Gratuitous cat picture because – hey – why not.
It’s April 11. That means we’re 100 days into 2013, and we’ve got 256 more to go until 2014. Odds are, if you made a New Year’s Resolution, you have already fallen a bit off the bandwagon. I confess – I have. My big resolution for the year was to go to bed earlier, and although I was really great about it for two months or so, my bedtime slowly crept later and later until I was operating on 6 hours of sleep again. And I do not like operating on 6 hours of sleep.
At the end of this post, we’re going to check in with the HTP January Joiners to see how they are doing with their New Year’s Resolutions. But first, I thought we could tackle one aspect of one of my favorite topics: motivation.
You see, everyone always talks about motivations in terms of how to get it. But really, I think getting it is the easy part. The trouble with motivation is maintaining that burning desire to actually DO IT, day in and day out. Part of the issue is that it’s really hard to create new habits, but the bigger problem is that life often takes over, pushing our best of intentions to do better to the wayside. One week, we’re working out religiously, and the next, a huge project takes off at work, we get overwhelmed, and suddenly, we just… forget… that we were trying to run a 5K at all. Know what I mean?
The entire first chapter of the Healthy Tipping Point book is devoted to how to get motivated, how to stay motivated (very important!), and how to channel that motivation into actual action. Personally, I think the biggest trip-up for most of us is that we fail to really, really think through our plan. We just say things like, “I want to run a 10K!” or “I want to do a triathlon!” or “I want to get 8 hours of sleep every night!” and then we just kind of hope it will actually happen.
To achieve a specific goal, I am a firm believer in the power of writing. It’s not enough to just say your goal or think your plan out. You’ve got to commit it to paper.
My goal to go to bed early every night is a pretty simple goal (especially compared to, say, running a marathon or saving $5,000 over the course of the year). So here’s my plan:
I generally reward myself with manicures. It is very effective for me.
The second key to keeping your goal at the forefront of your mind is to place your plan in a visible spot. You can’t write it and then stash it in your desk drawer. You could tape it to the mirror or put it on the fridge. I write one sentence about my day every night, so I’m putting my plan in my diary. Can’t miss it there.
This technique – writing out a plan, listing obstacles, clearly defining terms of success, and creating rewards – has been really instrumental in helping me achieve goals in all areas of my life, but especially for fitness. Think of it like a mini business plan for kicking butt. I’m hoping that now that I’ve taken the time to write out a plan for early bedtimes, it will actually happen. One can dream (pun intended, of course)…
How you do keep your ‘eye on the prize’ and stay focused on your goals? Some other ideas:
Sign up for a race – don’t just say you’re going to do it, but actually plunk down your credit card.
Find a workout buddy and go to the gym or classes together.
Start a blog and tell the world about your intentions.
Consider downloading an app to help your stick to your goals (here’s a few great New Year’s Resolution-y apps).
Hire a professional, whether it’s a personal trainer, a life coach, or a financial advisor. One of my other goals for the year was to finally get my finances in order – getting a financial advisor has helped tremendously because she checks in with me and basically tells me what to do.
Alternatively, you could ask a friend to check in with you on a weekly basis and give her progress reports.
And now – a January Joiners update!
Maeve wants to lose 20 pounds, run injury-free through 2013, and work on her abs. How is she doing? She has been traveling a lot (throughout India!) but has stayed really active. She credits the Gympact app (which I love, too!). She says, “It basically charges you $5 per missed workout. I committed to 4 workouts a week so if I didn’t do it, it cost $20. That’s 1085 Indian rupees…more than this girl wants to shell out for being lazy. The app also has an integration with RunKeeper which allows you to count 30+ minutes of running or walking as a workout. It was a great motivator to walk places instead of take cabs, go for long wanders with my travel companion, and hike up everything we could. Now in my Runkeeper account I have some pretty cool stats from the "elevation gains" of climbing ancient Indian forts.”
