. Right?
OK, maybe not easy. Like almost everyone, I’ve done the healthy lifestyle change before. I’ve tried a number of approaches, had some success for 6 months, a year, or more — but I always slip back into old habits. I understand it is basic math of calories in and calories out, but I seem to lack a sustainable way of holding myself accountable to a long term goal. Making lasting change is partly a function of seeing exactly what you are doing right or wrong 24/7. I’ve tried journals, apps, and fitness bands, but I am proud to say I have cleverly figured out how to defeat them all to my own dismay.
As I approach early retirement, I’ve developed what I think is a new, hard to defeat scheme to address my fitness behavior, using my smartphone and backing into a fitness goal.
In 2014, it was reported estimated that about 2.3% of Americans ran in a timed 5K, 10K, half-marathon, or full marathon. I like to set goals for myself that put me in the “top 5%” of people, so I like the goal of getting in 5K shape (~3 miles) in the next six months. While I have run up to the 10K distance in the past, it has been quite a while ago. Getting in 5K shape will be a real accomplishment at this point (and I’ll get a free t-shirt).
Starting anew, I need to convert activity to 5K condition. Walking, I notice that I finish walking 3 miles on my treadmill in about 1 hour. It also equals 7,500 steps on my iPhone/Apple Watch health tracker. It’s about the same number of steps when I run that distance. That’s key. My phone & watch track steps perfectly well and I always have one of them with me to keep me honest.
My goal is set by converting my planned 5 weekly workouts times 3 miles each (~5K) into 37,500 incremental steps. Since that equals a full 5 extra hours of walking, I also have the motivation to RUN and SHORTEN the time it takes to get to 37,500. The saved TIME will make me more fit and allow me to spend my time on other activities. Since I already average about 45K steps a week in the normal course of my life, my new goal will be ~85K. That’s 12K a day. Since I always have my phone or watch with me, I will get credit for steps wherever I am – on the treadmill, out and about, and on vacation. That makes it simple, and the harder I run, the faster I rack up my 12K per day and 85K per week. If I take more steps one day, I reach my weekly 85K faster.
This might seem basic to some people, but I’ve never done the math on what’s needed on a basic “step level” or used steps as a basic unit of health. I know some people work to get 10K steps a day, but that doesn’t seem like enough to get to the fitness level I would like to. Additionally, the average 5K time is 33 minutes, so I need to get my run time down to 10 minute miles.
How do you keep accountable on fitness? Do you count steps or track fitness in another way? Or, do you just love keeping fit and don’t see it as WORK?
Related: Fitter or Fatter in Early Retirement
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