fitness · motivation · WOTY

Collective Word-of-the-Year Update

Image description: star-shaped word cloud featuring the repetition of four words in block letters: GROWTH, WELCOME, PURPOSE, THRIFT.

A few of us chose Words-of-the-Year back in January and we are due for a check-in to see how the chosen WOTY are working for us.


I couldn’t even remember my word, when Tracy proposed this post. When she reminded me it was WELCOME, I had to go back and look at why. Oh right, because I knew how hard the year was going to be and I wanted to find something that expressed a willingness to receive what was given this year and, in that way, find flow and ease, dynamism and stillness. I rejected the words GRIT and RESILIENCE, as too much focused on survival (versus the potential to thrive). I’m glad of my choice. At this point, every time someone tells me I’m resilient, a part of me wants to punch them and then collapse to the ground screaming and crying to prove that I’m not and that I need their care. I am welcoming those feelings. I am welcoming grief. Sure, some moments I set my grief off to the side, to try to focus on work or a friend or the potential of a pleasurable moment. But I am never denying grief, or pushing it away, as if it doesn’t belong. This opportunity to be reminded of my word and welcome it anew is well-timed. Welcome springtime.


My WOTY is PURPOSE. I also forgot what it was and Tracy reminded me. I thought it was BLOSSOM, but turns out, that was last year’s word. I think there is something to the way my memory has worked with respect to the WOTY. Perhaps, 2022 was getting my mind ready to BLOSSOM, but I wasn’t in a place to actually BLOSSOM. After leaving my last job and having some time to find my next opportunity, I had the privilege of time to think about where I would like to work. I have landed in a place that will provide me with an opportunity to learn, grow, use my legal skills and work at helping others. This seems like an opportunity to BLOSSOM. It also seems like an opportunity to do my work with PURPOSE (2023 WOTY). With respect to exercise, sometimes I have to remind myself the PURPOSE of my exercise. I am good at keeping my schedule, but lately, I find myself tired and cranky, on occasion. I blame it on menopause, but it could be other factors. Either way, in the moments of tiredness and crankiness, I believe it would be wise of me to remind myself of the PURPOSE of why I exercise. It provides me with energy and a clear head and strength – life transitions be damned. I also am purposeful about appreciating the ability to experience these life transitions, as I am more often than not, cognizant of this privilege that not all are afforded. I’m glad to be reminded of my WOTY. I endeavor to use PURPOSE in both my work and working out, for the remainder of the year.


From my original WOTY post, “My word for 2023 is GROWTH. I want to expand in lots of different ways. I want to learn new things, make some new friends, discover some new music, travel to new places, read some new authors, and think about new problems. I want to challenge myself to think big and take risks. I’m not sure yet what the specific fitness applications of this new focus will be but I’m open to ideas.”

How’s that working out for me?

Well, on the one hand, not as well as I’d hoped. It feels a bit more like Groundhog Day, as I’m halfway through medical leave for the second knee replacement. Instead of doing new things, mostly I’m working hard to get back to old things. I keep thinking words like “grit” and “determination” might have served me better.

On the other hand, if I think about life on the other side of this surgery and recovery, “growth” is still a word that excites. I keep thinking about new things I can do and new places I can travel with two working knees. It’s also pushing me to think about goals bigger than mere recovery. I’m excited about a lot of strength training in my future.


New things I have EXPLORED so far this year:

  • Tap dance lessons (first time ever)
  • A new position in soccer (first time ever)
  • Handbells choir (first time in 35 years)
  • Some wild high-tech shorts that measure your shape in 3D (review post forthcoming)

Last year during a tough time @fieldpoppy wrote about following Adriene’s yoga series, Begin, in which she describes the “Beginner’s Mind.” It’s exactly the non-self-critical headspace that gives the rest of me permission to explore new things: “presence, simplicity, no decisions. […] Experience what’s there now, not what was once there, or what could be there in the future.”


My word-of-the-year this year is THRIFT. Not in the sense of “thrifting,” where you shop for bargains at thrift stores, but more in the sense of being thrifty or frugal overall. It dovetails with my no-buy challenge, which involves no purchasing clothes, jewelry, accessories, or camera equipment in 2023.

