covid19 · Happy New Year! · motivation · new year's resolutions

4 “Old Year” Resolutions for the New Year

New year’s resolution web articles normally help readers to set and achieve their big goals. This year, some authors—including Christine, Catherine, and Natalie at FIFI—have shifted to encouraging smaller “micro-resolutions” or to changing our approach altogether. The author of this article from The Atlantic claims that resolutions aren’t “vibe” for 2022, and instead encourages folks to reflect on “small good things” that reveal why our goals matter in the first place.

Working from home last year during the COVID-19 pandemic, I’ve started a few random habits that motivate me to help me care for my health. After reviewing this article on the “small good things,” I realized that these are behaviours I’d like to carry over from the previous year because they connect with things I value.

So, here are four of my “old year resolutions” for 2022:

#1 Sun Salutations – D&D Style

D20 on a yoga mat
A die with 20 sides on a yoga mat.

Because I work at my desk all day, I need to stop and stretch. But I find stretching boring. So, for my stretch breaks I’ve started doing sun salutation sequences while regulating my breath. But how many cycles do I do?

I also like to play games. So, when I get up for a stretch, I’ll roll a D20. Whatever my roll, that’s how many repetitions of the asanas I do. I get a needed break from sitting and the die roll connects with how I value games and keeping exercise fun.

#2 Empty and Refill Station

Over the years I’ve tried so many ways to drink more water–setting a timer, drinking a glass of water at every 3rd hour, toting water bottles around with me everywhere, using flavour crystals, etc. Nothing seemed convenient for me (my value) to work.

This past year, I discovered that I will have multiple glasses of water in a day if I drink them…right after my pee break. So, I keep a water glass in every bathroom now, because while I’ve already got the faucet on and am washing my hands, I might as well fill’er up. I also wash the cup now and then with the soap!

#3 The “Hungry Enough” Apple

Because I enjoy snacking, I normally don’t wait until I am hungry to eat. Snacking has been made easier during WFH. But I have a sensitive tummy, I will snack mindlessly until I start to feel sick.

Then, I remembered the “hungry enough” apple (or any fruit equivalent) to avoid over-snacking, a tactic I learned from a past colleague. Now I keep a piece of fruit on my home desk, and if I am “hungry enough” to snack I tell myself to eat it first.

I am NOT suggesting that others should police their food consumption in any kind of way–everyone’s relationship with food is their own and I fully respect that. However, I’ve found that I feel better when I eat fruit before other snacks, even though fruit is not my first snack choice.

#4 Permission to Feel Comfortable

I have about 6 pairs of dress pants in my closet that I used to wear regularly for work, but they have not seen the light of day since the COVID-19 pandemic started.

At first, I reproduced my time-consuming rituals and put on uncomfortable clothing items in order to “dress for work.” But after many months of WFH, I have started giving myself permission to be more comfortable. I still make myself presentable for a professional work environment, but at my desk I use a heating pad, aromatherapy, and stim toys that help me to manage my fidgeting.

I am fortunate enough to have the space and the freedom to adjust my clothing and working environment, but comfort while working was a value I never knew I had until recently.

Making Evolutions, Not Resolutions

These are small behaviours I stumbled on over time that have become helpful habits for my health. They are evolutions, not resolutions, that I hope to keep this year and as long as I can because they reflect what I value.

What “Old Year” resolutions do you hope to keep or maintain in the new year?

221 in 2021 · habits · Happy New Year! · new year's resolutions

A serial overcommitter tries undercommitting

I’m a serial overcommitter. I’ve always been bad at not having some sort of side project going – at least one. But last year, I really overstretched, and it showed. Having a baby/toddler at home, going back to work full-time, and doing an MBA on the side would have been difficult in normal times. Add a pandemic, and it became a recipe for constant exhaustion. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not trying to glorify “being busy” (quite the contrary)! I’m not burnt out either, not in the true sense of the word. I’ve sailed close to it a few times over the last year and a half though – too close for comfort.

