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Cell by Cell, Row by Row…

January 18, 2012

…gonna make this body grow (strong).  [Warning: long post ahead! But the second half is just a re-posting of something I wrote in May 2010. You’ll get the gist of the post in the first half.]

Nerd alert: I log my workouts on a spreadsheet. You, too? Welcome, nerds of the exercise world! I don’t think it’s actually all that nerdy; it’s a good way to track where you’ve been and how far you’ve come. And I don’t think that keeping an exercise spreadsheet is unique or special, but I wanted to share how my friends and I do it: with a shared Google doc.

I benefit from living in an area where people are pretty dedicated to fitness. But I didn’t always live here, and sometimes I felt pretty alone in trying to keep up an exercise regimen. Enter the beauty of the shared document. My friends on the shared doc are primarily in NYC and DC, although we’ve got someone logging in from Dubai, too. The idea is simple (see below): you log your activity, duration, and any comments about it. And then your friends chime in. If you haven’t logged in for some time, you may get some heckles. If you are on a roll, they get really excited for you. Have a question about a new workout or piece of equipment? Someone will usually chime in with an experience they’ve had.

It’s virtual accountability, and it’s a wonderful thing. I imagine if you don’t have a lot of workout fanatics in your close circle, this could be really helpful as a motivator. I, for one, begin to think of what I’ll say on my workout log during that point in my runs where I really just want to stop. It’s fun to think of what may make my friends snort their coffee. And I’m sure the other runners on the trail get a kick out of a non-headphoned person bursting into laughter. That doesn’t look crazy, right?

Here’s the sheet (just realized there’s only one example of commentating, but, rest assured, there’s a lot of it on other parts of the sheet):

And here’s what I wrote about the spreadsheet almost a year and a half ago. I think this demonstrates the staying power of good friends and encouragement, no matter the distance or chosen activity.

Cell by Cell, Row by Row…

May 20, 2010 by Stacie | Edit

Or: How a spreadsheet is saving my ass. Literally.

It’s not any big secret or revelation that I am, shall we say, a substantial woman. That is to say, the term “waif” will never be used in conjunction with my name. I’ve accepted that I’m never going to be a size 2, and frankly, I like having some meat on my bones. Ancestrally, my people were potato farmers, and I look like I could probably haul a few bushels myself. If I had the energy…

Which brings me to how a spreadsheet (well, sheets – I went a little overboard) is saving my ass, because, really, I’m too young to feel this old.

I can’t seem to stick with anything when it comes to exercising. I don’t see exercise as something to do for a short period of time, in an effort to lose weight for an event/season/whatever; this mirrors my attitude towards eating better (thanks, end of my first year of grad school, for making eating well very difficult…yeesh…). So even though I see exercise as a lifetime practice, I don’t actually practice it much. Until I was introduced to the spreadsheet.

My friend shared a Google docs spreadsheet with me that allowed me to log my push-ups. Not very exciting in and of itself, but since the document was shared, you could see who else was doing push-ups, how many, and what other people had to say about their progress. There were encouraging words as well as shame if you didn’t keep up. It was fun to log things and the accountability was nice. Another friend wrote about this spreadsheet system here.

Time was, the word spreadsheet gave me the shakes. But now I keep my own spreadsheets tracking my progress towards my 10 mile race in October. I don’t share them, but the very simple act of logging my runs is…I can’t even come up with the right words. It’s all of these things, cheesy as they may sound: helpful, motivational, inspiring, pride-generating, nerdy, wonderful. I get twitchy if I don’t have things to log; I’m happy to say despite a hectic schedule of late, I’ve kept completely on my training schedule, and have even added to my workouts via my new bike. Letting my inner computer nerd shine is doing wonders for my ass, saving it one column by one row at a time.

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3 comments

  1. I don’t use a spreadsheet, only because I’m a born-and-raised journal keeper. I do make my own logs in said journal for the same purposes.


    • I wish I wasn’t such a sporadic journal keeper! But forcing myself to actually log things – workouts and food – made the difference between “healthy living” and healthy living.


  2. […] shout-out to the practices of journaling and logging things like food and workouts. Actually seeing my habits on paper screen is a very objective reminder of lagging commitment, and […]



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