New Year

Yup, it’s that time again.

Will we keep them? Will they be forgotten by February?

I have never been a big resolutions person. At least, not in January. I don’t know if it is due to the beginning of the school year, but somehow I always equate Labor day with the revamping of my priorities annually.

We lived out in the country, so, especially when I was young, I didn’t see my friends over the summer. The beginning of the school year was a time for excitement: new clothes, new notebooks, organizing for the school year, catching up with my friends.
That always seemed like the fresh start of my year, not New Years Day, which, sadly, was never a big deal in my family.

But, admitting that I am an oddball, I know thousands of people across the globe have made multitudes of resolutions in the last 24 hours. Some are already forgotten, some they will strive for and some they will fail to attain.

Why is that?

Probably because a lot of people pick a goal that focuses  on the how, not the why. Magazines in every news stand  (or online 😛 ) are telling people right now how to de-clutter their lives, or lose weight with the perfect diet/exercise program. But many of them are not addressing the original problem–why your house is a mess or exercise doesn’t stick.

I can get a perfect place to put all my papers, cleaning supplies and whatnot; and my house will be organized and clean….until the original reason my house was disorganized rears its ugly head–I simply don’t take the time to put things in their perfect place. Unless I fix the why, I can do the how all I want and it’s not going to stick. I need to change my habits before I can reach any goals.

The why is also important in choosing the resolution in the first place. Do you want to lose weight just to be more attractive to others? Probably not a resolution you are going to keep. Do you want to lose weight to be stronger and healthier, and improve your own self-image? Now, that one might stick! Do you think you should reorganize your house because the magazine makes it look so pretty? It probably won’t last. Do you want to organize your house so you don’t have to waste so much time trying to find things? That has a better chance of working once you find a proper home for everything.

Now, how do we get there?

That’s the trickier part. Once you have decided your goal has a good basis in why you truly want it, seek as much advice as you can about your goal. Read, watch videos, talk to friends. The more information you have, the more likely you are to do it correctly and enjoy it–and want to keep doing it (whatever it is).

I love running. Running helps me lose weight. It makes me feel strong and balanced, and gives me time away from my everyday problems to work on just myself. I do not expect it to work for everyone, nor do I expect everyone to love running. But you do want to find something that does all that for you.

My mantra has always been: do what you like. If you don’t like it, you won’t do it. Thus why, as a child of the 80s and 90s, I still won’t do aerobics. I loathe them. Same with the newer fondness for HiIT workouts. Won’t touch them. I tried a lot of things before I decided what worked for me and I actually enjoyed doing.

Feel free to experiment with many ways to attain your goal. One never knows what will work (or not) until one tries. That goes for anything-exercise, weight loss, organization or even cooking.  Just make sure you do them in bite size steps that you can accomplish and build on.

Deciding to run a marathon and getting on the treadmill at the local gym the first day and trying to  run 5 miles is not a good way to start. It will hurt, might actually injure you, and be very discouraging! Starting with  running and walking intervals and having  a reasonable mileage goal for each month will most likely get you to the starting line of your marathon.

And this could be the year that we all keep our resolutions….even if my resolution to not have one!



Resolute Resolutions

I  recapped my year on my other blog, FicWriterwithablog  Wednesday. 2015 was a good year, and I can’t wait for 2016 to start rolling. So now I guess I need some resolutions for 2016.

My first resolution is to write ahead!I need to get myself breathing room between my planned post dates and the writing so I don’t miss the postswhen life interferes. Because lets face it, life interferes a LOT! I definitely need to do that for both my blogs.

For my writing blog, I have some specific hopes: I want to return to my longer fiction piece once a month. Unfortunately, when I tried that last year, I didn’t seem to manage it. I am going to try harder this year.  So check in on the first Wednesday of each month to see how I am doing. I also have a few ideas for a couple new features to be alternated through my Tuesday posts, and of course Cliche Sunday will continue!! I am looking forward to rejoining the group for Friday Fictioneers and Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers, since I haven’t been able to write my flash fiction pretty much for the holiday season. Ah, the unused ideas….

For my running blog, I also have some definitive ideas. These are focused more on my exercise rather than my blog posts. No more blaming Mother Nature, I am going to run on the treadmill this winter and keep in shape for the spring. I will, I am sure, still complain about Mother Nature.  My biggest goal: I want to do two obstacle races this year.  I loved the Urban Raid, and I want to try the Insane Inflatables this year as well. I would also like to do an early 5K in the spring to get me motivated 🙂 In all my free time (hah), I also need to work those two beasties out in the barn more. I need to ride and do more ground work. Riding after running and vice versa is hard on the legs–but, oh, what legs I will develop. And my secret shame: I can’t do a pull up. My goal in 2016 is to do pull ups. No goal on how many, just that I can do them.  One addition to my blog that I am going to add is a favorite yoga pose on my weekly rundown.  I think everyone can do one yoga pose….then another…and then you might be enjoying the benefits of yoga 🙂

Now that I wrote all this down, I need to get out there and follow through. I hope you all will keep me going this year!

