Sunday, January 28, 2018

Goals and resolutions

Okay, okay, so I already did a recap of 2017, and I couldn't possibly write about the year in review, right? Well, wrong. I have another post thinking back to 2017 that I wanted to post and this is really an evaluation of myself as to how I stacked up against the resolutions that I set for myself in the past year.

You see, I spend a good amount of time at the end of each year and beginning of the new year thinking about what I want to work on in each calendar year. My resolutions, as many people call them.

 2017 was the first year that I really used my resolutions as a way to guide and shape my year from start to finish. I wrote down on a piece of a paper a list of 14 things and I carried this with me every day throughout the year, often looking back to it and rereading it to help get myself back on track when I felt a little off track (and the few friends I shared them with often reminded me of them a number of times as well when I wasn't as good about self reflection!) These really did help guide and shape my year and I have put together another list for 2018, which I have similarly written down and have already started repeating to myself even in these first few weeks of the year. While I won't be sharing my 2018 list, I wanted to write about my 2017 guiding principles and resolutions. So here is my list.

In case you can't read my handwriting it says:

1. Eat foods that make me feel good
2. Love myself
3. Eat real food
4. Go out on dates
5. Spend energy on the people who matter
6. Do the things I don't like to do
7. Do core work
8. Squats and lunges
9. Work hard towards my goals
10. Meditate and work on mindfulness
11. Be vulnerable
12. Dress for success
13. Take pride in my appearance
14. Save money

This little piece of paper traveled with me throughout the year and came to mean so much to me. So in the next list, I will walk through each one and explain a little more of what it means to me and how I did following this list.

1. Eat foods that make me feel good.

It was the first year that I felt I had a handle on nutrition and felt knowledgeable about how to eat to fuel my body. Much of that came from the lessons I learned in 2016 when I started seeing a sports nutritionist. I learned that if I ate the way she advised, i really felt better physically and also how I felt about myself. I spent much of this year trying to listen to my body and notice how I felt after I ate certain things. Although delicious, things like pizza, fried foods (especially chicken wings), diet soda and candy all don't make me feel that great. So I try to avoid them. I skipped out on a lot of free food at work (mostly pizza), opting for the meals I made myself because I knew I would feel better on my workouts and just in general.

This will always be a challenge for me, to manage my diet. But focusing on how foods made me feel was a good indicator for me and something I did well at in 2017.

Tip that worked for me: Set a challenge around an upcoming holiday. This year I declared it the "Year of No Halloween Candy" and I made it a goal to get myself through the Halloween season without a single Reese's pumpkin egg, fun size candy bar or piece of candy corn (yes, I actually like it.)

2. Love myself.

Self explanatory. This goal was all about reversing the negative self talk. To stop comparing, criticizing or judging myself. To simply love myself in the state I was in at that given moment, whether at a strong or a weaker moment, whereever I was in my journey on that day.

Additionally, to love yourself is to take care of yourself, and this year, I finally took the steps to do something scary and go through the process to start an injectable drug to control my psoriasis. It might seem silly but this was a big step towards self love. I remember back in April, after my first Masters swim meet, I posted a picture of myself in a bathing suit, it was a little over a month after I first started the medication. Brick messaged me saying how happy she was for me. Not because my skin looked great, although it did, but because she was so happy that I felt comfortable enough with myself to post a picture of me in a bathing suit to social media. For me, that really was huge.

Tip that worked for me: One thing that I did that honestly sounds silly but has really helped me a lot is that I created a second TOTALLY PRIVATE Instagram account. It is locked and the only person who ever has (and ever will) lay eyes on it is ME. On that post I put pictures where I feel like I look pretty, photos where I feel strong after tough workouts, and I repost motivational quotes and phrases. Whenever I feel down or need a pick-me-up, I scroll through it. It is my place of self love and strength and has nothing to do with likes, comments, or validation from anyone else.

