New Year’s Resolutions? More Like Life Resolutions.

Now that we’re a month into 2017, those resolutions we made a few short weeks ago might have already fallen to the wayside. Or, you could have been like me and not made any resolutions at all, in which case you might still be trying to figure out what you want to do in 2017 and how you’re going to accomplish it.

We hear so much talk about #newyearnewme that is almost seems like a requirement that we all resolve to be skinnier or stronger or whatever. I have a hard time with that, because 1. The me that I am right now seems pretty okay, and 2. Shouldn’t we focus more on being a better human being and making meaningful changes in our lives than just the superficial?

Similarly, I don’t think the beginning of the year has cornered the market on when we’re allowed to set goals. Who says you can’t make resolutions at the end of January, or in May or in August? No one, that’s who.

Given that, I’ve spent the last couple of weeks really evaluating some *life* things and have made pledges to myself and to others. Some of these pledges are fitness related, others are more broadly applicable in my life. All are aimed at growing into a better person and maybe bettering the word around me, too.

1. Get more sleep.
This is a fitness goal if I’ve ever seen one. Having a history of troubled sleep or simply not getting enough has meant that I haven’t allowed my body the appropriate recovery time. In the last month and a half, Clay and I have prioritized early bedtimes in favor of getting the most sleep possible. Consequently, we’ve been feeling a lot better physically and been more successful in the gym.

2. Read more books.
This seems like a gimme, but it’s ones that I’m really excited about! I used to be voracious reader as a kid, but since graduating college, the time I’ve dedicated to reading has dwindled. However, now that getting to bed early is a reality, so is making time to read a little before falling asleep. My goal is to finish at least 30 books this year – I’m already two in (one of those being Game of Thrones. Go big or go home amirite?)
3. Balance my workouts.
Weightlifting has been front and center for more than a year, but I want to make sure I’m balancing that with cardio as well – I feel better physically when I make time for a run or a Kaza class or two during the week. I want to stick to this, especially while Clay travels for work and my gym partner is gone.

4. Get more involved in my community.
This is a goal that has grown out of the atmosphere of the past few weeks – I feel that to best do my small part to fix what is so broken, I first need to get to know my neighbors and our community. To better understand what challenges we all face and what our priorities are.

5. Adjust my five year plan.
Following the last goal, this one is broader. My new five year plan includes going back to school and getting my law degree, so that I can really make bigger moves in advocacy and political action. But, in order to make that happen, I need to make some other adjustments and allowances. I’m grateful to have a partner who supports and encourages these dreams – and who understands that they may take time to achieve, but they are still possible.

More than new year’s resolutions, these goals aren’t time-stamped, and they certainly don’t have an expiration date. My next steps are just to keep on trucking and make a little bit of progress every day.

How do you set goals for yourself? Do you buy into New Year’s resolutions?

Finding your motivation – what drives you?

New Year, New You! How many times have we heard that? And how many times do we set out on a new year journey with the best of intentions, only to find that they fall to the wayside, some sooner than other. Because, not for nothing, but LIFE. Life can be overwhelming, exhausting, and throw you a few curve balls when you least expect them.

This post is for everyone. For those who need a little boost as we jump into 2016. Those who need a little ‘atta boy (or ‘atta girl). And those who are looking for motivation in all the right places. That would be right here, just so you know.

A year after the birth of my first son, (who will be 11 years old in February – Oh Em Gee) I found my local tribe and began a healthier lifestyle with a fitness course called Stroller Strides. Before that, I was basically a mess. I wish I were kidding but no, I’m not.

Anyway, it was there that I met many dear friends, including Brandi, Jen, and Megan. What kept ME going in those days was knowing that I had a standing date with them, every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

Megan, Me, Jen, and Brandi in the front. Matt and Sean in the back. I think this qualifies as business in the front, party in the back?

Haddonfield Adrenaline 5k – 2015- Megan, me, Jen, and Brandi in the front. Matt and Sean in the back. I think this qualifies as business in the front, party in the back?

These women are very strong motivators in my life. They saw me through the very early stages of my running career, meeting me at local parks and telling me that I wasn’t going to die when I swore up and down that I would. (Running brings out the drama in me.)

Jen, Brandi, and Megan have been with me through it all and they continue to be there for me, supporting and lifting me up through every trial and tribulation. Furthermore, they are very strong in knowing their WHY. When you surround yourself with motivated people, you can’t help but set goals and achieve dreams yourself!

