Friday, December 02, 2011

7 things to do to get your fitness life jump started!

I generally love this time of year. A time to reflect on the past year and a time to think about what's to come for the next and what I hope to accomplish! I love me a good plan!

We all know that many people set fitness/nutrition/health/weight loss goals for a coming year... let's get real most people are setting weight loss goals. I challenge you to see beyond the weight loss this year!  
Step away from the scale and the obsession with a number. 

Make it about something else and I guarantee you the weight loss will be a nice side effect!

I started this lifestyle of mine many years ago and it has changed and evolved over the years and I'm always open to (looking for) ways to evolve it! It all started way back when. I was probably around 10 years old. My dad was a runner. I road my bike with him. That's pretty much the long and short of it. I don't remember being particularly inspired by it all back then, but I did enjoy this quiet time with my dad.

If you asked my dad it started much earlier than that now that I think about it. I was probably 5 or 6 and I decided one day I wanted to go run with him. I dawned my sweet tube socks, shorts and a sweat band (man I wish I had that photo) and I think I lasted a block before I declared that I had a 'fever' (aka I was getting hot and sweaty) and had to return home. This would be his memory not mine... as aside from the photo I have zero recollection of this ever happening. Without photographic evidence I'm not sure I would believe him that it ever happened.

I spent some time playing sports as a kid... I was never particularly good (or inspired) by it all, but I'm a social animal and liked the time with my friends. I'd love to say it kept me out of trouble, but it didn't really.

Fast forward many years.... college. I went away for an internship, took up running because I was bored and got in fairly good shape for the first time in a long time. I'm not going to lie I enjoyed the physical benefits of being able to proudly wear a bikini, but I also felt better mentally. We'll call it more balanced. I'm sure the lack of alcohol and late nights helped as well.

I ran on and off in college, got a jobby job after college in a new city and saw an advertisement for marathon training with Team in Training. I had thought that running a marathon would be interesting a few years prior, but knew it wouldn't happen while I was partying working so hard at school.

I decided that I would run a marathon with Team in Training. I loved it. I loved Team in Training and the camaraderie and support I got from a great group of people. I met tons of people in my age group that were all interested in something I was interested in. (Side note: I married the brother of a friend I met in TNT... many years later, but still.)

I would go back and forth ... run a marathon or half marathon... do nothing... for a few years.

What really got it to stick for me? Would you believe having kids? Not because I needed to get my body back (that was a perk), but because I needed to get ME back and my sanity. (perhaps this sounds familiar?) I had twins in 2006. They are, um, wonderful, but they suck the life out of me. (Come on if you have kids you know what I'm talking about.) The fitness goals gave me an identity that was my own - outside of mommy - and much needed alone time. Honey you need to watch the kids because I need to go swim/bike/run. I found that when I wasn't exercising I wouldn't make the time for MYSELF to go and do something else.  

This was MY THING! 

When the kids were only 8 months old I turned again to Team in Training - this time to train for a triathlon. Something I had always wanted to do. I figured my life really wasn't going to get any simpler than it was at the time.

I completed my first olympic triathlon at Chicago Accenture tri in August of 2007 when my kids were one year old. (I did the race the next year as well and remember seeing a woman kiss her about 1 year old good bye before she got in line to race and thought, "wow she's got a one year old and she's racing. That's amazing.... Wait I did that. I'm amazing!" That was a pretty cool moment. A moment that I realized how much is possible when you just set your mind to it!

Just for the sake of circling back to WHY I opened this post the way I did. Now when I'm out training I do think back to the seed that my dad planted in me by taking me out on those runs. While I don't remember thinking I WANT TO BE JUST LIKE MY DAD AND RUN when I get older or anything like that .... a seed was planted!

What seeds are YOU planting in your kids minds?

So as you are contemplating the coming year I would suggest the following to GET STARTED with your fitness goals!

1. Identify your WHY: Things tend to stick when you have a good reason to do them. What is your why? What is your reason? To be more active with your kids. To finish a race in a particular time. To lose weight (this is a viable reason even if I asked you not to focus on it). To have more energy. To climb a flight of stairs without being winded. To reduce your cholesterol. To be a good role model for your children. To have more tone to those not so toned arms. To fit into THAT dress for your reunion/wedding/friend's wedding/honeymoon/anniversary. To raise money for a great cause (ie Team in Training). Whatever your reason you NEED to find it. And when the days come that you just don't WANT TO you pull your WHY out of your back pocket. You put it in your face and you REMIND yourself why you started this whole mess in the first place. Identify with it and kick that lazy part of yourself in the ass and say .... GET IT DONE!

2. Just start: You don't need to wait until you find that thing that sounds perfect to you... your "This is my thing".... you don't really know what your thing might be until you try it! I jumped into running and triathlon having no idea if it would be 'my thing' and lucky for me it was. Along the way I have tried many many THINGS! Racquetball, yoga, weight lifting, aerobics, spinning, rollerblading, skiing, snow boarding... you get the idea. You can start out walking around the block with the family dog... as you go along in your journey be open minded and try new things. But for the LOVE just START moving!

