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!



A New Year of Exercise

A lot of exercise resolutions are being made this month. And, sadly, many will be broken next month. So here is my little bit of advice to keep you going on those resolutions.

First, make sure your resolution is what you want, not just because everyone around you is making their resolutions and you think you should as well.

Then, figure out what works for YOU.

I did a lot of aerobics in the ’90s as they were the “in” thing. Here’s what I learned–I hate aerobics. I would start an exercise program, then quit in a month. Then I felt bad, so I  would start again and then quit again,  and  keep going through that cycle. Not surprisingly, I neither got in shape nor lost weight.

When Billy Blanks started his Kickboxing revolution, I tried that too. I found I liked kickboxing, but more as the sport itself than speeding up the moves to make an aerobic  (there’s that word again) exercise as Billy did. I did get myself a freestanding punching bag with a book and kept up the kickboxing, with the emphasis  on form rather than speed. Hmmm, maybe I need to add that back into rotation….

The first time I actually enjoyed exercise was when I got my Springer pup and I had to walk her energy off several times a week. Then I decided walking took too long (I am basically an impatient person), so I began running. Ah, that fit!!

Once you decide what works for you, there are still more pieces to nail down. When you have the time to exercise is a big one. Be flexible.

I used to exercise in the afternoon, because I was not a morning person. But I have changed over the years, and I found it nice to get it done before heading off for my day. Then I started working at 6:30 in the morning and I shifted back to the afternoon sessions. I miss my morning workouts, but not enough to get up at 3:30!

I do try to plan out my week–I’m kinda OCD that way. I figure out what exercise I am going to do each day, and what day I plan to take off. But I let my week dictate what I can do and if I really don’t want to run a certain day, then I weight-lift instead and run on the weight day. If something major comes up, I switch my day off and workout on my planned day off.

Be open to new forms of exercise, you never know what might surprise you. My friend  recently took up kayaking. That is not terribly surprising, except that she can’t swim and has avoided water-based activities for a long time. But she loves it! Whatever it is your friends talk you into may not be your go-to exercise, but you could enjoy it and add in occasionally. If not, then you know not to try it again!

You might have noticed that I use the word flexible quite a bit. Nothing should be written in stone except your intention to exercise in some form and in some consistent fashion.

Just keep in mind that you shouldn’t dread your chosen exercise, and there are  certainly enough out there to try a new one if you find yourself skipping workouts.

I love running, yoga and riding my horses. I tolerate the weight-lifting because I know I need it to do my loves to the best of my ability. I know not everyone will love, or like, running. Or yoga. You might even hate them. So go find your love.


Quarterly Check In

So it’s the end of March and we all know my resolutions have been derailed. But how are you guys doing? Did you make a lot of New Year Resolutions? Are you sticking to them or have they already gone by the wayside?  I ran down some tips on keeping your momentum–or rebuilding it  🙂

Focus only improving performance, strength, speed and consistency this year. Take the emphasis off the aesthetic results, and put it in becoming the best athlete you can become.* Once you concentrate on how you feel instead of how you look, you may recognize improvements much quicker.  And that will help you keep going.

Do what you love! If you’re not a runner or a cyclist, don’t force yourself. If you feel unstoppable on the dance floor, dance! If you feel like a kid when you’re in the pool, swim more! The exercise that burns the most calories is the workout that you can see yourself doing daily.*  Many fitness experts will tell you that the key to getting fit is finding exercises that you like and find enjoyable. Thankfully, there are so many ways to exercise that you are bound to find ones that you like.** I believe I have mention this before, so I will let those quotes stand alone.

Resolutions, like goals, should be SMART (specific, measureable, attainable, realistic/relevant, time-bound). Secondly, and equally as important, is to make sure you actually care about the fitness resolutions you are setting. Don’t set them simply because someone else is setting it. Create goals that mean something to you.*  One helpful way to stick with it could be not overdoing or wearing yourself out. Pick manageable times and workout schedules that you can stick to without getting overwhelmed.** Scheduling your workouts is very important. If you miss more than a few, you will feel like you might as well quit. So finding a time to do them when you can actually do them is important. Start small and work up–one to two times a week in the beginning. Soon you will be looking forward to those times of working on yourself and you will want to do them more often.

“Healthy” can mean different things to different people, but generally, feeling good, looking good and taking care of yourself fits the bill.** Trying to focus on these things can make one’s life much happier.  There are ways to work around stress as well: visualization to deep breathing, to simply zoning out to calming tunes. Being prepared with an effective stress relief tool in your mental toolkit can be very useful when you need a breather.**  Once you integrate stress control and exercise into your life, you will be amazed at how much happier you will be. I know I was.



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!

My First (and perhaps only) Blogging Award!

My friend Susie has nominated me for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award. She is so sweet. Her blog is SusieShy45, and it always a joy to read: so please check it out. This is my second blogging host site, and I love WordPress: I have made so many friends and found so many blogs to read some days I can’t keep up.

I started a blog because I want to write. Good reason, right? What I have found a vivid community of bloggers that I never expected. They are supportive, funny and very necessary to me. I thank everyone who reads my blog, and hope that I will continue to interest, entertain or inspire you (whatever it takes to keep you reading 😉 )


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     “It’s important to know that at the end of the day it’s not the medals you remember. What you remember is the process — what you learn about yourself by challenging yourself, the experiences you share with other people, the honesty the training demands — those are things nobody can take away from you whether you finish twelfth or you’re an Olympic Champion.”

                                         -Silken Laumann, Canadian Olympian

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