Next Steps in Fitness

LIIFT4 Tracker My LIIFT4 Tracking Sheet

I started playing tennis when I was in 7th grade. I loved it and I was pretty decent at it. When I hit high school I started managing the girls team in the fall, playing on the boys team in the spring, and teaching lessons to other kids in the summer. For 9 months out of the year I played tennis. I was in shape (pretty skinny actually) and I had fun.

You’d never know it to look at me now. Once I realized I wasn’t going to play in college I gave up that life and started the “eat-whatever-you-want-because-it’s-college” life. I don’t remember what I weighed in high school but the “Freshman 15” was probably more like the “Freshman 30” and it didn’t really stop there. The sedentary life of a college kid who didn’t exercise, only went to class, sat behind a computer, and played video games quickly took hold. And I’ve never looked back much.

Some History

I’ve always wanted to be in shape. As I kid I can remember getting into some old workout books that my dad had somewhere in the house. I’ve always wanted to have muscles. The only thing I didn’t want was to work hard for them. I learned a long time ago that working out is hard and although I wanted to look like the guys with muscles I didn’t want to work as hard as it took to be those guys. So I didn’t.

I remember being in a hotel with Heather and the kids when we were on a trip to Michigan for her brothers wedding. We saw an informercial for the first Beachbody product we’d ever seen … Power 90. I looked at that and said “I want to do that.” Not because I wanted to be healthy but because I wanted to look good. Heather literally laughed out loud and said “I am not buying anything from an infomercial.” But I insisted and I got it as a gift not long after.

As you might expect, once I got started with the program I realized that it was hard. It was inconvenient and it clashed with my schedule. It made me sweat … and I don’t really like to sweat much. I did the workouts for like 4 weeks (maybe) and then I put it aside and didn’t finish it. Here was another example in my life where I wanted something so bad and then I let it slide when it got hard.

Heather was the one to pick up the slack and do something with it. There were only 4 workouts in this program, 2 for the first 45 days and 2 for the second 45 days. That’s it. Nothing like it is today. She stuck with it and finished the program and had AMAZING results. She got hooked on fitness. I was still hooked on fast food and sitting on the couch.

That was like 15 years ago. And things have been the same way this whole time. I’d see a program I like every once in a while and I’d give it a go only to quit not too far into it. Once I did get 45 days into P90X (which was a really long time for me) before stopping. That’s progress, right?

Time for Change

Well times have changed. 2020 is my year of health. This is the year I get things right and do the things I need to do to get healthy. I think a couple of things have kind of come together at just the right time to make this year into what it’s become.

Last December I started working out while on sabbatical. I got into a pattern of exercise which has really helped propel my year. I wasn’t doing anything super hard or even necessarily with great consistency … but I was moving my body more and that’s the first step. That pattern was what I needed to really step into this year on the right foot. It hasn’t all been sunshine and rainbows and I’ve had my share of “This is hard, I don’t want to do this” times. It really was “off again on again” until around the middle of March.

Then COVID hit. I remember thinking that if this virus hits people with bad immune or cardiovascular systems the hardest then I could be in real trouble if I were to get it. And I still might be. I have had sports induced asthma since I was younger and I am not in very good cardiovascular shape. The last thing I need is to be exposed to something that would attack that cardiovascular system, right? So I began thinking that I needed to start exercising in earnest. In particular, I needed to be doing some form of cardio exercise at least semi-regularly to strengthen both my cardiovascular system as well as my heart so I would be able to handle stuff if it hit.

Then I read a book called Atomic Habits by James Clear. This book taught me that the whole reason I haven’t gotten what I’ve wanted and I fail every time is because I am looking for an outward goal instead of an inward change. All I wanted in the past were muscles or to look good. What I’ve learned is that success only comes when what you want becomes who you are.

Outward motivation working inward doesn’t really work. Just wanting a six-pack isn’t enough. That’s external and fades when things get tough. It’s hard to change who you are when you’re motivation for doing something comes from the outside.

It’s much easier to change what your outside looks like when the motivation comes from who you are on the inside. It’s the fire in your belly or the belief in your heart that will drive you to get up and do the hard things every day. When what you want is to become someone different on the inside then the outward changes you really want to see will happen as well.