These things all made the list because they are things I tend to spend way beyond my needs on them. There is simply no need to browse the clothing every time I go to Costco, to buy earrings every time I travel, or to keep adding to my camera kit when I already have more equipment — and it’s good equipment — than I regularly use.

The no-buy challenge and my WOTY have combined to make me think more carefully about my “allowable” expenses. As has everyone, I’ve noticed the prices shooting up in the grocery store and at the gas station, making everyday necessities quite a bit more expensive than they used to be. Taking a more thrifty approach means I will sometimes forgo things I would otherwise have purchased.

It’s also gotten me to try a discount airline for the first time. I’m flying out to Vancouver to see my step daughter and her partner and meet my new grand-baby. on Swoop the round trip ticket is a mere $163 CDN! If I can get away with just a small back pack (I’m gonna try!), I won’t have to fork over the additional $60 EACH WAY for a carry-on! If I wasn’t trying to economize this year I’d probably just do it. But now I feel as if it’s a challenge.

Related to my no-buy thrifty year, is a more aesthetic desire for minimalism. I’m not there but I wish I could be. If in the second half of this year I can combine no-buy with also shedding some stuff, so much the better.

I find having a WOTY can be a motivating touchstone for me when I’ve chosen well. This year I feel I’ve chosen very well. I had a brief moment today where I started browsing for dresses on a website, and pretty much the only thing that stopped me was my no-buy thing. Indeed, I almost said “screw it! I can buy a couple of dresses,” and then a friend who I ran it by said, “but think how you’ll feel after you’ve done so well so far.” That got me over the hump. The moment passed. I didn’t buy new dresses and instead I committed to going through my closet to remind myself what’s in there as far as summer wardrobe goes. I’m sure there is plenty.

I anticipate one exception, which is I need new running shoes pretty soon. I think that should be okay since it’s a well-considered purchase and my current shoes are reaching their training mileage limit.

All-in-all I’m happy with my word THRIFT and can already see a slight shift towards more intentional MINIMALISM in my future for next year.

fitness · mindfulness · motivation

Meaningful May! Are you in?

I may not have my own goals for this month quite figured out yet but I’m definitely going to be borrowing some ideas from this month’s Action for Happiness calendar.

Meaningful May!

Finding meaning in our tasks, actions, and plans is good for our brains and for our hearts.

A yellow rectangle featuring a quote that reads “Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.” - William James.
Image description: a quote from William James that reads ‘Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.’ The text is in pale yellow against a light orange background. On the right hand side is a cartoon drawing of a person marching while holding a sign with a heart drawn on it. The words ‘Action for Happiness’ are on the bottom on a small banner extending from the left side.

Here’s this month’s calendar:

The daily tips calendar for Meaningful May.
Image description: a calendar of daily tips for Meaningful May. Individual calendar blocks are either red, pink, light blue or dark blue and the edges of the calendar are decorated with cartoon drawings of someone drawing, two cups of tea or coffee, a tree, a sunrise, etc.

Here’s a video about Meaningful May from Vanessa King, Head of Psychology at Action for Happiness.

Obviously, you don’t have to take on another daily practice if you don’t want to.

However, it could be fun to pick a few things from the calendar to try this month.

advice · fitness · health · motivation

Is it bad being negatively motivated to exercise?

The other day I was listening to American businessperson Carla Harris being interviewed on Adam Grant’s podcast about her successful career in the finance industry. My ears perked up when Harris described herself as “negatively motivated”:

but i am negatively motivated. you should know that about me. so when you tell me i can't do something, I'm all over it like a bad smell.

Harris suggests in the podcast that she took the underestimation of her as a black women in the white-male dominated finance industry as a challenge to overcome.

There are other, slightly different definitions of negative motivation, such as this one from Google:

Google defines negative motivation as behaviour that is motivated by anticipation or fear that an undesirable outcome will result from not performing. Fear is a powerful motivator, especially when that fear relates to your survival or, in the case of employees, their income and growth.

