Tricia Cook is one of my oldest friends (see pics at end of post). We were in the same sorority pledge class at Michigan, moved to Chicago after college and ended up living in the same North Shore suburb when our kids were toddlers. Over the years we’ve partied, studied, traveled, parented and even worked together (Tricia is the President and founder of a consulting company and an excellent boss). In March we’re going to celebrate our 60th birthdays together and we’ve got some mixed feelings about hitting that milestone. As Tricia says, “I feel like we’ve got a lot of life ahead of us and I want to be my best self, and I think I’ve got a little ways to go”. I totally agree.
Both Tricia and I have wanted to make fitness more of a priority for a long time, but so many things get in the way—work, lack of knowledge, even our pets! We decided turning 60 was our motivation to make some real changes and we agreed to support each other by checking in about our progress. Collaborating with a friend is very helpful in developing new habits, as this excerpt from from a recent NYTimes “Well” story shows:
“Some people are very accountable to themselves, but not most people,” said Dr. Tim Church, a well-known exercise and obesity expert and chief medical officer for Naturally Slim, an app-based behavioral health program in Dallas. “In my years of working with thousands of people, there’s one thing that drives accountability more than anything else: If you want to keep people doing a behavior, get a buddy.”
Here’s the three-week update on our workout challenge. We decided to try the free version of the FitOn app as a support. We set different goals and have had different results, but we’re encouraged to continue working out. Wanna join us?
Goal: Establish an Exercise Routine
I want to get more fit by establishing a regular exercise habit. My consulting work requires me to travel and I get very busy at certain times (like right now), so it’s hard to stick to a specific schedule. But I know I’m not exercising enough, so I was excited to give this challenge a try. The accountability factor was big to me. My initial goal was to work out for 30 minutes every day, but I realized that was too much, so I changed it to 20 minutes, five times a week. When I committed to this challenge, saying “I will do it” to Marjie—that was key for me to actually make it happen.
The first two weeks I did get ten days of at least 20 minutes in. I’ve always done the same set of exercises: stretches and waist, leg and butt exercises. I used the FitOn app for their ab workouts, but mostly did my own thing. I’ve been really working on my stomach, trying to get ready for summer. I found 20 minutes of strength and stretching is doable—or I’ll take a 45 minute walk or do the elliptical. After the first two weeks, I could feel a difference. My abs hurt so I knew it was working, and I was feeling good about it. I’ve fallen off the wagon this past week because of traveling for work. I did do a couple short workouts in my hotel room. But a couple weeks isn’t enough. I can tell I need to do more.
Goal: Build Muscle and Firm Up
My schedule is flexible so, unlike Tricia, finding time for exercise isn’t my issue. I’m feel like I’m pretty active—I live downtown and walk everywhere and play tennis 3-4 times a week. I can easily run around the tennis court for two hours but I can’t do two push ups. And even though my weight hasn’t changed much, I’ve noticed new droopiness in areas like my upper arms and tummy. So my goal is to firm up and get stronger. But, even though I tried it before, strength training intimidates me. It seems complicated, painful, and I really don’t know how to go about it. My commitment for this challenge was to do 60 minutes of strength training a week using the classes on the FitOn app.
I’ve been hitting my weekly goal, doing two 25-minute full body strength workouts (either with weights or power yoga) and a 10-15 minute abs or arms sculpt class. Despite feeling the burn in muscles I didn’t know I had, I’m really encouraged by my ability to do all these new classes and meet the time commitment, and I’m having fun going to the gym in my building. It’s also been great to check in with Tricia about our workouts. I don’t want to let her down! However, after three weeks, I haven’t really seeing a difference in my body. Some of the moves have become easier (like squats and mountain climbers) but I think I’m going to have to keep at it a while longer and maybe try heavier weights before I’ll see/feel the difference I’m working towards.
Tips to Starting a New Exercise Program
- Set a realistic goal. Commit to something you feel confident you can make happen. Even 5 minutes a day is an improvement and little habits add up!
- Concentrate on the activity, not the results. Marjie doesn’t have six-pack abs or rock hard triceps yet, but she’s still gonna keep going. If you stick with your plan, the results are going to show up in time.
- Buddy up. It’s much more fun to tackle a new project with a friend. Establish a check in schedule with each other, and keep it positive and encouraging.
- Experiment. Doing the same old workout gets boring. There are so many in person or online classes to try. We’ve been using FitOn and like it, but look around for the classes and support that work for you.
- Be flexible. Tricia can’t hit her home gym every morning due to work and travel, so those days she tries to fit in an afternoon walk. If you miss a day, it’s not the end of the world. Just try your best tomorrow.
- Try to contain your doggone pets!
Tricia and I are going to keep working out and being accountability buddies. We’ll give you an update on our progress. If you have any tips to starting and maintaining an exercise routine, let us know, we’d love to hear from you. Thanks for doing this challenge with me, Tricia. Let’s keep motivating one another and celebrating the milestones, big and small. Sixty here we come!