- My exercise routine was rigid the whole time I was overweight
- Moving to England broke my OBSESSIVE exercise routine
- For 20 years I’ve had an easy + flexible exercise routine & been a healthy weight
For the 10 years I was an obsessive dieter, my exercise routine was:
on my Nordic Track
the 1st thing I did EACH day.
I was sure if I changed a-n-y-t-h-i-n-g, I’d gain weight.
Years later I realized how obsessed I was about sticking to this EXACT routine.
And how UNNECESSARY it is to work out so much and be so rigid.
It didn’t matter if I had the flu, was going on a full-day hike or if it was Christmas morning… My exercise routine was THE SAME.
I’d still do my hour-long workout as soon as I got up.
And if I ate something I felt guilty about?
I’d exercise more.
…Now I know reaching and maintaining a healthy weight is just NOT that complicated!!!
Clinging to my exercise routine
When I was a kid I told myself:
But running miles and miles a day ruined my knees.
…Soon I was scanning the classifieds, looking for low-impact exercise equipment.
And when I found a Nordic Track we became inseparable.
Even over reading week I’d take my ski machine apart and duck-tape it to a hockey bag (full of books and clothes).
Bringing my Nordic Track home meant getting my super-sized, irregularly-shaped sack:
into a taxi,
onto a train
through Union Station in Toronto (with a quick diet pop pit stop)
onto another train
into our family car
and finally I’d hobble down to our basement, one step at a time, and put her back together.
None of this felt difficult because NOT sticking to my (rigid) exercise routine was unthinkable.
I had to do my exact exercise routine Every. Single. Day.
Not even an Ontario-wide ice storm could stop me.
…if only I’d redirected all that energy toward something meaningful!
My RIGID exercise routine stayed the same until…
I went to England for teacher’s college.
It’s hard to describe how terrified I was to STOP Nordic Tracking for the first hour each day.
Even the night before I flew to London, I lay in bed trying to figure out how I could further dismember the beast and get’er in my bag.
As we left for the airport I finally accepted my trusty Nordic Track couldn’t travel with me to the UK.
So she sat in my parents basement while I tried to live without her.
But in reality, breaking my rigid exercise routine…
Helped put me back together.
Like so many things in life, it’s not until you’re forced to change or something interrupts your regular routine, that you discover something beautiful… and better.
My London exercise routine
As soon as I woke up, I’d throw on a jogging suit and run to Russel Square. Then down Tottenham Court Road and back through Bloomsbury. My whole loop took an hour and I’d do it while the streets were empty and all the shops were shut.
Every day there’d be a dewy sheen on the big stone slabs that made up the walkways in central London.
I’ve kept this postcard since then, because it captured my new world perfectly:
I didn’t realize how special it was at the time.
Or what a special time it was.
Now I know getting healthy isn’t an uphill battle full of sacrifices, the way the diet industry makes it out to be.
And I didn’t even have all the weight-loss information I needed.
After arriving in the UK I was on edge for about 2 weeks
Then I realized my new exercise routine had NOT resulted in weight gain.
I couldn’t believe it.
…But it didn’t take long for the sparkle to fade.
My knees began to hurt.
I’d been hoping they’d repaired over the years I’d stuck to stationary exercise.
…Suddenly my workouts had to change again.
My exercise routine was now reduced to walking
And once again I couldn’t believe that my clothes STILL fit!
…Then one morning I slept in.
It was after I’d stayed up late making a list to perfectly follow—a self-defeating ritual I’d been doing for years. And in hindsight it was an impossible agenda that left no room for magic.
Every moment was accounted for and any misstep ruined the day.
I’d write the time I had to get up,
the exercise routine I had to complete,
the number of hours I had to study,
…and so on.
Having the next day down “in stone” helped me relax.
It made me feel like I was locked into a plan that could only succeed.
But in hindsight I recognize my (rigid) list always set me up to fail.
Then along came that morning I just mentioned.
The morning I slept in.
If I exercised first… a rule I’d followed for years, I’d be late for class
And due to short-circuiting any day that didn’t go perfectly, I couldn’t miss any more school.
But I was so stressed about not exercising FIRST before doing anything else, that I contemplated jeopardizing my degree by showing up late.
As I got dressed and while I ran to class, I kept considering turning back so I could do my exact walking route BEFORE school.
If you’ve never experienced anxiety, it sort of feels like an itch.
