30 Day Trial: The Lifestyle of a Gym Rat (or Daily Workouts For Normal People)

30 Day Trial: The Lifestyle of a Gym Rat (or Daily Workouts For Normal People)

Photo courtesy of Joseph Lasalla of JoeyFitness.com

Humans evolved in motion; hunting, fighting, and surviving. Since starting NYUCD in September, I’ve lost track of how many 16 hour days were spent sitting in the same spot (my version of surviving tigers like Dr. Baker and Dr. Roy :-) )

This isn’t a complaint, but my current grind is that of sitting and studying, and my future profession is that of sitting and grinding. Dentistry is up there on the list of professions with most work related injuries, so I think now is the best time as ever to get physically fit for life.

For the month of February I decided to do whatever I had to do in order to make time for exercise. I have been exercising before, but now I wanted to take it to the next level, with more commitment, and most importantly for me, with more structure.

My friend recommended a workout routine from Flex Magazine, which is designed to build huge guns (arms!). What I like about this plan is that it covers in great detail exactly when and how to weight lift, as well as a nutritional plan that accompanies the workouts.

That plan covered 3 days a week, and for the other days I did either moderate intensity cardio, high intensity interval training cardio, various chest exercises, or a strength training routine from Strong Lifts. So while I had the Flex routine, which was my go-to exercise that gave my workout-week structure, I also experimented with other things in an effort to find out what works for me.

There were a couple of days when I was so busy that at the end of the day the gym was already closed, and I had to get some exercises done right in the apartment. I just did basic Calisthenics, and one time I actually did sets of squats with Marina on my shoulders. Pretty funny, with the added bonus of her cheering me on from up by the ceiling! :)

Here’s the point. Dental students are as busy as people can get in my opinion. Onslaughts of examinations, studying, and hours of lab work occupy all of our time. I haven’t even seen my family in two months. If I can find the time to exercise with our schedules, I am sure that you can find some time to exercise.

Overcoming ‘Not Enough Time To Exercise’

If it weren’t for the fact that the TV set and the refrigerator are so far apart, some of us wouldn’t get any exercise at all. ~Joey Adams

I’m not going to make a top 100 list here. There are only so many fundamentals, and I believe that anyone can find one that works for them in the simple list of three below.

1. Time Journal. For 2-3 days keep a detailed journal of everything you do throughout the day. Do this with a simple pad and paper, and you will soon discover exactly where your time sinks are. You can then choose to be more efficient on tasks, cut others out, and ultimately rescue a half an hour to an hour of time per day to exercise.

2. Wake Up Early. You can work waking up earlier into your schedule. The thought of this might seem inhumane, but the reality is that you get used to everything, even this. Once you’ve done it enough times, you’ll wake up with more energy, and have more energy throughout your day.

3. High Intensity Workouts. Research shows that high intensity workouts in short bursts are more effective than long exercises. So if you’re physically capable, and your manage your time so well that you don’t have any free time as it is, then consider how a 10-15 minute high intensity workout can be worked in right before your shower time.

The ‘not enough time to exercise’ excuse was one that my mom has used for years. After all, she’s a dentist, a business owner, a mother, a grandmother (by way of my older sister), a wife, a friend to many, and a million other things. I literally begged her everyday for a period of 6 months to get a personal trainer to help her get started. She simply woke up earlier 4 times a week to workout with a trainer, stopped eating after 6pm, and cut out her evening TV session to speed-walk an hour outside. The result is that she currently lost 85 pounds (38.5 kg), while her schedule is still as busy as can ever.

Forming the Exercise Habit

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” ~Aristotle

I’ve gone in and out of periods in my life when I went to the gym often, and when I pretty much did nothing. There were different factors involved, and a lot of lessons learned, but once again let’s look at the fundamentals:

1. Structure. When it comes to exercise, I find that it helps when I work hard physically, but not mentally. I want to wake up and know exactly what it is that I’m responsible for doing on this given day. Right now my arms routine gives me structure, but I remember when I earned my black belt in Taekwondo, my instructors gave me all the structure I could ask for on a daily basis. The point is, you want to research, pick something, and then stick to it so you have nothing left to think about — just do it.