As a result of my overcommitment, I didn’t exercise nearly as much as I wanted. In fairness, some other factors also conspired against me achieving my “221 in 2021” goal – the pools were closed until May due to Covid, I caught a few of my son’s daycare colds, etc. I made it to just over 160 and was honestly a bit disappointed with myself. But I’m trying to take a page out of Christine’s book and go easy on myself this year (see also: here. Christine is really killing it!).

A picture of a kite flying in the blue sky. This is the ease Bettina aspiring to this year.
Photo by Sigmund on Unsplash

My new year’s resolution this year is to try undercommitting. I’m nearly done with my MBA – I just need to finalise my thesis/field project, which is nearly finished, and take a few more online lectures. The only things I want to do more of this year are reading (which also fell by the wayside last year, mostly because I’d normally fall asleep after a couple of pages) and exercising. I’ve joined 222 in 2022 and we’ll see how I do this year. Here’s to hoping the pools stay open, but I also want to bike, run and hike a lot, which will be easier as the days get longer and my weekends free up from MBA coursework. A bit of yoga every once in a while would be nice too, but what did we say about overcommitting?

How about you – are any of you trying to commit less this year? And how are you planning to do that? Let me know! I’ll keep you posted how it’s going for me (I’ll confess I was very close to making a monthly check-in commitment on this here blog. But I won’t. Ha!).

fitness · mindfulness · new year's resolutions

Kim and Mina’s year of living… poetry

Ah, the “new year”. Time to brow-beat yourself into saying you will do a bunch of things that do not really appeal but that you have a vague sense are “good for you”, insofar as the media has said so. Count down the days until the “new routine” begins to fall apart because… well, because it’s not what you really want or need at this moment, right?

Moira Rose says: ABSOLUTELY NOT.

Resolutions, “new you”s, all that stuff: it’s absolute BS, friends. It’s clickbait; it’s a way to sell you stuff. (Under capitalist patriarchy, it’s almost ALWAYS about selling stuff, esp to women and others taught repeatedly from birth that they are not sufficient in themselves. RESIST THIS. It’s also good for the planet to resist.)

If you want to make a change for you, AMAZING. If you think things are actually moving along about as well as they can possibly move, for now – stay in motion, friends. Stay in motion.

But, if you’ve got a bit of an itch: why not try something completely different, just because, well, it can be a lot of fun to shake things up and see what shakes down as a result?

This was our accidental decision, way back in January 2021. Mina is a big fan of the Word of the Year (#WotY); Kim is a fan of taking down the Christmas tree on 1 January, vacuuming, and then pretending like nothing ever happened. But last January, we got to talking about ways to mark the passing of the seasons, of time, and about how to stimulate ourselves in ways we knew we wanted to be stimulated.

We’re both writers, but both of us do lots of other stuff besides, stuff which often gets in the way of pen-to-paper. So we decided we’d send each other poems – every two weeks, on a Sunday, for the whole year. The poems could be long or short, they could be planned and fussed over or banged out on deadline because OOPS-nearly-forgot. The only thing they needed to be was our own, a snapshot of a moment, maybe, or the capture of a memory. Anything we wanted to express, anything we wanted to share, on that particular Sunday.

To mark the end of our year of writing poems to one another, we’ve decided to share our favourites – one of our own, and one of the other’s – plus a few thoughts on what the challenge meant for each of us.

KIM

My overarching memory of this challenge will be of haikus. I love the form (5 syllables, 7 syllables, 5 syllables – that’s it); I admire its capacity to capture one image, one tiny slice of the lives we’re living, arrested in stillness like a photograph. The haiku is also a handy container to have on hand for all those Sundays that get away from you, when it’s getting late and you realize that there’s a message from Mina in your inbox but you’ve forgotten to write your poem AGAIN.

This nifty orange haiku reads “Haikus are easy. / But sometimes they don’t make sense. / Refrigerator.” Kim did not write this orange haiku; she only WISHES she had written this orange haiku.

At the same time, though, the gift of this poetry exchange is contained, for me, in the promise of the haiku: to stop (even if only briefly), just breathe, then look at the world for a minute, maybe smile at what you see. To look, twice: to see a thing more deeply than a passing glance can offer. Most of my own haikus were composed in my head on my bicycle; as I was swooping through curves or punching a climb, I’d note and observe and begin to put smells, sounds, and passing glances together. It made the rush or the climb or the slog or whatever so very much, briefly, richer.

