fitness · habits · motivation · new year's resolutions · self care

Hey Team! January 25: You’re doing great!

Before you get annoyed and come back at me with all the reasons you are most certainly NOT doing great, give the idea of ‘doing great’ a few minutes to settle around you.

Think about it like this…

Ok, perhaps you haven’t followed your plan perfectly.

Maybe you haven’t worked as hard as you meant to.

And, you might not be where you hoped to be right now.

But you have been putting in an effort to make the changes you want to make.

It may not be working yet but you are exploring what *could* work. You are figuring out what mental, physical, and environmental conditions you require to add your intended habit.

So, you’re doing great.

I’m not measuring your results here, I am admiring your PROCESS.

Adding new things to a busy life is complicated and it requires a process of trial and error as you figure out what works.

Committing to that process is impressive.

It doesn’t matter that you haven’t figured it all out yet, you are on your way.

So, starting from the idea that you are doing great with your process so far…

What are you going to try next?

Here are your gold stars for your efforts, your exercise, your meditation, your consciously-chosen rest, your commitment to the process of figuring this out.

Image Description: A string of gold star-shaped lights extend into the distance. Some stars are in focus and some are not.​ the background is dark.
That’s a gold star for every different kind of effort you have put into your process. Go you! Image Description: A string of gold star-shaped lights extend into the distance. Some stars are in focus and some are not. the background is dark.
fitness · habits · motivation · new year's resolutions

Hey Team! January 24: Giving attention

Word power time again!

Do you have specific exercises, skills, body parts or muscles that you are ‘working on’?

Or have you been giving those things ‘some attention’ instead?

I know I keep bouncing back to the power of our word choices but it has been such a useful tool for me that I hope everyone else can benefit from it, too.

I’ve spent an awful lot of time ‘working on’ things.

Working on my leg strength.

Working on pushups.

Working on my abs.

You know the drill.

(I have also done this in non-fitness parts of my life – working on my schedule, working on organizing the basement and so on.)

Then, a few months ago, I was watching a Yoga with Adriene video and she said something about ‘giving our shoulders some attention.’

When I heard that I actually said ‘Oh!’ aloud.

Giving my body some attention feels way better than working on it.

After all, my body is not a project, it doesn’t need to be worked on.

It does, however, need my attention.

My body thrives when I am responsive to its needs.

Perhaps my body needs some movement, maybe specific movements to strengthen or bring ease to certain areas, and it is time to give some attention to that.

Maybe my body needs rest and I need to give some attention to helping it rest.

Or, I might realize that stress is showing up in my body and it’s time to give some attention to helping it relax.

I realize that this is a small reframing but it could make a huge difference to you (and to your body.)

It could be the thing that helps you do what you need to do to take good care of yourself and to keep building your wellness habits.

I think the change in phrasing will encourage a helpful change in thinking.

After all, would you rather be given some attention or would you rather be worked on?

Whether you are ‘working on’ or ‘giving some attention to’ your body today, here’s a gold star for your efforts.

Image description: a gold star decoration covered in cut-out dots and stars hangs on an orange wall. The photo is taken from slightly underneath the star.
This gold star is one of 5 that hang on the wall over my kitchen window. Turns out that, even on our small ladder, I am too short to take a directly-in-front photo of it. Image description: a gold star decoration covered in cut-out dots and stars hangs on an orange wall. The photo is taken from slightly underneath the star.
fitness · habits · motivation

Hey Team! January 23: Give it your some

You are not going to be able to bring the same level of dedication, energy, and effort every time you work on your new wellness habit.

Please don’t let that discourage you.

Some days you will be excited and energy-filled, other days you’ll be a bit tired and worn-out and you’ll barely have any energy to put into the project.*

If you are leaning toward the latter, it’s ok to give it your some.

I know, I know, there’s an awful lot of talk out there about how you have to ‘give it your all’ if you want to progress.

Maybe that approach works for some people (if it works for you, have at it!) but, for a lot of new exercisers, that phrase drags us into all-or-nothing thinking. We get stuck on the idea that if we can’t go all in, we shouldn’t bother at all.

But if you approach your wellness practice with the idea that giving it your *some* is an option, you’ll probably have more success with habit-building.

So, you don’t jump around in this workout. That’s not the end of the world.

Maybe your meditation session is only 2 minutes long. That’s not a crisis either.

Perhaps you only do 5 reps today. No problem!

Even by giving it your some, you still held on to your practice. You kept room for it in your mind and in your schedule.

There’s no downside there. Something is better than nothing!**

So, whether today is a go-all-in day or a give-it-your-some day, here’s your gold star for your efforts.

