Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Resolve to Change

So, Friday rings in a New Year.

No matter where you stand on the matter, I know secretly everyone has at least one thing they want to change or do for themselves to be a better person or live a better life.  Maybe it's concrete and measurable like "losing weight" or "quitting smoking."  Maybe it's more ethereal like "enjoying life" or "worrying less."

Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old.  Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
Isaiah 43:18-19a

The problem with resolutions is they typically fail.  They might last two to three weeks, but most of the time, they are by the wayside by January 31.  That's so sad.  Exactly two years ago, I determined to lose weight and change my life.  It took more than a year to lose all the weight, but I am living proof that New Year's resolutions do work if you want them to succeed.

The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.
Proverbs 21:5

Since my blog is about my journey towards fitness, I want to share with you my goals for 2016 and talk about ways you can actually accomplish your resolutions.

Goal #1:  Goal #2:  I REALLY want to bench press 100 lbs.  For a man, this is nothing, but for me, it's a lot of weight and seems really far away from where I am today.  I have been working towards increasing my weights and had a pretty significant setback when I hurt my back.  But I am determined to make this happen.

Goal #2:  Goal #1:  Finish my degree.  Wait, this really should be Goal #1.  So it is now officially Goal #1!

Goal #3:  Increase my speed when cycling.  At my best, I rode about 15 - 18 MPH.  (18 is pretty high.)  I want to increase my speed to about 17 - 19 MPH.

Goal #4:  I want to read my Bible more often.

So, these are my goals, some are fitness related, others not.

How do you go about accomplishing your goals?  Do you just write them down and say, "Ok, this is what I want to do," then take a stab in the dark and see if you hit your target?  Do you set a timeline?  What do you do?

Make every goal measurable.  

Even if your goal is more spiritual or emotional in nature like, "Be kinder," if you want to accomplish your goal, you need to be able to measure it.  How do you plan to be kinder?  How do you plan to worry less?  Make your resolutions SMART goals.  They are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely.

If you want to lose weight, how much weight do you want to lose?  Be specific.  If you weight 350 lbs. and want to lose 175 in one year, that is probably not attainable or realistic.  So, think in terms of how many pounds per week do you want to lose.  A SAFE goal is 2 lbs. per week and that may be somewhat lofty, but it's a good starting place and you can adjust it accordingly after one month.  Be Timely. When do you want to accomplish your goal?  What's the realistic time frame?  If you want to lose 175 lbs total, one year may be unrealistic, but 100 lbs. in one year is probably within your reach.

If your goal is not easily measurable, turn it into a measurable goal.  If you want to be kinder, think about strategies you CAN accomplish to be kind.  Maybe you will / can:
  • Volunteer at the local soup kitchen four times this year
  • Call your mother at least once a week
  • Reach out to an elderly neighbor and have coffee with him / her every other week
  • Read two books about kindness and gratitude by the end of June.   (Try Happier by Andy Lacroix or The Power of Kindness by Piero Ferrucci)
These steps to "be kinder" are specific, measurable, attainable, relatively realistic and they have time frame.

Be realistic

Is whatever you want to accomplish something you can actually do?  Is it practical?  Do you need help?

For me, I want to read my Bible more often, but I know reading it every day is completely unrealistic.  So, I am going to read three - four chapters per week, starting with Psalms, then the New Testament.  It's a pretty weak goal, but is three - four chapters more per week than I am reading now, so I feel like the bar is low enough for me to actually attain it.

Create a Plan

What steps are you going to talk to accomplish your goals?  If you want to lose weight, what's the method of attack?