So I’m slowly becoming someone who is a healthy person. I’m choosing to identify more often than not with someone who does what healthy people do. I’m renewing my mind and heart every day and as a result things are starting to change for me on the outside. I eat better. I workout more often. I watch videos and listen to podcasts that talk about healthy things.


That bring us to now.

I’m really proud to say that for the past 15 weeks I have worked out 5 days a week. And …

Yesterday I finished my second workout program in a row!

It wasn’t that long ago that I wrote about finishing my first program ever, 10 Rounds. Well, yesterday I finished a program called LIIFT4.

Side Note: Don’t ask me why they always put numbers in the titles of their workout programs. It annoys me to no end. Just ask Heather.

Anyway, this program (LIIFT4) was a combo weight lifting, HIIT cardio program. You only have to workout 4 days a week (hence the “4” in the title), but I added a 5th stretching day in there because my goal is to workout 5 days a week. In case you’re interested, some workouts were just lifting (called circuits), some were just cardio (HIIT) and some were a 50/50 combination of both.

If I had to choose a “soulmate workout” it would be weightlifting. “Lift heavy things” could be my mantra. The weightlifting portion of LIIFT4 is what drew me to the program to begin with. What I didn’t love as much was that there is very little rest between sets and it pretty much never stops. Personally, I’d rather there were longer breaks between sets but it definitely kept my heart rate up the whole time. Which I guess at the end of the day means I burn more fat … so that’s a win.

On the flip side, I don’t like cardio. At all. And if I had to do cardio, I wouldn’t choose HIIT cardio on purpose. I’d run on a treadmill or walk up and down some stairs. Give me that bodybuilding cardio any day. I have no desire to be the kind of athlete that needs this kind of cardio training. I know however that right now (probably more than ever) I want to have a healthy cardiovascular system, right? So I’m doing what I have to do to make that happen. If I’m going to be a healthy person then I have to do my cardio.

As far as results go, I didn’t take measurements or pictures so I’m not sure from an “inches” perspective how much changed. I’ve lost some weight (around 5 pounds). But I think more tangibly, I’m feeling like I’ve gotten stronger, I don’t get as winded when I bend down to tie my shoes, and Heather is starting to check out my muscles. 😉 These are all wins.

My Next Step

So now that I’m finished with LIIFT4 … what’s next?

  • I could go back and do another round of 10 Rounds. I really enjoyed this program so this would be a good choice for me.
  • I could go back and immediately do another round of LIIFT4. Yet another good option. I didn’t enjoy this one as much as 10 Rounds but I can’t argue with the results it’s given me.
  • I could do something I haven’t done yet. Maybe pick up P90X or Body Beast. Body Beast is a good option because it’s meant to be just a weightlifting/bodybuilding style workout program. Which feels like it would be my soulmate Beachbody workout.

Instead, what I’ve decided to do is a combination LIIFT4/10 Rounds hybrid. Why not take the 2 programs that I’ve just completed and stick them together? They both have weightlifting, they both have cardio (albeit in different forms). Why wouldn’t that work?

Beachbody loves to create hybrid calendars for their programs to keep things fresh and so that you continue to come back to them. But so far I haven’t seen this as an option from them. So I decided to create my own.

LIIFT4 is 8 weeks and 10 Rounds is 6 weeks. So I figured I could start with a week of LIIFT4 then do a week of 10 Rounds and then repeat until I’ve gone through the first 6 weeks of LIIFT4 and all 6 weeks of 10 Rounds. Then I would just finish up with the last 2 weeks of LIIFT4.

This whole hybrid “program” would take 14 weeks. Which would be the longest program I’ve ever done. It will take stamina and a stick-to-itiveness that I have yet to have possessed in my fitness life.

But if I am to be a healthy person, then fitness is something that I will be doing for the rest of my days, not something that I just do for a couple weeks and quit. No longer does the number of days or weeks in a program matter. What matters is that I work out at least 5 days a week regardless of the workout program I’m doing. That’s what a healthy person would do. I think that mindset will serve me very well going forward.

The good news is that if I do this hybrid program according to the schedule I have planned, then that leaves me with just enough time at the end of the year to do another round of 10 Rounds on it’s own and finish right as the year ends. That seems like a pretty great way to end the year.