Now that it is a little over two weeks into January and most New Year Resolutions have gone the way of the Great Auk and the Japanese Sea Lion, it is a perfect time to reflect upon what many people will consider the most powerful aspect of business casual biking, Obligatory Every Day Exercise (OEDE).
Exercise, despite all of the literally miraculous health benefits that it bequeaths upon us, is not a natural state for most us. There are very few people who feel that they get enough exercise, especially when combined with 40-plus hour work weeks, commuting, cooking, cleaning, and family obligations. Few people with busy schedules can consistently set aside time for an effective exercise routine. A large proportion of people simply dismiss the idea of routine exercise and get effectively zero real exercise per week.
The remaining population may have a gym membership and commit to a certain number of days of going to the gym. The problem with scheduled exercise is that you must have a reasonably compelling and consistent motivation in order to keep at it. I relied almost entirely on scheduled gym exercise during my years of professional school and my success was limited at best. In fact, there were only two times during my years of scheduled gym exercise that I truly felt motivated enough to drag myself into the gym with high enough frequency to feel that I was getting appropriate exercise.
The first instance of motivation was after gaining a large amount of weight. Not incidentally, I gained this weight after I moved and went from a sixteen mile per day bicycle commute to a 10 block walking commute. Over a 6 month interval I packed on approximately 35 pounds of extra fat. I had never been overweight before so I was very motivated to lose this weight and thus ensued a long period of gym dedication.
The second instance was more positive. My wife and I were engaged, and I had made it my goal to be in the best shape of my life on the day we married. What could be more motivating than wanting to be perfect for the person you love on such a momentous occasion?
During both of these times of intense motivation I was setting aside about 2 hours per day, 4 days per week, just to go to the gym. I would get home after a long day of work or school, change into gym clothes, and trek my way to the nearest gym. I personally have never found gyms to be a pleasant place. They tend to be stuffy with unpleasant aromas at every turn. On top of that, gyms are often overcrowded with obnoxious self-involved personality types.
Needless to say, once I had achieved my goals in the two scenarios above, my attendance at the gym dropped precipitously. I still might have popped in a couple times a week, but I could easily find excuses to avoid going. If there was an upcoming test or a presentation, it was easy to convince myself that I simply did not have the time or energy to go to the gym. This is despite the fact that exercise really does make me feel great!
I’m sure that all of you who are reading this can relate to the love hate relationship with the gym. We love the positive effects exercise has on our bodies: improved physical appearance, stress relief, energy increase, confidence, the list goes on. However, carving out 2 hours per day just to go to a mostly unpleasant place to exert energy we feel like we don’t have is a system that is sure to break down over time. It is no doubt that the difficulty of fitting in routine exercise is a major factor in the rise of the American Obesity Epidemic.
The market associated with selling weight loss and exercise is enormous. People are feeling overweight and there is no shortage of stuff being sold to fix this problem. We are exposed to literally hundreds of weight loss associated advertisements on a daily basis. These ads run the gamut from sophisticated at home work out equipment to pre-prepared “weight loss” food to “miracle” weight loss supplements to fancy gym memberships. The problem with all of these proposed solutions is that even if they actually work (which is often questionable), we can easily find ways to circumvent the benefit they may offer.
If one really want to lose weight or stay consistently in shape, you need to discover a system that is consistent and that will not allow you to cheat.
For me, every day bicycle commuting (aka Business Casual Biking) is that system. This exercise is obligatory; I have built bicycle commuting into my life such that it is the only way I can get to work. Because I work every day, bicycle commuting has become something that I will do every day, no matter what the situation is. See how I have created a situation in which I benefit from Obligatory Every Day Exercise (OEDE). Business Casual Biking is built into my day so I am 100% guaranteed to get an appropriate level of exercise. I often joke that when I arrive to work on Monday morning, I have already participated in more exercise than most people will get all week or even what some people get in an entire year!
Additionally, I would have to car commute to get to work anyway so I am replacing an undesirable activity with a desirable activity. Furthermore, my bicycle commute does not take significantly longer than what my car commute would take, so I have essentially eliminated the time requirement we often associate with daily exercise.
Now that I have been Business Casual Biking for three years, I am literally swimming in the associated health and lifestyle benefits. I am thin and muscular. If the situation required such effort, I could easily bike or run for an hour without stopping. My mind is clear. My mood is exceptional. My relationship with my wife and others is the best it has ever been. I am motivated to excel at work. I get fantastic sleep. I can eat whatever I want in essentially unlimited quantities. Again, this is a list that I could extend forever! If what you desire is any of the above, I cannot recommend Business Casual Biking more!
In the comments section, please tell me your successes and failures in exercise. Have you been successful at OEDE? If so how? I look forward to hearing from you and as always thank you for stopping by!