Image description - a gold star shaped decoration that is dotted with holes and has a gold string attached rests on a scratched green leather surface.
It turns out that it is hard to photograph a shiny star like this without getting a reflection of your phone in the surface. I almost managed to do it but not quite. Image description – a gold star shaped decoration that is dotted with holes and has a gold string attached rests on a scratched green leather surface.

*Rest is also an important option, of course. I trust that you will know which option to take on a given day.

**I count rest, especially consciously-chosen rest as doing something, by the way. Rest is an important part of the cycle, even if it feels weird to think of it that way.

fitness · habits · motivation

Go Team! January 22: Skip the icky bits

If there is a part in your workout that makes you dread/avoid the whole thing, consider this your permission to ditch that part.

Now, I understand the need to challenge ourselves and I get that sometimes the hardest parts of our workouts are composed of the things our bodies need the most.

BUT!

There are plenty of ways to exercise any muscle group and plenty of ways to challenge ourselves/meet our needs without forcing ourselves through things we hate.

After all, most of us aren’t training for anything in particular – especially when we’re just starting out- so we probably don’t have a reason to stick to specific movements.

And, since many of us are just trying to establish a habit of moving our bodies on a regular basis, it makes sense to ditch any exercises that get in the way of that.

We’ll have plenty of time to add those exercises in once our habits are firmly established. We just can’t let those dreaded moves become an obstacle right now.

(If you *are* more firmly established in your habits and you still have trouble with some icky bits, I bet you could find different exercises to work the same muscles without getting on your nerves.)

So, go ahead, skip the icky bits and forge ahead with the rest of it.

Here are your stars for today’s efforts:

 GIF description: 4 gold stars of varying sizes, two are just outlines and two are filled in.  The outline stars are moving backwards and forwards, the filled-in​ stars are rotating.
It’s hard to shake the idea that exercise has to be hard so we’re getting 4 gold stars for our work today. GIF description: 4 gold stars of varying sizes, two are just outlines and two are filled in. The outline stars are moving backwards and forwards, the filled-in stars are rotating.
fitness · habits · motivation · new year's resolutions

Go Team! January 21: Don’t Catch Up

If I fall behind on a program I am doing – exercise or otherwise – I have a bad habit of trying to ‘catch up.’

This either leads to me trying to jam multiple sessions into one day, or to me avoiding the activity entirely because there is too much to do to rejoin the group (even if it is a self-paced program.)

Lately, though, I have realized that I don’t always *have* to catch up and neither do you!

Sure, some graduated programs require us to do every step, but most of the time we can just jump right into the plan for a given day. We might be a little in over our heads for the first bit, but we’ll adjust.

(And, of course, if you feel stressed about jumping in, you can always skim the missing material without doing it all.)

And if we DO need to do every step in order for the program to make sense?

Then we harness our word power again.

If saying that we are trying to catch up gives us that stressed feeling of being ‘behind’ perhaps we can call it restarting or recalibrating.

For me, both of those words have a sense of bringing experience and new information to our plans. That experience/information can help us to proceed in a way that better serves us.

And they let us pick up where we left off without the feeling that we should be at another point in the process.

So, if you haven’t been able to follow the program that you set for yourself, don’t feel that you need to catch up.

Instead, you can choose to jump forward or recalibrate.

The key is that you keep going in a way that feels freeing.

Please don’t let what you haven’t done drag you down and keep you from continuing.

Here’s your gold star for today’s plans for jumping, recalibration or for staying the course.

You can do this!

Image description: a hand-drawn gold star with eyes and a smiling mouth stands on a thick black line that has some gold lines overlaid on it. The star’s upper right and left points are slightly raised.
Yes, I do draw stars all the time. This one is raising two of their little star points to celebrate your efforts. Image description: a hand-drawn gold star with eyes and a smiling mouth stands on a thick black line that has some gold lines overlaid on it. The star’s upper right and left points are slightly raised.
fitness · habits · motivation · new year's resolutions

Go Team! January 20: Say Yet (that’s not a typo)

I don’t know about you but I love the hopeful and promising word “yet.”

There is so much possibility packed into that single word. Something hasn’t happened “yet” but with the right tools/skills/information/time frame it could still happen.

Think about the difference between these two statements.

  1. I don’t exercise regularly.

2. I don’t exercise regularly yet.

To me, the first one feels like something being shut down. It’s final and complete.

That second one though? Well, ANYTHING could happen with that one.

The word ‘yet’ is one of my favourite ways to counter discouragement.

It’s not that I am never going to be able to do the thing I am trying to do, I just haven’t found the right method…yet. I can still make changes and adjustments, I can figure out what I need or where to get further support.