New Year…..New Me?

Everyone has resolutions, right? I think it’s a requirement for a new year. To build a new improved you.

But, what if you don’t want a new you? I have worked hard over the last year to achieve my goals. I have goals for 2015.  They just build on the previous goals, I don’t have any actual resolutions.  I think perhaps that just makes me a lucky one. I know what I want to do and I just need to find the resolve to do it. Oh wait, that’s a resolution!

For those who are more in the  just getting started phase, I saw an interview* that had some good tips to get started and keep going. These are my takes on the steps:

#1: Make a Plan. Exercise, like everything else in our lives, doesn’t happen simply because we think about it. A week or more may go by after your make your resolution, and you have failed to actually follow through on that resolution. Deciding where you can fit exercise into your day is one of the most important points in following through on your plan.

I personally liked to exercise when I got home after work. But after my schedule changed, I couldn’t do that, plus pick up the house, plus make dinner, plus all the other myriad things we do. So I became a morning person. I didn’t like it, but now I am used to it (I am not sure I can say I like it, but I am getting very good at it). My dad would be proud: he complained most of my life about my lack of morning skills. I find it satisfying to get my exercise done early, it clears up the rest of the day. When I get home, drained, I feel good knowing that I won’t be skipping my exercise because I already did it.  You need to figure out what works best for you and put it in the calendar so you can’t avoid it.

Second part of the plan is gear. What do you need to accomplish the exercise? I always suggest trying something new that doesn’t need a lot of investment or the equipment can be rented easily. Why spend $150 on running shoes to find out you would really rather play tennis? If you don’t like the sport you won’t stick with it. This is meant to be fun, not torture. Even if it feels like it the first few times out.  My first running shoes cost $30, and my current only cost $65. Since you can run in just about any athletic clothes, it makes running a fairly inexpensive sport to try out.

Remember it’s not about the gear, it’s about the exercise. Getting dolled up in tennis shorts and shoes with an expensive racket and heading out to the club is great. Just don’t forget to play tennis long and hard while you are there.

#2: Track it. It’s hard to feel accomplished when you don’t know how you have improved. Conversely, you can feel accomplished if you don’t realize how little you are doing. I am sometimes surprised by how little I did when I look back at my week, although at the time I felt that I had a pretty good week going. I may have run five times, but if those runs were all “easy”, than I didn’t make any progress.

For anyone with a smart phone (which is pretty much everyone except my husband), there are a ton of free apps available. Nike, Endomondo,Fitness Buddy, Fitocracy, the possibilities are endless. And that is just the free ones. Then there are the bracelets that track everything from sleep to activity: Fitbit, iFit, Garmin Vivofit.

Of course, there is the good old pen and notebook method too.  When I started running, I counted how many telephone poles were in a half mile via the car (11 to 12, if you are curious). Then I just counted poles to track how far I had gone. While I admit my gps tracker is much easier,  my other method got the job done. I tracked my distance and times with an Excel sheet. More work, but just as effective.

Keeping it simple is sometimes the best way. Don’t get so bogged down in how cool your fitness tracker is and how many ways it shows what you do that it isn’t actually showing anything.  Again, not about the gear, just that you use it. Preparedness is great. But when you are prepared, get out there!

#3: Work up to It. Obviously one knows not to decide to run one day and run a marathon the next. But one also doesn’t decide to run and then run 5 miles the next day either. Unless you are in really good shape from whatever other exercising you may have been doing. Even then, different sports use different muscles and you might still regret it the following day.

When I got my first running injury, I thought “Whoohoo, I’m a real runner now!”. Fortunately, it didn’t take long to heal. And it wasn’t serious.  But overdoing can cause a multitude of problems–serious and otherwise. Not the least of which means that you will be discouraged and not able to go back out there any time soon.

#4: Keep it going. Cross training is an excellent way to increase your ability and prevent injuries. It is also is  fantastic way to avoid boredom. Doing the same exercise or sport five or six times a week is a great way to burn out. We are back to “make it fun” here. I rotate through yoga, kickboxing and sometimes even Wii to keep me from getting bored.  Try two or more rounds of tennis, boxing then bowling (switching hands in between rounds) if you don’t think Wii can be a good workout. Lunges and weights strengthen my legs and core to prevent injury when I am out running. When I don’t feel like getting out there to run or yoga doesn’t appeal, then I know it is time to do something else for a week or so.

Everyone has different goals: getting in shape, losing weight, running a marathon, having fun are all good reasons to tie on a pair of sneakers. The hard part is to continue putting on those sneakers. Find something you like, and it will be a lot easier.

* interview was on NBC Portland Me Channel 6 with owner of Back in Motion Physical Therapy, Gorham Me