Rather than me blather on and on (after all, you get me all the time) I figured I would ask them if they would share what keeps them motivated. Naturally, they were all about it.

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I believe staying motivated is a mindset. If your head is not fully in your decision to change, you will never change. As a personal trainer my career is to motivate people on a daily basis, but sometimes it’s hard to motivate myself to keep going.

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One trick I have is to take a quiet moment to myself (even if that means escaping into the bathroom or in my car just to get a couple of minutes alone), take a breath, and ask myself what I am trying to achieve in that moment and how I can do it.

I am also a list maker, so if I can find a quote that moves me, I will write it at the top of my list as a reminder, then start to list all the steps I need to work on completing my goal. It’s all about keeping my Negative Nelly voice quiet and not let her be loud enough for me to hear.  When I keep her quiet I know I can do anything I set my mind to.

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Did you ever hear of that quote that says “I don’t have the time, I make the time” in regards to working out? Maybe it’s because I went to Catholic school; maybe it’s because I’m a teacher but I have been told that I would do really well in the military.

My running schedule is a fine oiled machine that screams at me from most-high on the fridge, like a Jillian Michaels trainer. That’s just the way I like it. The calendar is my motivation. I use good old fashion pen and paper. I need to see the big picture, like a month, to see progress or slowing down. It holds me accountable. I see gaps, highs, and lows. I see variety. Everyday is something different, if I want it to be. I have control, I write it down, and cross it off with pride when I have finished.

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It all started like this. I came face to face with very common issues most young mothers have.

“How do I work out with young children/babies?”

“How do I muster the energy after the baby has been crying all night?”

“How do I make time for myself without feeling guilty?”

I only have so many hours to get what I want completed before 3 o’clock hits and then BAM! Homework, snack, dinner, karate, etc!

I was already in the frame of mind that I don’t need to pay an arm and a leg for a gym. I can run at home on the treadmill in the basement or with the jogger. YouTube videos like XHIT Daily work for strength training days.

My magic numbers started out as 2 days cardio, 2 days lifting. But after training for and completing Philly Half Marathon and then sliding right into the Runner’s World Holiday Run Streak (#rwrunstreak), the schedules are showing me that my body can go harder and farther than expected.

Just as I scheduled my workouts, the day also has baby time, rest time, and clean time. It just works for me. Some days, something gets skipped. With hyper-scheduling comes fluidity. But as the calendar shows me, there is always tomorrow to conquer.

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What keeps me motivated?  I think that I have found that as I get older, what keeps me motivated in most everything in life (exercise, parenting, studying, going to the grocery store, you name it) is pretty much the same things.

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Motivation boils down to whatever is going to make me feel happy or is going to make my inner light shine.  If the end result is a sense of overall awesomeness, then I can pretty much push myself to do it, whatever that particular “it” may be.  I link myself with positive and inspirational people.  Motivation is contagious.  I do activities that bring the most joy.  If in some way it doesn’t feel good at the end, then it might not have been worth doing.

I tap into the mantra of my yoga studio…what is the BEST that can happen???  Don’t go looking at the worst thing that can happen.  Bad stuff can always pop up along the way.  But, if I choose to venture down a road (or lace up my running shoes, or put my butt on my yoga mat or tackle a new project)…what is the BEST possible outcome?  A focus on the positive leaves me challenged and inspired instead of putting me in a negative frame of mind.

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If I’m not feeling motivated in the moment, I think of reasons why I shouldn’t do something. Are they truly valid reasons? Or are they simple EXCUSES or JUSTIFICATIONS for letting myself off the hook?

Valid reasons, I can live with.

Excuses, I cannot.

And through the course of it all, I allow time for breaks and silence and laziness and gratitude and reflection. Those moments and days are not “excuses” or a “lack of motivation.” They are instead rewards for kicking my own ass the rest of the time. Those little breaks are a way to honor my joy and reflection on the hard work that goes into everything I choose to do, and they are a way to recharge my motivation for the next task. Nothing fancy, but I have found that truly living a life I love (even in the hardest of moments) is motivation enough to see me through pretty much anything.

