habits · motivation · planning · self care

Go Team! January 2: Go Easy

Hello Team!

Today, I’d like to invite you to go easy on yourself.

We live with a cultural narrative that tells us to Go Big or Go Home, one that stresses that we have to push, push, push, and be tough and disciplined, and work hard all the time.

I vote no.

There can be a time and a place for all of those sorts of feelings and that type of effort but the first days of building a new habit is definitely not that time or place.

This is a time to be gentle with yourself, to work with the feelings of reluctance and discomfort that often surround making any sort of change.

After all, our brains like to stick with established routines – those routines use less brainpower, less energy, and they feel more efficient – and introducing new habits will require work.

That’s why we need to go easy.

 a GIF of three light-green plush peas with smiling faces jumping excitedly in a zippe​red felt pod
I couldn’t resist how cute these peas were in their wee pod. Image description: a GIF of three light-green plush peas with smiling faces jumping excitedly in a zippered felt pod.

We need to know that we might start later than we intended or that we might miss some days in our plan.

We need to acknowledge that we will have ups and downs in the process of developing our new habits. We need to recognize that things going awry doesn’t mean we have failed, it means we are following a perfectly normal pattern of developing a new habit.

If you are in the honeymoon phase of your new habit, when everything is going smoothly, this may seem like a weird time to bring all of this up, but I think it’s useful to consider that there will be challenges ahead. Maybe you’ll want to make some encouraging notes for your future self about how you feel right now or about how you could choose a streamlined version of your habit to use on a challenging day.

If you are still struggling to get started, then going easy is definitely going to help. I know that in the past, I have set a date to start something new but when that day arrived, something was in my way – a work project, a migraine, a missing piece for the routine- and I didn’t start the way I meant to. Sometimes, I abandoned the plan right there and then because I only had one vision of my new habit – things going perfectly – and I didn’t know how to work with anything less. Other times, I started anyway but the plan felt somehow tainted because I hadn’t managed to start as I had planned.*

GIF of Kermit the Frog looking upset. Text beneath reads ‘Mistakes were made.’
I know, Kermit, this kind of thing happens to me on the regular. Image description: a GIF of Kermit the Frog from The Muppets shaking his head with his hand over his snout (do frogs have snouts?) White text beneath reads ‘Mistakes were made.’

Instead of planning to be our most perfect selves on our most perfect day, it would be better for us to go easy. Learning to take small steps and to do things like creating a version of our new habit that we can do even on the hardest of days will serve us better in the long run.

I know that we all approach new habits in different ways. Some of us like to start with a huge workout or a long meditation and some of us like to work our way up. And, obviously, I want you to do what works best for you. However, it’s a good idea for us to all have a ‘go easy’ plan to use on days when we struggle.

On any given day, go easy might mean doing a low-key version of our plan or it might mean taking a break, but going easy will never be a sign of failure. It’s a sign of self-compassion. It’s us recognizing that we are human and that our days will vary. Being prepared to for all kinds of days and all kinds of energy levels will help us stick with our new habits until they become routine.

And now, since I like to have an example as an anchor, here’s how my yoga plan for this month will go.

I’m signed up for Yoga with Adriene’s 30 Day ‘Move’ program for January but I am going to do it on my own terms. Ideally, I will do the video for a given day at 10pm. However, there will no doubt be days when I will have a family obligation or an online meeting with someone in a different time zone at 10pm. On those days, I will plan to do the video at 2pm. BUT, if that doesn’t work, I will do a very short practice on my own and I have decided that even one asana will count as a practice. So, even on my most difficult day, I can lie on the floor in Savasana (corpse pose) for couple of minutes and consider my yoga done for the day.

When you are building a habit, having what I call a placeholder practice – like me doing Savasana – is an important way to go easy while still keeping your momentum.

You aren’t slacking off, you aren’t letting yourself off the hook, you are being responsive to your own needs in the moment.

Your efforts count, whether you are meditating for an hour or a minute. Everything you do to build your habit matters, whether you do one squat or a hundred. Trust yourself to know whether you need to go easy or push hard.