3. Eat real food.

Prioritize on real foods vs. processed. I go to processed foods out of convenience (or taste) pretty regularly, but did my best to remember to prioritize and consume as much real food as possible and break away from processed carbs, sugars, and "fake" foods as much as I could. Eggs, chicken, salads, sweet potatoes, spinach, broccoli, Ezekial bread, carrots, and dark chocolate were huge parts of my diet this year.

Tip that works for me: Meal prep, meal prep, meal prep! When I spend Sundays making my food for the week, I know that I am going into the week with a head start. I prepare a cooked meal that I bring for lunches, cut up veggies and fruit for snacks, and that way when the week gets hectic, my food is ready to go and not something that I have to think about.

4. Go out on dates.

Working full time, training full time, keeping up with friends, and taking care of yourself, often doesn't leave much time for dating. I had to force myself to do this sometimes throughout the year when I would have rather have maybe spent a free couple of hours on my couch watching TV. And while this is a part of my life that I have always kept private from the blog. I will say that I feel really really happy with where I am right now as far as this goes.

Tip that works for me: Just keep at it. If it is something that is important to you, just keep making time for it when you feel you are in a happy and healthy state to be able to do so. It is ok to take breaks from time to time when you are feeling not up for it, but just keep with it. And don't rule out dating apps - there are good people out there.

5. Spend energy on people who matter.

I did well with this this year but it is always hard to figure out who those people are. I think that this year with the addition of ITL and spending so much time with training, I did have to be careful with how I was prioritizing my time. I think I saw fewer people on a regular basis but worked to make time for the people who have always made time for me and invested my energy in more focused places. Sometimes this was a challenge and wasn't always easy on me, as I am a person who has always maintained a wide and broad friend group. It's something that I think will continue to evolve as I grow and mature but is important to remind myself that this is okay to spend energy on people who matter.

Tip that works for me: Don't forget about yourself. This year I reminded myself that I am one of those "people who matter." I spent time on myself this year and was selfish with my time, my needs, and my energy. And I was a-ok with that.

6. Do the things I don't like to do.

Paying bills. Making doctors appointments. Giving myself shots. Booking flights in a timely manner. Making returns to the store. Foam rolling. I hate ALL of these things very, very much and are often the things that I procrastinate most and that ends up getting me in trouble. This resolution was about making a concerted effort to just get them done vs. procrastinating for ages and causing problems for myself.

Tip that works for me: I heard something somewhere that resonated with me. It was that you could either spend a few minutes doing that one thing you don't like OR spend hours or days (or weeks!) with the stress and anxiety of knowing you have to do this thing hanging over your head. And it's usually much better to do just do it right away! I reminded myself of this and in most cases it was true.

7. Do core work.

I had to remind myself of this many times, even after I was recommended daily core work to do by the chiropractor to overcome injury. I was really good about it when I knew it was helping me get back to running back in January/February, but found myself dropping off once I felt better. I know it's good for me but have such a hard time getting it done. As once said, "There is no such thing as a core high!" Having this written down to reread over and over helped keep a priority.

Tip that works for me: Build it into your schedule. Start at 5 minutes and set a timer on your phone. I did this many times in the evenings when I would be watching TV.

8. Squats and lunges.

Ugh, yes. Mostly on Tuesdays after track workouts, but yes, I did these. I put this on my list because it was something that I had been told many times would help to strengthen my legs and help with injury prevention and overall strength but I actively avoided doing these for a long time in my life so I put it on my list as a reminder. I knew it would be good for me. My coach would have me lunging all the way around the darn track every Tuesday (he still does) and my legs would be feeling from Tuesday all the way through Saturday.

Tip that works for me: You just have to do them. They suck every time. That is all.

9. Work hard towards my goals.

By goals, I meant by athletic goals. Which were Chattanooga Half Ironman in under 6 hours, Berlin Marathon in under 3:45, and to ride 100 miles on the bike. I was so focused this year and never quit, skipped, or missed a workout without coach's sign off.

