I Exercised Every Single Day for the Last Year. This Is What I Learned.
It was the biggest challenge of my non-sporty life.
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A few days ago, I hit a goal I never thought I’d achieve: I successfully worked out for 365 of the last 365 days. A full year of daily exercise, which is something this non-athlete never ever thought was possible.
Along the way, folks have asked me a lot of questions about the process, and so I figured I’d try to answer everything in one place. That means there’s a fair amount of information here, but if there’s something I didn’t answer, please feel free to DM me or leave a question in the comments below.
Before we get into the details, I wanted to start by saying thank you. When I embarked on my overall fitness journey a couple of years ago, I was just trying to find myself after having two kids in 23 months. While unquestionably lucky and privileged in a thousand different ways, I was also deeply depressed, incredibly anxious, and feeling ashamed about the fact that I was emotionally and physically unwell.
This process has saved me in so many ways, and no small part of that is because so many of you have been incredibly kind along the way. I can’t tell you how much your encouraging comments have lifted my spirits on the darkest days and kept me accountable in the best possible way. As a small token of my gratitude, I’m excited to share a small giveaway I’m hosting in honor of the last year of movement. Details are at the end of the story.
Can you discuss the backstory, please? What was your relationship with exercise like before you started?
As I’ve discussed on social media and wrote about last year, I never had a specific goal for working out other than to start, as my relationship with exercise has been sporadic at best. As a kid, I loved dance class until I spent a year answering to the nickname “Bread,” which was given to me by my Bolshoi Ballet–trained teacher, who called me that because I was like “big, white, fluffy bread, but ballerinas are small, hard rolls.” (I was 13 years old, 5’5” and weighed 120 pounds at that point. One day, I finally said enough and then quit and joined the cheerleading squad a couple of months later, where I thrived for all four years of high school.)
When I was in college and beyond, I primarily looked at exercise as something I did for one of two reasons: as punishment for eating or because I planned on eating something later that day that wouldn’t be “allowed” unless I worked out. Exercise was essentially punitive, something I did to absolve myself of binges or to justify future ones, but critical, as the overall goal was always to look hot. (I just cringed as I wrote this.) The concept of exercising for my physical or mental health played no role in my thought process; it was mostly about trying to stay as aesthetically pleasing as possible.
In my mid-20s, I dropped all forms of exercise other than dancing in clubs and walking to bars, which, as a young person living in Manhattan, happened almost every day. So healthy in terms of steps, perhaps less so in terms of overall liver health.
Then, after a particularly rough breakup around my 31st birthday, my relationship with exercise changed again, now with a new focus on warding off depression and also seeking revenge. I’d spent the previous five years working 24/7, neglecting my friendships, and focusing solely on my company and relationship, and then suddenly, I was single and without a strong social network.
To say I was deeply depressed was a massive understatement. Around this time, I read an article that said aerobic exercise worked about as well as antidepressant medication for some folks, so I decided to try that route first. I started going to Tracy Anderson classes after work because the alternative was sitting home alone every night. After a few months of near-daily classes, I started seeing physical results—again, the desire for hotness was pretty much the only thing I cared about—and then having a “revenge body” was the absolute goal.
Eventually, as I put my life back together again and healed my heart, I finally started to enjoy working out for the community of it all. I’d go to LEKFIT cardio trampoline classes with friends and finally recognized how regular exercise actually helped my mind and my mood. By my mid-30s, I was working out about four days a week and felt like I had a healthy relationship with it. This new iteration of my relationship with exercise lasted through my first pregnancy, and I started taking classes again a few months after giving birth, and all was well.
Thirteen months after having my first kiddo, I got pregnant with my second, but this time around, I wasn’t allowed to exercise. (I had been diagnosed with cervical incompetence after my first kid arrived early while I was on work trip in New York. For kid two, I required a cerclage at the very start of my second trimester and was asked to take it easy.) I ended up on bed rest for the last two months of that pregnancy, followed by VBAC with a sunny-side-up baby and a postpartum hemorrhage, so needless to say, I was down for the count for a few months after baby two.