And here’s your gold star for today’s efforts – even if the only thing you can manage today is reading this post – or even part of it, there are a lot of words up there!

A gold star ornament hanging against a dark green wall.
Image description: a gold star ornament against a dark green wall. The star is made from overlaid gold-coloured wires so it appears to be woven or made from wicker.

*This might be a being-too-literal-sometimes ADHD thing or it might just be a being-too-literal-sometimes Christine thing but I have always hated the sayings ‘Start as you mean to go on.’ and ‘Start as you mean to finish.’ I understand that the spirit those sayings are trying to foster but, to me, they always seemed impossible. How am I supposed to know at the beginning how things are going to go later on? What about if I start strong and can’t sustain it? What about if I don’t have enough information at the beginning to know how things need to be later? This is more evidence of my expert-level overthinking.

fitness · habits · holidays · planning

Go Team: Give Yourself Some Space

So, tomorrow is the 1st of December.

Whether you are just finishing up the end of the year or you are getting ready for the holidays you celebrate, you probably have some extra items on your to do list this month.

When you combine that with the ambient time pressure that December generates, you end up not only having more to do but you feel like you have way less time than you need to do it.

When that kind of pressure happens and something’s got to give, we usually sacrifice something personal like our fitness activities, our meditation, or any breaks we might take to look after ourselves.

I wonder if you can avoid that trap this year (or at least not get caught so firmly) by making some space for yourself in your own head…and hopefully in your own schedule.

Maybe you won’t have time for your usual fitness routine but perhaps you could make space for some stretches.

Perhaps there will be too many people around for you to meditate, perhaps you could take a short walk, or do some doodling, or anything else that will put you firmly in the moment, for a moment.

Or maybe you can even go the other way and instead of shortening your time for yourself, you can find a way to create space to add extra personal time to your schedule. Committing to some yoga first thing in the morning or some meditative colouring right before bed might help you feel more at ease during the rest of the day.

I know some of you are reading this and despairing that there is no way for you to keep up any sort of a routine and you definitely can’t add anything to your day.

If that’s how you are feeling, then I’d like you to create space by letting yourself off the hook. Try to avoid telling yourself what you *should* be doing or feeling this month and embrace the feeling of running around. Sometimes it’s the disconnect between what you think you should be doing and what you actually are doing that causes the most distress.

If you can say ‘December is utter madness and I am just rolling with it.’ things may go more smoothly.

Really, I just want you to be kind to yourself, whatever form that might take this month, or at any time.

Here’s your star for your efforts!

Image description: a large foldable paper star is hanging on a white door.​
This is my largest gold star, a large paper one that was a gift from my friend Catherine. Image description: a large gold foldable paper star decorated with spirals is hanging from a string on a white door.

fitness · motivation · planning · schedule · self care

Christine Is Trying To Take Her Retreat Home With Her

Ever since I wrote about doing yoga on my writing retreat last week, I’ve been considering my retreat state of mind.

A light haired dog is asleep, curled up on a grey and green bedspread.
Here’s Khalee doing a remarkable imitation of my relaxed retreat-brain. Image description: My light haired dog, Khalee, is sleeping peacefully, curled up on my grey and green bedspread.

It’s easier to write when I am on retreat, of course, that was pretty much a given. What always surprises me, however, is how much easier it is to do yoga, practice my TKD patterns, and to get out for a walk when I am on retreat.

I mean, obviously, it’s easier to do anything that I want to do when my schedule is fully under my control and I am the only person I need to take into account when deciding when or how to do something.

(In theory, it should be similar when I am home. Given that I work for myself, I have a fair amount of control over my schedule. My kids are practically adults so they don’t exactly need my supervision anymore. But I am part of a family, a household, so our choices do affect each other, at least to some degree. And given my personality/my ADHD, I will overthink (at least subconsciously) all the possibilities of how I might be disturbing someone else.)

And, aside from the schedule thing, when I’m on retreat, I only have so many activity options available to me. I can write, I can read, I can chat with my friends, or I can exercise. Having fewer choices makes it easier to rotate through them throughout the day.