Many of Mina’s poems share a similar love of the earth and its blessings, alongside fear for its imminent destruction. Writing from the position of ultra-runner, mountain biker, and committed meditator she’d often reflect on the gatherings of a day outdoors. Sometimes, though, she’d ground herself in the lesson of the haiku: simply stop, stand still, look around, and take careful note – as in this, my favourite of her non-haiku pieces:

The reckonings through observance that Mina and I both practiced in our poetry also allowed me to reflect a good deal on my own strength this year, something that’s increasingly precious to me as I move through some major life changes. This year I realized I am in perimenopause: all the signs are turning up, not least of which are body composition changes that I struggle, at times, to accept. I’m getting older, even though the woman in the mirror is still a girl to me.

This year was also a tough one for my relationship, and not long ago, despite our love for one another, my partner and I decided to part. This was doubly painful for me because I’m a 47-year-old heterosexual woman living in a patriarchy. I ask myself, at my lowest: how many more chances might I have?

It can be very hard simultaneously to feel one’s strength and to hold on to one’s vulnerability – but being both strong and vulnerable is what it means to be human, to accept our responsibilities and our limits, too. This poem of mine, also from March, reminds me of this important paradox.

One of Kim’s poems, also from March 2021.

MINA

I want to write ditto. Everything that Kim said. And … I was soliciting ideas for my annual challenge last January, when I realized that so many of my challenges were about self-denial and discipline (don’t shop from Amazon, don’t buy any clothes, don’t drink diet coke etc…). I wanted a challenge to flourish for 2021. There was already enough pandemic deprivation going around. We came up with this poetry challenge. I had no inkling of how attached I’d become to the practice. Even when I forgot and dashed something off in 10 minutes, I was filled with pleasure. There was no grade, just the act of sharing and reminding each other of our creative impulse. Lovely.

Kim mentioned that she wrote a lot of her poems on the bike. I wrote many of mine in the liminal space between sleep and waking, also on runs and a few times during meditations. The haiku form was particularly beguiling. I offer one of mine here from 14 November 2021, that feels particularly aligned with our mission at this blog:

a surge of vitality/a race toward grace/how much longer will I be?

I hate having to choose favourites of anything, so the idea of one definitive, throw-down, hands down poem of Kim’s that I loved from our year was impossible. And easy. Because there were many. So, I chose one of hers that speaks to our mission here, too and takes a different form:

Kim’s fridge magnet poem from 6 February 2021

We’re still writing poems to each other, it turns out! We both so miss the challenge that sometimes, in the darkness of early 2022, we shoot poetry texts at one another across the expanse between us (aka, most of New York State and part of Lake Ontario). Here’s a final haiku from us, a summing up of our year in moments, snaps, and syllables:

The gift of poem/graceful challenge to create/2021

How about you, readers? What mindfulness or beauty-based hopes, dreams, or challenges are you cooking up for this coming year? Let us know!

challenge · motivation · new year's resolutions · WOTY

It’s WOTY-Challenge Time!

In this last month of the year, two thoughts bubble up: What’s my word of the year (WOTY) and what’s my challenge? Many of my fellow bloggers here are thinking about their words. Nicole, for example, says she is looking for a word that expresses the opposite of existential dread. I look forward to what she comes up with. We will have more WOTY posts, to be sure.

Last year my word was enough. For the early part of the year, I reminded myself with some regularity what my word was. I needed the specific boost. Just now, when I sat down to write this, I realized I’d forgotten what my word was. Yet, when I looked back and found my word, it was like a carillon. Oh yes, now I remember my word and I didn’t need the reminder after a certain point in the year, because I had installed an enough-ness fuel gauge in my bodymind dashboard and was taking conscious note of the fuel level on a more regular basis. That realization, in and of itself, topped up the fuel in my enough-ness tank. My word did its job. Pause for mini-celebratory dance.  

