Minimum Compliance

When you’re trying to make a habit of something, it’s often a good idea to have some simple way of targeting what’s a good minimum for you having fulfilled the requirements of the activity.

I was thinking about it this week because I’d been on vacation visiting my parents. My parents do have a pretty nice home gym, with a really nice stationary bike, a pretty complete weight set and a couple of other bits of equipment (including a television for relieving cardio boredom).

I only used it twice in the three full days I was there and was trying to decide how much “counted” for exercise. We did spend all day one day touring historic sites and did a whole bunch of walking — the day I didn’t wind up using the gym.

Because of 12 hours of sitting on a train, I came home to more joint pain than I’ve experienced in some years1.  I actually blew off my Saturday weight session yesterday.  I chose to go ahead, take some painkillers and do my normal Sunday walk today and found that getting the blood flowing was helpful and made me feel better.

Which is where “minimum compliance” comes in.  Many people really do, no kidding, have mobility issues, pain issues and what have you.  Now for me, I don’t like to do without my workouts because if I do, I just plain don’t feel very good.  But, do I ever hurt too much to do a planned activity?  Hell yes!

I’ve decided that for me, my own minimum compliance will be quite small — 14 minutes of activity that’s strenuous enough to get me sweaty.  I picked that because if all I have in me is 14 minutes, I’ll likely be doing a Shovelglove workout.   I’m not really strong enough to go much longer, and that’s the “official” workout anyway).  But if that’s all I have in me, that’s okay.  It’s enough.

Now my usual workout is more like 30-50 minutes, depending on what I’m doing.  But I think that for me, having some small minimum that’ll “count” as having worked out will be helpful in the workout habit building.

I’m not beating myself up for blowing off yesterday, mind.  But habit is powerful, and I think it’s important.  I notice I’m very bad at maintaining habits when traveling and I’m looking for good, workable intelligent solutions for that.

However, I’ve improved.  Instead of allowing the change in schedule to throw me much, I was able to jump back into my proper routine fairly quickly.  There have been times when being thrown off schedule for a week meant another week to get back into my groove.  Reducing that to one day is a definite improvement.

1Memo to me: If you ever take that long of a train ride again, remember that walking the length of the train every hour will help prevent that!

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