When I’m home, I have so many things that I *could* be doing at any given time that I often have trouble figuring out what to do when. (Another personality tendency that is exacerbated by ADHD.)

If the above picture of Khalee is my retreat brain, my at-home brain could often be depicted like this:

A small dog walks on its hind legs through a convenience store. It looks like it is shopping. Text above the photo reads ‘decisions, decisions.’
Image description: a small light-haired dog is waking on its hind legs through a convenience store, looking from side to side as it hurries along. Text above the photo reads ‘decisions decisions…’

It would be pretty hard to make my home like our retreat space. I’m always going to have to factor in other people’s schedules and I’m always going to have different priorities competing for my time.

BUT…

I wonder how I could move my at-home mindset closer to my retreat mindset and help make it easier to get into exercise mode?

I guess I could deliberate reduce the number of choices available to me at any given time of the day.

And I could probably set firmer schedule boundaries for myself so I don’t spend so much time factoring in the possible effects I might have on other people’s schedules.

And I could definitely put fewer things on my to do list each day, to help me have more of that retreat-style focus.

I’m going to give it a whirl and see if these things help make it easier to break out of decision mode and into exercise mode.

How would YOU go about bringing a retreat mindset home with you?

covid19 · fitness · mindfulness · planning

What’s in a number? a lot and a little

These days, I’m living by the numbers. As of today’s writing, I am:

  • 80 consecutive days of meditation
  • 66 consecutive weeks of mediation
  • 189 workout days in 2021
  • 32 workout days away from my 221 number in 2021
  • 12 classes away from winter break
  • 184 days to go until my 2022 sabbatical
  • 150 days until my birthday…
  • at which time I turn 60– another big number

We live by the numbers, which are constantly changing.

Maybe one of those old-fashioned number displays, that makes a clacking sound as it changes. By Mick Hillier on Unsplash.
Maybe one of those old-fashioned number displays, the kind that make clacking sounds as the numbers change. By Mick Hillier on Unsplash.

Right now my life feels like a lot of sitting around, staring up at those number displays, waiting for them to flip and clack and change to reflect the next thing on my life itinerary, the next train I need to catch to whatever I’m supposed to be doing. If that’s true, then all I have to do is stand there patiently, and the new plan for me will soon roll over, clacking authoritatively.

Normally I’m too busy to stop, look around and assess where I am; I just hurry on to the next class, meeting, load of laundry, friend to see, or paper to grade. But this weekend is different. I’m at the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health with my friend Norah. I’ve been here several times for yoga, cooking classes, extremely yummy vegetarian food and a woodsy break from regular life.

This time is different. The feel is different: there are fewer people (pandemic restrictions), fewer activities, and a more subdued atmosphere. In my yoga classes, I look around. People seem tired. Some of them are doing their own thing. Some are opting out and lying down, wrapped in blankets they brought with them. One woman near me was scrolling through her phone during a thread-the-needle exercise. I frowned in her direction, but in hindsight I feel sympathy. Electronics have been much of what we’ve known over the past 18 months; they’ve been our companions. I guess she felt the need to check in, even during a purported retreat weekend. I get it.

It’s hard to be in the now, live in the now, rather than impatiently checking whatever, looking to see when the next thing is. My numbers reflect my own impatience. I regularly google “how many days until May 10, 2022?” Google tells me. Thanks, Google.

I just tried googling “how many days until the pandemic ends?” Here’s what I saw:

Screenshot of results of "how many days until the pandemic ends? google query. It seems the McKinsey agency knows.
Screenshot of results of “how many days until the pandemic ends? google query. It seems the McKinsey agency knows.

McKinsey doesn’t know. I don’t know. No one knows. All we can do is either stand in that large open space, waiting for the clacky departure board to clack, or go about our business–life– until such time as clacking occurs.

This yoga weekend, away from regular life, is making it clearer to me that those X number of days before all those things are worth something in themselves. Doing something other than waiting.