In a recent Peloton class one of my favourite instructors, Christine D’Ercole, said that we should give ourselves user names that, when we say them out loud, have the same effect as an encouraging hand on our back. That’s the effect I’m looking for in my WOTY. A word that encourages me. A carrot word. Not a stick word. 

Colourful assortment of letter tiles
Surendran MP on Unsplash

This year’s word builds on enough. I’m not going to give it to you straight out. There’s some stage décor to put in place first. It turns out that enough is a pretty damn bold word. Enough gives me the courage to plunge into learning new modalities (including two separate yearlong trainings, one in Non-Violent Communication and one in Internal Family Systems). Enough inoculates me against being overwhelmed by the voices in my head and in society, who say that I’m past due on expanding into new disciplines. Enough grants me the audacity to incorporate these new techniques into my work now with the simultaneous confidence of a seasoned practitioner and the caution of a novitiate. I am integrating my existing skills base with the fresh skills I am learning and honing to offer more holistic coaching and workshops.

At first, my word for next year wanted to be something like mastery. But two reasons held me back from that choice. First, the word is outmoded and even ugly, in a world that is waking up to all the hidden and subtle ways we perpetuate inequities. Mastery comes with a heavy burden of colonialism and racism.

This first reason would have been more than enough to keep the word out of contention. But there’s more. The word feels static. As if we can master something and then that’s it. One and done. Thank you very much. You may now come to me with questions. I’ve moved on to answers. No. That’s not how I feel about the skills I already have facility with, nor how I feel about the new tools I’m adding. There’s dynamism in the process. Learning is cyclical, not linear, building and looping back on itself to collect new gleanings.

I wanted a word to express my desire to keep learning, integrating, experimenting and refining. In that spirit, my word itself is freshly coined, by me.

Skillflow.

That’s my word. Say it out loud. Feel it on your tongue. Listen to it come out of your mouth. Do you feel how open the word is? Versus, for example, the word skillful, which closes in on itself with that final letter L.

Skillflow: (noun) the continuous, regenerative cycle of learning and applying our skills; the flow of fresh skills mixing with honed skills in a reciprocal renewal of energy.

I am already enough AND I’m going to learn so much this year. I’ve got my word.

So … I wrote all those words above yesterday and I felt plugged in and buzzing with possibility. Excited for the year to come. Up to the task. Empowered. Then I woke up this morning with a possibility hangover. That’s when the part of me who is fearful of failure gets very loud. I was down in the dumps. Questioning everything from my right to even propose a WOTY to my very existence. Apparently, my word is threatening to some part of me that fears that a hand on my back will push me right over a cliff into a humiliating failure; that I’ll choke on my carrot word. Sigh. Thank you, fearful voice. Breathe. Notice that I am learning new skills around befriending that scared voice. Allow her words to flow through me, instead of getting stuck inside like a brick in an impenetrable wall of the-truth-of-who-I-am.      

My word for 2022 is skillflow.

How about that challenge I mentioned? Challenges are my version of resolutions (but not). A friend calls them my annual devotional tasks. They are ways of being I want to try on for size, with no commitment to extend after the year is over.

Last year my challenge was twofold—to continue not to shop for anything from Amazon.com except books and movies (an extension of my 2020 challenge) and to commit to a poetry exchange with my friend (and fellow blogger here), Kim. We agreed to send each other new poems we’d written every second Sunday. We have two poem cycles left and the whole process has been fresh and bracing, plus liberating and connecting. Excellent. Last year, I wanted a challenge that wasn’t all about self-discipline and denial, which has characterized quite a number of my challenges (like not shopping for clothes for a year). This year I want a challenge … well … I have no clue what to do this year.

I’d love to hear your WOTYs and any ideas for a challenge.

fitness · motivation · new year's resolutions · trackers

Is Feeling Happier Your Goal? These Calendars Might Help

If your wellness plan for this year is physical or practice-based, you have probably already outlined the steps and systems that will take you towards your goals. Those kind of plans tend to have tangible steps that you can measure in some way – minutes of meditation, cardio, or yoga or reps of one exercise or another.

