I Worked Out For 45 Days Straight And This Is What Happened

I Worked Out For 45 Days Straight And This Is What Happened

You have to set reasonable limits and not be too hard on yourself--that'll hurt you in the long run.
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On a whim, I decided to participate in Lent this year by giving up not working out. Yes, you heard that right, I would be working out for the next 40 days straight (and even Sundays). From March 1st to April 13th I would work out once a day, however I saw fit.

Although I am by no means stopping this new daily routine anytime soon, I wanted to document my experience at least for the Lent period. Now, before you yell at me about how I was hurting my body more than helping, just hear me out. I had time to recover, I had carefully listened to everything my body was telling me, and I wasn't running 6 miles a day (only 6 miles once a week haha). This is the simple plan I followed:

Monday, Wednesday, Friday--Cardio (at least 30 minutes, usually running)

Tuesday, Thursday--Strength training (abs, back, legs, arms, by lifting and machines)

Saturday--Easy cardio (hiking, inclined walk, elliptical, stair stepper, etc)

Sunday--Hard cardio (Mainly long runs)

The reason this program worked for me was that I wasn't planning on becoming a marathoner in two months or having rock-hard abs by the end of it all. I was doing something more than I would've done before and that was the whole point. By putting my physical health as a top priority, I became a priority.

Even going to the gym for only 15-20 minutes, that was still something. That was 20 minutes more than I would've done normally. I was making a goal for myself, sticking to it, and not letting it burn me out. By following my routine, I was able to stay consistent, happy, and determined. I wasn't getting bored because I could change up my plan as much as I wanted to, there was no one there to tell me that I was doing something wrong, or that I needed to be doing something else. I was just doing me, in the easiest way possible.

As a runner, I liked to plan out my weeks mileage and how far I wanted to go each day, especially in the summertime. But if I didn't reach that goal, I was disappointed in myself and turned away from running the next day because I didn't want another bad run. This plan made it easy for me to be versatile, to not set goals, and to honestly just watch myself change my perspective of working out. This plan didn't make me feel disappointed or awful, it just showed that I got off my butt that day and that was reason enough to be proud of myself.

Of course there were bad days and days I definitely had to drag myself to the gym, but there were so many good days too. I always was charged for my day after my morning workout and it kept me productive for classes, homework, and other responsibilities I had to get to. I liked knowing I had already ran a few miles that morning or that my arms (though little) were fierce. Haha!

The first time I felt like the plan was a bad idea was when my back started to hurt about a month in. At first, it was just sore, which I assumed was from the strength workout earlier that day. But as the hours went on, it got to the point where I couldn't even sit in a chair without cringing in pain. I had to leave a review session for one of my tests early, because I was shifting in my seat so much I felt like a distraction to everyone else. I went home to deal with some of the worst lower back pain I had ever experienced. Nothing helped--standing up, sitting down, lying on my stomach. I iced and heated and iced and heated. It kept me up into hours of the night, until I caved and took Ibuprofen. I hate taking painkillers, so that means something is really wrong with me, and I even took two (I never take more than one at a time). I waited for the pain to subside and fell asleep in the process, only to wake up like nothing had even happened. I continued working out, without any other serious problems. On occasion my back still hurts, but I watch it carefully and try not to stress out my body too much on those days.

Otherwise, it was the usual shinsplints from running more and more each week, or just the occasional soreness in my arms after arm day. I made sure to leave over 24 hours between strength workouts in order for my muscles to recover. As for cardio, 5 days a week isn't a problem.

I learned that it takes a long time for something to become a habit, or a long time to break one. I heard its 21 days (3 weeks) for it to truly make its mark on you, but for me it felt closer to a month. I had to keep reminding myself at first that I had to go to the gym, I had to go for a run. Now, its just something I do as part of my daily routine like brushing my teeth or going to class. I don't really need to think about it anymore, it just is.

I've learned a lot in this experience, as it was something I thought there was no way in hell I could do. I have school, I have labs, I have service events, I have homework, the list goes on and on. But I made myself a priority in my life--and that has helped me in many other ways as well:

  • It sets my sleep schedule in that I sleep better and as often as I need to (especially naps!)
  • Lower blood pressure, strengthens bones and endurance, prevents disease, boosts immunity, weakens my asthma, and longevity
  • It relieves stress, anxiety, and makes me feel productive
  • It gives me confidence in myself and my abilities, thus making my mental health a priority as well
  • Its changed how I look, not only physically, but how I view my body now
  • It proves that I can do anything I set my mind to no matter how lazy I am
  • It has led me watching what I eat even more, and with the hope of becoming a vegan over the summer (although, I love cheeseburgers!)
  • Its trained me for my half marathon next week
  • Its kept me honest with others and myself that I am doing what I set out to do
  • It made me HAPPY

Nothing else matters except for the fact that it made me happy. It makes me feel good, it makes me proud, it makes me love life. Working out for 45 days straight seems like a big hurdle, but taking it day by day without pressuring myself over it, really made it seem like a much smaller goal. I hope to continue this streak until the end of the school year, but taking a day off every now and then is okay too. You have to set reasonable limits and not be too hard on yourself--that'll hurt you in the long run.

I worked out for 45 days straight and it made me happy.