So how’d you get started again after kids?
After all of that rigamarole, I was actually excited to start exercising again, but it wasn’t that simple. My recovery took much longer than I expected, and even walking short distances caused intense internal pelvic pain. Eventually, nine months later, I finally felt well enough to start working out again. This all coincided with the first few months of the pandemic—when going to an exercise studio was completely out of the question—so one day, I decided to order a personal fitness trampoline from Amazon and start doing digital classes at home.
The first day back was humbling, to put it mildly. After no exercise for approximately 525 days, I could barely make it through 20 minutes of trampoline class before I was exhausted. But it was a start. And I was hopeful.
I was hopeful because doing something physical that I was familiar with—something I had spent so much time doing in the past—was straight-up transporting. I couldn’t worry about the pandemic or any of my quotidian problems when I was on the trampoline, because I was so focused on what I was doing. I was the rarest of things: fully present, at least for those 20 minutes. I sweat. I cried. My brain shut off. And it was the release I needed, one that I had forgotten existed.
Did anything else motivate you?
Another reason I felt hopeful came from a woman I admired tremendously: Amanda Kloots. At that moment in time, Amanda’s husband, Nick, was in the hospital fighting COVID-19 and the resulting complications, and she shared their heartbreaking experience. One day, she said something on social media that spoke directly to my soul. She quietly reminded us that it was a privilege to be able to move your body, that there were so many folks who couldn’t do that right now, and that if we were lucky enough to be healthy, we owed it to ourselves—and everyone who couldn’t—to move. To not take our physical freedom for granted. To not take our health and mobility for granted. To recognize our incredible good fortune and the privilege of our healthy, working bodies and celebrate them through movement.
It was a breakthrough moment for me.
I had never framed exercise through the lens of gratitude before. I had never thought of it as a celebration of life. I had never thought about the privilege of my health and mobility. And suddenly that was all I could think about. Everything that was going on in the world also made me realize that I wanted to be around for my kids as long as possible and that while there was much I couldn’t control, exercise could help me live a healthier life.
Interestingly enough, wanting to be there for my kids has been an excellent motivation tool. Surprise, surprise.
Okay so that’s a lot of detail. But how did you actually motivate on a daily basis?
Right right right: So in addition to the slow, decades-long mental shift that had to take place, in the short term, two other things made a big difference: the Apple Watch and finding the right exercise.
I got the watch in September 2020, about four months into my fitness journey, and honestly, it completely changed everything for me. Being able to track my workouts, see my heart rate during exercise, and have access to all of my fitness data was remarkable. It gamifies exercise for me, and quickly I found myself striving to close my rings, which refers to hitting the watch’s three goals—stand time, exercise time, and overall calories burned associated with movement—which you can personalize depending on your overall activity levels.
I also found a form of exercise—specifically the trampoline-based cardio and sculpting workout The Ness—that truly has changed my feelings about working out. Unsurprisingly, given my dance background, I love any class that has choreography, and The Ness has a series of different cardio bounce classes that are incredibly fun, endlessly challenging, and work my brain as much as my body. The class is based in New York, but I do it almost every day from my living room via a subscription to its app, which I stream on my Apple TV (or my iPad on the rare occasion I decide to exercise outside).
The trampoline part of the cardio is really gentle on my joints—I never get shin splints or any of the aches and pains that were part of working out on a wood floor in a studio—and the app has a ton of different class types. At this point, I primarily take the advanced bounce classes, but it has everything from beginner on up, plus HIIT classes, stability classes, and many different types of sculpt classes, including cardio sculpt. You can also sort by time length of class, so some days I might do a 30-minute advanced bounce class and then tack on a 10-minute arms class to the end of it. Or I will do a 10-minute core-focused sculpt class and then go for a hike with a friend. I love being able to mix and match and customize, depending on how I feel on any particular day or how much time I have to exercise.