Yes, I know this is a very small detail overall but, words have power and we might as well have that power working for us instead of against us. That little word might be the difference between feeling defeated and giving our plans another try.

So, Team, how might you use the word ‘yet’?

How can ‘yet’ keep a door open for you?

Is there something that you haven’t done ‘yet’ that might still be possible with the right support?

Do you have your gold star(s) for today yet?

Here you go!

Image description: 8 hand-drawn gold stars of various sizes with a background of black lines drawn on white paper.​
Part of another drawing of mine. As you can tell, I like drawing stars and not-even-remotely-straight lines. Image description: 8 hand-drawn gold stars of various sizes with a background of black lines drawn on white paper.
fitness · fun · habits · new year's resolutions

Go Team! January 19: Have a Bit More Fun

We’ve already talked about how important it is to remember what you like about exercising but we haven’t gotten into how motivating it can be to make fun your movement goal for the day.

Not every workout or meditation session is going to be a party, of course. Sometimes we have to do things that don’t thrill us in order to reach the results we are looking for.

However, staying open to introducing fun whenever possible can help you to keep coming back to your workouts – and that’s what we’re aiming for, right?

So, how can you seek some fun movement today?

Maybe you could switch up your workout and do jump rope, hula-hooping, or spend time balancing on the bosu ball…assuming you find those things fun, of course!

You could choose to dig out some goofy dance or shiny spandex 80s aerobics videos on YouTube.

Perhaps your kid or one of your niblings might be up for some races.

An at-home obstacle course could definitely at some fun to your day.

If meditation is your goal, perhaps choosing a new space, a fuzzier blanket, or a different guided meditation* might increase the fun factor.

Obviously, the choice is yours and it all depends on what *you* enjoy in a workout. The key here is that by adding your own kind of fun, you will look forward to your workout.

You don’t have to make fun your goal every day (although it’s not a bad idea!) but if you make sure to sprinkle fun into your workouts whenever you need it, it will make it easier to keep exercise in your schedule.

Here are your gold star(s) for your efforts. (I picked a fun drawing of mine to go along with today’s theme. )

 Image description: An index card drawing of ​three tiny people holding gold stars almost as large as they are. They are standing on a green field with stereo speakers at either end and there are music notes in the air above them. The index card is resting on a shiny gold surface.
Yes, these people are dancing with the stars. Yes, I do think I’m funny…at least to myself. 😉 Image description: An index card drawing of three tiny people holding gold stars almost as large as they are. They are standing on a green field with stereo speakers at either end and there are music notes in the air above them. The index card is resting on a shiny gold surface.

* If you really want to mix things up, go to YouTube and search ‘cursing meditation.’ Those meditations aren’t for those who object to strong language but if you are ok with it, you’ll probably enjoy the (surprisingly useful) irreverence.

advice · fitness · habits · motivation · new year's resolutions

Go Team! January 18: Respect Your Resistance

How do you respond when your brain resists the idea of moving or meditating or doing any of the other things that are challenging in the short term but beneficial in the long term?

Do you try to stubborn your way through the resistance?

(I have had moderate success with this some of the time.)

Do you give into the resistance and just avoid your wellness plans?

(I’ve done this regularly in the past. It did not make me feel any better and I did not become any fitter nor did it lower my stress levels.)

Or, do you respect your resistance and try to figure out why it is coming up right now?

(This has been my most useful approach for dealing with resistance.)

Once you get curious about the nature of your resistance, you can often address some of the challenges that tend to bring it to the forefront.

Sure, sometimes resistance is just inertia – a kind of energy-based reluctance to change from your current state to new one and that’s when stubbornly pushing ahead will probably help.

Otherwise, though, resistance could have useful information for you.

Asking yourself questions about the specific nature of your resistance will bring any frustrations about your wellness plans to your conscious mind. Once you are consciously aware of the issues, you can decide how to address them.

(Even though we are trying to find out the ‘why’ of our resistance, I haven’t actually found it all that useful to ask myself why I am resisting my own plan.

Instead, I ask myself ‘What would I need to get started?’

Either question works, of course, and so would many others. Choose one that suits *you* best.)

Perhaps you are resisting your exercise session because you find it too cold when you are getting started.

Maybe you don’t want to exercise because you hate the music in the video you follow.

Your program might be too challenging for you right now, or you may find it lonely to exercise alone, you may be trying to exercise or meditate at the ‘wrong’ time of day, or doing certain exercises may stir up a bad feeling for you.

Perhaps you’ll realize that the goal you initially set isn’t actually all that important to you. Or maybe you’ll discover that you have accidentally been following a program someone else said that you ‘should’ do.