But if your goals are more intangible, you will have to choose a different approach to measuring your progress.

For example, if you have decided that you want to feel happier this year, you might find it a challenge to create a plan and it might be difficult to measure your progress.

That’s where monthly calendars like the ones below from Greater Good Science Center and Action for Happiness can help.

These calendars and their supporting materials give you tangible actions to take that have been proven to increase people’s feelings of well-being and happiness. And they don’t throw them at you all at once (which can cause me A LOT of unhappiness), instead the tasks are ‘scheduled’ for specific days.

If you are a person (like me) who can get overwhelmed by a long list of future ideas, having them organized into a calendar like this can make the project of feeling happier feel a little more in reach.

Note: I’m sharing this a few days into the month but please remember that you don’t have to catch up!

So, if you are seeking happiness this year, you can follow their daily advice. Doing (or not doing) these daily tasks will help you measure your efforts and you can check in with yourself every so often to assess whether you feel generally happier overall.

Another note: Please don’t think that I am suggesting that you MUST do everything on both calendars. That’s a sure way to feel overwhelmed. Pick one or mix-and-match. Do what you can with the resources you have and then see if their advice helps you to reach your goal.

A multi-coloured calendar from the Greater Good Science Center listing different tasks that can help improve happiness levels.
Image Description: A multi-coloured calendar from the Greater Good Science Center listing different tasks that can help improve happiness levels.

Here’s a link to a PDF of the calendar above that includes clickable links to articles about the task of the day. The Greater Good Science Center produces a new calendar each month.

A multi-coloured image of a calendar of happiness-related tasks from the  Action for Happiness website.
Image description: a multi-coloured calendar full of daily tips/activities for increasing your happiness.

Here’s a link to the Action for Happiness website where you can download a copy of the ‘Friendly February’ calendar. A new calendar is available every month.

fitness · habits · motivation · new year's resolutions

Go Team! January 31 : How Do Things Look From Here?

It’s the last day of January and the last day of this Go Team series so it’s the perfect time to do a some ‘big picture’ reflection.*

The short version of this post would read: It’s ok to change anything about your plans, even your goal itself. Success may look different now than it did in January 1st.

The longer version? Well, that has more details:

If you’ve been reading this series (thank-you!), you probably started this month with plans and ideas for the habits you want to add into your life this year.

Perhaps you had a specific goal in mind, or a set of conditions you want to meet at points throughout the year. (Similar to a goal but maybe not the same.)

Now that you have had a month to explore those ideas and work on those things, do you still want them?

Perhaps this month has solidified your plans and you are dedicated to the path you chose.

Or, maybe you’ve realized that you still want the end result but the path/speed you chose isn’t going to get you there.

It could be that you’ve realized that that goal isn’t something you want after all, or, at least, it isn’t for you right now.

Now that you have a month of extra experience concerning that goal you could have any of a million different ideas/feelings about how much it suits you.

You are not stuck with the plans/goals you chose on January 1.

At any point you can change your plans, change your goals, change your approach.

Only you can know what success looks like for you. And since you are always changing and your life is always changing, your interpretation of what success means will change over time.

It’s all about how you want to feel, what you want to do, what you hope to train your body to do…at any given point in time.

You are the only one who can figure out what you want and if your plans and methods will get you there.

Only you can decide if you just need more time or if you need a different method or if you need a different goal.

Changing goals, changing methods, or changing direction are all valid things to do after a month of experimenting with fitness and wellness.

You haven’t failed. You didn’t do anything wrong. You are not lost.

If you feel like you have failed or that you have gotten lost, I invite you to Rudner your plans.

Ages ago, I heard Comedian Rita Rudner make this great joke about how she handles being lost and I have used the idea metaphorically ever since – sometimes literally.

I never panic when I get lost. I just change where it is I want to go.

Rita Rudner

To extend the metaphor a bit: Making changes at this point (or any point) is like when you are listening to GPS directions and you get off course.

The GPS voice will be telling you that you missed your planned turn-off and it will give you directions to get back to it. (Which is one option.)

If you keep going, it will tell you it is recalibrating and it will give you new directions to the same destination. (Another option.)

