Looking Ahead to 2022

The headlines are pretty grim:

“It takes 32 days for the average person to break New Year’s Resolutions” (New York Post Jan. 2020).

“80% of people report abandoning their resolutions by February” (CNN Dec. 2021)

“Two-Thirds of people quit new resolutions with the first month” (Psych New Daily Dec. 2021)

Not very encouraging for people hoping to jump start healthy habits and improved wellness at the beginning of the year. 

There is a plethora of articles, books, and resources all describing great resolutions and goals and how to achieve them. The challenge comes in figuring out which types of goals work for you, and sticking to the process until you do.  

Research shows that most people set goals that are too big and too far out into the future. We imagine ourselves next December as healthy, fit, and strong. But when it comes to actually doing to work, we don’t have reasonable benchmarks to get us there. 

I have a two-fold approach to new years resolutions. First, I pick a word of the year. This word is not a goal but an intention, a reminder of what to focus on for the year. It’s an underlying sense or energy to consider when planning and making decisions. My 2022 word is Vitality. Strange word of intention for the year, but hear me out. One of my favorite non-fiction books is Essentialism by Greg Mckeown;  he states that “the essentialist deliberately distinguishes the vital few from the trivial many.” For some reason, this concept of ‘vital few’ has really stuck with me.

In 2022, I want to be less hurried and busy, more intentional with my time and energy. To do so, I am going to focus on what contributes to my vitality, which is the state of being strong and active. Projects, lists, activities, and other demands that don’t contribute to my vitality will be considered for elimination. 

The second part of my new years resolutions are quarterly and monthly goals. In fact they aren’t even goals, but more like bullet points and projects I want to focus on. In January, I take my calendar and make a list of things I want to accomplish each month and quarter. I list books that I want to read, closets I want to clean out, events I want to plan. This process helps me stay on track when getting projects done, as well as plan ahead to manage my time. 

As an example, my January list includes decluttering the kitchen, intentionally planning our summer camping and kids activities, planning our 2022 financial goals with my husband, and reading Bene Brown’s new book, Atlas of the Heart. My list includes both family and household obligations as well as something I want to learn and pursue. 

Though it’s almost February, it’s not too late to think about resolutions and goals. I encourage you to dream big, but start small. Try a quarterly or monthly list of things you want to focus your energy on. The small things add up to big things by the end of the year, so get started in the right direction.

How do you set resolutions and goals?

2021 Reflections

Reflections

Dear Reader,

I’m in that tangled up place, reflecting on last year, thinking ahead about next year. Recalling races and adventures; guessing, planning, hoping for this year. It was the big things mixed with the little things that shaped 2021 for me. 

The Big Things

  • Running was my constant. Time to focus on one foot in front of the other. Time to consider the the ramifications of sending the kids to school, gathering with others, and all that this pandemic year brought us. Through it all, I kept running. By myself sometimes, but often with dear friends at my side. 
  • I didn’t start the race. I set up my gear, pinned on my race bib, and didn’t start the race. A first for me. Despite being trained to race the triathlon, the morning came and I just couldn’t do it. Thankfully, I did another triathlon a couple weeks later for my first in-person race in 2 years.
  • I turned 40!  Feeling much more confident than when I was at 30; more sure of myself, listening to my intuition, strengthening my body. 
  • Intermittent fasting worked until it didn’t. For 2 years, following a 16:8 eating pattern helped me make smart food and snacking choices. But for a variety of reasons, that pattern of eating no longer works for me and my body now. So I’m trying something new!
  • Yoga is now a foundation of my week. A new yoga studio opened in my neighborhood and I’m hooked. Starting my day with yoga is grounding and strengthening. I just wish I could go more!
  • Wellness Coach Training has kept me learning, growing, and just down right busy. I started a training program though WellCoaches this fall and I love all that I’m learning, but it’s a lot of work! (Let me know if you want to work with a wellness coach for free-I’m always looking for clients). 

The Little Things

  • Water: swimming with my kids, canoeing, kayaking, boating. 
  • Winter: skating, skiing, the stillness and quiet of snow
  • Road trips: exploring new places, quality hours together
  • Camping: giggling in the tent, campfires, washing dishes outside
  • Books: reading for myself; reading Harry Potter to my kids

Here’s to fond memories of 2021 and a happy, healthy 2022!