I recommend the following:
1)  Drink at least 64 oz. of water every day, increase to 100 oz. if you are exerting a lot of effort or are working out in the heat.  (Like when I ride my bike.)
2)  Find a reliable nutrition plan.
I recommend following the guidelines on MyFitnessPal (MFP).  Set up an account and log EVERYTHING you eat.  Make sure you are eating enough.  If you are not eating at least 1,300 calories per day, you are not eating enough.  Not eating enough slows your metabolism, which is the opposite of what you want.  Trust me on this.  You can customize your nutrition goals, editing the calories and macros according to what works best for you.  This takes time to figure out.  Message me if you need help and I will walk you through it.
MyFitnessPal  you can friend request me:  tracoleman99
Start with the focus on calories and gradually look at your nutrients to see how you are doing with macros (carbohydrates, fat and protein).  If Weight Watchers if your choice, that's okay because it is healthy.  Just be careful about other plans which eliminate food groups entirely or limit certain foods (like tomatoes).  It's probably wise to cut out ice cream and cookies, but fruits, vegetables and lean proteins are essential.  There are no "bad" fruits or vegetables.

3)  Exercise - both cardio and weights.
If you don't workout at all, get in three workouts per week to start.  Increase to four workouts per week for the month of February.  Many people think cardio is the only form of exercise they need when trying to lose weight.  It's not enough.  You want to build muscle mass to increase your metabolism.  It's a slow process but it works.  I am living proof.

I lift weights six out of seven days per week.
My cardio of choice is riding my bike.  With the cold weather, I rely on the elliptical and HIIT at the gym, with walking and hiking to give me some variety.  I do cardio two - three times per week, although I have been trying to walk at least four times per week.
4)  Read about nutrition and exercise.
If you create a MyFitnessPal account, I recommend subscribing to their blog.  I get some great fitness and health tips and they have healthy recipes too.  I also subscribe to BodyBuilding.com and get their articles and fitness tips.  Prevention magazine has some good health tips too.  I peruse this when I'm in line at the grocery store.

I always measure whatever I am reading against what is acceptable / healthy on the whole.  So, if I read about a way to eliminate belly fat in three short weeks, bells start to ring and the word, "gimick" starts to resound in my brain.  There are no quick fixes.

For me, I have to finish my degree.  I don't have much to finish, but I should be done by now.  I have to log the hours, journal them and do my portfolio.

My plan is to: 
A)  catch up with my journal by January 8.  That gives me one week to get caught up.
B)  Spend Saturday mornings working on my portfolio.  No laundry, no cleaning, no gym, no blogging, no Instagram until 12:00 p.m.
C)  Finish by the end of March.

I MUST do this and I have to be really strict with myself.  I have an accountability partner, Cyndi and I will be hitting up a colleague to be an additional accountability person as well.  I might even ask her to help edit my journal because my professor is a stickler about grammar.

Stick with it!
Don't let any excuse get in the way of accomplishing your goals!
The reasons most people give up on their resolutions is they encounter setbacks along the way and do not have the resolve to find ways around the obstacle or endure the discomfort of change.  When I set out to lose weight two years ago, it was VERY slow going for me at first.  I only lost 7 lbs. from January 1 to February 12, which is when I started working with a trainer.  In March, I fell and sprained and fractured my thumb.  The pain was excruciating and pretty much put my training on hold.

For the first seven months, I had to fight with myself the entire way.  This was my mantra:

Don't give up.  
You have to do this.  
You can do this.  
Don't quit.  

If your resolution or your goal is important enough to you, you will accomplish it.  Determine to succeed and you will.  Remember, it takes time.
I didn't get to 232 lbs. overnight.  I was heavy for years.
It took 2014 for me to solidify my plan, a lot of trial and error, but a whole lot of, "Don't give up."
When I started training with Dmitriy, he had "the talk" with me and told me if I wanted his help, "this is what I need to do" or he wouldn't be able to help me.  After a year of doing things my way, I decided to listen to him.  My weight shed off me.  Since August, I haven't really lost any weight, but I have been able to maintain.
 Change takes time.  It takes persistence.  It takes a "never give up" attitude.

Wishing you a very Happy 2016!

Same Old Lang Syne by Dan Folgelberg
Even though this song is about a Christmas Eve encounter between old friends, it reminds me of New Years.  While it is a sad song, it is very nostalgic for me.  Instead of reaching beyond the emptiness this year, hold onto what is good in your life.  Treasure each moment.  Be grateful for your blessings.

Questions for you: 
(Answer in the comment section below.)
What plans do you have for New Years?  Do you have any resolutions?

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