2. Friends. One of the most important things you can do is approach your most in shape friend. Even if working out with them is not an option, they can teach you more in a 30 minute conversation than you can learn in a long time of searching the advertisement-riddled internet. Research proves that you’re going to assimilate to the people you surround yourself with, so surround yourself with people you respect and admire.

3. Metrics. Keeping track of your progress is very motivating and helps you by striving for higher goals. Whether you keep track of how long and fast you can run, how much weight you can lift, how many inches are on your waste, or your body fat percentage, you will see that when you’re keeping track, you want to stay on track. Forget BMI and your weight, these are not helpful because they do not distinguish between the muscle and fat in your body composition. You could easily start gaining weight while your physique becomes more sculpted since muscle weighs more than fat.

4. Give the 30 day trial method a try. Last month I did a 30 day trial with perfect class attendance. I did it, and then I quit it because it did not resonate with me. I decided that it was more important to manage my energy, and study at times that I am feeling focused. The commitment was just for 30 days, followed by an evaluation, and then either a drop or a re-commitment. This time, I’m going to continue with the habit I have formed in my 30 day trial, and continue to exercise daily.

My Next 30 Days

We want to remove negative habits, replace them with positive habits, and build upon positive habits with more positive habits. I’m going to continue my habit of daily exercise, and add a new 30 day trial of writing a very detailed list of tasks to accomplish for tomorrow.

Each day, by the time I’m ready to hit the sack, I will have written everything I need to accomplish based on my life goals and my most important priorities. The point is not necessarily to work myself to exhaustion, but to remove any confusion or hesitation about what I should be doing, based on no ones values other than my own.

How do you feel about exercise? What 30 day challenge will you work on? If you like this article, please Stumble it and share it with your friends on Facebook and Twitter, I’d appreciate it.

Posted by in Health | March 1, 2010 | Digg | Del.icio.us | Stumble | Print | 7 comments

  • http://www.greatestreviews.net/ fas

    I like the way you are determined to get things done. And looking at the way you have removed time, I think I should move my lazy ass too.

  • http://raamdev.com Raam Dev

    Great overview presentation of the stuff required to get started! I made a similar “life-long change” back in 2004 when I lost 70lbs (http://raamdev.com/changed-for-life) and I can’t tell you how incredible I felt afterwards. I promise it’s worth every single grueling moment of time spent getting in shape.

    Good luck! If you have any fitness questions, feel free to contact me. I love giving advice. :)

  • http://www.craigharper.com.au Motivational Speaker – Craig Harper

    Hey Alex – Like the idea of the 30 Day Trial: The Lifestyle of a Gym Rat (or Daily Workouts For Normal People).

    Is that a photo of you in the post?

    Man, you really are looking good ;)

  • http://www.alexshalman.com Alex Shalman

    Hey Craig,

    Thanks, I’m glad you like the post. No that’s not me, that is Joey the model. I’m going to need a bit more than 30 days to be in that shape. :)

  • bikehikebabe

    If you can do it with all you do, so can I. I’m particularly motivated by your mom. Yea Marina for her help to you!

  • http://www.marvin-barrett.com Marvin Barrett

    Funny enough, I conducted a very similar 30 trail on exercising and totally enjoyed it. I worked out monday to friday. However, afterwards I reduced 5 days a week to 3 days and then took up salsa classes with martial arts just to spice it up a bit.

  • http://justiceanimale.wordpress.com Louche

    “You could easily start gaining weight while your physique becomes more sculpted since muscle weighs more than fat.”

    If you’re male, that is. Actually, I don’t know that much about muscle gain, but I do know that I never hear females talk about wanting to gain muscle weight.

    Anyway, this is a good article. I am thinking I will lay out my summer by themes starting in a couple of weeks, so I am not sure if a 30-Day Trial is right for me right now. I’ve only tried a 30-Day Trial once before and was not 100% successful. But I’ll at least for a 7-Day Trial. Maybe even a personal trainer! But I am probably changing jobs soon, so also gonna have to wait. =/