 

“Look more at who you are becoming that what you have done.”

  -Kendra Adachi-

 

Activity Trackers


Dear Friend,

I heard you got a fancy new watch! And now you’re into tracking steps. We all know that 10,000 steps per day is the recommended activity level, but why?

I recently read this article from the Washington Post about the history of 10,000 steps. In summary, Americans average 4,000 to 6,000 steps per day doing regular things- working, walking around home and the community, etc. Add 30 min of moderate exercise and it adds up to 10,000 steps. There’s not a lot of science behind the number 10,000; it’s just a target to get people on track for 30 minutes of daily exercise. 

Are activity trackers important in fitness and wellness? Well, it depends. If you are a competitive person, and/or motivated by numbers, a fitness tracker will likely keep you moving. On the other hand, if you aren’t competitive or a data-junkie, an activity tracker won’t make as much of an impact on your motivation for achieving steps. 

Recent studies have shown that inactivity and lots of sitting during the day is one of the worst things for your heart and overall health. Getting up and moving frequently during the day is essential to overall health and wellness.

Many days when I’m busy doing the mom thing, chasing kids, running errands, etc. I get discouraged because I didn’t make time for a workout. But on these days my step tracker can be a positive surprise at the end of the day, letting me know that yep, I was busy and I made it to my step goal.

But now is the time of ‘work from home and the kids are back in school’ days. I really excel in the sport of sitting. Looking at my step total at the end of the day is quite discouraging. It’s so hard to get and move during the day, especially when it’s winter outside! My step tracker is an external motivator to get me moving. 

If you are new to step tracking, how do you start? First, get a baseline of your own activity level. This can be tracking steps, noticing the amount of moderate exercise in a day, and possibly how much sleep you get each night. After tracking for a week or so, develop reasonable goals to increase any areas that are less than recommended amounts (10,000 steps, 150 minutes of aerobic exercise per week, 7-8 hours of sleep each night). If it suits you, create some friendly competition. Most of the common devices (FitBit, Garmin, Apple Watch) have a find friends feature, enabling you to see step counts of your buddies. Plus, this helps with accountability for those who are externally motivated!

Then, wear it! Consistently. And pay attention to any patterns. Is there one day a week where you step way over your goal? Figure out why. Same goes for days that are not as active. A step tracker can be a great tool to keep you going on your wellness journey. 

 

If you want to read more about Fitness Trackers, here is an an interesting article about why so many people quit using trackers after awhile.

And if you are Garmin user like I am, this Another Mother Runner Podcast  is where I learned how to really use my device!

Keep on stepping, my friends! I’m always up for a step challenge, anyone want to try and beat me?!

 

Wellness and Motherhood

Dear Mom Friend, 

Wellness and Motherhood, what a loaded topic. With the presence of social media, we get a perspective into the lives of many other moms. There are mommy blogs, facebook groups, and influencers.  How do all these moms get all the things done during the day? How am I supposed to fit exercise, cooking and cleaning into my day? How do I not compare myself to the moms on instagram, as well as the moms at the bus stop? And how can I think of wellness for myself when there are so many people depending on me?

I sincerely believe that wellness is vital to motherhood. By making space for wellness, we care for ourselves and therefore take better care of those around us. You’re asking yourself, how do I start? You’ve got 3 kids under 5 at home and a partner working long hours. Or, you manage daycare pickup and drop-off each day, just barely touching down when you land at home for the rush of dinner and bedtime. 

These are big questions without straightforward answers. One answer, however, is changing the way you think about and perceive wellness. 

Here are mindset shifts to help bring your mind and body closer to wellness:

01

Embrace your place and live in your season

We’ve all heard of the idea of ‘seasons’ of life. Well it’s true. Time scheduled around feedings evolves into preschool drop-off and then meeting the school bus. Acknowledge that, yes, you might be in a tough season right now, but it won’t last forever!! Embrace where you are and set realistic goals for your current season of life. 

When I had 3 kids under the age of 4, there is no way I would have attempted to train for a 10 mile running race, not a chance! But now that my kids are 8, 8, and 6, going for a long run on Saturday mornings is very doable. 

Check out the book “The Lazy Genius Way” to learn more about living in your season.

