Yesterday, Sam reminded us of the benefits of Failing Small – making sure that we are keeping perspective when things go wrong.
I’d like to build on that and remind us all that even the smallest positive efforts count.
So, maybe you can’t do the full workout you had planned but you *can* do a few pushups and squats.
Perhaps your plan for a home yoga session fell through because you’re tired and all you can do is lie on your mat for a few minutes.
Or if you are trying to get to bed early, drink more water, or build a meditation practice and you do anything that inches you forward towards those goals.
That all counts.
Your fitness and wellness don’t just come from epic workouts or hour-long meditations. They are also created rep by rep and breath by breath.
Even your smallest efforts will add up.
Consistent small efforts create momentum.
Any wellness effort you make helps you to create room in your brain start thinking of yourself as ‘someone who exercises’ or as ‘someone who meditates.’ – a very valuable mindset for creating new habits.
So, while you are taking Sam’s advice to keep your mistakes in perspective, also give yourself some room to recognize the value of even the smallest success.
PS: Here’s a gold star for your efforts, big and small.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
It feels like far longer than 6 weeks since I finished my series of ‘Go Team!’ posts so it is definitely time for a little encouragement boost.
So, let me jump right to the good stuff:
You are doing great and I am proud of your efforts.
It doesn’t matter if you have been pushing your physical limits every day or if you are just barely squeezing in a few extra steps here and there (which, frankly, *is* pushing your limits, just in a different way!), you are doing what you can, when you can, and it all counts.
Your efforts matter. Either way.
And, yes, I understand that maybe you haven’t followed the plan that you meant to follow.
Maybe you had days when you *could* have exercised but you didn’t.
Maybe you haven’t been giving it your all, or even your ‘some.’
That’s okay and you’re okay.
If you keep coming back and doing what you can to take care of your body – whatever that phrase means to you – you are doing well.
You don’t have to have a perfect record for exercise.
You don’t have anything to prove.
You can keep going, you can start over, you can try again.
You get a lifetime of chances to find the type of movement that makes you feel most like yourself.
Just please be kind to yourself about the whole messy process.
Being hard on yourself gets you nowhere. Being kind to yourself leads to progress AND you get to feel good along the way.
Here’s your gold star for today – a super-deluxe-over-the-top gold sparkler star for your spectacular self.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
*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.
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.
So far, I have been mostly reminding you that it is okay to take things slowly and to go easy on yourself. I stand by that 100%.
In my experience, most people take on waaaaaaay too much when they start a new goal and it can be frustrating and discouraging.
But, there’s a flip side to that, of course.
Sometimes, we pick a goal that we have a natural inclination for and, instead of overwhelming ourselves, we underwhelm ourselves.
We pick something that isn’t challenging.
Or something that bores us.
Or something that doesn’t push us at all.
That can be just as discouraging and it can have the same symptoms of dread and avoidance as taking on something too large.
So, if you have been reading my posts and thinking, ‘Encouragement is good but this isn’t *quite* the problem.’ consider the idea that you might not feel challenged by your plans.
Maybe you need to increase the time, the intensity or the difficulty of your workouts.
Maybe you need something that challenges different muscles.
Maybe you need to join a challenge group so you have a little friendly competition.
Try to dig into the reasons for your boredom/annoyance/avoidance and see what your brain comes up with.
You might have the perfect challenge tucked away in your brain somewhere waiting to be coaxed out.
Whether you are overwhelmed or underwhelmed, whether you have set your goals too high or set the bar too low, you get a gold star for your efforts to exercise, to meditate, to make change, to consider your process, to find good rest, or to find a new challenge.
Sunday evening bike rides are a thing among completists. Cyclists usually have weekly mileage goals and then check Sunday to see how they are doing. This can lead to the oddball distance Sunday night ride.
These day though I am riding lots more. This week I got to Sunday and was already over 145 km.
My Sunday began with freshly baked croissants and an 11 am social ride with a friend who is just starting his indoor, winter training. Since we’re in different cities now and there’s a pandemic on, we’re riding in Zwift. We set out to do the TickTock route, a nice, flat 17-ish km in Watopia. It was wild though because that’s the route for the WTRL race this Tuesday and every racing Zwifter was out there giving the course a ride-over. Luckily the meetup function in Zwift keeps people together no matters what watts or speed you’re putting out. That’s very useful and we had a fun ride chatting on FB messenger as we rode.
(Thought: I could set up a Fit is a Feminist Issue meet up ride some time if enough of us are interested. Let me know!)
So that got me up to 162 or so km.
Next up, a bunch of work work and yard work and house stuff, followed by the TFC club social ride at 3:15. That was a chatty bunch of laps in Richmond with fun sprints each lap. We also raced the last 5km. Look at all the red! I think you can tell I was working hard. I’m also wearing the green sprint jersey. The club ride was 37 km.
You can see where this is leading. There I was at the end of the day just a few kilometers short of 200 km.
So while Sarah and I were chatting about dinner plans I hopped on the bike and rounded out my week in virtual France. (It was also a well rounded day in terms of places: Watopia, Richmond, and France.)
There, I did it!
Happy now completist friends?
Honestly, it felt good. I might have regretted not finishing the distance. And I’ve increased my weekly cycling goal to match my new habits.