Negative motivation here is less about seeing adversity as a challenge and more about acting out of fear given the negative consequences of not acting. This definition aligns with how I often find myself motivated to exercise: not out of pleasure or reward but out of what I know will happen if I don’t exercise–namely stiffness, reduced flexibility, low mood, and inability to keep up with my friends.

Is it bad or wrong to be motivated by adversity, worries, or fears?

One fitness and wellness blog site suggests that positive motivation and reinforcement is more effective. The author uses an analogy of a gazelle being hunted by a cheetah to describe how “negative reinforcement works great temporarily, but falls short on long-term lifestyle changes” (p.18). Once the cheetah stops chasing the gazelle, the gazelle is no longer motivated to run at top speed.

However, positive reinforcements have been found to be effective only when they continue to be applied. According to one meta-analysis study, positive reinforcements improved exercise behaviours to a greater degree than negative reinforements, but once the positive reinforcements were removed there were mixed results in sustaining exercise behaviours.

Even if they are equally effective, I believe it is probably more difficult in the long to live among negative motivation and reinforcements all the time. A few years ago Kim Solga wrote about the underestimation of women cyclists. Even if female athletes are motivated to blow up gender assumptions and limiting stereotypes in their sport, Solga rightly points out that being on the receiving end of the negativity—the mansplaining, showing off, and the excessive complimenting—is exhausting!

Cheetah lying down. Photo by ray rui on Unsplash

I think I’d prefer not to be negatively motivated. I don’t want only hardship or fears to be what spurs me on. (And, of course, sex and race prejudice in sport needs to go away entirely.) Yet, when I’ve tried to be positive, set happy goals, and reward myself with bubble baths, they don’t always work.

Maybe it’s okay to be negatively motivated so long as I cut myself some slack occasionally, especially when I start to exhaust myself with all the worries. Some days, even the cheetahs and the gazelles hang around in the desert sunshine, watching each other but taking a break from the chase.

ADHD · advice · fitness · motivation · self care

Christine takes advice from her past self

I have been feeling a little frustrated with my six week fitness plan.

The first two weeks of 10 minutes a day was great and I was enjoying the second two weeks even though it was harder to fit in 20 minutes per day.

And then the side of my knee started hurting.

And then I got a cold.

And then I had a migraine.

And then my back got cranky with me.

Basically, things went awry as things tend to do.

And my two weeks of 20 minutes is going to be three or three and a half weeks of 20 minutes with some days off here and there.

It was annoying.

I wasn’t being hard on myself. I knew taking the days off was the right thing to do and I didn’t think poorly of myself because of it.

But I was ANNOYED.


I wanted to stick with my plan. I wanted to be able to keep going. I wanted to stay on schedule.

I wanted it to be straightforward.

I had been doing so well adapting the exercises and being kind to myself and working really hard during each session.

And I was afraid I was going to get frustrated enough to lose momentum.

Then, this past weekend, Facebook offered up some advice from my 2016 self that helped me shake off both the annoyance and the frustration and tell myself a better story.

Here’s what past me wrote in a type of post I used to do before my Hey Team! advice:

Your challenge today is to take the easy way.

That sounds like bad advice, I know, but I find that I often take the hard way without thinking about it and I end up working way harder than I need to in order to reach the same place.

See the pics below? That’s the hill behind my kid’s school. I was all set to walk up that steeper, slippery slope when I realized that

A photo of a steep hill mostly covered in ice and snow but with a few muddy/grassy patches.
Image description: a photo of a steep snow/ice covered hill with a few muddy/grassy patches. There are bare trees at the top and a building can be seen in the distance. It’s a sunny day with a cloudy blue sky.

ten feet to my left there was a much more gradual slope that would be much easier to walk up.

A photo of a gentle hill covered in ice and snow with a few muddy patches.
Image description: a photo of a gradually sloping snow/ice covered hill one route is much steeper than the other. There are evergreen trees and a cloudy blue sky at the top. Some red and blue poles from playground equipment are at the top left.

I still got where I was going, but the trip was much more pleasant.

Sure, taking a challenging route is good sometimes, if the challenge is the point but sometimes, you just need to be at the top of the hill.

So, take a look at the point of what you are doing today. Are you looking for a challenge, looking to test yourself, or is the point to get to the top of the hill so you can move on?