Meagan wants to get truly healthy in 2013 in preparation of having a baby. Unfortunately, her beloved Grandma was in the hospital and in hospice care for much of the beginning of the year (she’s doing better). But Meagan says that it hasn’t stopped her! She says, “Throughout this whole experience, it’s actually been a good distraction to focus on eating healthy and working out. I am normally a girl who eats my feelings (which tend to taste like pizza and chocolate), but throwing myself into menu planning and an exercise routine has been a welcome change. There have been good days and bad days, and it’s been anything but perfect – but that’s life, right? Now that the dust has settled and I am looking back over the start of the year, I am pretty pleased with how things have gone overall.” She considers maintaining her weight through such a stressful period to be a huge victory and is very pleased with her efforts to consistently work out. Meagan added, “I opted not to take the bootcamp I had planned on joining in January, but I stumbled across an awesome fitness blogger called Blogilates who runs a YouTube channel full of pilates and HIIT workouts.”
Jessica’s goals for 2013 included: getting happier, healthier, and cleaning up her diet. She says she’s fulfilled part of her resolution already by QUITTING her soul-sucking jobs. Wahoo! She’s been struggling with healthy eating, as her new job as a teacher is a bit stressful and she tends to emotionally eat when she gets home from a long day. One thing she’s realized: that being healthy takes planning. “My first two weeks of work I was getting up before my alarm, making a smoothie or yogurt to bring to work, and having my healthy lunch,” she reports. “I was pretty burnt out by the 3rd week (thank God for spring break!) but am determined to get myself back on track.”
At 41 years old, Arlene has become painfully aware of how her lifestyle is impacting her future (her own mother passed away at age 59 after a battle with obesity, diabetes, and heart disease). She wants to be consistently healthy in 2013. Since re-starting Weight Watchers on January 1, Arlene has lost 28.2 pounds! “Tracking is key in WW, and I’ve been using the WW iPhone app to record everything I eat,” she says. “Often, I enter everything I’ll be eating in a day first thing in the morning. It makes it easier to stay on track when I have that blueprint.” Arlene says she wants to work on being more active as the year progresses.
Jennifer hoped to train for her first marathon in 2013. Her knees were acting up, so she’s temporarily ditched the idea to run a marathon and picked up other forms of cardio, including biking and swimming, as well as strength training. She’s also dabbling with vegetarianism! She says, “I am constantly reminded that healthy living is a choice that I have to make for myself, a fact that is made evident when faced with all the tempting food my parents bring around. It’s increasingly hard to say no to pie when there’s at least two or three in the fridge.”
In 2013, Sierra wants to fundraise for Team in Training and run the Rock ‘n Roll Half Marathon in Washington DC. She wants to really run and minimize walking breaks. And she also wants to lose a total of 36 pounds over the course of the year. So far, she’s down 7 pounds and has been working with a nutritionist to determine how to continue in lose weight in a healthy and sustainable way. Sierra was recently diagnosed with PCOS, and her diagnoses only strengthens her commitment to getting healthy. She finished her half marathon, shaving nearly 40 minutes off her personal record (AMAZING), and is signed up to do a triathlon in May.
Kerry’s goal for 2013 is to continue to love herself and her body, and to also run the Marine Corps marathon in October. How is she doing? She says, “Running has transitioned from being a habit to something I look forward to every day. 2013 has brought with it a number of unwelcome anxieties, and running has served as an outlet to relieve tension. I connect with myself during my runs, have honest talks with myself, and take joy in the strength of my body.” So far this year, she’s run a half marathon and two 5Ks. She’s searching for a post-college job and plans to relocate this month.
Jennifer’s goal for 2013 was to figure out how to lose the baby weight and be a healthy mom while living abroad in Thailand. She says, “After two months feeling glued to the couch with my newborn with no foreseeable way to work out or lose weight in sight, I stumbled into a Babywearing Club meeting, with my baby in his stroller. The irony was felt when I discovered that the meeting was four floors up, with no elevator. So, I ditched the stroller, learned how to wrap my little one, and never looked back! For the past three months I have been walking all over Bangkok with various infant wraps, burning calories while exploring and entertaining my baby.” She reports that she’s in a new pants size and wants to tone up in the upcoming months.
How are your New Year’s Resolutions coming along?