A Year in Exercise: A 2012 Review

2012 Exercise as a meal

This is what a year of exercise — over 1,000 miles — looks like converted into a delicious bean soup. Every bean in the soup represents some form of exercise: a mile run was a white northern bean, walked a garbanzo bean, biked a black bean, and crossfit session a kidney bean. In 2012 I ran or walked 625 miles, rode 400 miles, and attended 24 crossfit sessions.

I started a bean jar this year after I found irregular exercise in 2011 resulted in me gaining weight, even after training for my first two half-marathons. This was disheartening as earlier that year I had lost 20 lbs in 8 weeks in response to a Decade of Decadence. I was not treading water, I was sinking.

So I decided to combat this bloat by initiating a monthly challenge series — every month in 2012 I would sign-up for in advance and participate in a strenuous monthly challenge. The activities ranged from running half-marathons (5 and counting!), to cycling 100 miles, to participating in a 12 person, 200 mile relay (Ragnar). The theory was that consistent monthly challenges would result in consistent daily exercise, too.

Unfortunately, that’s not entirely what happened.

2012 Exercise Summary

2012 exercise chart

  • I ran or walked 625 miles, averaging 52 miles/month.
  • I biked 400 miles, averaging 33 miles/month.
  • I did crossfit 24 times, averaging 2 sessions/month.

In all, I completed 10 monthly challenges. In training for them, I completed 200 daily exercise sessions, averaging 17 daily sessions every month. The most was 23 sessions; the least 11. As my goal was 5 sessions/week, that means I missed my 5 sessions/week goal by a full 30%.

Monthly Exercise Effect on Weight

Monthly exercise vs weight

My overall weight across the year dropped a measly 4 pounds. Ugh, it hurts to even type that when I think back to all the miles and hours of exercising! It feels like a whole lot of running in place, and I rarely run on a treadmill!

However, the difference between the maximum and minimum measured weights was a full 18 pounds; there was an embarrassing peak in August before I started a 21 Days of a Vegan Plus Diet experiment, and a delightful trough in November following 12 weeks of that diet (now going on 20 weeks).

What’s visually clear from the graph above is the correlation between the number of exercise sessions in a given month, and the weight at the end of that month.

  • February and March were low in work-out sessions after I hurt my foot running a half-marathon in minimalist shoes, and in April I peaked in weight.
  • I healed and upped my sessions in April and May, and my weight fell back to levels 4 months earlier.
  • I got lazy in June and July (damn you Georgia heat!), and my weight peaked for the year.
  • I upped my stride in August and September, tracking a record 23 sessions in one month, and my weight came off expectedly.
  • I got lazy during the holidays of November and December, and my weight loss flatlined.

It’s pretty clear — when I work out consistently, I lose weight; when I don’t, I gain weight. While consistency is key, I consistently seem to forget that.

What Exercise Did To Me Physically

Physically my body began a slow transformation.

  • 1.75 inches off my left thigh, or ~6% reduction.
  • 1 inch of my right thigh, or ~3% reduction.
  • 1 inch off my arms, or ~3% reduction.
  • 1 inch off my hips, or ~2% reduction.
  • 1 inch off my waist, or ~2% reduction.
  • 1 inch off my chest, or ~2% reduction.

While these measurements aren’t as impressive as I sought — I’m seeking an 18% reduction in my waist — I’m at least treading in the right direction.

My 2013 Year of Exercise

I’m blaming my lackluster results from last year on my inconsistent consistency. Therefore, I’m recommitting to my monthly challenge series this year. I have already picked out many of my challenges for the first half of 2013.

I’m also focusing my energy on smaller daily goals instead of weekly “big miles”. If I can put in a mere 2 miles daily, I will have already beat my miles from 2012.

I can at least walk 2 miles daily, right?


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