3. Set goals: This can be quite  range of things. I like to choose races. They get me going. I NEED that carrot. Your goal could be to complete a 5k (half marathon, marathon), a triathlon, learn how to lift weights, get your nutrition under control, lose weight, get your cholesterol down, control your diabetes, etc. Give yourself an end date... 6 months, a year. 
4. Set micro goals: Now give yourself smaller / shorter term goals so you can see progress along the way and stay motivated. If your goal is a half marathon how about a 5k, or shoot run around the block without stopping to walk, to get through an entire cardio style class at the gym, to loose 1 lb a week for a month, to decrease your soda consumption to one a day, to eliminate sugar/caffeine, or to stop eating after your dinner (bc we know you AREN'T hungry - that one might have been for me).

5. Make a plan: I come up with a plan for the year - races I will be doing. Then I have a schedule that progresses me through those races. Every Sat or Sun I sit down with my calendar and plan out my week... because we all know things happen that might cause me to have to deviate from my overall plan. This is where I SCHEDULE my daily workouts. Now you might not be into the race thing. Perhaps you are more of a gym rat. Get out your gym's schedule and make sure you WRITE the classes that you are taking IN YOUR CALENDAR! You don't need to plan a year like I do, but you do need a plan. WHAT DAYS are you going to workout... WHAT TIME... what type. PUT IT ON YOUR CALENDAR... make it a priority.. by doing this you make YOU a priority!

6. Prepare: Lay your clothes out or pack your bag the night before your workout. IF you are a mom and have lunches to make or bags to pack for your kids (and maybe yourself) do it the night before. Essentially you want to ELIMINATE any EXCUSES you might think of in the morning.

7. Enlist friends: This can take many shapes and forms. You can enlist workout buddies. You can make your plans public and talk to specific (read supportive) friends and check in with them regularly. You can post your plans on your blog, facebook and twitter .. those folks will keep you in line. Find those people that you KNOW you can count on when you are feeling weak. Who can you call for a good ol' kick in the rump when you are slumping?

So pull out a sheet of paper and your calendar. Identify WHY you want to do this, set a GOAL, START moving, set GOALS, set MICRO goals, make a PLAN, Prepare to execute the plan, enlist your FRIENDS to help you succeed!

Do it NOW! Don't wait..... it will take time, but I PROMISE you you will create a habit. You WILL get to the point where you WANT to ... no, HAVE to... exercise. You will get to the point where you don't feel 'normal' when you don't. Seriously! I promise. You can come hobble me if you don't get there... but only if you DO IT REGULARLY for at least three MONTHS!

I believe in you! Now YOU believe in you!


  1. Loved this post! My wife and I don't have kids yet, but I am already sick of people telling me, "Oh, just wait till you have kids. You won't be able to do these races then." WTF? I fully admit that life will change when we have kids. But that doesn't mean I have to give up the things I enjoy doing. Like you, I remember the days of biking alongside my dad as he trained for marathons in the early 90's. I didn't know many 10 year olds that could say they biked 20 miles. And I had a blast doing it.

  2. Yea.. those 'wait till you have kids' people can go eat another donut while sitting on the couch while you ride the trainer while watching tv at night... or get up at 5am so you can hit the pool... or run your run behind a jogger.... if you want it you figure it out. I'd rather do any of the latter than sit on the couch eating a donut any day! Besides I cope w/ the parenting stuff WAY better when I am exercising. So many women would say to me "I don't know how you do all that stuff." my honest to goodness response was ALWAYS, "I don't know how you don't!" I am a total wound up stress case w/ no tolerance for my children when I am not exercising!

    You WILL do it. I have not one doubt!

  3. Love this post. Not only great tips, but it shows that anyone can do it - no excuses. You just have to make it a priority.

  4. What?!?,! Twins suck the life out of people? I think this was the secret main theme of the post. Wait until i show my twin sis. She is buisy being a suckah! ha ahe From a fellow FFA and half of Fun and Fit.

  5. This is a great post - I loved this part -"wow she's got a one year old and she's racing. That's amazing.... Wait I did that. I'm amazing!"
    You are amazing - and you are inspiring your children to be the same just like your dad did for you! LOVE it!

  6. Great post! Starting really is the hardest part. It's amazing what you can do just by that one step. Because then you can just try the next thing. Why not? You're already running, just run an extra minute, then an extra 5 minutes, then an extra mile...But you have to *start*.

  7. What a great post! I really love it!

    I agree to stay away from the stupid scale. I hate that thing!

    You are a rockstar! I wish you lived closer to us!
    Since we are both in recovery week, I was drinking some (plenty....) of wine last night, and I actually did think of how much fun it would be if you lived down here to recover with :-) I figure you know how to do it right!!! Because you ARE balanced!

    Enjoy the holidays!

  8. Great post! As I was working out today in the basement, my 6 year old was showing my what to do next. He gave me a great workout LOL and I was amazed at what he was able to do.

  9. Great post! I definitely workout for me and my sanity but also to be a healthy role model for my kids. They are my Why!

  10. So true! Realistic goals are always the best.