Health

Preparing for Those Resolutions

I am the queen of setting goals.

The higher I can aim, the better.  I remember one year, when I blogged at Journey to Ithaca, my resolutions were: eat less poison, get completely off the grid, produce no more than one grocery bag or garbage per month, put together a 12-piece wardrobe, and have my Christmas shopping done by December 1.

I did eat less poison and put together a 12-piece wardrobe.  And with the other goals, I learned a lot about goal setting.

Another case in point?  My efforts to exercise consistently and lose weight.

I tried to start exercising my senior year of high school, when I was still thin.  After a year of therapy and medication, I had successfully quit my meds and was sitting in my last therapy session.  My therapist was not stellar (in fact, I had to go to therapy as an adult to unlearn a lot of things that I learned from the professionals I worked with during that time of my life!), but she did have one nugget of advice to give me.  When I asked her what I could do to help maintain my mental health, she was adamant that I start an exercise program.

I set out to do some research, and I learned that our local community center offered a free step class for high school students.  I eagerly attended and felt comfortable amongst the teens of various shapes, sizes, and ability levels in the class.  Our instructor was a cheerful 20-something named Jodi, with a bouncy pony tail.  We all really liked her.

I went to that class for about 6 months, until I graduated.  It was a few months until I got brave enough to attend my first class as an adult.

I started at the community center, since it was familiar.  But I noticed that the adult classes lacked community.  I also noticed that my heart rate often got too high during class, so I had to use less support under my step and smaller weights.  I became very self-conscious about this.

In the brochure for the community center, was an ad for a new women’s fitness center.  I went there and immediately loved the community!

What I did not love, were the large mirrors.  I was skinny and weak.  I could noticably do less than everyone else.  I paid for 28 classes, but stopped attending before I used them all.  When I thought about going back, the center had gone out of business.

When I first got married, I visited a local health club.  They offered me a great deal and a trainer put me on a program.  However, I looked so weak compared to the teenage athletes who were also working out, that I only went there twice.

I did a couch-to-5k plan from Prevention magazine. I followed it until I was running 5 miles…Until I ran past some redneck teenagers in our neighborhood, who followed me, mocking my slow running.

It was 10 years before I tried working out again.

I have told my hit and miss yoga story here, but the short version is that I did not stick with a work-out  until I found a tight-knit, small yoga studio with a teacher who was patient enough to work with anybody.  And only then, did I notice the benefits I was gaining from yoga, to the point where I experience physical pain and noticable mental differences if I miss more than 2 classes in a week.

Diet is the same pattern.  I tried diet after diet, giving up when I “slipped up” or “fell off the wagon.”  Weight Watchers, in the end, left me with no excuses.  It was only acceptable to speak of your journey in positive terms, and it became easy for me to see how much happier I am when I am eating well.

Recently, I regained 9 pounds.  But when I finally weighed myself, I also noted that I have kept 19 pounds off.  It’s not even a matter of the glass being half full, versus half empty.

So I am getting back on track.

So are you planning on making any New Year’s Resolutions?  If you are, here are some lessons I have learned from my experience in setting (and achieving!) goals:

 1.  When (not if) you “slip up,” first look at the reasons for your “lack of motivation.”

Why are you not motivated to stick with your changes?  Is there a good reason?  Before you judge or muscle your way through, look at your reasons for quitting.  I quit the step classes because I was self-conscious and needed a close-knit community without mirrors.  I quit the yoga classes at the gyms, because I did not feel like I belonged.  Once I found an exercise program that met my needs, motivation was no longer an issue.

2.  Look at your reasons “why.”

After you look at your reasons for slipping up, look at your reasons for making the changes.  Are you doing it just because someone told you to do it, or you think it is what you are supposed to do?  Is this what you really want?

3.  Try not to compare.

We are all different, and everyone struggles with something.  If you are struggling with making a positive change, then the thing you are trying to change is not easy for you.  So don’t compare yourself to the people who have it easy!  Close your eyes, and make your best the only thing that you need!

4.  Look at the big picture.

Slip-ups are a part of making changes.  Growth is not a straight line, but it is a general trend.  I regained 9 pounds, but I have still kept 19 off.  Focus on the 19, not the 9.  You are going to fall on and off the wagon.  That is life.

5.  Find supportive friends.

When you are frustrated, don’t talk to just anybody.  Some friends will help you focus on the positive, and others will discourage you further.  Learn to tell the difference.

What positive changes are you working on in the upcoming new year?  What strategies have you found to be helpful when making changes?

 

 

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16 thoughts on “Preparing for Those Resolutions”

  1. Hi, Bethany – I like the tips that you have listed here. They make much sense to me. l only ever had one New Year’s Resolution that stuck even more than I had planned — that was to start a blog. 🙂 This year, I want to focus on healthy eating. Actually, I’ve already started. I seem to be better at keeping me goals if I don’t start them on January 1!

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  2. For 2 years now I have been on a diet that has helped me loose weight and keep it off. I still want to loose 15 more pounds but it is a slow go and it may take me another 2 years. I try not to go off my eating regime for more than 1 meal and it has to be worth it! I totally understand about finding your community in exercise. I was in a group for 5 years but dropped out when several of my favorite people also left through moving, health issues or died.

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  3. Excellent tips, Bethany! I too have tried a lot of different exercise regimens, and given up on them. I discovered that it’s the repetitious nature of the classes that bore me so much that I lose my motivation. I suppose it would have helped if I had a friend attending with me. Fortunately, in January of this year, I discovered pickleball! And I’m hooked. It’s such a fun sport with people my age and as long as I don’t get competitive over it, I can see myself doing that activity for a long time. It’s a fun way to lose weight without being on a diet.

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    1. Hi Jean! You know, there is something to be said for the fun-factor. I have loved Zumba and dancercize classes. Because I am focusing on my (clumsy!) dancing, rather then sizing myself up. I think yoga is the same way for me. I am turning inward, rather than comparing. My yoga teacher said she wants to teach a fitness class, and I told her that I want her to do it, because I have a habit of quitting those, based on frustration. So it will be interesting! 😉

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  4. Bethany you are an inspiration to us all – the fact that you keep coming back and trying something new until you have a good fit is a great example to us on what we should all be doing. So many give up and then the weight just keeps piling on until it’s too hard to start something new. I’ve found that my weight is on the increase since I turned 50 – I can’t get away with being slack anymore and I’ve slowly added more movement and less food “treats” to try and keep on top of things – now I just need to lose a few of those kilos that have stuck on my midrift and I’ll be even happier.
    MLSTL + I’ve shared on my SM 🙂

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    1. Thank you, Leanne! The weight is something I constantly have to go back to. And sometimes I think I just need to give myself a break and “slack” for awhile! At Weight Watchers, they always tell us to go back to our “why.” It’s helpful, and helps me to think long-term, but the unfortunate truth is that emotional eating works!

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  5. I say every year that I want to lose weight. I say it so often that I’m not even sure I hear myself saying it. At the root of why I don’t though is another story – and one that I suspect is tied up with a fear that tends to speak louder than my why. My goal for 2019 is to not listen to fear and excuses, but just to do it. #MLSTL

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  6. Hi Bethany! Good for you in getting back on track. I always have goals for the year but then I break them down into baby steps which are manageable and help me to see my progress along the way. I read a quote once about ‘enjoying the journey along he way to your goal’. Not comparing with others is a great tip but one most of us find difficult to adhere to . Have a great week! x

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  7. I agree with you RE the slip-ups. The awesome thing is that any progress is still progress, even if you don’t end up where you thought you would when you started out. And the experience of getting to that point is all part of the learning curve which, in turn, helps you with the next goal!

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