Readers, how do you spent time when you have a big event or big change coming up? Are you waiting, planning, wondering, expecting? Do you pretend it’s not happening, distracting yourself? Do you go about your business? I’d love to hear what your strategies are.

fitness · habits · motivation · planning

Go Team – June 15: Re-evaluate, Revise, Reframe

That’s a lot of ‘Re’ for one title, but let’s forge ahead.

Here we are in June, well into year two of ‘Everything is just a bit strange, isn’t it?’ and I’m hoping you’ll pause, take a breath, and reconsider your fitness/wellness plans and goals for the year. (There was another ‘re’ in that sentence, there is no escape from them!)

Maybe everything is going exactly as you planned, things are humming along, and you are wondering why I am even suggesting this.

If that’s the case for you, keep rocking it and here are some gold stars for your hard work: ⭐️🌟⭐️🌟⭐️🌟⭐️

But, if you are like me and this year has been all fits and starts with your fitness/wellness goals, let’s get into all of those ‘Re’ words above.

Re-evaluate

When you started the year you imagined things were going to go a certain way. You combined that imagined future with the facts you had and made plans based on that.

Now that we are part way through June, you have more information about your schedule, your preferences, and your capacity.

Use that information to reevaluate the goals and plans you made in January.

Consciously decide whether you are going to continue or if you are going to choose a different path. (Sometimes, I will hold on to an old plan for ages, even though I am doing nothing with it, because I keep thinking I will get back to it. Consciously choosing NOT to do it is always a relief.)

Revise

Your plans for fitness and wellness are for YOU, not for anyone else. And only you can decide if something is working for you.

You don’t have to follow the plan exactly as you set it out at the first part of the year. You can choose to revise it at any time to meet your current needs.

If the big ideas you had in January, whatever they were, still suit you but the details didn’t work out, change the details.

If the big ideas no longer suit you, ditch them and try something else.

Reframe

One of the tricky things about making goals and plans is that we can be very hard on ourselves if they don’t work out the way that we hoped they would.

That brings us to our third Re: reframe.

Please, please, please, do not frame your efforts over the past months in terms of failure.

For most of us, that will not be a valuable approach.

I’m not suggesting that you pretend everything is perfect nor am I suggesting a falsely positive approach.

Instead, I invite you to acknowledge that your initial plan wasn’t possible and then reframe your results in terms of effort or knowledge instead of failure to meet a plan.

So, instead of some self-defeating statement about failing to do daily yoga, say something like: “I couldn’t do yoga daily the way I planned instead I got on the mat once a week and really enjoyed it.”

Or, instead of being harsh about your running progress, try something like: “I’m not ready to run in a race and that’s ok, I have learned a lot about how to pace myself with my training and I can run with more ease than I could in January.”

Looking at your efforts in this way will keep you from feeling defeated and help you take a realistic view of where you are with your fitness plans.

Go Team

So, as we move into the second half of the year, I hope you are being kind to yourself about your efforts, your capacity, and your plans.

You can take the goals you set in January and re-evaluate, revise, and reframe them until your plan for the rest of the year serves you best.

Fitness isn’t all or nothing, it’s a process. We need to acknowledge and celebrate our efforts and be kind to ourselves in the process.

PS – Here’s your gold star for your hard work, no matter what form that work is taking for you right now.

GIF of a gold star agains a black background, the animation adds white lines to make it seem shinier.
So shiny! image description: a GIF of a gold star against a black background. The animation adds a white lines to the star to make it seem shinier.

fitness · planning

White board menus for workout and eating plans

To-do lists don’t really work for me. First, I put way too many items on them, so they end up seem more accusatory than helpful. Second, I write them on a scrap piece of paper (often the back of an used business envelope– hey, it’s environmentally friendly!) and then can’t find it after an hour or so. Yes, I’ve tried phone apps, too. But I much prefer (or at least think I prefer) something physical, something I can see easily.

There’s also a third, tougher problem: the hefty to-do list provokes fear and defiance, sending me running away from it in the direction of fun, relaxation, or anything that isn’t on the list. That is seriously unfortunate. I mean, a gal’s gotta do laundry, go to the library, buy groceries, etc. Keeping track of tasks big and small, work and home, physical and mental, does require (for me) a bit of documentation.