Or, you can reprogram that chatty machine and give it a whole new destination. (Also a good option.)

You are in control and you can choose how to respond to the directions from the GPS. Up to, and including, reprogramming it or turning it off.

You are the boss of you and YOU get to decide what success means.

Well, mostly.

Because, at this exact moment, *I* am deciding what success means. I hereby declare that you have been successful thus far.

You have made an effort, physically, mentally, emotionally, over and over, to move forward with your plans.

It doesn’t matter how far you have moved, I say that your efforts count and they should be rewarded.

Hence, I award you the largest gold star on my collection:

For your efforts, my friends!

Forge ahead. I believe in you.

 A large gold coloured paper star decorated with gold spirals and star-shaped cut-out sections rests against a dark blue backdrop.
In celebration of our efforts together over the last 24 days, I offer my giant paper star- the largest star I own. It’s gold coloured paper decorated with gold spirals and star-shaped cut-out sections. Each point is 30cm/11.8 inches from the centre. Photo credit: My son, J. Image description: A large gold coloured paper star decorated with gold spirals and star-shaped cut-out sections rests against a dark blue backdrop.

*I revisit this theme on a regular basis. Here’s a post I wrote on Facebook a few years ago that expands on what I wrote above.

Hey Team!

Here we are at the end of January. Go figure!

The end of any month tends to make us compare what we did with what we meant to do, and there is extra weight to January’s reflection because of all the new year brouhaha.

But, here’s the thing, that mental review only has the meaning that we give it.

And we don’t have to be hard on ourselves about it.

Not getting to the end of your to do list is not a personal failure, it is JUST information.

It might be telling us that our list was too long. (This often happens. We think our future selves will be at peak performance levels all the time.)

It might be telling us that we had less time this month than we thought we would have.

It might be telling us that our schedule doesn’t work well for us.

It might be telling us that our systems aren’t serving us well.

It’s information for our future selves to use in making the next steps, it is not an indictment of our past or present selves.

So, that being said, when you make your plans for February, see how you can use that information to be kinder to yourself. See if you can make your requests to your future self a little closer to their capacity and their reality.

(For example, please don’t make the mistake I make and think that a work day with three meetings can also include all of your routine tasks for that day. That’s not how time works, apparently.😏)

And, most importantly, as you look ahead to next month, add in time for rest and for play – especially during busy or stressful times. You need time to recover, physically and emotionally, from challenging times. That’s not weakness, that’s just how human bodies and human minds work.

Finally, as you look at your lists, remember to consider the routine things and the non-tangible things you did. Making meals, returning phone calls, providing emotional support, filing papers, those all count and they all take time.

(Or as I said to a friend of mine recently – “If I measure my success this week in words written, I’m not accomplishing much, but if I measure it in emotional support delivered, I am knocking it out of the park.”)

Be kind to yourself, my friends, things go a lot more smoothly that way.

⭐️<- for your efforts today

Image description: A sketchbook opened to a page filled with drawings of black and white patterns. The words ‘Let’s Start Here’ are drawn in heavy black letters at the bottom of the page.
The patterns in the background of this drawing of mine are from a meditative drawing practice called Zentangles or Zendoodles. If you are trying to meditate but can’t quite get there, it might be worth giving this kind of drawing a try. Image description: A sketchbook opened to a page filled with drawings of black and white patterns. The words ‘Let’s Start Here’ are drawn in heavy black letters at the bottom of the page.

fitness · habits · motivation · new year's resolutions

Go Team! January 30: All About Your Feelings

About 5 years ago, I was all tangled up in how to design and organize my website and a friend of mine gave me some great advice:

“Think about how you want people to FEEL when they visit. Think about how YOU want to feel when you direct people there. Use those feelings to guide your decisions.”

That was a lightning bolt moment for me.

I had always been focused on how I wanted my site to work and what I wanted people to see but I had never included feelings in the equation.

(Which was weird considering how often I nope out of a site because something about it squicks me out.)

It was an excellent way for me to make the decisions* I had to make about my site. And, of course, once it helped me in one area I used it in all sorts of others, too.