I would love to hear what thoughts or mantras keep YOU motivated as you trip along life’s journey. A positive and a forgiving heart seem to really go a long way when I am dealing with myself. I tend to want to go, go, go but sometimes I have to remind myself that I’m only able to do so much in the time that I’m given each day and that it’s okay because I’m still doing incredible things.

Many thanks to Megan, Jen, and Brandi!

 

A Little More of This, A Little Less of That

Going off of this awesome idea, I (Mer – waves from behind the Scoot a Doot curtain) asked the Chicks what they’d like to hear more and less of in 2014, either from themselves or others.

victorianame

More:

“I’ll do what I can, when I can, with what I’m given.” This is a reminder for work and life. I’m hard on myself when I can’t complete a task on deadline, make a mistake or can’t travel to see a loved one. I need to remember that I can’t do it all.

“I can and I will.” I’ve adopted Meri’s mantra. Fortunately, she likes to share! I repeat it several times a week. But could certainly use it far more. Having a bad day? Need a reminder or an affirmation? It fits the bill all around.

“Please,” “thank you” and “you’re welcome” People don’t say these words enough. Such small words mean so much to so many people.

Less:

“You should have…” Don’t focus on what went wrong, instead focus on what you can do to make a situation better.

“I can’t do it.” You CAN do it. If you believe it, and put on the work, you can do anything. If you tell yourself you can’t, you won’t.

Gangnam style (’nuff said)

meridithname

More:

“I volunteer…” (not as tribute, for what it’s worth) aka “How can I help?” I work with a lot of volunteer based organizations and I can say this with much certainty – we always need MORE help. When people readily volunteer, come to the table with ideas, and make things happen it’s always a welcomed and happy event!

“It’s all good!” Pete the Cat says this in my kiddo’s book and my variation on it is “No worries.” Positive attitudes make things so much more pleasant.

Less:

“I have to do laundry now.” Sadly, I don’t think I’ll be saying this less. But maybe I could get on more of a schedule so it doesn’t feel like I’m doing it all the time, every day.

“I can’t…” after someone has committed that they CAN, the last thing that I want to hear is that they can’t. It’s important to know ones limitations but good planning makes the phrase less said (on my part and on others).

brookename

More:

“What can I do to help?” In my house and in my volunteer commitments – and I’d like to be better about accepting help when it’s offered.

“Let’s play!” My kids are growing up, and with half of kindergarten completed by my oldest, I know we will continue to be busier and busier (and busier). Between school, homework, play dates and our scheduled activities like dance class, I want to take more time for unstructured free play with my littles. Every day.

“No, I can’t do that.” Like Meri, I volunteer for quite a bit. This year, I’d like to learn how to say no. That I don’t have to be in charge of everything, every time.

Less:

Yelling. I pray for more patience every day and hope I’m getting stronger. As a parent, I’m still learning how to stop and take a breath before I react- and I need to keep working on that.

jessicaname

More:

“Here, let me get the door for/do that for/help you.” Any of these combinations is a win. I try to do one nice thing for someone I don’t know per day, whether it’s as simple as holding a door open or buying someone less fortunate a coffee. When we reach out to people like that, we make a connection, however fleeting. That simple gesture might make someone’s day!

“I understand where you’re coming from.” Even if you don’t agree with it, understanding where someone’s coming from goes a long way. Unless that place is somewhere incredibly stupid and close-minded, of course.

“Thank you!” Two words. So simple. Easy to say and extremely valuable.

Less:

People glued to their phones. This includes myself. You miss so much when you’re staring at your screen. Put it down, look around, have a conversation!

Also, no more mention of twerking. Please.

camillename

More:

“You’re right.” Admitting when I’m wrong is one of my non-strengths.  While I’ve gotten marginally better at using the phrase “I’m sorry”, “you’re right” seems to elude my vernacular.

“I can’t.” I know what you’re thinking…shouldn’t this be I CAN?  That’s not a typo.  Sometimes saying no is just as important as saying yes.

“I’ll do it now.” I’m the best at procrastinating and I have a terrible memory. When I put things off, I usually forget about them.

Less:

“I hate.” I need to be a bit more careful in proclaiming my hatred of things, especially things that I don’t actually hate or even really care about.

“I’m starving.”  I’ve never actually been starving a day in my life.  There are people in this world who are without and it’s a huge disrespect to stand in my stocked kitchen and think that I am starving.

“Fatass.” This is my favorite way to slam myself.  Negative self-talk is poison.