(Personally, I always resist a should but I don’t always realize that I’m doing it until I get curious about my resistance.)

No matter what comes up for you during this process, you will probably have the information you need to go into problem-solving mode.

Once you are in problem-solving mode, you can give yourself and your resistance the respect you both deserve and find ways to make it easier to get moving.

A photo of the author’s left hand.    She  has two gold rings on her ring finger and there is a  gold star sticker on the back of her  middle finger between the second knuckle on her finger and the knuckle on the back of her hand.
Here’s a picture of my left hand with a gold star sticker on the back of my middle finger. Here’s the story that goes with it: I was looking around the main floor of my house to determine which gold star to photograph today when my dog interrupted me to ask for a treat. I reached into the cupboard to get her one and when I withdrew my hand, I noticed this sticker. I have no idea where it came from but obviously I had to include it in this post!

PS: If you’d like some help brainstorming any obstacles you uncover in this process, let me know in the comments and I’ll put my brain in your storm for a while.

fitness · habits · motivation

Go Team! January 17: Clear a Path

Sometimes I feel like there is an obstacle course between me and my next exercise.

(Of course, if that obstacle course actually existed then completing *that* could be my new exercise plan but let’s carry on.)

It’s not usually big, tangible things like work or other tasks.

Often, it’s things like having to dig out my sneakers, or finding the right video on YouTube, or the stuff that always seems to find its way into the space where I want to exercise.

Now that I’ve realized how these (relatively small) things get in my way, I keep an eye out for those obstacles and clear them out of my path in advance.

That might mean setting out my clothes long before my planned exercise session. Or it could mean setting up my exercise space in advance. Even something like charging my wireless headphones can make a big difference in getting my exercise session started.

Basically, I do everything I can to clear the path between me and being able to exercise.

How about you?

What can you do to make it easier to start your next exercise (or wellness!) session?

Think about the obstacles that usually crop up for you when you want to exercise, consider the items you’ll need for your session, and then you’ll be able to figure out how to create a clear path to follow straight to your movement goal for the day.

A gold star ornament hangs amid  several white snowflake ornaments.
A few snowflakes don’t detract from the power of a gold star. 🙂
fitness · habits · motivation · new year's resolutions · planning

Go Team! January 16: Pause Not Stop (a.k.a. Word Power)

I paused my workout plan for a few days this week.

I was sick on Monday and Tuesday so I couldn’t do my HIIT program or my yoga. I could manage to take the dog for very short walks and do a few neck stretches but that was it.

On Wednesday, I kept my cardio on pause but I could do some yoga.

On Thursday, I had lots of cardio at TKD and did yoga when I came home.

On Friday, I pressed ‘play’ went back to my regular routine.

As a storyteller, a writer, and a coach, I am all about the power of words.

That’s why I chose to say that I ‘paused’ my workout plan instead of saying that I ‘stopped’ it.

Stopping has a finality to it. You might start again or you might not.

Pausing feels like it includes an intention to start again.

When I’m coaching people and they choose to pause something they want to eventually continue doing, I ask them about their conditions for returning.

Will they start again after a specific time frame?

Does their return depending on finishing something else? (Another project, or letting an injury heal.)

If they aren’t sure about their conditions for returning, I ask them to pick a date or time when they will revisit their decision to pause. That frees them up from annoying themselves every day with ‘How about today? No?’ and it also helps them stay conscious of their plan to return.

If you have hit a snag in your workout plans, perhaps, instead of coming to a stop, you can make use of the power of a pause.

Obviously, if you can reshape your plans, that’s great. And it’s always a good idea to keep up the things that you *can* do, but go ahead and pause the plans that you can’t follow in the moment.

You don’t need to feel guilty about it. You haven’t failed, you haven’t messed up, and you aren’t quitting. You are being responsive to the reality of your life in this moment.

But by calling it a pause instead of a stop you are keeping the metaphorical door open for your return. You are making a conscious decision to temporarily alter your plans.

Fitness isn’t an all or nothing one-time project, it’s an ongoing, responsive plan.

And it is perfectly ok if some parts of that plan have to be paused from time to time.

(It’s also ok to stop your plan entirely if you find something that serves you better, but this post is about when you WANT to continue but you just can’t do it right now.)

Here’s your gold star for your efforts to increase your fitness by doing what you can and by responding to the reality of your life right now.

A gold star ornament hangs in the foreground, there are  decorated tree branches with lights and small visible pieces of other ornaments in the background.
This is a stock photo so this gold star wasn’t hanging on *my* tree, but I still wholeheartedly approve of its gold starry-ness.