I found that it works especially well when it comes to fitness and wellness. And I include emotions and physical feelings in fitness/wellness decisions.

And, often, they become my ‘in the moment’ goals, letting me focus on my process, instead of on my ‘results’ goals which might be a long way away.

How do I want to feel during my practice?

Perhaps I want to feel at ease, or I want to feel challenged, or I want to feel energized. It changes from time to time.

How do I want to feel afterwards?

Perhaps I want to feel happier or I want to feel like I have worked every muscle or I want to grounded. I pick the activity that will (likely) give me the mood I want.

How will this make me feel in my day-to-day movements?

One of my major motivations is that when I exercise regularly the change in my leg muscles makes me feel more grounded and more powerful. Seeking that feeling instead of hoping my legs will *look* a certain way has been helpful for me. (Note: There’s nothing wrong with wanting your legs to look a certain way, I just can’t use it as a metric because I don’t have enough control over the results.)

I have even been considering tracking how my exercise/wellness practices make me feel every time so I can revisit them when my motivation dips and I need a reminder of why I practice.

Do you use you physical or emotional feelings to guide your exercise plans?

If not, do you think it might be useful to consider them?

And maybe even track them?

I strongly FEEL that you deserve a gold star for your efforts today, this week, and this month. Whether you have been moving, meditating, being mindful, drinking more water, or just trying to do all of those things, your efforts matter.

Keep at it!

Image description: A heavily decorated gold starfish shape with a shiny fake gem in the centre stands on one of its points on a base covered in shiny gold and silver fake coral and shells.
Tomorrow your gold star will be the biggest star I have, today it’s the most over-the-top star that I own. I bought it at Ripley’s Aquarium gift shop in Toronto in 2016 because holding it made me fell like I had won the encouragement Oscars or something. Yes, I know it’s a bit much, but it’s super fun and I love how it makes me feel (see what I did there?) Image description: A heavily decorated gold starfish shape with a shiny fake gem in the centre stands on one of its points on a base covered in shiny gold and silver fake coral and shells.

*Perhaps this is a natural part of your decision-making process? Previous to that point, I hadn’t really brought my feelings into a lot of those sorts of decisions.

fitness · habits · motivation · new year's resolutions

Go Team! January 29: Claim An Easy Win

Whether you have been able to work on your habit every day so far or you have been trying to figure out how to make your habit work, I’d like you to claim an easy win today.

What’s the teeniest, most straightforward, simplest example of the habit you have been trying to develop?

Maybe it is one mindful breath.

Perhaps a single yoga pose.

One rep.

One stretch.

One sip of water.

Think of a tiny thing that represents what you are trying to include in your life.

And do it right now.

Can’t do it right now? Pick a specific time to do it later – use an alarm, a reminder or a cue (i.e. I’ll do a squat while I cook supper.) to ensure that it gets done.

Then, celebrate that easy win – put a star on your calendar, pat yourself on the back, pump your fist in the air, shout ‘Go me!’ Whatever feels good to you.

You can do more than the teeny thing if you want to, of course, but the win lies in doing the small thing. Everyone who does the small thing can claim a victory no matter how much or how little else you do.

You might think of a small win as unimportant but pushing back against the challenges you face and creating that foothold for yourself can be the key to establishing the practice you want.

When it comes to building habits your repeated effort is the most important thing. Once your tiny wins are routine, you can build on them and you’ll be glad that you started small.*

So, go on and lift your arms over your head in a stretch or put your hands out in front of you and roll your fingers into a fist. Stand up slowly and sit back down even slower. Gently stretch your neck to one side and then the other. Squeeze your shoulders up to your ears while you inhale and then let them drop while you quickly exhale.

Do the small thing you can do as soon as you can possibly do and then be proud of yourself for carving out that time today.

I’m proud of your efforts and I offer you this gold star in celebration.

 Image description: a drawing of a gold star with lines of other small shapes radiating outward from each point.
Another of my star drawings. Yes, I draw stars often. Image description: a drawing of a gold star with lines of other small shapes radiating outward from each point.

