14. One-minute weights

Is this the easy workout you’ve been pining for?

Ahhh, the One-Minute Workout … where have you been my whole life?

For Week 13 of My Year of Micro Experiments I wanted to get back to micro. Really micro. So small an effort you could stumble through it.

I’m in my fifties — my transcendent fab fifties, thank you very much. Recently I read a summary of a health study causing me to reconsider my decades-long aversion to strength training — and weights in particular.

The study noted that building up musculature before your mid-60s is highly beneficial for older age. Not even just beneficial, damn near mandatory if you want people remarking on your extraordinary septuagenarian vitality.

Translation: Build up now or suffer through your sixties and seventies. And whatever comes after that.

So, essentially getting buff in your middle years helps maintain muscle and bone vitality in your later years. If you start late — as my Dad did, after a life of excess it should be noted — it can be near impossible to build up the muscle mass you want to propel you into your senior years.

Usually I clock between 5 and 7 hours of exercise a week — most often walking with weighted poles, some yoga, yardwork, swimming and biking too depending upon the season.

And loooooooooove. I mention it at the risk of grossing you out cuz it’s heart healthy.

In one of my first weekly micro challenges I tried bonding with my teenage son over strength training. It was a soaring failure — like two dudes going for a high five and missing completely, wiffling air.

In my case it was one dude going for the high five of bonding over weight workouts, but my son was having none of it.

You can read about it here.

Because of this Year of Micro Challenges, I’ve picked up books extolling incremental change. On kaizen (small constant improvements). On trying one thing different.

They all scream the same message — words on the page get loud when they drumbeat the same mantra: Start so small it seems ineffective, laughable even.

The gist of incremental improvement is this: Tackle a thing in such a minute way you can’t say no to it.

In One Small Step Can Change Your Life, Dr. Robert Maurer gives this example. An overweight woman with all kinds of bad health markers — raising three kids by herself — is told to take up an exercise program.

As the nurse is talking to this single working mom, Dr. Maurer spies the despair in her eyes, One more effing thing to do in an already overwhelmed life!

He quickly intervened. His challenge to her:

To stand up for one minute while watching TV.

That was her homework. Just stand up for one minute.

At her next visit he added that she should move her arms and torso a bit.

Then he added another minute. In a few weeks she started marching in front of the TV.

Over weeks and months more minutes were added — until something magical happened.

She started exercising on her own! Quite apart from watching TV.

Weight came off. Cardiovascular metrics improved. Hell, she improved her diet, which kicked the virtuous cycle into high gear.

All because from her initial state of fatigue and overwhelm and obesity she was given the tiniest challenge possible.

Stand for one minute while watching TV.

Something she could win at.

Notching wins for a minute a day lead to 2 minutes a day then 3.

In that spirit, I challenged myself to 1 minute a day weights.

We’d already set up a small gym space for our son. All I had to do was to step in for a minute a day … success!

Or so you’d think.

But I missed the first couple of days.

I forgot Rule Numero Uno for adding in a new habit — tie it to something you already do.

I vacuum virtually every night — two dogs and an active semi-rural household, yech, you’d vacuum nightly too. In fact, you’d probably hire a nightly cleaning crew, clean freak.

As soon as I tethered my one-minute weight workout to the end of my vacuuming, it locked right in.

The rest of the week went well.

When I attempted working out with my son, I’d found a system called Push Pull Legs — one day you do exercises that require pushing — like pushups! The next session you do Pull — like pullups! Followed by leg work.

I adopted this pattern so I didn’t even need to think when I waltzed in for my magic minute.

(There will be no Before and After photos, so don’t pester me for them — there’s not much After to crow about one minute a day.)

Though the final 5 days went well, I sucked in subsequent weeks once my focus shifted to other areas.

Interesting, now that I’m writing about this many weeks later I’m picking up speed again. Not because I’m writing about weights, but only because in weirdly synchronous timing I’d built short-episode strength training back into my evenings recently.

The Takeaway: If you’re having trouble inserting a new regimen into your days, take the easiest path imaginable — start that thing for one minute daily.

(And make sure to tie it to something you already do!)


Note: Feel the vitality

A micro challenge I’m taking on this week takes but a moment — albeit many times a day.

As I leave one activity to switch to another, I’m challenging myself to a caesura — a musical term signifying a pause — a break in the notes for silence — for but a moment.

In this moment I’m tasking myself with focusing for the merest sliver of time to define what I want from the next action.

Most often it’s to inject love energy into what I’m about to undertake. That’s my default.

Every time I do this I feel this twinge of vitality coursing from within, surging.



Shooting forth love energy…

Or an intention…

Or a micro-visualization of how I’d like the action to flow…

Wow, who would have thought … Pausing gathers energy!

That you can spend indulgently.

Until your next pause.

. . . . .

— Feel the vitality coursing through you —


For insights and stories on the connected creative life, check out these bookitos:

The Creative Morning Challenge

Burn Baby Burn: Spark The Creative Spirit Within





Note: Emanate

Isn’t this always the way?

To create something enduring you’ve got to internalize the essence of it so thoroughly it wafts from your pores.

How do you do this? What is your method?

How do you make it so real inside it bursts out into reality?

. . . . .

— Emanate what you seek to create —


For insights and stories on the connected creative life, check out these bookitos:

The Creative Morning Challenge

Burn Baby Burn: Spark The Creative Spirit Within





12. Measuring weight once daily

Every so often a small change you make turns out to be revolutionary. This incremental one-minute tweak turned out to be my revolution. My body revolution.

