Subscribe: My work, sitting patiently in your inbox.


Add a Spark of Spontaneity to Your Routine

This post is not advocating exercising without a routine. Routines are important, and they’re critical to your ability to achieve any degree of success in fitness, or in any other faucet of life. You’re not going to reveal those that six-pack without a lot of thought, consistency, and dedication.

In fact, all you need to reach your goals is a solid routine that you adhere to. The problem? It can get kind of lame. So what do you do in that situation? Do you continuously change your workout routine so that you never get bored? You could, and it’s recommended that you mix up your workouts from time-to-time, but is that really practical for you?

I’ll be completely honest: My meathead packed gym is not the kind of environment that makes me want to try out a bunch of new things. When I go in there, I want to bench-press my scrawny arms to exhaustion and get away from the guy beside me with four 45 lb. plates on each end of the bar as quickly as possible. Therefore, I find it unrealistic to constantly change up my routine and experiment with new exercises. Occasionally I suck it up and do it, but it means a few very uncomfortable sets of “what the heck am I doing?” in an environment that would make Spartan warriors cringe.

The people in this gym look more like normal people.  Maybe I should join.

What healthy options remain? Working out more. Yesterday, I went to the gym and went through my normal routine. It was Friday, which meant I was focusing on my arms and chest. I struggled, I embarrassed myself, but ultimately I worked hard and did what I needed to do for the day. I felt good.

As the day carried on and I was overcome by boredom, the exemplary eating of my morning derailed as well. I had a few too many honey mustard pretzels after lunch, and suddenly I felt as though I had ruined the day’s workout. Normally, I would have tried to justify that behavior:

“It’s okay, I’m working out tomorrow anyway. Tomorrow I won’t eat any more of the pretzels.”

You know why? Because I ate the whole damn bag. In other words, it’s not an acceptable excuse.

Instead, I took a look at my Trello board and noticed that I really didn’t have much going on for the rest of the day. Sure, I needed to start writing a blog post and make sure to continuously clean my surgical battle wounds, but my night was free. So, without much forethought, I threw on my running shoes and jogged out the door. It was painful, my ankle hurt for reasons I’m not entirely sure of, but I trekked the five miles through nearby neighborhoods and found myself back at home for dinner.

Did I do perfect yesterday? No. Even at dinner I ate a little more than I should have, which means two strikes in one day. That’s something I need to be more conscious of today.

That isn’t the point: It was liberating to say “screw it”, put on my running gear, and head out the door to burn somewhere around 500 calories. Not everyone has that luxury, but a lot of us do. We just don’t take the time to acknowledge that we have all of this spare time that is practically screaming at us: “move, move, move!”

Not only does the spontaneous workout feel great, but it means you’re making a healthy shift towards a more active lifestyle. While I don’t advocate the “run-so-I-can-pig-out” mentality, randomized exercise allows you to better compensate for those inevitable moments when you screw up. You might be highly motivated and disciplined, as I am, but for whatever reason the brain is sometimes overridden by some beast-like desire to consume crappy, tasty food.

It isn’t justified consumption, but at least you’ll lessen the impact those splurges have on your overall progress. So make a routine, and then add to it in the spur of the moment.