“I know.” It’s no secret, I’m a know-it-all.  I don’t mean to be, I just listen to a lot of NPR and watch a lot of documentaries. When someone brings up a topic I have some knowledge in, I want to discuss!  And sometimes in an argumentative style.  While I think a respectful argument can be quite thrilling, sometimes it’s just as thrilling to listen.

rebeccaname

More:
I can/I did.” I may not be able to do everything. I may just NOT do things. But I will focus on what I can do, and what I have done. This is how progress is made.

“You inspire me.” Far to often, the people who inspire us have not idea that they are doing it. A while back, a friend of mine wrote a guest post about how I had inspired her. I was shocked! And touched. So, the people who are my inspirations? Get ready to hear all about it.

“You’re beautiful.” To myself. Because I need to hear it. From me.

Less:

“I can’t/I didn’t” These have been my mantras for far too long. I can’t stick to a diet plan. I didn’t prepare for this race I’m about to run. I can’t be the person I want to be. We have have things we can’t do, things we didn’t do, but these have been my constant state. No more.

“Let’s hang out soon.” This is something I find myself saying a lot, but not acting on nearly often enough. The internet makes it easier to connect with people, even if you don’t see them. But there is a lot to be said for a nice, old-fashioned, sit down conversation. I want more of those. And really, less phone/internet in general is a personal goal for me this year. A favorite author of mine tweeted something a while back. “What if, for my birthday, I gave myself a year off from the internet?” I was both horrified and in love with the idea. So, while NO internet isn’t a reality for me, LESS internet and MORE face to face interaction sounds fabulous. Want to come over?

“Let’s work on being healthier.” This is me, around my house, all the time. Lots of talk about changes to make us healthier as a family. But, it seems to me, the more we talk about it, the less we do about it. It’s time to stop talking about change and start implementing it. I don’t have to say ‘we’re going to have less junk in the house’ to have less junk in the house.

So now it’s your turn! What do you think we should say more of in 2014? Less of?

New (School) Year’s Resolutions

Tell me I’m not the only one who makes these? I doubt it.

September is almost upon us, folks. And I, for one, couldn’t be happier. While I love the beach and family vacations and cookouts, every year I am blissed out beyond belief when I see the first signs of Fall.

I love cool weather. I love hot coffee (especially if said coffee is pumpkin flavored). I love baking things. And I love pulling on a hoodie and going out for a walk and coming home NOT SWEATY.

AND IT’S ALMOST HERE!

In addition to loving ALL THINGS FALL, I also love the feeling the new school year brings. It helps me to refocus and get things organized. When you have a full time job, two kids with school and activities and a September full of birthdays, organization is your BF4EVA. Seriously. I’ve spent the last three weeks printing out schedules for the fridge, creating school year contracts for my kids and looking at what needs changing.

I spent the better part of this summer being pretty lax in terms of diet and exercise. There were many nights where we hit Dairy Queen after dinner. Heck, there were a few nights where we hit Dairy Queen FOR dinner. And our Dairy Queen doesn’t serve actual food, so I think you can guess what dinner consisted of. I rarely cooked (in part due to the ridiculously disgusting heat that was July), I barely exercised (completely due to the ridiculously disgusting heat that was July… oh and also to an extreme case of the lazy), and I’ve been a pretty unorganized mess since June.

So, with Labor Day weekend coming right up, I’ve got a plan in place and I’m ready. (I’m SO ready, you guys). It’s time to get back to health and fitness. I’ve got a half marathon in 220 days. Heck, I’ve got an obstacle 5k in 8 days! And I’ve got a lot of weight to lose.

So, tomorrow I’ll be headed back to Weight Watchers. I’ve been paying for the monthly pass since June, but curiously, that alone doesn’t help you lose weight. WHO KNEW?

And Tuesday, I’ll be strapping on my running shoes and getting back out there.  In the cool air. Looking at the pretty leaves. And enjoying the lack of ridiculously disgusting heat.

I’ll check back in a few weeks and let you know how it’s going. Wish me luck!

Disclaimer: This post was going to be filled with pictures of my schedule covered fridge and my basket of organic apples, but my phone died this morning. Sigh. 

Do you guys make Fall resolutions? Are you sad to see summer go? Or are you like Bec, running around her yard, yelling VIVA LA AUTUMN?