Enter the white board.

A white board– this one is also magnetic. Cool.

But, you might ask, isn’t this just another medium for the to-do list, which you’ve already gone on record saying you hate?

Why yes, that’s true. In the course of some recent coaching sessions with my friend Lisa, we also came up with an alternative to the to-do list: the menu!

I love menus. I mean, who doesn’t enjoy opening up that brightly patterned card stock, handed to you by waitstaff (remember waitstaff?), perusing the contents, and finding exactly what you didn’t know you wanted?

A menu from Life Alive, a restaurant I love; this page is teas and juices and lattes and smoothies. Mmmm…

My current plan for organizing my eating and activity is white-board menu based. Here’s my eating one for this week:

A white board on my fridge, with a literal meals menu based on what's inside.
A white board on my fridge, with a literal meals menu based on what’s inside.

It’s got literal menu items for me to cook, along with other info. I’m trying this out for the first time, so will report back on how it goes.

I’ve also made a white board menu for physical activity.

My workout menu whiteboard, which usually lives in my bedroom, propped up on my chest of drawers.
My workout menu whiteboard, which usually lives in my bedroom, propped up on my chest of drawers.

This whiteboard menu divides up workouts into cardio, strength and mindfulness. Under each heading are some common workout options for me. Each day I look at this and figure out what I want to do and/or have time to do. So far I’ve only done a few of these, but I love having the variety right there in front of me. I just realized I need to add “walking/hiking outing with friends”, as I’m doing one of those this afternoon.

What I love about the menu format is that I get to choose from options, which are laid out for me. I can see how I’m feeling, and pick from a lot of options. And all of these I can afford– they aren’t workouts I can’t do or find too much for me right now. Yay me! Yay Lisa (for coaching and helping me see this)! Yay white board!

I just bought another, bigger white board for work organization. I didn’t have one at home, and figure that this will be very nice to have (in addition to my other online work organizational tools.

My new 2 x 3 white board, fresh out of the box.

For me, arranging to-do items as menu options on a dry-erase white board is helping me approach eating and activity with more agency, without feeling the tyranny of the to-do list. YMMV.

Readers, what tools do you use for organizing weekly workouts? Meal planning? I’d love to hear what works for you.

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.
fitness · motivation · new year's resolutions · planning · schedule

Go Team! January 13: Keep What’s Working (And Toss or Tweak The Rest)

How are you doing with your exercise and wellness plans?

If all is well, then forge ahead!

But if you are struggling to fit your new plans into your day, you aren’t alone.

It can be really hard to add something challenging to your existing schedule and stick with it.

But, that doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with YOU!

You aren’t failing, you aren’t messing up, and it definitely does NOT mean that you aren’t working hard enough.

All it means is that you have more information now than you did when you made your plans.

At this point, you have a much better idea of what works for you and where you might need to make some changes.

Perhaps your plan for early morning exercise isn’t working because you have too much to do at the end of the night before and you can’t get to bed early enough to get up at 6am.

Maybe the exercise program you selected is a notch or two above your current capacity and you need something closer to your current abilities.

Or you may have realized that your planned hour of exercise is too long to fit into your current schedule.

Or maybe you are dragging yourself through an abs program and you’ve realized that you hate every single exercise.

That’s all ok.

Your initial plans were not set in stone.

You are free to use this new information to switch things up to serve you better.

You can keep any part of your plans that is working and then toss or tweak anything that isn’t working for you.

Feel free to start over, start smaller, start at a different time, start a different program.

And try not to feel guilty about making those changes. I understand that ambient guilt floats around all of these things just waiting to attach itself to us but guilt can be less sticky when we are conscious of it. (I like to call it out when I feel it, literally saying aloud, ‘Oh, guilt, I recognize you! You don’t belong here.’ It’s a weird thing to do but it helps.)

Your exercise and wellness plans are YOURS. They are supposed to be about you and how you can feel better overall.