(This is somewhat less important but still worth saying: I also love The Ness because it is very clearly not focused on the male gaze. You never hear a word about getting a “summer body” or needing to do squats so your butt looks good on the beach. The marketing and social content aren’t created with the male gaze in mind, a perspective that is so wildly refreshing, and sadly rare, in the workout world. The classes and content feel judgment-free, fully supportive, and acknowledging of different fitness levels, with a focus on the mind-body connection that is truly joyful.)
Did anything else help?
In the short term, I found a watch that motivated me and a type of exercise that I truly enjoyed and offered a lot of variety. But I also had long-term support, which made exercising regularly possible. Specifically, my wonderful husband and friends. Every morning, when I set up my trampoline, my husband corrals the kids into the kitchen and feeds them breakfast while I work out.
This routine has been critical to my consistency because it means I have a specific, limited window in which to exercise. On the days when I don’t get a chance to work out in the morning due to early meetings or my kids’ school commitments, he always helps me find a time later that evening to either take a class or go for a walk in the neighborhood with a friend. His support has been critical to this whole project, and I know I’m incredibly lucky to have it.
My friends also play a huge role in this. Between the pandemic, life, and kids, I haven’t been able to socialize much over the last couple of years. The fact that my friends will meet me for a neighborhood walk or hike means everything to me.
What about travel? What about when you get sick? What happens then?
A lot of things have fallen into place to make this possible. Due to the pandemic, I have only gone on one work trip in the last year. (I wore my workout shoes on the plane so that I could drop my bags at my hotel and go for a 30-minute walk the moment I arrived.) Due to our limited social interaction (our kids are too young to get vaccinated, so we have been very restrained with our activities), I haven’t been seriously sick, and on the days I didn’t feel my best, I would skip the more high-effort cardio bounce class and just go for a gentle walk instead.
What was your overall goal?
It would be a lie to tell you I started this with a plan to work out every day for a full year. That was not the plan. When I started exercising in 2020, I just wanted to feel better and get stronger and healthier. Also, while this was not my focus, I was still carrying all of the weight I’d gained with my second pregnancy and wanted to lose some of it due to some health concerns. I was borderline prediabetic, according to an A1C test I’d taken via Parsley Health, and that was something I wanted to address.
Talk about the Apple Watch, please. What were your goals? How long did it take to start hitting them?
I got the watch in early September 2020, about four months after I started working out. After some research and asking around, I eventually came up with my watch goals.
STAND: 10 hours
EXERCISE: 30 minutes
MOVE: 700 calories
I wanted goals that felt achievable, and I felt like I could commit to a long-term plan of 30 minutes of movement a day. That said, it’s hard for me to hit my 700 Move goal during the week with only 30 minutes of exercise, so typically, I do more like 45 minutes to an hour. On the weekend, when I’m not stuck in front of a computer all day and am running around with my kids, it’s much easier to hit my 700 Move goal with only 30 minutes of exercise.
As for hitting those goals consistently? It took a minute. I didn’t put pressure on myself, but I really liked it when I started unlocking the Apple Watch badges for completing new workouts and hitting my various goals. I had my first “perfect month”—meaning I hit all three goals every day that month—in November 2020, and that really incentivized me.
After that, I had a perfect month for three more months in a row, and then did not in March, April, and May of 2021 due to a variety of things, including food poisoning, sick kids, colds, and more. I also had a sad moment: After over 120 days of hitting my goal, I didn’t double-check to make sure I’d closed my Move ring one night and lost my streak. I was five calories away from goal that day. Ugh. Haven’t made that mistake again!
What made you start the 365 streak?
As I mentioned, I didn’t have perfect months from March to May 2021, which was fine. I still worked out most days but wasn’t religious about it. In May, I exercised the least, and honestly, I felt awful. I felt snappy with my kids and husband, was grumpy in the mornings, and had less energy. It took me a few weeks to connect it, but I realized I was just a happier person when I was working out consistently.
