How To Make Fitness Momentum Last

I thought my fitness momentum was impenetrable. I was wrong.

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I’ve previously written about fitness momentum and urged you to take great care if you have it. Fitness momentum is hard to build, but easy to break. I’m living that right now.

On Labor Day weekend last year I made the decision to end my 20,000 steps a day streak. I had reached that number EVERY DAY for more than two years. In addition to walking, my regular fitness routine included strength training with free weights 3-4 times a week and a high intensity routine to get my heart rate up…also 3-4 times a week. My momentum was cruising. 

I spent the first eight months of 2020 getting our house ready to sell, working out the details of moving, and working through the details of adjusting my job with the move, and…well…a pandemic. I was physically and mentally tired. 

On the Friday before Labor Day our house went under contract and we were headed to Myrtle Beach for a long mini-vacation. I really needed a break. I decided to spend the next four days without a to-do list. And, this included fitness. I didn’t want to figure out how to get 20,000 steps.

Unfortunately, the next four months did not go as expected. The buyers were not able to get their financing approved and our house went back on the market. At the same time we settled on our new home in Myrtle Beach and moved our stuff to South Carolina. 

Since my job in Maryland wasn’t transitioning south until the start of the new year, I commuted between the two states. Weekends in Myrtle, weekdays in Maryland. 

For almost three months I lived out of a suitcase in our empty Maryland home. I had an airbed and a few kitchen supplies so I could make meals. Most days I still walked 20,000 steps, but since the streak was no longer active, I didn’t feel the need to reach that goal every day. 

I was still doing the strength training and some high intensity cardio, but just not as intensely as before. There was still momentum until early December. That was the craziest month. I was quite the nomad. I lived in three different places for about a week each. My fitness routine totally evaporated and I pushed pause on everything until I finally got to Myrtle Beach after Christmas. I knew there would be some fitness lost, but I expected an easy resumption once I could establish my new routines.

And, then December 27 happened. For the first month after the accident it was all I could do to take care of Ava and do my job. I was also concerned about hurting something with my fitness activities. I could not afford even a tweaked muscle. Ava needed me at full strength to help her get from Point A to Point B, as well as everything else she needed.

After about three weeks, I felt comfortable enough to leave Ava alone for a few minutes while I took a quick walk around the block. Gradually, those walks got longer as Ava got stronger and didn’t need me with her 24/7.  Two months after the accident I started to resume some strength training and the high intensity stuff.

But, it felt different.

Before all the craziness happened, I really looked forward to my fitness activities. In fact, I had to scale them back a bit because I pushed myself too hard. But, now, it didn’t feel like that at all. I had to talk myself into it and my workouts ended much earlier than before.

I’m traveling the hard road of rebuilding momentum. Thankfully, it’s not negotiable for me. I deeply value fitness. It’s an integral part of aging well and I know the longer I wait the harder it is.

How many others have lost their fitness momentum over the past twelve months? Have you? Your circumstances are different, I’m sure, but what used to feel easy now feels like a big mountain. 

Fitness momentum must be protected. It’s hard to build…easy to lose…and hard to rebuild. I’ve long believed that and now I believe it even more. But, that’s not all I believe even more strongly.

Everybody should walk for fitness. I believe that even more deeply than ever.

After I pushed pause on all my other fitness activities, I kept on walking. Not because I had to, but because I wanted too.

While Ava was in the hospital I would go outside and walk around the building when she was either asleep or the nurses needed to do something with her. Those walks kept me calm. When Ava came home and I felt comfortable leaving her for a few minutes those walks brought clarity to a world turned upside down. When Ava was comfortable leaving the house I would push her around the block in the wheelchair. Those walks were life giving.

As Ava’s strength and mobility returned and she needed me less, my walks lasted longer. I prayed, thought, and created as I walked. Once Ava was able to walk with me around the block, it was very special. Gradually our walking conversations are drifting away from accident and rehab related issues and are returning more towards normal life stuff.

Eventually I started reaching 20,000 steps again. My pace quickened and those walks became very much a fitness activity. But, I didn’t really think about that. Fitness is not why I was walking.

I was walking because it felt good and there was almost no friction to do it. I didn’t need to change my clothes or drive somewhere or find an hour of free time. All I needed was five minutes to walk out the front door and go around the block. 

Yeah, momentum for those other fitness activities is going to take awhile to rebuild, but I never lost my walking momentum. For ten weeks after the accident, I averaged 16,000 steps a day. And, that’s why I feel strongly that everyone should walk for fitness. Walking is fun even when life isn’t. I suspect, once you discover the enjoyment you’ll want to keep going when life throws you some fitness momentum curve balls.

I’m writing this on a Wednesday evening. I already have more than 21,000 steps and I’m still looking forward to a walk around the block when I’m done. Not because I need the exercise, but because I simply want to take a walk. And, that enjoyment will provide me with some fitness.

Take a walk. Forget about fitness and the health benefits walking provides. Just take a walk and enjoy it. Then do it again tomorrow. And, the next day. Walk for enjoyment. Before you know it, you’ve created some fitness momentum that really is impenetrable.

Hmmm… Maybe I was right. Maybe my fitness momentum really was impenetrable.

If you need a little extra motivation to get started I recommend The 30 Day Walking Challenge. This challenge has three different levels. Pick the one that works for you and get started.

If you don’t have a Fitbit I recommend the new Fitbit Inspire 2! The Inspire 2 has double the battery life, and also tracks your heart rate and sleep so you get an even wider picture of your fitness progress.

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(By the way…if you use the link above to buy a Fitbit Inspire 2 this blog will receive a small commission. It won’t add anything to what you pay, but letting you know is the right thing to do)

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