You’ve got lots of choice. The first day of the new year is arbitrary anyway.
Why last year Catherine declared that Feb 9 was her January 1. Why? Read about it here.
I’m not a big resolution maker but I love fresh starts. Predictably I love mornings, a new day. I love Mondays, a new week at work. I love September and the start of a new school year. January 1 hasn’t loomed large but I like the chance to start again.
Please don’t think you’ve failed and need to wait until 2022.
I’m doing Yoga With Adriene’s 30 Day series Breath. I liked today’s advice, on Day Two, each inhale can be a new beginning. There are lots of new moments and chances to start anew.
I know that recording your habits, your exercise, and your goals is supposed to be one of the best ways to challenge yourself and to stay inspired.
I love the information I get from my Fitbit (even though it’s limited) and I find the charts it generates to be very inspiring.
And I love the sense of accomplishment that comes from looking at a paper list of things completed, progress made and skills slowly gained.
I HATE the process of tracking.
I get tangled in trying to track the ‘right’ thing.
Then I forget to track, or, worse, I get so obsessed with tracking that I feel vaguely anxious about it all day.*
I find it tedious to create or customize a tracker (paper or digital) and then I find it annoying to fill it in.
I tried using a few different apps but there are so many finicky details and I find that my goals often change as I go along so it hardly feels worth the effort.
These issues are especially annoying when I am dealing with fitness-related tracking because there are so many different things that you could track and so many details that you could include.
But as annoying as it is for me to track things, I can’t write off the idea entirely.
Having ADHD makes me kind of atemporal – I forget that about the progress I have made, I forget that I used to feel differently about the challenges at hand, I forget (sometimes) that I have previously solved an issue that is looming again.
Tracking helps me counter that.
When I do track my efforts, I can see that I am making progress, that I can do things that I couldn’t do before, and it shows me that I have successfully dealt with similar challenges in the past – inspiring me to figure out how to handle them this time.
Tracking shows me patterns and invites me to reflect on why certain challenges come up.
But yet, I hate it.
On any given day, the annoyance of having to do the mechanics of tracking overshadows any possible future pay-off. (Atemporality striking again!)
But my eternal hopefulness makes me wonder if I just haven’t tried the right approach yet.
So, I thought it might be interesting to ask the Fit is a Feminist Issue readers about it.
What kinds of exercise or wellness habits do you track?
What criteria do you use to measure your progress?
What sort of tracker do you use? Digital or analog?
When and how do you use your tracker?
Have you tried using anything other than a row of checkboxes? What did you try? Anything involving colouring or drawing?
Do tell! (Pretty please.)
*Yes, I do overthink everything, it’s part of my charm. 😉
Today is 50 days until my second degree black belt test. I know this because after the previous test in June, I decided to see how long I had to get ready. On the day I happened to count, the total came out to the pleasantly even 130 days.
For a long time, I’d been saying to myself that the trick of fitness in general, and of my martial arts practice in particular, would be to do one thing every day to improve. It probably didn’t even matter too much what that one thing was, since there were so many things–cardio, strength, flexibility, core, balance, etc–that contribute to improving martial arts performance, SO MANY of which I needed to improve. I knew what I needed to do, but I was having trouble doing it.
Although I was always dedicated about attending classes, I was sporadic about doing things outside of class to support that work. I’d go through streaks of regularly stretching while my youngest daughter took her bath, and then I’d get sidetracked one night and would drop it for weeks. I’d run consistently for two weeks, then have to skip a run or two because of meetings and would drop it. I had been on a very good schedule of weight lifting, but a shoulder injury sidelined that. Like everyone else, in other words, life kept getting in the way.
But I knew that, life or not, in 130 days I’d be expected to perform at the top of my game. And more than that, I wanted to perform at the top of my game. I needed to find a simple way to stay consistent.
A friend of mine in college always used to say that you could solve any problem with office supplies, heavy artillery, or a large enough plastic bag.
So I bought a planner.
I got a really small one–it’s about 4×6–with a page spread for each month and a small box for each day. It didn’t have any dates in it, so I could start right where I was. (I hate starting planners in the middle. So much wasted paper flapping around. And I hate starting mid month because of that depressing white void at the top of the page..)
I labelled it with months and dates. Then I put a countdown every 10 days of how many days were left until the test. On the front of it I wrote “130 Days” and a somewhat belligerent and accusatory “What did you do today?”
And then I started to fill it in.
I used it to track anything I did, any day, that would further my goal of performing well at the second dan test. I recorded class attendance, time spent assisting in instruction, stretching sessions (no matter how brief), runs, physical therapy, and so on. When I travelled and did lots of walking, I recorded that. When I spent hours doing yard work, I recorded that too.
And when my body told me that I need to take a day doing nothing, I wrote down “rest” as well. (That was a big deal for me, acknowledging that sometimes even I need to take a break. Maybe that’s another blog post for another day.)
I’ve learned quite a bit from having a planner dedicated to a single goal. A few blank stretches remind me that I get knocked out of my routines easily, so it’s better for me to find time to fit things in than to say “I’ll get back to it tomorrow.” Travel throws me for a loop, so I need to have a plan before I go about how I can keep working toward my goal even when I’m not at home. It’s best when I don’t use this planner to schedule ahead (though sometimes I do). This is meant to be a record of what I have done–not of what I intended to do. I’ve learned that writing down what I’m doing helps me feel like I’m making progress, even when I’m feeling stuck on a plateau, or frustrated about not being able to make it to class one day, or just generally feeling old and creaky. I can look at my planner and see how much I’m doing and how hard I’ve been working. I’ve learned that I’m sufficiently nutty to be motivated to add new things to my routine just to be able to write them in my planner.
I know that the trend now is for bullet journals, where you track everything all in one book–daily calendar, shopping lists, work out schedule, movies to watch, favorite quotes, and so on. And I’m as seduced as anyone by the elegantly laid out bullet journals I see on Instagram and on my friends’ Facebook pages. But I don’t want to make earning my second degree black belt just another part of the daily run of stuff I do. It’s more important to me than remembering to stop by FedEx, or pick up more tea on the way home from work. I wanted to set it apart.
Having a dedicated space where I record my work towards this goal reminds me that it’s more important, and reminds me to treat it that way. Work and family and kids and illness and everything else still go one, and still call on my time, energy, and attention. But now there’s a little book in my bag or on my desk belligerently asking me, every day, “What did you do today?” and reminding me that it matters.
Sarah Skwire is a Senior Fellow at Liberty Fund and Senior Editor at AdamSmithWorks.com. Her academic research primarily considers the intersections between literature and economics, but ranges widely from early modern material to popular culture.