It keeps bugging you and bugging you until it’s scratched.
…I’ve been a lot happier since I flipped the script.
These days, instead of planning every minute I’m awake, I pick a few priorities and focus on getting them done.
We’re not robots.
I couldn’t see how rigid my exercise routine (and everything else) was
I wasn’t even going to skip exercising the day I slept in.
I was just forced to be flexible and exercise after school instead.
But due to my obsessive dieting mindset, I still worried that I’d gain weight if I didn’t do my EXACT walking route FIRST thing in the morning.
…But once again, I woke up the next morning and could NOT believe I hadn’t gained weight.
Breaking the final inflexible bit of my exercise routine
After that forced experience, I started counting my walk to school as a workout—rather than doing my EXACT walking route BEFORE walking to school.
It was a MAYjor news flash for me that exercise didn’t have to happen in gym gear for the sole purpose of working out.
You can double task!
Until then I believed my exercise routine had to be an isolated event.
Thank you England
At the time Alanis Morissette’s song “Thank you India” was huge.
Whenever I heard it play in coffee shops, stores or in my dorm room—through a little yellow radio I bought in Camden Market, I changed the words to Thank you England.
I was starting to see how ridiculously rigid my exercise routine had been for the previous 10 years.
Having to leave my Nordic Track behind taught me that a HEALTHY exercise routine can be:
- less than an hour each day
- any type of movement
- any time of day
- doubled up with other activities, like walking to school or work
My exercise routine NOW
Eventually I learned that a healthy exercise routine is: getting your heart rate up 3X’s a week for around 25 minutes.
And being active each day.
Like by taking the stairs instead of the escalator. Or opening a door instead of pushing the handicapped button.
These days I hold hand weights on the elliptical machine for my 3 weekly workouts and walk my dog Rocky for daily activity.
And if something active comes up like the Terry Fox Walk I went on last week, I’ll do that instead.
I’ve learned to relax, mix it up and have fun.
…It was a long road to get here
And I hope you can save yourself some time and learn from my mistakes.
I’ve had a healthy exercise routine for the last 20 years. And for the last 20 years I’ve been a healthy weight (30 pounds less than I was over the 10 years I was dieting obsessively).
When you’re kind to your body, your body’s kind to you.
Terry Fox is my hero
So I got a Terry Fox Loonie (a one dollar coin in Canada) made into a necklace:
I LOVE Terry Fox.
And Rocky does too.
I’m competitive. I’m a dreamer. I like challenges. I don’t give up. When I decided to do it (The Marathon of Hope), I knew I was going to go all out. There was no in-between.— Terry Fox, cancer research activist
When Terry Fox came through my hometown in 1980, I thought he was an old man.
He was only 22! (I was in grade 1.)
Now that I’m twice the age Terry was at the time of his run, I realize what a little kid he was. And how so much of his run happened down quiet roads without anyone watching.
Here’s a photo of Alex in the 2019 Terry Fox top!
He was kind to his knees in high school, so he ran the 10km.
And Rocky and I did the walk.
We were beaten by a chihuahua or two!
Rocky got wet in a flash rain storm near the end.
But it was a great day.
Rather than worry about a rigid exercise routine, I was happy to get out and be part of something.
Happy to get exercise while supporting an important cause that was started by a beautiful person in 1981.
Make Today Count
Remember what a healthy exercise routine looks like and work toward that goal.
And don’t worry if it feels weird.
Change always does.
Build healthy eating and exercise habits. A healthy weight will follow.
What small change can you make that gets you closer to a healthy exercise routine?
For instance, cut 5 minutes off your workout.
As of July 2019 I made a new FREEBIE for you!
Sign up below and you’ll get it INSTANTLY.
It just takes 60 seconds to read and the reason I made it was because it’s the 1st bit of information that helped me STOP dieting obsessively and lose weight for good.
Free up your energy to go after your DREAMS and become who you want to be!
So… who is Terry Fox?
As of 2018 (2019 funds are still being counted) The Terry Fox Foundation has raised $750 million dollars.
The Terry Fox Foundation is so special because they:
- put 79 cents per every dollar raised toward cancer research
- are 100% volunteer driven
- have no corporate sponsors
Last year I got to meet Terry Fox’s brother, Fred.
Do you have a rigid exercise routine?
What’s ONE change you can make this week?
Please write it in the comments below.
No change is too small.
Sharing what I learned makes the 10 years I STRUGGLED worth it