A quick recap to catch you up: On this website I’ve been documenting My Year of Micro Experiments series. The idea is simple — to engage in very tiny experiments in living a week at a time, and then gauge the effect.

This is Week 12.

My plan is to tackle different areas over the course of a year:


Spirit and Vision (practices)

Creative work


Business (my wife and I own an art gallery)

Relationships (family, friends, orbital)

These are the main themes.

Others are suggesting themselves as I progress through the year.

Because I’d packed on a little bloat, I wanted to start with Body. A change up in routines and eating habits to see what worked for me and what didn’t.

My reasoning is this: Everything would be easier to tackle if I were closer to my optimal body state.

Vitality would be mine! Energy would flow through me like light through fiber optics!

My wife Ann was undergoing her own lifestyle changes as I tackled mine.

(See previous posts for details if you’re curious about micro challenges I’ve taken on so far, the posts that start with a number. As in 1, 2, 7, 10 . . . Each number corresponds to a week’s experiment.)

One day in her soft off-hand so casual she almost didn’t bring it up way, Ann suggested I weigh myself once a day to track my progress. That way I would get daily feedback.

Normally I would have scoffed at that kind of metric. Yeah, I was savvy in the way of weight, how muscle weighs more than fat. I wasn’t going to fall for that!

(Said the guy who never lifts weights….)

But — when you’re in an experimental frame of mind — as I was now — knocking back 52 lifestyle experiments in a year — it sounded appealing.

Why not? I could quit after a week.

I started immediately. It was right around the same time I decided to quit sodas for a couple of months. So I was catching myself — presumably — at the apex of my weight bloat.

What a fun idea to track my descent into Better Fitter Me.

Damn, does weight ever fluctuate when you just pick a random time during the day to weigh yourself. It can vary by up to 2 pounds!

(I quickly discovered.)

So I googled what experts suggested, quickly coming to the realization serious weighers weigh themselves once each morning, after, um, evacuating . . . but before imbibing anything.

This way you are always measuring a similar state — your body’s fasting weight — just before your caffeine of choice and breakfast and the tumult of the day begin. Which is to say before oscillations from intakes and outputs began in earnest.

I mentioned this to Ann. In her casual offhanded manner of total nonchalance, she said:

Yeah, that’s always when I weigh myself, first thing in the morning. It’s the only time you can get consistent results for comparison purposes.

Thank you for mentioning that up front.

I was off.

Within 2 or 3 days a little miracle occurred: I wanted to weigh myself!

Each morning’s number gave immediate feedback on the previous 24 hours. Longer exercise and remaining moderate in my intake sloughed off weight!

And girth too, I began to notice.

Between not eating at night and getting in respectable exercise each day, I could predict the steady drop as fat stores burned off.

That and being mostly vegetarian. Flexitarian to the cognoscenti — or flexiterranean as I like to call my Mediterranean diet spiked by the occasional hamburger when I regress.

I began weighing myself on October 31. Flash forward to the first of the new year. I’d dropped more than 10 pounds! Seemingly effortlessly.

Let me get exclamation point heavy again one last time:

Through the freaking holidays!

I think that says it all.

It’s now been four additional months since then. Though I’ve reverted to a more flexible eating regimen, the morning weigh in remains a constant.

Without doubt this morning weigh in has been a riotous success. The kind you want to bury in a time capsule and lodge deep in the earth for future earthlings to uncover.

This small tweak far eclipsed other micro experimental results I’d imagined would have fared better.

This is why I do it — when the unexpected yields results, it revs you up for more. More tweaks. More challenges. More nano experiments.

The occasional happy success gets you through the ineffectual times.

A secondary result, one championed by my sister Charlene, is that her morning weigh ins help keep her in her optimal weight range.

She’s got a 4-pound range, can you believe it?

When she gets to the lower end of that range she lays off the salads a little and leans into foodstuffs that will cling to her. When she hits the upper range, she throttles back on the comfort foods.

It turns out she’s been doing this weigh in thing for years.

It also turns out — as I blabbed about my enchantment with the process to all and sundry — that a few of my friends also weigh in daily. Who knew so many people did this in secret?


Note: Surprise yourself

Robert Frost once said:

“No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.”

Isn’t this true of all art forms?

I watch my wife Ann — a painter — grapple with her work in her studio. For hours. It’s the unexpected outcomes that work that thrill her most.

There are plenty of unexpected outcomes that go awry, that suck, let’s be honest.

Still — there’s a surge of satisfaction when something unexpected elevates the piece beyond where it was moments before.

That’s the kind of surprise we’re looking for when we work.

. . . . .

— Surprise yourself —


For insights and stories on the connected creative life, check out these bookitos:

The Creative Morning Challenge

Burn Baby Burn: Spark The Creative Spirit Within





Note: I love your way

Yes you. Especially you.

You may be thinking, You don’t even know me, dude.

But isn’t it true, that as soon as you get a glimpse inside most people, there’s some kind of latent appealing quirkiness.

That’s true for you too.

Yes, there’s that dark side we all possess. But as long as it isn’t prison-worthy, that can be worked with, eh?

. . . . .


My God I love your way —
that utterly unique you-ness
spilling all over your life

Delve into notes and stories on the connected creative life in these bookitos:

The Creative Morning Challenge

Burn Baby Burn: Spark The Creative Spirit Within