Cover Image Credit: comfortableclub.com

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A Letter To My Humans On Our Last Day Together

We never thought this day would come.
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I didn't sleep much last night after I saw your tears. I would have gotten up to snuggle you, but I am just too weak. We both know my time with you is coming close to its end, and I just can't believe it how fast it has happened.

I remember the first time I saw you like it was yesterday.

You guys were squealing and jumping all around, because you were going home with a new dog. Dad, I can still feel your strong hands lifting me from the crate where the rest of my puppy brothers and sisters were snuggled around my warm, comforting puppy Momma. You held me up so that my chunky belly and floppy wrinkles squished my face together, and looked me right in the eyes, grinning, “She's the one."

I was so nervous on the way to my new home, I really didn't know what to expect.

But now, 12 years later as I sit in the sun on the front porch, trying to keep my wise, old eyes open, I am so grateful for you. We have been through it all together.

Twelve “First Days of School." Losing your first teeth. Watching Mom hang great tests on the refrigerator. Letting you guys use my fur as a tissue for your tears. Sneaking Halloween candy from your pillowcases.

Keeping quiet while Santa put your gifts under the tree each year. Never telling Mom and Dad when everyone started sneaking around. Being at the door to greet you no matter how long you were gone. Getting to be in senior pictures. Waking you up with big, sloppy kisses despite the sun not even being up.

Always going to the basement first, to make sure there wasn't anything scary. Catching your first fish. First dates. Every birthday. Prom pictures. Happily watching dad as he taught the boys how to throw every kind of ball. Chasing the sticks you threw, even though it got harder over the years.

Cuddling every time any of you weren't feeling well. Running in the sprinkler all summer long. Claiming the title “Shotgun Rider" when you guys finally learned how to drive. Watching you cry in mom and dads arms before your graduation. Feeling lost every time you went on vacation without me.

Witnessing the awkward years that you magically all overcame. Hearing my siblings learn to read. Comforting you when you lost grandma and grandpa. Listening to your phone conversations. Celebrating new jobs. Licking your scraped knees when you would fall.

Hearing your shower singing. Sidewalk chalk and bubbles in the sun. New pets. Family reunions. Sleepovers. Watching you wave goodbye to me as the jam-packed car sped up the driveway to drop you off at college. So many memories in what feels like so little time.

When the time comes today, we will all be crying. We won't want to say goodbye. My eyes might look glossy, but just know that I feel your love and I see you hugging each other. I love that, I love when we are all together.

I want you to remember the times we shared, every milestone that I got to be a part of.

I won't be waiting for you at the door anymore and my fur will slowly stop covering your clothes. It will be different, and the house will feel empty. But I will be there in spirit.

No matter how bad of a game you played, how terrible your work day was, how ugly your outfit is, how bad you smell, how much money you have, I could go on; I will always love you just the way you are. You cared for me and I cared for you. We are companions, partners in crime.

To you, I was simply a part of your life, but to me, you were my entire life.

Thank you for letting me grow up with you.

Love always,

Your family dog

Cover Image Credit: Kaitlin Murray

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Part 1: Necessary Changes

One of my favorite movies is "Fried Green Tomatoes" with Kathy Bates. In the movie Bates' character Evelyn Couch says, "Someone helped put a mirror up in front of my face, and I didn't like what I saw one bit. And you know what I did? I changed." I know the feeling.

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I looked in the mirror over the weekend and didn't like what I saw.

The person I saw looking back at me is petty, selfish, manipulative, and unattractive. It wasn't that I hated what I saw, but I definitely didn't like what I saw either. It's a surreal feeling, looking at yourself through a critical lens, and it doesn't make you feel good in any way shape or form.

The image that I see of myself is not how I want others to perceive me. I want to be someone that people look at and see kindness, compassion, strength, and confidence.

I have enough general life experience to know that these types of changes aren't going to happen overnight, and not all of them will be physical; most of these will have to happen from the inside, from within myself.

When you find out you are all broken and damaged, it's hard to know where to start putting the pieces back together. I figured the best place to start would be the most literal: my actual insides; so, I decided to embark on a deep-cleansing journey to get all of the toxins out of my body, from the inside out.

I found this book on 10-day green smoothie detox stashed away in the dark corner of my bookshelf. The science behind it seems accurate and legitimate. By eliminating certain foods, your body is able to detox itself off of chemicals and foods that are slowing down your metabolism; the smoothies are specifically designed with combinations of foods that help restart your metabolism. Part of the detox process is getting rid of all dependencies on caffeine, alcohol, and sugar.

Every day you are given the recipe for a specific smoothie; you make the smoothie (about 40 ounces) and sip on it throughout the day whenever you get hungry. Every smoothie is a combination of leafy greens, water, fruit, and flax seeds. If you do happen to get hungry throughout the day, you are encouraged to eat raw nuts, hard boiled eggs, and a wide variety of crunchy green vegetables. There is also a detox tea that you have first thing in the morning, but other than that no other beverages are allowed except water.

I know that this is only the beginning of a very long, emotional, and draining journey. But I think I'm at the point in my life where I have to make these changes. I have to put my pieces together, I have to become a normal functioning adult, I have to find out who I am. I think that this is the perfect way to start.

For the next 10 days I am going to be documenting my experiences, how I'm feeling, what my emotions are doing, and any results that I see.

Stay tuned!

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