I didn’t think it was going to be a thing until I was about halfway through. Around the time I hit 180 days, I suddenly realized that a yearlong streak was possible. I didn’t want to jinx myself or put too much pressure on it—especially as I knew that not getting sick was critical to the goal and not something I could control—so I only focused on one month at a time, one week at a time, and one day at a time. Bite-size challenges over massive ones.
Did you only do The Ness cardio bounce classes this whole time?
Nope! I mean, that definitely made up the majority of my exercise, but I did a whole range of things. From The Ness, specifically, I took cardio bounce classes, HIIT classes, and sculpt classes. Most days, I’d do a 30-minute cardio bounce or HIIT class and then a 10-minute sculpt class with a focus on arms or core. Some days, I did a full-body sculpt class and no cardio; it all just depended on how much time and energy I had.
I also walked a lot, usually with friends. My friend Jane and I spent hours walking in the Los Feliz hills while our kids napped. I’d meet my friends Katie and Jill for hikes that were mostly just us catching up, with a side of sweat. Other days, I’d power through my neighborhood hills with my friend Rory, spending about an hour traipsing around at a pretty quick clip.
What setting did you use for your trampoline classes?
There isn’t a specific trampoline cardio setting on the Apple Watch—at least not yet!—so I just use Mixed Cardio. I’m not entirely sure the setting makes a difference, but I’m consistent about it.
What band did you use for your workouts? Did you ever change it?
The watch band I use is from Apple; it’s the 41mm Gold Milanese Loop. (I have heard it’s the same one Anna Wintour wears but have not confirmed that fact with my own eyes.) To be honest, it was great for the first year and change, and then at some point, the skin on my wrist started getting a little annoyed by it. I switched to the 41mm Solo Loop in Chalk Pink for a while, but while it feels amazing on my skin, I just don’t like the look as much.
Can you link to your trampoline again?
Absolutely. I started with a JumpSport 250 trampoline from Amazon, which has these incredibly annoying “petals” that cover the bungees. (They didn’t bother me at first, but eventually, I despised them.) About a year into my workouts, I broke a bungee, and since the replacements were on back order for several months, I ended up buying a new trampoline, also from Amazon. This time I got the JumpSport 350 Pro, which is a bit fancier, and I love it so much. I realize neither of these trampolines is cheap, but I figured the price per use was pretty close to a dollar, which felt doable to me. Also, both trampolines have a weight limit (250 pounds and 300 pounds, respectively), but according to its website, the Bellicon trampoline goes up to 440 pounds if you get the ultra bungees. It’s a more expensive trampoline, but I’ve also heard incredible things about it.
Did you buy any other gear?
Yes. I have lightweight wrist weights from Equipt and bought a pair of ankle ones as well. I also have some inexpensive dumbbells, in three-pound and five-pound weights.
Will you link to your shoes again, please?
Of course: I am pretty loyal to Adidas Ultraboost DNA sneakers because they’re supportive but super lightweight, and they’re just simple, aesthetically speaking.
What about your go-to workout clothes?
I started my journey with a pair of Free People Movement High Rise 7/8 Length You’re a Peach Leggings, and they have stayed with me every step of the way. I started in a size L and now wear a M, but honestly, both sizes fit really well. My body has changed a lot over time, and the leggings still look excellent and are super stretchy, which is pretty amazing considering the fact that they’ve been worn and washed multiple times a week for two years.
More recently, I fell in love with Free People Movement’s High-Rise 7/8 Length Good Karma Leggings. I wear size XS/S in Washed Black and Solid Black, and when I tell you these leggings are shockingly comfy, I mean it. The waistband is also really supportive without digging into your sides. I also adore the brand’s matching Square Neck Good Karma Sports Bra, which I have in XS/S. It’s so soft and keeps everything in place, even during a 45-minute advanced class, which is literally nonstop jumping.
