One of the accomplishments of the past two years that I’m most proud of – aside from my dissertation progress – is my gym routine. During the first two years of grad school, the idea of taking time to hit the gym was just stressful. I had no idea how to fit it in on top of the reading and the writing and the general survival of graduate school.
In year three, I got a little better, but it was really the end of year three – late spring 2008 – when I got myself into an actual routine. Now I hit the gym for 45 minutes to an hour every weekday morning before I start to work, and that’s a commitment that I like.
I like variety, so I try to shake things up as I’m able. This means that I spent six months from last November to this past May doing a weight lifting regimen, then in June my exercise routine was the mile-long walk between the hotel and the West Point classroom (not to mention, you know, traipsing all over Gettysburg and similar sites). In July and August, I eased back in to cardio, skipping only the week when I visited my grandmother and modifying last week’s schedule to account for some workshops.
Now I’m on the September Self magazine workout. Supposedly, I’ll lose eight pounds in four weeks by following it – but we’ll see. Even if I don’t lose that much, I have to admit that the workouts are phenomenal – what a difference from my mediocre 20-30 minutes of cardio this summer! In October, I think I’ll finally give running a shot and check out Couch to 5K to see if I’m up for the challenge.
I’m proud of this routine because it’s not always easy to get myself to the gym. There are days when I’d rather be frittering around on email or something else, or even sleeping a little later. But in the end, I think the gym routine is one of the best “for-me” things I could have added to my schedule: not only am I keeping my body in better shape, but I’m also giving myself a stress outlet.
You know, it may actually be part of the reason why I’ve been able to get through this dissertation thing so far.