Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Hard Routine 2011

By request, THE HARD ROUTINE is back in 2011. We ran the same fitness, health, and wellness campaign back in Fall 2009 and 2010, during the same two months. We'll be back at it this year too!
  • What is The Hard Routine? In a nutshell: It's a two-month campaign that jump starts positive behaviors in the areas of physical fitness and diet/nutrition. This is an online group that you commit to. There is no set program. YOU set the rules based on YOUR goals and needs. YOU sign a contract with yourself. I send out periodic email updates, some of which include YOUR testimony if you wish to share with the group. (Some of the stories are really inspirational!) Your email address and name remains private (except to me).
  • Basics: So here is what OUR Hard Routine is all about. Pick some clearly defined behavior and habit changes within both DIET and ACTIVITY categories. Some of the changes will be to add certain foods and activities, and some changes will be to abstain from certain ones. It's completely up to YOU to make those rules and guidelines. I will be here to make some suggestions and help you articulate to YOURSELF what your rules might look like be based on your current lifestyle and body type.
  • Why a formalized campaign? Because doing this by yourself is a real bitch. Doing this alongside a spouse, coworkers, friends, or family creates a postive support network to make healthier decisions TOGETHER for the two months. "Hey Joe, you want pizza?""No, how about grilled chicken instead." "Yeah, you're right....sounds better." Even if your support group is merely online or through emails, it holds you more accountable than going at it alone. Shared hardships.
  • Why a specific two-month session? Because goal-oriented training and conditioning must be related to a TIME or an end date. There is a light at the end of this tunnel, and it is December 1st! On December 1st, we each can re-evaluate what went good and where we need improvement. We can probably all make difficult decisions regarding food and activity for two months....right? Is this crash diet? Keep reading....
  • Should I keep a journal? Absolutely!! Keeping tabs on your food and your activity holds one more accountable. It can be as detailed as you are willing to make it...but keep it realistic. If weighing your food on a kitchen scale is your plan, that's a big commitment. Maybe tallying calories is even too much. Also, keep a log of your workouts. It keeps us all honest, and tracks progress too.
  • Who participates? Well last year we had folks from ALL walks of life. The largest group by far was police officers. But we had grandmothers, housewives, military members, corporate businessmen, and everything in between. Health and wellness knows no bounds.
How did this start? I read an article called The Hard Routine by Jason Dougherty. Some of his points are as follows:
  1. Recognize that there is a benefit to not getting everything you want.
  2. Understand that mental toughness is born of adversity; that it will atrophy if not constantly engaged; and that it carries over to everything you do.
  3. Objectively scrutinize one or a handful of things in your life that you think you need but could actually do without.
  4. Deny yourself those exact things for a specified period of time.
I took his points to heart and suggested to some friends that we try some "hard living" for a few months. It turned into The Hard Routine 2009. We had a group of nearly 120 participants. Last year, we ran it again with the same great results.

  • What are the physical workouts? You decide. They are whatever you want them to be. For some of you, you are already doing some terrific exercise sessions. For others, you need to get off the couch. I can point you in the right direction. Some of you might start out by walking 30 minutes each day. Others might commit to a more strenuous workout program. I don't recommend joining a gym for this! Let's begin slowly if you are relatively inactive now.
  • I need workout ideas. We have plenty of ideas based on YOUR goals and needs. Maybe you need strength workouts. Maybe you need cardio workouts. Maybe you need a beginner workout that is easy to follow. Maybe you have access to a gym or health club, or maybe you need to do the workouts at home. I will help you along based on what your physical needs are, as well as what equipment you have access to. Maybe the Prison Workouts (without kettlebell and with kettlebell) are a good start?? For some, walking a certain number of hours or miles each week is a great beginning.
  • I have no idea where to start regarding workouts. I'll help you. Just ask. Don't let that keep you from participating. No one is too far out of shape to begin. Sitting on the couch is a one way street...getting fatter and more out of shape!
  • I'm a woman and don't want to get bulky muscles. Many women are under a wrong impression that weight training produces bulky muscles. That is false. Women need weight training moreso than men. It would take a tremendous amount of serious weightlifting and protein supplements to get bulky. Likewise, the words "toned" or "toning" exercises are also false. There are only two ways to get so-called "toned." You must gain muscle, and lose the fat that surrounds those muscles. Weightlifting for women is a virtual MUST.
  • I have a big butt/tummy/thighs. What should I do? Well, first off, there is a rumor that situps or ab workouts will flatten a flabby tummy. That is called "spot reduction." It's the thought that the ThighMaster gives you thinner thighs. It too is false. To get thinner thighs, you must lose the fat that has settled there. We each have a genetically predetermined place that our fat settles. For me, it's the "spare tire." For many women, it's "grandma arms" or "thunder thighs." If you attempt to target those specific areas, you will find it doesn't work. Never has....never will.
  • What is the diet? We each have different eating downfalls. For me, it's ice cream and baked potatoes. Healthy eating choices are critical to making body changes. The diet is what you make it. For me, I'm avoiding alcohol, ice cream, sweets, and chocolate all together. I am limiting starches such as pasta, pizza, and potatoes to only a few meals per week. I will also limit bread and fried food intake. I am also making efforts to add leafy vegetables and nuts every day. But those are MY rules. You need to come up with your own! I'll help you. Last year, one of our participants said "NO" to all fried foods. He was really surprised to see how much of restaurant food is fried, especially appetizers!
  • This sounds like "crash dieting." Well it is, in a way. Strict dietary rules aren't a way to live your life forever, and certainly not love your life. However, after a couple of months of structured living, maybe keeping a moderate lifestyle will be easier for a bit longer. I'm only asking for two months!
If this is something you'd like to join, please email me at to be added to the email list (blind carbon copy). There will be plenty of email updates once October 1st hits. Until then, check back often! And check some of the posts from last season's campaign here.

Lastly, there is a Facebook "event" created for the campaign. Invite others to participate and share in your hardship this Fall.

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