House of Cards Fitness Plan

By: Mary Pat Baldauf

You read it right! I’ve had two great weeks in a row at the gym, and I have Frank Underwood to thank for it.

(If you’ve lived under a rock the past year, House of Cards is an American political drama television series that is available via Netflix. Set in Washington, D.C., House of Cards is the story of Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey), a Democrat from South Carolina’s 5th Congressional District and House Majority Whip who, after getting passed over for appointment as Secretary of State, decides to exact his revenge on those who betrayed him. And it is phenomenal.)

I was late coming to House of Cards, but finally jumped in a few weeks ago. One episode in the doctor’s waiting room, and I was hooked. I binge-watched nine episodes the following weekend and decided to use my obsession with the show to my advantage. That Sunday night, I wrote a challenge on my closet white board: Make Monday morning’s strength training to watch the next episode of House of Cards Monday night. And for the first time in several weeks, I made Monday morning’s training!

House of Cards Board

For the past two weeks now, I’ve used watching the next House of Cards episode as my incentive for completing a weekday fitness goal. The first week, it was simply to make it to the gym every morning. The next week, I upped the ante by also adding an additional challenge, such as eating breakfast at the kitchen table instead of back in bed or not turning on my iPhone until after my morning workout.

Not only has the incentive of watching helped motivate me, but watching an episode at night has also helped me settle down a little earlier, which is key to a 4:17 a.m. wake up call. After getting home, I do the usual things around the house, then start getting ready for bed around 7:30 p.m. I crawl in and watch House of Cards in bed on my laptop, and when it’s over, I’m ready to settle in for the night. If I don’t get on my iPhone or start playing on my laptop, I’m usually asleep by 9 p.m.

The trouble with this House of Cards fitness plan is that I only have six more episodes to watch before I finish Season Two. (And Season Three doesn’t start until February, 2015.) Hopefully by the time I finish Season Two, I’ll be back in the habit of full-on early morning fitness.

Since this has worked so well, I am hoping to find another series that catches my attention like House of Cards and use it in a similar manner. I’m thinking perhaps Downton Abbey or Scandal, but I’m still looking. Any suggestions?

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