*PS – Even if you did something huge yesterday or the day before but today this tiny win is a challenge, it is still a win. You are still showing up for yourself. Yesterday, I did a single yoga pose (frog) but I still counted yoga as done.

fitness · habits · motivation · new year's resolutions

Go Team! January 28 : Find a Role Model

It’s always easier to take on something new if you have a template to follow.

A trainer or coach can come in handy for developing a template for your actual workouts or wellness practices

But perhaps you also need a template for how to fit those workouts into your life?

That’s where a role model could come in handy.

Do you know (or know of!) someone whose life is similar to yours and who has a firmly established fitness/wellness practice?

(Yes, I know you won’t find an exact match but you can probably find someone close enough to use for a template. And it doesn’t have to be a fitness ‘influencer’ either – unless that’s what you are aiming for, too.)

Could you find out more about the kinds of exercises they do and how and when they do them? Perhaps you can even learn more about how they deal with unexpected time and life challenges.

I’m not suggesting this so you can copy them exactly, of course.

You’ll have to tweak and adapt their routines to fit into the specifics of your life.

But, choosing a role model and using the their approach as a template means that you aren’t starting from scratch. Some of the work is already done for you.

(Reminder: It is totally ok to nope out of anything they do that doesn’t sit well with you.)

If you’ve been trying to figure out your new habits and get into your new routine and it’s just not happening – a role model and a template might be the way forward.

Here’s today’s gold star for your efforts to build your new habits – whether you are moving merrily along or still getting into gear.

Go you!

GIF Description: A woman in a polka dot shirt holds a sign with 5 gold stars and the word ‘amazing’ on it. The image moves slightly but doesn’t change.​
A series of gold stars for your perseverance. You *will* figure it all out. GIF Description: A woman in a polka dot shirt holds a sign with 5 gold stars and the word ‘amazing’ on it. The image moves slightly but doesn’t change.
fitness · habits · motivation · new year's resolutions

Go Team! January 27: Transfer Some Skills

Today, I’d like you to take a look at the skills, tools, and methods you use to accomplish things in the other areas of your life and see how you can transfer them to your fitness and wellness plans.

Obviously, you can’t always directly apply them – no amount of keyboard shortcuts will get your exercise done.

But if you know that keyboard shortcuts give you some success at work, you can think about how and why those shortcuts work and imagine how that kind of structure could apply to your fitness plans.

The point here is to take your success in one area of your life and map the skills involved onto another area.

To take the keyboard shortcuts example:

You could ask yourself ‘Why do I use shortcuts?’ and realize it is to speed up some parts of your work and to minimize repetitive tasks.

Then, ask yourself ‘Are there parts of my wellness routine that could be sped up or that include unnecessary repetitive tasks?’

Or ‘What is the equivalent of a keyboard shortcut in my exercise routine?’

Perhaps you’ll find that you can do a leg and an arm exercise at the same time.

Maybe you’ll realize that your ‘keyboard shortcut’ for meditation is to have your earphones, your pillow, and your eye mask in a basket in your living room.

Your details will vary, of course, but I know that we all have areas of our lives where we are thriving. Those areas are full of skills, routines, schedules, and systems that we can bring over to our exercise/wellness plans to make things easier.

Sometimes, just realizing that your exercise plan can be compared to an area where you feel competent and confidence can be enough to inspire you to stick with it.

For example, once I realized that perfecting a pattern for Taekwondo was not unlike revising an article, I felt much better about the work involved in improving my patterns. The process was clearer and my efforts made more sense to me. I no longer looked at my practice as ‘messing up over and over,’ I came to see it as refining and clarifying what I wanted to convey with my movements – just like I do when I revise something I have written.

So, Team, what skills can you transfer to your exercise/wellness plans?

Here’s your gold star for today!

Congrats on your hard work on your plans. Whether you got moving or got thinking, your efforts count.

Image description: A sparkly gold star decoration stands in front of a light green wall.
A very sparkly gold star for today, representing all of the shiny ideas we’ll have for transferring our existing skills to our exercise plans. Image description: A sparkly gold star decoration stands in front of a light green wall.