Older, stronger and a whole lot wiser.

They say that the 40s are the age of self discovery and realization. Now that I am in the 4th year of the 4th decade of my life, I couldn’t agree more. each day I learn something about myself that amazes me. Sometimes its serendipity and other times a discovery of regret that I have to make peace with. One of the self discoveries is also the underlying theme of this blog and one of my long time passions since 1992 – yeah you guessed it right – its exercise and fitness.

From a starry eyed wannabe bodybuilder to power lifter to strength training enthusiast, I’ve been on a long and very very educational journey of fitness in my life. In the last 28 years, my workout plans have evolved with the ever-changing demands and challenges of my life. Initially when I started out, I used to lift heavy 6 days a week doing a three day split training twice a week (i.e. each body part gets worked out twice a week). Then the last couple of years, especially around the later part of my 30s and initial 40s, I had moved into a one body part a day, 6 day program. And for the past 5 years, I have been doing this accompanied by cycling for 45 minutes (13-14 kms) everyday.

After doing that for a full 5 years, at age 43 (as of this writing), I have come to the point, where it has stopped being enjoyable. It had slowly started to become unbearable (I never thought I’d every say this in my own blog dedicated to fitness, but here it is!). I was plodding on because I am ME and a part of me somehow was unable to reconcile with the fact that my body now took longer to recover from a workout. A more recent observation was that I was constantly exhausted through the day. Here’s a thought that I want to share at this juncture – If your workout starts to feel like a chore, IT’S TIME TO CHANGE IT.

Some of the wisest people in history have extolled that the first step towards a solution, is the acceptance that there is a problem. After several weeks of contemplation, I took that first step. I acknowledged that I need more recovery time. I also acknowledged that given my current life situation, I do not have too much downtime. There is a whole lot of challenges in front of me and I need the energy to take them head on. At the moment, I must focus a lot of energy in promoting my new career transition as a professional musician. If I tire myself out early in the day, I will not have any energy left to accomplish a lot of important stuff during the day.

I sat with a cool head and revisited my workouts. For the past 5 years, my mornings looked like this:

5:00 AM – Wake Up
5:10 AM – Morning Tea (accompanied by think time)
5:35 AM – Use the Facilities
5:47 AM – Hard stop/get ready change
6:00 AM – Hit the road on the bicycle
6:45/50 AM – return home/protein shake/start working on getting children ready for school
7:20 AM – see of kids
7:20 AM – Walk te dog
7:55 AM – Drop off Dog/pickup gym bag and walk up to the gym
8:00 AM – 30 minutes workout at the gym
8:35 AM – back home
9:00 AM – breakfast
9:20 AM – half dead and ready to take a nap

In following this schedule, by the time it was 10 AM, I was already willing to throw in the towel and my day had not even started. I was completely exhausted and I couldn’t do anything more until I took a short nap. This type of arrangement was working for me until last year, as I was employed with a company. My regular workday used to start around 11:00 AM and I worked from home most of the time. I had the luxury of taking that 30 minute nap before getting ready for work. Otherwise I simply wouldn’t survive the workday!
As of January this year (2019), I do not have a regular office job, I started my own venture (www.taalmagic.com) promoting Indian Classical Music. This required a lot more time and energy commitment compared to my previous job. In the initial months, I did not change my schedule as I was also transitioning into this new life situation. These last couple of months, I have awakened to the fact that I need to re look at my workout plan. While being fit and strong is a non-negotiable requirement (has always been), I also wanted to be able to meet the challenges of my new profession. It is my opinion that the chronic exhaustion that I have been experiencing over the past several months also contributed some negativity in my thoughts. Perhaps it was simply a manifestation of the accumulated exhaustion in my life.

Starting this month, here’s the big change that I made in my workout plan. Firstly I made a decision that I will do my entire exercise for the day, in one 60 minute slot and not in 2 parts. That itself is a huge load off my head. Now that I am two weeks in, I feel relieved. Secondly, I have accepted with an open mind, that I don’t need to do both cardio and weight lifting on the same day every single time. So this time, I have split my 6 days in ot 3 days of cycling and 3 days of strength training (alternate days). That way, It has become easier to earmark one full hour each day at a stretch where I am either cycling OR I am at the gym lifting weights. Now my morning looks like this:

5:00 AM – Wake Up
5:10 AM – Morning Tea (accompanied by think time)
5:35 AM – Use the Facilities
5:45 AM – Hard stop/get ready change
5:50 AM – Hit the road on the bicycle OR Weight train in the gym – Full 1 hour session.
6:45/50 AM – return home/protein shake/start working on getting children ready for school
7:20 AM – see of kids
7:20 AM – Walk the dog
7:55 AM – Relax with the morning news paper/social media
8:45 AM – breakfast
9:00 AM – READY TO TAKE ON THE WORLD!!!!!

This routine feels much more relaxed and in sync with my current needs while it still adequately meets my fitness goals. More importantly, I am now recovering better from my workouts. I no longer feel like I am half dead immediately after eating breakfast. I guess this plan is going to stay for foreseeable future.

Have you made any such positive changes and benefited from them lately? Do share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section.

I would really appreciate if you could give me a shout out on your social media handles, if you found this post useful.

Cheers!
Anand

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