If you just need to get up there, then you have my official permission as a life coach, as someone’s Mom and as a kindness ambassador to just stroll up the easy way.

Or, to put it in storytelling terms, is this the story of how you climbed a hill and persevered or is the story about what came next? Choose your path accordingly.

May your easy path be clear today. 💚

And then that’s when I realized that this is NOT the story of how I did these specific workouts in this specific time frame.

This is the story of how I can feel better and be more focused by getting more exercise.

It’s the story of how I can be stronger.

It’s the story of how I can build and maintain sustainable fitness habits.

ADHD · fitness · motivation · self care

Christine tricks herself into more mobility exercises

I’m sure that, by now, we all know what my brain is like.

It either wants me to do all of the exercise things or none of the exercise things. It either thinks that I can’t possibly do enough or that there’s really no point in doing just a little.

Even though I know better, my brain gives me pushback on these things every damn time.


Recently, I’ve had some successes.

Last week, I wrote about how I managed to reframe my muscle soreness into a positive sign.

This week, I wanted to tell you about how I have coaxed my brain into believing that mobility exercises “count.”

A dog rests her head on a flannel pillowcase. She looks pensive.
This photo has nothing to do with my post. Unless you choose to believe that Khalee is trying to convince me that all movement counts. Or maybe she’s suggesting that I should take a nap? Photo credit: Steve Drodge Image description: A photo of my light haired dog, Khalee, resting with her head on my pillow. The photo is mostly of her face and she looks kind of pensive. My pillowcase is light blue flannel and is covered with a variety of monsters and the word ‘scary’ is printed here and there across the fabric.

Obviously, intellectually, I know that mobility exercises count. Everything counts when it comes to movement (and to building new habits!)

But I’ve always had a lot of trouble making myself do them because there’s no immediate payoff – they don’t FEEL like they count. They’re annoying and they are boring and it takes a lot of work to make myself stop what I am doing and start those exercises.

Now, despite all that, I’ve actually done pretty well for the last couple of months with doing one hip mobility drill before bed. And most days in March I’ve managed to do one shoulder mobility drill in the morning. A good start but it has often taken way more energy than I’d like to make myself do the drills.

And while my hips and shoulders have shown a little improvement, I knew that I needed to do more if I wanted a bigger improvement.

So I needed to figure out how to make it easy to get started, how to do enough to give me more results without wearing myself out. And I needed to find a way to make sure that I could tel that my exercises counted.

So, I have been doing the good habit-building technique of adding them to something I’m already doing. i.e. I’m doing my mobility exercises before or after my Fitness + exercise sessions each day.

So that’s one part of the trick – I am already in exercise mode so it feels pretty easy to add in my hip circles or foot stretches or whatever.

The second part involves making sure those exercises feel like they count…or at least, making sure they are counted.

I hate counting reps (it makes everything feel like it takes waaaaaay longer) so I usually set a timer for anything I need to do over and over. Using a timer didn’t help me convince my brain that the exercises counted though, because I was still only seeing a few minutes here and there.

But tracking with the fitness app on my watch has let me overcome that issue. Now I choose a video of the kind of exercises I want to do, I tell my watch that I’m doing a workout in the ‘other’ category, and it starts recording my minutes.

This makes all the difference in the world for my brain because the video length lets me know that I won’t actually be stuck doing these exercises forever (even if it feels that way) and using my watch to track it as an ‘other’ workout means that I can see how the short sessions are adding up to something bigger.

At the end of the day or the end of the week, I can see how much time I spent doing ‘other’ workouts and it feels tangible and useful instead of piecemeal and pointless.

By using my watch and a video, I can spend less time thinking about when and how to do these exercises and more time actually doing them. This process is way less frustrating because even though I have described this as tricking myself, I am actually working WITH my brain instead against it and that means I require far less energy to get each exercise session started.

Do you have any tricks you use to get your exercise sessions started?

Do you also have trouble making yourself do mobility or rehab exercises?

Do you have a favourite YouTube channel or Instagram account for these kinds of exercises?

fitness · injury · motivation

Putting some fitness in the bank

So I’m riding longer and getting faster and it all feels great except it’s all going to come to a screaming halt on April 11th when I have my second knee replacement surgery. After that, it’s no more riding.

