I’ve sat down three different times over the past 10 days to write an inspiring “go get ’em” piece” filled with how-to’s on sticking to your goals, starting that healthy diet, or picking up an exercise routine that works for you. While I was inspired by the standard January chatter online about promises for the coming year, my words on the screen just seemed empty and expected. So, rather than going that route, I’m going to share with you some key things I learned about myself in the last few months of 2015 and how I hope they can translate to – and inspire – your (read: our) success in 2016.
While I found myself in the midst of one of the more challenging quarters of nursing school that I will face, I was proudly still making time for my health. During these three months, I reinforced some things that I already knew about myself, but had never truly tested. Ultimately, I’ve zeroed in on three essential elements that have led to my success and sanity:
I thrive off of morning workouts: I’d much prefer to wake up at 5a.m. to fit my training in than to squeeze in a 6p.m. workout at the end of the day when my mind is filled with the stress that the day had become.
I need my 8 hours of sleep: I know that if I’m going to wake up at 5a.m. to train, I need to be in bed and falling asleep by 9p.m. Now, that doesn’t mean closing the books/turning the T.V. off, letting the dogs out to go potty and getting my lunch ready for tomorrow at 9. That means starting to wind down at 8 so that I am actually falling asleep by 9.
My key to healthy eating is preparation and indulgence: Sound contradictory? Keep reading. The only way I know that I’ll eat a healthy lunch tomorrow is if it is packed and ready to go tonight. I also know that allowing myself to indulge a little bit is that only way I’m not going to continuously gorge on every piece of junk food presented to me. Simply put, I plan my meals for the week on Sunday, I cook in bulk so that my leftovers last me a few days, and I grab a handful of chips, or a bit of chocolate here and there throughout the week. The weekends are left for eating out and satisfying my pancake and beer cravings.
New year, New You. Not.
I figured out that the reason I struggled writing up this post is because I really hate the idea that we have to reinvent ourselves with each new year. I’m all about improvement and setting goals, but let’s start being a little more forgiving, realistic, and loving of our current selves. Regardless of the changes we may want to make, we all have strengths in our foundation and should be focusing on using those strengths in order to successfully accomplish our goals. I accomplished a lot in 2015, but the bulk of my progress came from identifying and capitalizing on the traits I identified above. Change doesn’t come overnight, but you can set yourself up for success by making little changes today.
Maybe you want to run your first half marathon, but you’ve never run more than a mile in your life.
First of all, be excited! Positive self talk is the first key to success. When you’re comfortable sharing your goal with others, tell them “I’m going to run a half marathon in _____” instead of “I’m trying to train for a half marathon, but we’ll see.” Then, remember that this is your goal and should not be compared to anyone else. Who cares if you know people who run half marathons regularly. Do you know where they started when they started running? You sure don’t. So, don’t downplay your ambitions based on the assumptions you make about others.
Second of all, it’s yours to make happen – no one is going to do it for you. If it was worth setting as a goal and talking to your friends and family about, it’s worth seeing it through. You can talk as much you want about doing something, but you’re not going to get anywhere until you lace up those tennies and hit the pavement.
I get it. The thought of running 13 miles is pretty scary. But remember, you’re not running 13 miles today. You’re running one mile – or maybe half of one mile. The focused act of zeroing in on the baby steps and your personal foundation of strengths will take you the rest of the way. I promise!
Where are we going?
I’ve identified 2016 to be the year of learning from and building upon my strengths. My focus will be school, and in order to be successful in school, I know I need to continue eating well, sleeping soundly, and training for something. Instead of making a laundry list of everything I hope to accomplish this year in hopes that I check one or two off the list come December, I’m going to focus on two headlines that will build from my current strengths and uncover new knowledge. Here’s what I’m planning this year:
I know I like to run. So, I’m going to run one half marathon each month for as long as my academic schedule allows. Hopefully these will all be able to be organized races, however there may be months where my half marathon will be a lonely run on my own due to scheduling conflicts. With this goal, I’ll experiment with CrossFit endurance type training in an effort to build both strength and speed.
I know I like to (and am good at) eating paleo. So, I’m going to maintain a paleo diet throughout the week, and I’m not going to care about my diet on the weekends. In the meantime, I’ll plan to experiment with with varying approaches such as Zoning, Lean Gains and Intermittent Fasting.
What about you? How will your foundation hold you up to meet the goals you set for 2016?
-Live Every Day-