You don’t have to stick with any plans that aren’t serving you well.

So, if you need/want to, go ahead and reshape those plans.

Here’s your gold star for today’s efforts in movement, wellness, planning, tweaking, or tossing:

A gold star ornament   on a wooden tabletop.
Another day, another gold star!
fitness · motivation · new year's resolutions · planning

What will you START/STOP/CONTINUE in 2021? Part 1 of 2

Start, Stop. Continue... by Good Day Yellow Ltd
Hand signs for start, stop, continue, drawn in black on a yellow background

We’re of mixed minds about new year’s resolutions here at the blog. I’d say that none of us are fans of the “new year, new you” idea, you know, the traditional resolutions where you pledge TO CHANGE ALL THE THINGS RIGHT NOW–spend less, exercise more, lose weight, swear off social media, and so on and so on. But we’re also a thoughtful and reflective bunch and insofar as the new year is opportunity to rethink what’s going well in our lives and what’s not, it can serve as a useful time to take stock. Nat did that in her post about things she wants to stop doing.

With that in mind, in these strange and unprecedented pandemic times, I asked some of the regular bloggers here to do a quick START/STOP/CONTINUE for the new year.

What’s one new thing you want to start in 21? What’s something you want to stop doing in 21? And what’s something that’s working that you want to keep doing in 2021?

Let us know what your answers are in the comments.

Nat

Start a monthly focus for my yoga practice. January is exploring King Pigeon.

Stop looking for external validation/praise for my fitness activities & goals. A bit contradictory for a blogger but is more about understanding my motivations for choosing activities.

Continue daily walking as a foundation activity.

Nat

Natalie has been blogging at Fit is a Feminist Issue since 2013 and one of her first posts was Count what matters and make what matters count.

Tracy

START: commitment to get outside every day for either a walk or a run, which is a bit more of a challenge with so much working from home.

STOP: mindless eating (COVID has created a new round of struggle on this — I am not talking about dieting or weight loss; I am talking about stopping eating on auto-pilot, without paying attention and without any relationship to either hunger or pleasure).

CONTINUE: my combo of running for cardio, Superhero workouts for strength and conditioning, and yoga for strength, balance, and flexibility. I’m loving all of my workouts these days. I also want to continue connecting with my various workout communities (Superhero Training Team, 221 in 2021 group, Fit Is a Feminist Issue regular bloggers group) for inspiration, a sense of camaraderie, and encouragement.

Tracy running outside

Tracy co-founded the blog with Sam back in 2012 and one of her first posts was I ran 20 min in a row and it felt fabulous!

Sam

START: I want to add small chunks of movement during my day, and avoid sitting for hours and then working out.

STOP: Hanging about in bed using my phone in the evenings before sleep and in the morning after. Staying up too late and needing the alarm to go off several times in the morning.

CONTINUE: Zwifting, fat biking, spending time outside, dog walks with friends and colleagues, weightlifting with son, yoga and stretching

Image may contain: Samantha Brennan, closeup
Sam fat biking

Sam co-founded the blog with Tracy way back in 2012. One of her first posts was Fat or big: What’s in a name?

Marjorie

So, I’m more or less constantly setting goals for myself, reevaluating them, and ditching what doesn’t seem to be a good fit. These are some of the things that have come up recently, but certainly aren’t specific to it being January.

START: Focusing on balancing my meals, especially making sure I’m including plenty of fruits and veggies and a serving of protein at each

STOP: Expecting myself to get an “A+” on everything I do, a “B-” effort is still going to keep me moving in the direction of my goals. I need to be nicer to myself and focus less on how I could have done something/everything better.

CONTINUE: Lifting 3-4 days a week, daily walks, jogging on the weekends, weekend food prep for the week ahead, weekly trauma counseling, sleeping over 8 hours a night, regularly hanging out with my kitties and sweetie on the sofa

Marjorie has been blogging at Fit is a Feminist Issue since 2019 and one of her first posts was Doin’ My Part to Keep the Gym a Safe Space for Men.