Other than that, I don’t really believe in special workout gear, so I mostly just wear whatever vintage T-shirt I slept in.
For the love of god, why don’t you wear your hair in a ponytail when you work out?
I think this is my most controversial habit, and I’m not really sure why it bugs so many folks? But it sure does! Honestly, it’s mostly because I’m lazy and can’t always find my hairbands. Someone recently gave me some small Silkslip Scrunchies, and if I can find one, I'll use it. I do try to stay away from most hair elastics, though, as I have found they damage my hair.
How do you keep your necklaces from tangling when you’re working out?
I don’t. I just have made peace with the fact that they will be a mess after.
How do you not pee yourself on the trampoline? You have two kids!
I get this question almost as much as I get the one about my hair, and honestly, it makes me sad that we (as Americans) do not have better postpartum healthcare, or pelvic-floor awareness in general, as a weak pelvic floor is not only related to pregnancy. I’ve asked an incredible expert to work on a story about the pelvic floor with me since this is something that impacts so many folks, so stay tuned.
Truthfully, I think I was just lucky. While I had complications with both pregnancies, this has not been my specific issue. I also did trampoline-based workouts before having kids, which I heard can help strengthen your pelvic floor, but again, I’m not a specialist. That said, there are lots of amazing physical therapists who specialize in pelvic health, so if you do have some issues with exercise-induced incontinence, I would start there.
What is the point of working out every day for a year?
To see if I could do it. A physical challenge like this felt impossible, which is what was exciting.
What was the biggest benefit of doing this?
In addition to all the health benefits—I’m stronger, in better cardiovascular shape, more flexible, calmer, sleep better, have less anxiety and depression—it has been really nice to have a goal to work toward, especially during a time that’s really uncertain. It has given me a small sense of consistency in a very volatile world.
Plus, my A1C test results have significantly improved. I took another test recently, and I’ve gone from prediabetic to a level that my functional medicine doctor is delighted about.
Isn’t it important to listen to your body and take rest days?
I think everyone should do what’s right for them. For me, moving my body for at least 30 minutes a day was not so intense that I needed rest days. On days when I feel tired or unmotivated, I would just do a gentle walk or split my workout into two or three rounds. Doing something for 10 or 15 minutes always felt possible.
Why aren’t you doing before and after pictures? How much weight did you lose? It seems like a lot.
It’s interesting—some folks are really focused on this aspect of this project, but I’ve tried not to make it the centerpiece of the journey. I think before and after pictures are triggering to lots of people who have difficult relationships with their bodies and ultimately not that helpful. But to answer you directly: almost 70 pounds over the course of two years.
How did you celebrate making it a full year?
I’m not great at celebrating personal wins, but my husband and friends made a big deal of it, which was really nice. I also bought myself a really nice new watch band—specifically the Hermès 41mm Attelage Double Tour Band—that I had been eyeing for a million years.
JUST TELL ME WHAT THE GIVEAWAY IS!!!
So in honor of how supportive everyone has been, to celebrate my 365/365, I am going to give away three prizes.
-1 Apple Watch
-1 JumpSport trampoline and a 1-year subscription to The Ness digital platform
-A new workout wardrobe, featuring my favorite pieces from Free People Movement. Leggings! Sports bras! Super-soft T-shirts! Socks! You name it!
Giveaway is open to all subscribers of Hi Everyone With Hillary Kerr. Must be at least 18 years of age and based in the United States. Please comment on this story and/or my most recent Instagram post if you would like to be considered. This giveaway is in no way sponsored, endorsed, or administered by, or associated with, Instagram, Meta, or Bulletin. Giveaway winners will be announced by Thursday, June 9, 2022, by 9 p.m. PST on @hillarykerr’s IGS.
As always, thank you for being here, and thank you for sticking around. If you have any questions or concerns, or want me to touch on any topics in particular, I’m all ears. Leave a comment on Hi Everyone’s Bulletin or DM me on Instagram—I’m @hillarykerr—my inbox is always open!