Ted Talks: The Year of a Bodily Buffet!

By Ted Spiker
Working out in 2021

A Little Bit of This, a Little Bit of That…

I went into 2021 without a massive declaration — no dream race to run, no ideal weight I must hit (though that number has had a three-decade occupancy in my brain), no cold-turkey commitment that I will forever give up quadruple-decker bacon sandwiches

Instead, I decided to do what a lot of health pros would advise — adopt the plan and process, and the goals will follow.

As I look back on the spreadsheets I created in the days before the year started, I’m sort of digging the buffet approach. While it’s not the kind I prefer (mmmm-mmmm- mac-n-cheese), I do like the variety. My plan includes mileage goals (for running, walking, swimming, spinning). It includes session goals (amount of time spent stretching, number of strength workouts). It includes green boxes to log the days I eat healthy, yellow boxes for days I’m so-so, and red boxes for days I lose the mind-wrestling match to the pork belly special at 43rd Street Deli.

I’ve always tried to embrace a diversified approach to eating and exercise, though it hasn’t always worked well. The approach this year — balancing consistency and variety — does feel different. Maybe it’s because of these factors:

ADDING SOMETHING NEW:

For me, this was a purposeful commitment to yoga and stretching (see January/February 2021 issue). While I’m still tree-trunk stiff, I
did successfully hit my goal of 400 minutes in January. Not only can I feel the difference, but I’m excited about how my body will improve as I keep going.

GAMIFYING ONE THING:

Twice a week, I put the treadmill on a 15.0 incline and walk as fast as I can for one mile. Each session, I try to beat the previous time. I’m not getting wrapped up in performance in the other fitness activities just yet, but this mini-competition has given me the mojo to ignite future workouts.

MAKING ONE SMALL GESTURE:

A couple days a week, I’m subbing in tea for coffee. There’s nothing wrong with coffee, of course, except perhaps the kiddie pool’s worth of cream I usually swirl in it. I’m also regularly making big pots of ginger-garlic soup to bring for lunch for the week. I’m not sure these new habits have any real bodily effect, but it feels like they do. #WHICHTOTALLYCOUNTS

KEEPING THE FUTURE IN SIGHT:

Of course, we all have the things that keep us going. Besides the uber goals (live healthier and longer), there’s also a more immediate one woodpeckering inside my skull: When the world opens back up, I want to be ready to get out there to new places — running, walking, exploring, playing, connecting. And doing all of them with more energy— and preferably smaller pants.

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