New Year’s Resolutions?

Have you made progress?

Turning the calendar page on your New Year's Resolution? It's not too late to make progress.How’s your weight-loss New Year’s Resolution going? We’re a week into February – have you made progress? It’s hard! I know! I want to eat bagels for breakfast, and mac & cheese for dinner too. But I know that won’t get me closer to my goal. I don’t want to get all hot, tired and sweaty exercising every day. I know those first couple of minutes are torture – so why put myself through that?

Exactly – why! The why of our weight-loss goal will keep us on track.

I want to have less pain in my knees and hips. I want to play with my dogs. I want to compete in agility.

Why do you want to stay on course with your weight-loss goal? Go on walks with your loved ones? Shop for hours? Feel good about trying on clothes? Travel? Run around with the grandkids?

Think about your “why!”

That’s the key! Thinking about your why! Your “why” will keep you on track.

I know that if I lost a couple of pounds my knees wouldn’t hurt quite so much. So I’m changing my eating habits to make that a reality. I’m sticking to my exercise schedule.

Yes, it’s hard to stick to those goals. And practically impossible to do without some help along the way.

Accountability is key!

Accountability is key. If you’re not accountable to anyone, there’s no motivation to stick to your goals. No matter how lofty your ideals, and how solid your intentions, without accountability it’s very easy to say – “tomorrow!”

There are different kinds of accountability too – and you don’t have to choose just one. You can be accountable to a coach – one-on-one or group coaching is great. Knowing that you have to report your progress is incentive to actually make some progress toward your goal.

And you can be accountable to yourself, although that runs the risk of days slipping by even though you intend to report in. Tools to keep yourself on track can include keeping a journal every day to mark progress and problems. Making entries in your calendar for your shorter-term goals, and making appointments with yourself to actually do the tasks you’ve set.

Most importantly, if you get off-track, don’t get discouraged. It happens to everyone. Get right back on track and don’t beat yourself up about it.

New Year’s Resolutions are Bad

Living Well Planner to schedule your happiness! You don't need to make New Year's Resolutions for that!

That’s my opinion, of course. I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. If there’s something that needs doing, I don’t wait to resolve to get it done.

Why wait for a totally random day to start?

Yes, I know – the whole New Year, new start, new you thing. And there may be some validity to that sentiment.

But why wait? Will you keep your resolution more if you make it on January 1 than on December 27?

If the thing you’re resolving to do really matters to you – if it’s important enough to be called a “resolution,” then the date shouldn’t matter.

It you want to start keeping a scheduler or planner, I understand that most start on January 1. But you can take a blank sheet of paper and state your resolve – plan out your days – before then. Some planners, though, can start whenever you like because you write in the dates. Like the Living Well Planner (pictured).

To state, “I resolve to lose 25 pounds in 2019,” without truly committing to that goal – or any other – is setting yourself up for failure. In fact gyms and health clubs offer incredible deals for the New Year because they know that their resources will be stretched thing for just a few weeks. Most people who join a gym or health club at the start of a year drop off in a month or so.

Why? Because people just aren’t committed to the goal of getting fit. It really takes an effort to work out 3, 4 or 5 days a week – especially if you’re driving to a new place, pushing yourself in ways that it hasn’t been pushed before (or in a long time), showering and changing clothes in a locker room with strangers all around you. I give people loads of credit who actually follow through with that any time of year!

Even more difficult than working out at a gym or health club is the mind-shift required to make the change in your behavior. It’s hard to conceive of eating differently. Or acting differently. It’s too easy to do the same things we’ve always done than to commit to a change.

You have to really, really want something badly to actually make that change. And flipping the page on a calendar doesn’t usually qualify as motivation. Things have to get bad – so bad you can hardly bear to look at yourself in the mirror. You have to reach a point where the status quo is intolerable. And then you can start to discover the ways you can change to produce the results you want.

So don’t make resolutions this January 1. Instead, spend time with family and friends. Spend time reflecting on the various aspects of your life. Are you happy? What areas aren’t you happy about? Are you unhappy enough to want to change things?

Think about where you want to be and how you want to feel a year from now. Will the direction your life is pointing to take you to that place and feeling?

If not, think about how you want to change things.

When you’re on vacation…

When you’re on vacation, be on vacation! I’m writing this in the beautiful Florida Keys. Right on the water, watching the boats and the sea birds. This is a working vacation for me, but I plan to make the most of my hours off.

It’s much too easy for my mind to go a million miles an hour, thinking about things I have to do, worry about things that might happen, what’s planned for the hours to come. I’m a big worrier – mostly about things I have no control over.

This time, though, I have resolved to focus on the now. What I have to do right now. Not about tomorrow or next week. I know that there is no sense in worrying about things I cannot control, and I will do my best to stop that as soon as I feel the worry starting. Just breathe and focus on the task at hand. 

To help me, I have also resolved to plan my goals and outline the steps that must be taken to accomplish them. That way, when I start to worry about the future, I will focus on the goals I’ve set and the fact that the task I’m working on is a step in that direction.

But during those off-hours, I plan to breathe and enjoy what’s around me.

