Finding Your Why to Get Your What

whyIt’s a week before Christmas and everyone is busy with last-minute errands, baking, and other preparations for the holidays. Probably sometime soon after we’ve all enjoyed a good number of yummy treats to celebrate, we’ll start thinking about the year ahead. With  1 or 10 glasses of wine of course. For many of us, that leads to the annual New Year’s resolutions.

I don’t much like resolutions, mostly because they’re so hard to keep. I do love the idea of a clean slate. The new year feels like an empty notebook on the first day of school, pure and shiny and full of potential. However, after a few days or weeks our enthusiasm usually wanes. Before long the resolutions are forgotten, put away on the shelf until the next year. Rinse and repeat, right?

What I’ve found to be much more successful for creating change in our lives is to focus on our habits rather than the outcome we desire. If we work on our behaviors, we’ll find those end goals a lot easier to attain.

This is the first in my “Healthy Habits” series of how-to articles for the new year that will help you create a road map for those healthy outcomes that can sometimes feel overwhelming to achieve.

Today’s task is simple.
I’ll bet most of us have figured out what we would like to do differently in the new year. Have it in your head now? Great! Now, let’s take a step back. Why is it important to you? Write that “what” down if you want, and then beneath it write why you want to make the change. Hate writing stuff down? That’s cool. Just start rolling around those ideas in your head. There’s no pressure to do anything.

If you came up with a big list of reasons, that’s great! Or maybe there’s one really important “why” on your list that is compelling enough to you to make that a change that you’re ready to work on next year.

Maybe you’re falling short of reasons. If that task was really difficult, ask yourself if that goal was really so important to you after all. Ask yourself how important it is to change. If it’s not that important to you, it might be a sign that the goal isn’t something you’re really ready to work on right now. That’s okay too! Sometimes we tell ourselves that we need to change because we feel like we’re supposed to.  Ain’t nobody got time for that! We’re a lot less likely to make a long term change in our habits if we don’t internally feel like they’re really important to us.

So that’s it for today. Work on your why. It’ll make a big difference in what lies ahead for what you choose to change and how you get  there. Want to share your own what and why? Leave a comment below! Congrats on making the first step in discovering how to make a sustainable change that will last far beyond January.

 

Keeping it Real

gymselfie

I’ve made a lot of progress lately in the gym. After a summer on the bike, I hunkered down into my own strength training plan and have been reveling in being inside the gym. My strength gains have been consistently improving, and most days I feel energized and strong. I’ve seen some really dramatic changes in my body, which I’ve come to love as little reminders that my muscles are working and growing. After a few years of being sidelined here and there by injury, I feel like I’ve found my groove. I even took a selfie – in the fitness world, that’s de rigeur, right? But for me, it was huge. For years I avoided taking pictures of myself.

Seeing my photos always provoked a huge amount of anxiety and self loathing. It didn’t matter if I was overweight, which I was several times throughout my life, or really lean. I yo-yo’d back and forth, all the while looking at my body as something to be fixed. Something that wasn’t good enough.

In fact, when I started creating this site last summer, I had my good friend Yana take my photographs and could barely bring myself to use them.  She captures some of the most gorgeous images I’ve ever seen, and I could always see the beauty in every person whose photo she snapped. Except my own. Despite the beautiful quality of the pictures, I could only see the flaws. I wasn’t fit enough. What the hell does that even mean?

In a moment of panic, I asked her to have them photo-shopped. I moped. I buried my head in the sand. And then when they arrived, I moped some more, because they felt strange. They weren’t me. I looked slimmer, but those weren’t my arms. My arms are bulky. Because they house my biceps. Biceps that are getting pretty damn strong. I’d enjoy a little less body fat. I don’t even know why. But at some point I realized how silly it was to hide. The disordered thinking subsided and I scrapped the edited photo. Here they are, side by side.

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Yana’s beautiful work made everything way more gorgeous of course. I’d keep the lighting. It’s so pretty! Here’s the original, without any editing.

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What I want for this site is for it to be a place where we work on our fitness in a way that is positive. Fitness is a tremendous vehicle for transforming not only our bodies but also our thoughts. Strength training gave me a confidence and determination that carry over to every other area of my life. At the same time, I want to communicate a message that also affirms that we are fundamentally enough. All bodies are good bodies. As I learned from people like Nia Shanks, when we focus more on what our bodies can do and less on what they look like, we can get out of our own way and really make progress on feeling good.

So the challenge with fitness for me, and I suspect for many others, has been to find that peace. It’s a balance, or rather a healthy spot that allows us to utilize fitness in a way that enhances our lives. It requires discovering the habits that will really make us feel good inside and developing a path for practicing them.  The goals are great but the path that leads to them is greater. Let’s recognize the amazing in ourselves and let that lead the way. Good things are ahead.