02

Notice what you already do for Wellness

Are you an avid reader? Do you listen to podcasts? Enjoy cooking? Intentionally connect with friends? If so, you are already doing wellness! Notice the little things you already do in a day and mentally call them Wellness. Then build on your success! You can do wellness because you already are. 

03

Let some things go

Making time for exercise and wellness might mean letting some things go.  I know this is so tough; as moms, we set such high standards for ourselves and our mothering responsibilities. I used to pride myself on feeding my kids homemade, healthy snacks. Easy enough when everyone was home and we could just grab something from the fridge. But now all 3 are in school and I just don’t have the time and mental space to create homemade snacks in addition to packing lunches! So we do something I told myself I’d never do: take an individually packaged snacks (I can’t believe that I’m admitting this to the world, but Pirates Booty is saving my life). The time saved by not making muffins and trail mix means more time for me doing what I enjoy. 

Since I’ve already confessed my prepackaged snack strategy, I might as well confess about screen time for my kids. Here’s the deal: I like to run in the mornings and my husband likes to sleep. I’m a much more pleasant person when I exercise in the mornings, everyone is better off. My husband is a much more pleasant person when he doesn’t have to wake up before 7am, everyone is better off. So what do we do with two 2-year-olds who think 6:15am is a great time to start the day? Utilize the babysitter known as Daniel Tiger. I would meet friends to run at 5:45am two mornings a week (social time plus workout = awesome!), and before leaving home, I’d turn the TV on to PBS. Seriously. I got my run in, my toddlers would waddle out of bed and watch TV for a half hour, and my husband would sleep. Thinking back, I can’t believe this worked, but it did! And I feel no guilt. We were all more pleasant people because of this strategy. Now, my kids know that on Saturday mornings they get to roll out of bed and watch Netflix because Mom is running and Dad is sleeping. Wellness wins!

04

Each minute counts- they all add up

 I challenge you to add 5 minutes a day of a “Wellness Activity.” I’m not saying go meditate each day for 5 minutes, just start to add little bits here and there. There are countless resources on YouTube for 5-10 minute workouts. You don’t even need to change your clothes, just find a 5 minute ab workout and go for it (hint: create a playlist on YouTube of short workout videos you like for quick access). 

Keep a book in your car so that when you’re in the pick-up line, you can read instead of scroll. Or sit in the parking lot of the grocery store and read for 5 minutes before you go inside!

 

Every Minute Counts

Just Ten Minutes

Dear Busy Person,

Ten Minutes.  That’s it. Don’t worry, I’m not asking that you meditate for 10 minutes; I mean go for it, if that’s your goal. But 10 minutes of exercise. Embrace your athleisure wardrobe and put the “athlete” part to work. 

I’ve been struggling lately to get a good second strength workout in during the week. Maybe I lack the energy and stamina at the end of the week, maybe I’m tired out from working. Who knows.

But I’m trying a new thing. I have my favorite short workouts saved on a YouTube playlist: a 10 minute abdominals, a 10 minute upper body, and a 10 minute lower body.  These workouts don’t have jumping or crazy cardio- I don’t break a sweat.

Necessary equipment, dumbbells and resistance band, is kept right on the floor in front of the TV so there is no “I can’t find what I need” excuse. And I write ‘workout’ on my to do list- things written here get done. So the minute dinner is in the oven, or the kids are actually playing nicely, I go to my YouTube playlist and work my muscles for 10 minutes.  Check that off the list!

A while ago, I wouldn’t have counted this 10 minutes as actual workout; I needed to have my workout clothes on, move intensely for 30 minutes, and break a sweat in order to call it a workout. But I’m learning and teaching myself that any little bit counts. My body thanks me for taking the time to strengthen my muscles, no matter how long that time is. 

Confession: I’m still learning how to accomplish the 10 minutes on my busy work days. Now that I’m shifting to more in-person time at my job, I can’t whip out my dumbbells while in yet another virtual meeting. On days that my schedule is lighter, yes, I can sneak in the 10 minutes at the beginning or end of my workday. But I haven’t mastered squeezing 10 minutes in when my schedule is booked solid. But I’m getting there!

Ten Minutes. I’m committing to ten minutes, not daily, but 2-3 times per week to get my strength training in. Anyone going to join me?