It’s weird the effect that has on me. My life is very busy and I have to make some hard decisions about my time. Usually I’m good at giving priority to exercise but this makes me feel like I should just throw up my hands and stop bothering. Why exercise now when I won’t be able to ride my bike again in a month’s time? Why keep it up when rehab begins all over again in a month?

I’ve got lots and lots of other things I could be doing.

And yet I know the more fit I am come surgery, the better the recovery will be. I know going into surgery, it’ll be better to be strong. It helped me last time having just ridden the Friends for Life Bike Rally Toronto to Montreal the week before knee replacement.

I’m trying to motivate myself by thinking about it as putting fitness in the bank before surgery. The first month after surgery is just a lot of physio, followed by ice and elevation, rest and then more physio. So I’ve doubled up personal training for the month before surgery. I’m going to try to ride more as well. I’m really hoping for some nice weather so I can even get an outdoor ride or two in. See Please let Sam have some good (even passable) bike riding weather before surgery!

I’ve also put out a call for friends to visit. It’s lonely just hanging at home doing physio all the time and the only time you get to leave the house is for more physio. I’m also going to max out my time in the hot tub etc while I can do that. We’ve even booked a spa day.

The other reason to keep working out is that it helps with all the pre-surgery stress and jitters. Really, this isn’t the month to stop moving!

close up photo of pink piggy bank
Photo by Mikhail Nilov on
fitness · motivation · running · training

Let the 10K training begin!

Image description: digital readout of a treadmill screen on the “track” mode and with a water bottle perched beside it, spin bikes and mirror in the background.

It’s been ages since I have had an actual training goal in my running. And I feel the lack of focus a lot. So I’m excited to say that with my regular Sunday RunFam, I’ve signed up for the last-ever Run for Retina 10K on April 16th. That means I have eight training weeks to go, including the week we are still in. It’s sad to see it go, but I’m excited that it’s going in the spring this year rather than the fall as it did in 2022.

Signing up with a few others has been enough to get me motivated enough to train for it. At the same time, I have old memories coming up from years gone by, when Anita and I were doing things like running over 20K on a Sunday morning then going out for breakfast, followed by pie for dessert. I can hardly fathom the determination and motivation that got me out the door for that sort of thing, regardless of the weather, only a few years ago. It feels very unlikely to happen again.

Settling on the 10K this time gives me something to reach for but still feels do-able, especially with it still eight weeks away (okay, very soon to be seven weeks away). It feels exciting to have a training goal again, and it has had the motivating effect that I was hoping for. Whereas for the past few months a week where I’ve run even once between my Sunday get togethers with the RunFam is a real accomplishment, this week I actually hit the gym three different days for a short run. Granted, they have been really short, like 20-30 minutes. But still, it’s something. And I’ve felt good afterwards, and I am now building up to be able to get seriously into a 10K training plan that is going to ask more of me on my weekday runs.

I also borrowed the audiobook of James Clear’s Atomic Habits this week, and that has mostly resonated. (we disagree on some things that he thinks of as good habits, such as weighing yourself daily — for me that is not a good habit). There are lots of tools for getting started on good habits. And in general I agree that a focus on process is more helpful than a focus on goals. Goals are so far away. I can think about that 10K, but unless I have a plan that is in itself motivating, I’m not going to do the work. This week I used the 2-minute rule to get me down to the fitness room in my building. I told myself that if I can get down there then I only have to spend a few minutes (okay, I confess that I have made my minimum 15 minutes, not 2 minutes). Each of the three times I stayed on the treadmill for at least 20 minutes.

Yesterday I followed that with 10 more minutes of resistance training. Again, 10 minutes isn’t a gamechanger, but having a habit where some resistance training follows a couple of my mid-week runs has no downside.

Between the YouTube trainer experiment a couple of weeks ago, and then the 10K training plan starting this week, I feel some hope that I can regain some of that old conditioning and endurance enough to enjoy running again.

