This tactic is about keeping it simple and making exercise/activity/training/your workout an integral non-negotiable part of each day. It’s more what I would call an operational tactic rather than a psychological or inspirational tactic. Maybe you’ll see what I mean.
Before I became hooked on triathlons or I had any experience with intentional training, I exercised, but it was random and discretionary. I might go to a favorite yoga class or go to the gym or I might not. I might bike to work or run after work, or I might not. It was always at risk of being eliminated from my day if something else interfered. When I theoretically exercised some days, but not others, I was always blowing it off to the next day.
I must have wanted more consistency because one day I hit on the idea of committing to at least 20 minutes of exercise each day, non-negotiable. It could take any form, and it could certainly be more than 20 minutes, but it had to be at least a brisk walk for 20 minutes, every single day.
What a discovery. It changed everything. I began thinking differently about my day: what I was going to do and when would I fit it in. I remember one day, already packed with work, I also had to attend a big family event that meant driving to Poulsbo. That night I found myself jogging laps on the roof deck of the Bainbridge ferry–I got in the 20 minutes. Another thing I remember about that commitment is how it changed my body. I’ve never struggled with any major weight shifts, but coming through my mid-30s and having a sedentary job, I had gained and held onto 10lbs I didn’t really want. Once I committed to the every day plan, I saw that change. Even though I wasn’t always doing intense exercise, but just making sure I did something every day, it shifted my metabolism.
A few years later, when I began to take triathlons seriously, hired a coach and got my first weekly training plans, this idea came alive again. I had an exercise prescription for each day. The training plan and a coach to report back to implied a commitment and importance. I needed to find a way to make the workout happen.
If you are trying to get back into the groove of exercising, or if you workout but it has a random quality, I highly recommend the 20-minutes of anything strategy. If you work from a training plan, you already know how this magic works, but let this be a call to renew your commitment. Since the decision is where it’s easy to fall down, take the decision out of it.