Rebecca brings back Garanimals! The Midlife Fitness Equation just got a WHOLE lot easier!

She calls it the “Garanimals Fitness Plan”.  Remember Garanimals? Of course you do. What mother didn’t rejoice at clothing our toddlers could pick out themselves by matching the animals on the tags and still have an outfit we were willing to take them out into public in? So Rebecca (giggling slightly at her own midlifer joke she knew I would most certainly get) presented my plan.


She color coded the activities I identified as possibilities in my life (walking the dogs, riding  and/or groundwork with the horses, Bikram Yoga, Tennis, Taekwondo, riding my bicycle, free weights, all my favorite combination exercises like pushups, crunches, squats, and lunges ( see pages 64-66 for my explanation why if this is all you do, it accomplished a lot!)


Then (and this is the Garanimals part),  she put four words at the top of the page of a Daily Rating Sheet, each in a different color. Because by now she realized she was writing this plan for herself as well, and because she is a funny, funny girl, she chose to put this “how do I feel today” assessment in horse terms: walk, trot, canter, gallop.


So here’s the plan.  Click here (with Rebecca’s permission and blessing) to download a PDF of the Rebecca’s Midlife Horses Daily Rating Sheet she developed for me, and feel free to use it as a template for your own new lease on midlife fitness.


1. First, you ask yourself, “How do I feel today?” And you answer in one of the four color-coded horsey words.


Let’s face it, we all have days when we know we won’t get out of a walk. But the idea is to pick something (remember: “Just One Thing”) and do it (or something else on the same intensity color scale) along with everything else you do that day. The end result is you did work out . . .and something is always better than nothing.


And I’ve heard there are days when you feel like a full-out gallop AND you also have all kinds of free time (I personally haven’t had one of those in a long time, but I continuer to look for one!) These are the days you pour it on with all the high intensity activity you love to do. The great news about this is that all the walk  and trot days you’ve logged at lower intensities (when even though you may feel like you didn’t do much, your chart proves you’re keeping to the plan!) have conditioned you well enough to take a high-intensity day in stride and also reap the rewards of “muscle confusion” upon which lots of high profile fitness platforms are built. Who knew you could sneak up on an advanced fitness concept like that?


2. Then, going down the list of exercises underneath the color coded terms, identify all the exercises that are the same color as the word you chose. This is how you match your intensity level to how you feel today.  ( this list was created based on my interests and goals and strengths and weaknesses; tweak it to fit yours),


3. Next, write down in the space provided only what you absolutely HAVE to do today. This is the part where we mesh our exercise plan with our other activities. Do you have a meeting 30 miles away? Sitting at the desk for an extended period of time to finish a proposal? Cleaning stalls or water troughs? Riding lesson? Farrier or vet coming? Doctor or dentist appointment? Weeding that front flower bed? Cleaning out the front room for dinner guests later in the week? You get the picture. The list you make here (and Rebecca gave me seven lines because experts agree that we shouldn’t put more than 5-7 things on our “must do” list each day)


4. Now look for your exercise opportunities TODAY. This is the delightfully intuitive part that makes this plan work particularly well with a busy life. We have our list of possible exercises to fit how we feel. We have our list of what we absolutely have to get done today.


For example: Can you carve out 15 minutes to take the dog for a walk before you leave for your appointment? Can you do a set of pushups while you’re waiting for the proposal draft to print out?  How about walking lunges down the hall to the kitchen every time you get up for more coffee? Intention is a powerful thing. If we set our intent to find places for the exercises we’ve identified the opportunities will appear. Is someone late for an appointment with you? Teenager  dawdling?  Wait for them in the plank pose. You get the picture. And you’ll be shocked at how good it feels to look at this piece of paper at the end of each day and see the exercises (and the Must dos) you managed to check off. File that bad boy in a folder or looseleaf binder so you can look back on your success and realize you ARE moving steadily forward on thei midlife fitness quest — and more than likely, getting more done in the process!

The measuring stick of a great exercise regimen for me is one I don’t realize I’m even doing. Just like all the endless posting and trotting and bending and twisting and cantering and yanking my stinky horse around in tight circles every time he threatens to buck has trimmed down my waist and my thighs, I am filled with hope that Rebecca’s Garanimals Exercise Plan will set the course for the full-body makeover I’ve been chasing for most of my adult life.  Replacing my all-or-nothing exercise mindset  with this simple meshing of how I feel, what I have to do and where the opportunities that match both lie, one day at a time, are, for me, an exciting new trail to midlife fitness. Won’t you join me?


Download Rebecca’s Midlife Horses workout template and customize it to your own preferred activities and physical needs and requirements and keep us posted on your progress and observations! Rebecca herself says this is a work in progress and we appreciate any feedback or suggestions you may have.  Join the conversation here, post your progress weekly on our Facebook page or Tweet your thoughts, observations and suggestions as they occur! Or, if you have a question for Rebecca, email me and I’ll start an Ask Rebecca post for all our FAQs!


Happy Trails!


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