Wish me luck!

fitness · hiking · motivation · traveling

Sometimes downhill all the way is okay

I am in Alvarenga, Portugal, a small town of just over 1000 people, about an hour and a half outside of Porto. It’s in the hilly countryside, filled with vineyards and orange and almond trees. I am with 5 other women, traveling on holidays.

Map if Arouca, Portugal
Arouca, Portugal

There’s a big, award-winning tourist attraction nearby in the town of Arouca, which was developed in 2020. After traversing the world’s largest pedestrian suspension bridge (516 metres), there’s a hikeout out on the Paiva Walkways. It’s about 8 kilometres, almost entirely downhill, on a series of wooden staircases and boardwalks that follow rocky faults on the left bank of a rushing river.

We are 6 relatively healthy middle-age women, wearing multiple merino layers and carrying full water bottles. We are traveling with 40 litre backpacks rather than suitcases. The day we went to Arouca, it was overcast but warm for an average February day in Portugal—perfect for a vigorous hike.

The suspension bridge and part of the wooden staircase and hikeout below
The suspension bridge and part of the wooden staircase and downhill hikeout below

We crossed the bridge just after 11:00am and started out on the downward hike, enjoying the green and rocky scenery. Used to day hikes of greater distance, many of us expected to refresh briefly at the end, then walk back up. As long as we arrived in time the final bridge tours that day, at 2:00 or 3:30pm, once back at the top we were free to recross the bridge at no extra charge. What a fun challenge!

Some of the staircase portion of the hike
Some of the staircase portion of the hike

We took our time on the way down, stopping to take photos and to watch rafters and kayakers navigate the white waters below. We nodded at the hikers who passed us going back up the walkway: that would soon be us! Then, suddenly, we were within a kilometre of the hike out exit, and noticed it was nearly 1:45pm.

Would we reverse course and start back up the hilly hike, returning to our start point? Would we shift gears from our leisurely pace and “hoof it” to make sure we would arrive on time to re-cross during the last bridge tour?

Some of the boardwalk portion of the hike​
Some of the boardwalk portion of the hike

We did not, because we knew that we have nothing to prove—to the trail or to each other. Instead of turning around to ascend, we continued downhill at our enjoyable pace, then had a celebratory beverage at the end. Rather than hiking back up, which we probably *could* have done, we took a cab back to our residence to celebrate our achievement—a beautiful day out walking in the Portuguese countryside.

Some days, you can hike downhill all the way and still have a great day.

ADHD · fitness · habits · motivation · self care

Reflections on freewriting in my fitness journal

On Sunday, I made my first entry in my fitness journal and I was surprised to find myself enjoying the process of reflection. 

Back in January, I was musing about what I wanted to include in my fitness journal but given the chaos of last month, I never did come to any conclusions.

But, seeing as I have decided that February is self-contained (and is the only real month at the moment), I felt free to just write whatever the hell came to mind (a.k.a. freewriting!) and to not worry about whether I was gathering useful information for my future self. 

I just set a timer (to free my ADHD brain from the worry that I would end up writing forever) and got started.

A photo of the decorated top section of a journal page
Image description: a photo of the top of the first page of my fitness journal. I coloured the top of my page pink and wrote the words ‘February Fitness 2023‘ in gold marker before outlining them in black. Under the words is a line of narrow washi tape (red with gold dots) and I drew a gold heart outlined in black on each end of the horizontal line of tape and one in between the words February and Fitness.

I wrote about how I was surprised that my evening hip exercises have revealed that my left hip is tighter than my right one, even though my right hip is the one that I have to be careful with. 

And I wrote about how I accidentally left my watch timer going on Friday so it seemed like I had done more yoga than I had, which was annoying but which prompted me to take off my watch and do several shorter sessions of yoga and stretching on Saturday so the exercise tracked would match the exercise I had actually done. 

That, in turn, prompted me to write about which of those sessions I had found most useful and which ones I would do again. 

That made me wonder about the yoga sessions in Apple Fitness + and whether I wanted to try those which reminded me that I chose a longer rowing session in the program the other day. That session was great but I did have to pause a few times – that felt like an important note for my future self. 

