So….2020 carried some good and some bad. I think it’s safe to say that it was not the year any of us planned for. After the home projects were over, the to-do list finished, with trips cancelled there was so much sitting on the couch, binge-watching EVERYTHING and while “quarantine snacks” sound cute, come the fall we found very quickly that our clothes disagreed and our sweatpants LIED to us.
Beyond this, a lot of us, while enjoying less commute and more time at home, also struggled with feelings of frustration, anger, hopelessness, sadness, mixed with bouts of creativity and satisfaction, and back again. It’s been a wild emotional ride, to put it mildly.
Were you one of the masses that bought all the home workout equipment, followed the YouTube video workouts and then….gave up?
Our best intentions can be laid waste in the snap of your fingers, especially when you are doing it alone.
Well, fear not! I’ve got a Top 10 List of things that are NON-exercise specific that you can start doing right now to end 2020 on your terms and start 2021 on the right foot!
We drink everything BUT water: coffee, sweet tea, soda, Starbucks anything, beer…. but why not water? The laundry list of benefits for drinking water is a mile long – everything from increased energy to decreased inflammation, increased creativity, bolstered immune system, clearer skin to better sleep.
You should be getting a minimum of half your body weight in ounces a day (for a 150 lb. person that’s 75 ounces – or 2 1/2 32 oz. Nalgene bottles). Start with 8-12 ounces first when you wake up, and see if you can get a full liter before noon. Notice how you feel. Note your allergies, sniffles, sleep, energy, etc. Make this into a fun experiment!
Many people talk about peeing clear, but my favorite was when I was at Basic Training for the Army, we drank SO much water, and the drill sergeants told us if we could not pee on command, we were not hydrated!
Ever notice how you don’t appreciate something as much until you don’t have it? This pandemic has really taught us how valuable real relationships are and how ugly things can get in cyberspace. When we just watch the news and get caught up in ONLY the macro, it’s too easy to neglect real relationships right in front of us. We’ve got that weird mix of now knowing some of our neighbors better while not seeing our family and spending more time on social media than ever before.
I challenge you to limit yourself on the amount of media in your life and INCREASE the amount of real relationships. As we transition from Zoom hangouts to in-person hangouts, hang on to people as REAL people. If you live alone and find yourself craving connection now more than ever, vow this year to check out any or all of these different types of organizations: a religious or church group, a meetup, an interest group, a club, pickup sports, neighborhood HOA or organizations, volunteering at nursing homes, a charity, a church, a help center, homeless shelter – life does not have to revolve around Happy Hour or virtual cocktail networking.
Stepping away from virtual and into personal, especially when it’s for the benefit of others goes a long way to your mental attitude and emotional health.
How comfortable are we with being present and only doing one thing at a time? Why does it make you uncomfortable to eat without distraction? No TV show, phone, etc.
To get to who you really want to be, we have to learn to be present and comfortable with ourselves. Start with this one thing : note how you feel and if you are uncomfortable or anxious, notice it and ask why? Are you lonely and afraid of acknowledging that? Are you stressed about food? Or, are you suddenly noticing the flavors your food has and if you really want it, which leads me to…
3 steps here:
- Focus on eating whole foods
- Have a vegetable with every meal (or at least most)
- Eat what you REALLY want and
- Write it down, including the emotions you felt when you ate it, how hungry you were and if you were satisfied. You’ll probably identify a pattern and you’ll become more self aware in the process, thereby eating less. (Also, there’s something honest about committing to writing down every morsel)
I talk more about each of these in depth in the original series but we have to reestablish that yes, we CAN take care of ourselves and we know how to eat and and it comes back to being present when we eat. Really enjoying it, savoring it.
Ever see a cat eat? Doesn’t matter how small the morsel is, they sit down to eat.
Be like the cat.
A craving is a signal that you are in need; the proverb is that somewhere along the way we got our remedies confused. When we were young and we wanted comfort, we would run to get a hug, play with friends when we were lonely, eat when hungry, drink when thirsty, cry when sad, invent games when bored and sleep when tired. Somewhere in the course of growing up we found out that just because we needed something we didn’t always get it. So we turned to food, drink, TV or maybe even drugs, whatever gave you pleasure to meet those needs. We confused pleasure with meeting needs.
To change your habits you have to go back to the source: identify your real need and have the courage to meet it instead of substituting food (or other things) for the answer.
A lot of us have been writing in journals since we were kids, but what about a gratitude journal?
At the end of the day, every day, write at least three things you are grateful for or 3 positive things that happened that day.
It sounds simple, but just this tiny act can get your mind focusing on the positive as a way of life.
If you’ve noticed, I haven’t yet mentioned exercise at all, and isn’t that one of the first things people jump into when they say “I’m going to get in shape!” Yup, and one of the first things to go because most people will start out with the mentality that “more is better” and do too much. Then, they don’t see results quickly enough and get discouraged.
Just like everything else, it’s simple: easy to do, easy NOT to do. The choice is up to you. So make it as simple as possible – pick a goal, find a plan, hire a coach or just commit to doing SOME sort of movement/exercise every day. (I highly recommend a coach though, because it’s easy to OVERDO! Ever been injured by those YouTube workouts? More on that later…)
This is not just wishful thinking – this is where you make an action plan. Start with a short list so you don’t get overwhelmed, set a date for each one, and then, working backwards, write 5 action steps you can do every month, week, day to get there.
For example, if your list includes reading 12 books in a year, write out which books, make a plan on how to get them (either paper or audio) and then schedule one per month. Finally schedule out time every week/day to read until you accomplish your goal.
Additionally – if 2020 showed us anything, it is that we are capable of more than we think we are. So, make at least one goal a BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) aka: something scary that pushes you outside your comfort zone.
Take your biggest goal and multiply it times 10.
Example: I want to decrease my debt in half in one year.
BHAG: I will be debt free in 1 year.
Example: I want to run a 5k in 3 months.
BHAG: I want to run a half marathon in a year.
Example: I want to make $5k/mo
BHAG: I will make $15k/mo
Also, notice the change in voice “I want” vs. “I will”.
Olympic athletes have coaches.
If you want to climb a mountain you need a guide.
Everyone from Oprah to Presidents have hired Tony Robbins to coach them.
When you want to learn to dance, shoot, play an instrument, etc. you hire a teacher or a coach.
Whether it’s a life coach or a Fitness Coach – you will get where you want to go much faster and with better results if you hire a coach to teach you and guide you there. Plus, you have enough on your plate without figuring out everything else in the world. Hire someone who is good at what you want to be good at (or in the case of a fitness coach, is good at guiding, teaching and helping you do the work you might want to do but struggle with showing up to do it). Accountability is real, and someone you invest a good bit of money in means you’ve got skin in the game. It ensures you show up. It also allows you to relax and trust your coach, which in turn allows them to do their best work with you. It’s a win-win!
Hire. A. Coach.
Do not try to do it all on your own.
2020 has challenged us in so many way, BUT has it really all been awful? Every day’s outcome depends on YOUR actions, and no one else’s.
No one can :
- exercise for you
- work for you
- set boundaries for you
- admit failure for you
- tell you what to eat
- tell you what to drink
- change your body (ultimately)
- alter your pain
- accept your present
- change your future
If you haven’t read the book Extreme Ownership by Jocko Wilinik, I challenge you to. It can be very freeing to take complete responsibility and not place blame. And in the end, that’s really all we can do is take responsibility for ourselves.