The body achieves what the mind believes

Your body can achieve what the mind believesThe body achieves what the mind believes. Strong stuff. How much is really in your mind? Can you achieve anything you believe?

I think you have to temper that with a short dose of reality. I know I’m never going to be a rock star. For one thing, I can’t carry a tune. Wait – that doesn’t stop a lot of “rock stars” I hear on the radio. For another, I don’t play the guitar. Hmmm, again, not a prerequisite. And, I’m 60 years old. Well, I guess stranger things have happened. I’ll have to work on a look.

But, really. The mind is incredibly powerful. Let’s think about something a little less esoteric. Say, my goal is to do 10 regular pushups. No girlie pushups on my knees. No – real pushups on my toes. And my starting point is that I can’t do any from my toes. No problem. Do 20 pushups on my knees. And 10 with one leg straight, the other knee on the floor. And switch to the other knee. The next day, I’ll do more, and try one pushup on my toes. The key is to practice every single day. Eventually I know I’ll get stronger and I’ll be able to reach my goal. And then I’ll make a new goal.

New Year’s resolutions

I don’t make resolutions. They don’t work. Kind of like diets. They’ll work for a while and then you don’t feel like sticking with the program and they fail. You might think it’s a great idea to start going to the gym on January 1st or cut out all chocolate on that day, but it’s not going to last. It takes 30 days for something to become a habit, and before that it takes a lot of commitment to stick with something that you may not have done before.

If I feel like I should change something about myself, I have to really believe it. REALLY believe it! Because changing a behavior is hard work. You have to think about it pretty much all the time.

For example, to reduce your junk food intake, you have to ask yourself every time you start to eat, “Is this good for me? Do I need it? Is there a better alternative?” So instead of a bag of potato chips, have a few carrots available. Once in a while I do have potato chips. I decide on the serving I want, put the chips on my plate and SEAL THE BAG so that the chips are not easy to get at. Eating chips requires scissors and a dish. Not something you can do without thought. It’s a conscious decision. “I’m going to eat 10 potato chips today.” I get out the bag, cut it open, count out my chips, and seal up the bag again. It’s much easier if I have a big bag of cleaned, cut-up carrots handy in the refrigerator for when I want a snack.

So, in order for a resolution to be sustained, you have to really want the result. Don’t make a New Year’s resolution. Just do it.

Oh, and Happy 2016!

Don’t Get “Hangry!”

Do you get “Hangry?”

GORP: Good Old-fashioned Raisins & Peanuts (with a few chocolate chips!)
GORP: Good Old-fashioned Raisins & Peanuts (with a few chocolate chips!)

(That’s Hungry mixed with Angry.) I do. I get so hungry that I lash out at anyone near me. One word not to my liking, and “Off with their heads!”

Not nice, but I can’t help it. The worst thing is that I don’t know when it will hit. So the best thing is to be proactive.

Most days are routine, and I know what to expect. Breakfast at 6:30, lunch at 12:30 and dinner at about 7. I know what to expect, so I can plan for it. But some days are out of the ordinary. If I’m going to a dog show, for example, I never know when lunch will happen, if it does at all. So I bring snacks! Healthy snacks that I can grab when I’m taking the dog for a potty break between agility runs, or before we go into the obedience ring.

Old fashioned “GORP” is a big favorite! That’s Good, Old-fashioned Raisins and Peanuts. Healthy and filling, not to mention yummy.  I might substitute almonds for the peanuts if I’m feeling virtuous. Or add a few M&Ms if I’m feeling daring! A handful of GORP and I’m good to go!

Or, for a mid-afternoon snack, I’ll have a carrot, or a few almonds.  I just make sure not to leave the house without a snack and a bottle of water. (That’s my reusable water bottle with ice and our good Skokie tap water.)

Schedule your workout

100315_lungeYou may not like to do it. You dread it. But you know it’s important. Your workout. Change your mind about that. Find a workout that you don’t dread quite as much. And, perhaps, over time, you’ll come to tolerate it. And then, perhaps, to enjoy it.

I used to hate, absolutely HATE, lunges. I have bad knees, was my excuse. And I couldn’t lunge as low as I should. But, they were part of a workout that I didn’t mind so much, so I did them. So I kept doing it. My form got better – keeping my knees in line with, or even behind, my toes. Going lower. Ideally, your knee should be at a 90 degree angle. Your back leg should be really straight. And now, I can honestly say that I don’t mind lunges.

You can “not mind” your workout too. Keep at it. 3-5 times a week. Put it on your calendar. You’ll be healthier. You’ll feel virtuous for having worked out when you didn’t feel like it. And you’ll be more pleasant to others. My sister (and business partner) is out of town this week so my hours are a little longer. I usually work out after work, in the late afternoon. This week I could work out after I get home, but, realistically, I know that I would not have as much time as it deserves. So, I got up a little earlier and worked out before breakfast. And, yes, I do feel virtuous!

Fran’s Fitness over 50

Welcome to Fran’s Fitness over 50. It’s tough getting old, but it’s better than the alternative!

Most important for everyone – keep moving! Go for a walk. Put on your earphones and dance to a couple of your favorite tunes. Just move!