Nicole

Start: Be more committed to stretching and yoga. It’s my weak spot (unless it’s something like 108 Sun Salutations and then I’m all in). Thanks to a post made by Tracy, I have signed up for Yoga by Adriene’s 30 day start to the year and that should help me with consistency in that area.

Stop: Going for a long run or spin class or long walk, and not stretching after. Drinking 4 or 5 coffees a day. Trying to limit it to 2 and then have matcha for the rest (I do drink a lot of water already).

Continue: I already run every week, but shorter distances. I plan to sign up for the Run Around the Bay’s Virtual Race (more on that in another post) as I’d like to use it as a guide to longer runs. Weekly park conditioning and strength workouts. One other strength and conditioning workout (virtual)Two 45 min-60 min spin sessions on my bike.Long walks with my husband (20,000 steps today for example, although most days it’s more like 5,000 steps).My husband and I have been eating a lot less sugar and I like how I feel. So I plan to continue with that.

Nicole

Nicole has been blogging at Fit is a Feminist Issue since 2019 and her first post here was Sweaty, Sore and Slow.

Kim

START: keeping a food + drink journal. I’ve been far less mindful thanks to COVID and it’s beginning to irritate me (OK: IS irritating me). I think just reflecting on the fact that I’ll be reflecting on my food and drink choices later will spark some mindfulness about them. I’ve already started (I have a nifty bound journal I bought at a Christmas market – remember those? – in Konstanz three years ago that needs some filling).

STOP: worrying so much about my changing middle-aged lady body. Things are shifting, and so be it because that is the way aging works. If I continue to do what I’ve always done in terms of nutrition and exercise I’ll remain healthy and that’s most key. I can always buy new pants.

CONTINUE: my EMDR therapy with my wonderful person Annette. It’s been so valuable so far and I know will continue to strengthen me as we keep going.

Kim has been blogging at Fit is a Feminist Issue since 2013 and her first post was called Supporting each other makes us all better! (Guest post).

Catherine

START--1) commit and adhere to a regular schedule for physical activity. For me this means reserving times to get outside during daylight for walking or riding or skiing, and then actually leaving the house. Leaving it to fate or my whims or the end of the day wasn’t resulting in consistency for me in 2020, so a purposeful change is in order. 2) more regular cooking with more veggies (fruit, too) that feels better for my body (I have acid reflux and some other GI issues, and want to be nicer to myself around this).

STOP— 1) self-shaming about, well, everything (body, food, work, movement, to-do list, etc). Yeah, that would be good.

CONTINUE— my daily meditation and almost-daily yoga practices, regular safe social contact with friends and family, compassion for myself, my friends, family, students, colleagues, and all the sentient beings. We can all use it. Oh, and wearing my damn mask, as long as it takes!

catherine w – FIT IS A FEMINIST ISSUE
Catherine

Catherine has been blogging at Fit is a Feminist Issue since 2013. One of her very first posts was Facing Fears of the Group Ride—One Cyclist’s Saga. 

Susan

Stop: interesting that I have nothing I want to stop. Nothing at all. Really.

Start: cooking more yummy things in my Dutch oven.

Continue: workouts with my trainer, all the yoga

Susan has been blogging at Fit is a Feminist Issue since 2014. One of her first posts was Fitness as a Relational Activity (Or, Only When You are Watching).

For more bloggers’ START/STOP/CONTINUE check in tomorrow!

fitness · health · planning · self care

Christine H says yes to Holidays but no to Holi-daze

For those of us who celebrate Christmas, or some Christmas-like event, or at least for those of us who end up on a different schedule between December 24 & January 1, we are currently at the time of year when the days all run together.

Routines are off kilter – meals happen at weird times, we’re eating a lot of different foods, and our sleep patterns have gone out the window.

This is when we lose all sense of time and end up in a holi-daze.

An especially dangerous thing for those of us on Team ADHD who have a tenuous grasp on the concept in the first place.