Tip that works for me: A coach and a group to train with! Find your people. I now know that I love having a coach and I working out with others makes it fun for me. I think my obsessiveness to do whatever is written and prescribed to me in my workout plan may be something I was just born with. However, it took me a long time to figure that out. So keep working to figure out exactly what works.

10. Meditate and work on mindfulness.

Meditation was something that was first introduced to me at work through a class that I had the opportunity to take. Learning about concepts of mindfulness and practicing meditation has really helped me to work on my anxiety and to be more focused. Like any skill, it is something that you need to practice. The more you do it, the easier it becomes. And if you fall out of doing it regularly, it becomes harder. I worked at this throughout the year and continued to come back to the practice during difficult times. It helped me so much through fitness, my grandmother's death, and so much more. People close to me have come to hear me reference mindfulness a lot and that's because it really has helped me so much.

Tips that work for me: Put apps or links on your phone. Don't start when you are feeling stressed. Start when you are feeling good. On a day to day, just work on being in the moment.

11. Be vulnerable.

Dating can be hard. Setting difficult goals for yourself can be hard. Training with people that are better than you can be hard. Making new friends can be hard. They also require you to be vulnerable. To put yourself out there over and over and potentially get rejected, you have to be vulnerable. To send that text to a new person asking to meet for a run or for dinner, you have to be vulnerable. To say "I don't know if I can do this but I am going to try anyways despite potential failure" - you have to be vulnerable. I loved having this on my list this year and what I love about when you allow yourself to be vulnerable is the potential that you have to grow and bring new, good things into your life.

Tips that worked for me: Read Brene Brown's book "Daring Greatly" -- this says things more eloquently than I ever could.

12. Dress for success.

I have never been big on being really into clothing. But I sort of got to a point where I realized that I was not always looking my best as far as my clothing and shoes. I was wearing the same things over and over and had been for years. Although I didn't go out and get an entirely new wardrobe, I worked to try to improve my clothing choices and try out new outfits and looks throughout the year. I tried to get rid of a lot of clothes that I didn't like anymore or had stains, small holes, etc.

I also tried to put on real clothing whenever I left the house. Working out and being in fitness clothes all the time, you get used to that. On dinners out with friends or dates, I would sometimes get really lazy in my clothing choices with the mentality, "I was tired - this is what you get!" or something like that. But I tried to put myself together more whether it was for the grocery store, a birthday dinner, or work. It made me happier to do so, which was the ultimate goal behind this one.

Tips that worked for me: I worked to go through my wardrobe and if there was something I hadn't worn for a long time, I put it in a while for donations. If after a few months, I wasn't missing it at all, that could get donated. If there were pieces I still wanted to keep, I forced myself to wear them right away. If I couldn't find an outfit that I wanted to wear with that piece in a week, it went to the donation pile.

13. Take pride in my appearance.

The office I work in is really small. And I don't see many people. I work out sometimes twice a day. Although sometimes it felt pointless to spend a few extra minutes to put on makeup or do my hair, I realized that it made ME feel a lot better to do that. I felt more confident and assure of myself if I was proud of how I was presenting myself in public. This was on my resolution list to do for ME rather than anyone else.

Tips that work for me: Nobody should take tips from me on hair and makeup! I have no idea what I am doing on that front, but just be sure to do what makes you feel good.

14. Save money.

Now this is one that I don't think I did a very good job at this year. I set aside money into my 401K and into my savings account for a bit of time but then that got away from me a bit in the 2nd half of the year. This is always on my list of things "to do" but I don't know that this was focused enough for me as an actionable resolution and goal, so I am modifying that for next year.


So that was it for me and how I stacked up towards the goals and resolutions that I had set for myself in 2017. I know we are already towards the end of January, but if anyone is still looking at resolutions for the year, I thought that sharing this list might be helpful. I also love hearing other peoples goals and resolutions and hope my process and list gives you something to think about yourself.

And for 2018? I have a list and I thought a long time about it. It's changed and morphed from what I thought it might have included at the beginning of December 2017, but I think it is what I need it to be. I hope that you are working well towards your goals and that the first month of the new year has brought you happiness and peace!