Writing everything down helped me to feel that all of my efforts were, indeed, part of the biggest picture – my own well-being – even if they weren’t all stepping stones towards a specific outcome.

A GIF of Snoopy looking happy while fireworks go off around him.
Yes, I will have a big celebration for anything. Snoopy knows what’s up! Image description – a GIF of Snoopy, the dog from Peanuts comics, smiling as fireworks go off behind him and the word ‘YAAAAY!’ appears above him.

And, intriguingly, I had no self-judgment crop up at all in the process – it just felt like a celebration of what I had done rather than a measurement of what I did against what I had planned.

Note: I am always aiming for that celebration feeling but the questions of ‘Was that enough? Why didn’t I do more? Why can’t I stick to a plan?’ still crop up for me sometimes even though I have lots of practice in self-kindness. 

Even though I didn’t have any specific questions in mind when I started, my first foray into reflective fitness journaling worked out marvellously. 

I have everything I need for future reference – a few notes about what I did last week and how I felt about it – and – bonus!- I feel gently inspired for the week ahead. 

Realistically, I only plan to write in my journal once a week, while continuing to give myself the freedom to follow my train of thought wherever it leads.

However, now that I have established a ‘container’ for that kind of thinking, I wouldn’t be surprised if I end up putting a few thoughts into it more often.

advice · fitness · goals · habits · motivation · self care

Go Team 2023! If all else fails, please, please, please be kind to yourself.

Well, Team, like the title implies, the single most important thing I want you to have gotten out of these posts is the idea that being kind to yourself is the only way forward.

When you are building a habit you are trying to teach yourself something new. Perhaps you’re learning something entirely new or you are practicing a new way of behaving in a familiar situation. Either way, you are exploring new personal territory and that has a lot of inherent challenges build right in.

The only way to meet those challenges is to be kind to yourself about the process.

Think back to teachers you have had in the past.

Which ones really helped you learn?

Was it the cruel ones with the sharp tongue and the impossible standards?

Or was it the kind ones who showed you how to proceed, supported you as you went along, helped you to correct mistakes, and encouraged you to keep going?

Sure, the cruel one may have spurred you into working hard out of spite but your learning and growth was your own doing in that case. You developed discipline and worked hard *despite* them, not because of them.

The kind teacher may not have been your favourite at the time – their standards were probably high too. They were probably the one who kept after you when you slacked off, the one who knew what you were capable of even when you didn’t.

Kindness isn’t necessarily being ‘nice.’ It’s not about making things unnecessarily easy. It’s not about having no standards or no expectations.

The kind teacher knew when to push you and when to give you a break. The kind teacher had realistic expectations based on who you were and how you moved through the world. The kind teacher tried to be fair.

And that’s the sort of thing I am talking about when I remind you to be kind to yourself.

Today, being kind to yourself might involve resting from physical or emotional exertion.

Tomorrow, being kind to yourself might involve pushing yourself a little harder in your workout just to see if you can.

Being kinder to yourself isn’t based on what you ‘should’ want or what you ‘should’ be able to do.

It’s about meeting yourself where you are today and making the choice that will serve you best now and in the long run.

Being kind to yourself is about being self-compassionate, about recognizing that your needs are important – even when they change from day to day- and about supporting yourself as you expand your comfort zone to encompass new things and improve your sense of well-being.

Being kind to yourself is a key element in making those types of lasting change.

After all, like those memes say – if being mean to ourselves worked, we all would be perfect by now.

So, Team, even if self-kindness is still a work-in-progress for you, please keep working at it.

You are worth that effort.

And speaking of effort, here is your final gold star for this January series.

Congratulations on your efforts this month, please be kind to yourself as we roll into February.

Have fun out there!


A drawing of a 4-pointed gold star (made of three similarly-sized points and a long point at the bottom) surrounded by smaller stars in the same shape made from thin gold lines.
A drawing of a 4-pointed gold star (made of three similarly-sized points and a long point at the bottom) surrounded by smaller stars in the same shape made from thin gold lines. The large star is essentially 8 gold triangles with black outlines arranged into a long-tailed star shape, the smaller ones are like asterisks with a longer line on the vertical axis. The background is blue and the entire image is framed with a darker blue line.