Two drawings of stick people. The one on the left is wearing a red santa hat and has the words '1st-26th Dec' above their head and the word 'Festive' as a caption below. The one on the right has a piece of cheese in their hand. The words '27th-31st Dec' above their head and the words 'Confused, Full of cheese, Unsure of the day of week.' as a caption below.
I’m more likely to be full of raisin cake than cheese but this is the feeling I mean! Image credit: Hurrah for Gin

In this odd year, that out-of-phase feeling has been recurring for most of us. The things that give shape to our year have been changed and time has been expanding and contracting around tasks/plans/activities as they mostly moved online.

I think, though, that having that out-of-phase feeling recur so often this year has made me realize (Re-realize? Possibly!) how important schedules are for my mental health.

In previous years, this week would find me with all kinds of lofty ideas about just letting the days progress in any old way, seeing what might appeal to me to do at any given time.

Text above the image reads 'Me, during that weird time between Christmas and New Years where I don't even know what day it is:'  and the image is of the free-spirited character of Phoebe from the TV show 'Friends.' She is wearing a striped onesie and drinking a pink drink through a long straw while she lies on the floor with her head on a pillow.  She is being asked 'Do you have a plan?' and she responds ' I don't even have a pla.' "
Phoebe, from the TV show ‘Friends’ might be able to get away with a lack of structure in her days but I cannot. Image source

I have encountered some fun days that way in the past but mostly, I end up feeling a bit scattered and let down by the end of the day.

Because, as much as the idea of spending a day drifting from task to task might have appeal, in reality, I know that I won’t drift pleasantly from task to task.

Instead, I’ll spend the whole day feeling vaguely dissatisfied and with a looming sense that I should be doing something else.

So, I create a plan for my week and then a shape for each day so my atemporal brain won’t leave me in the in-between with a feeling of frustrated sadness.

Making a loose plan for my week and then giving each day a shape makes me choose how I am going to spend my time. It helps me notice if I am trying to cram too many different things into the time that I have. And creating that shape lets me do important preparatory things like saving enough time to actually make the meals I plan to eat or to drive to the places I want to be.

And, yes, giving my days a shape does include a (fairly flexible) schedule and some rough time limits for my chosen activities.

I know to some this will sound like ‘Christine doesn’t know how to relax.’ but this approach is actually the key to my relaxation.

Khalee, a medium-sized, light-haired dog, sleeps on a  blue flannel pillowcase decorated with frogs , crowns and hearts.
My dog, Khalee, does not need a schedule in order to relax. She apparently just needs to sleep on my pillow when I run downstairs for some pre-bed ginger tea.

For starters, these plans and shapes do not necessarily involve work. My plan for the week includes holiday activities, some special meals, and hanging out with people on Zoom. My shape for a given day might be to read a book for an hour after breakfast, to do some drawing for 45 minutes before lunch, and then to take a long walk at 3pm.

And having that plan, that schedule, is actually restful. It means that time won’t gallop away from me.

It means that I won’t spend the whole week figuring out when to do which activity. And I won’t spend each day continuously trying to decide if now is the ‘right’ time to read, to draw, or to head out for a walk.

And, having that plan, that shape, lets me make stress-free decisions when someone asks me if I want to do something else. If my plan is to go for a walk at 3, and someone asks me to watch a movie at 2, knowing the shape of my day means that I can more easily decide whether to change the time of my walk or to say no to the movie.*

If I know that I have enough time for the things that I really want to do, that I won’t run out of time, that I am doing what I am supposed to be doing at any given time, my brain will stop looping around ‘Now? How about now?’ and give me some ease.

And if that’s not a recipe for a holiday, I don’t know what is.

A small, green, holiday tree is sitting on a white shelf. It is decorated with gold star lights and has a gold star topper. Two points of a large cardboard star can be seen to the right side of the photo and part of a ukulele decorated with the image of a Polynesian-style statue can be seen to the right.
The gold stars on this tree celebrate my self-care efforts this holiday season.

*Perhaps, to the Neurotypical, this may look like overthinking, or as if I am making a big deal out of something simple, but for my ADHD brain, a holiday schedule is a relief. And, I thought that anyone who finds themselves in a holi-daze might borrow some of these ideas for themselves.