It's January 1st! It's the first day of not only an new year, but a new decade!!
It's also the day that a lot of people are quickly regretting the announcements and resolutions they made last night in a champagne loaded stupor. I know for me, I was much more inclined to stay snuggled in my bed, enjoying the start of a 3 day weekend than I was to hop up, go out for a walk run, get started putting away decorations, start decluttering the living room and balance my check book (all part of my goals for the coming 12 months.)
But I did eventually haul myself up, tie on the trainers and head out for a very nice walk with the hubby.
For those of you who are coming across this blog either for the first time or 100th time, and you may be in the exact place you were one year ago, or you've been fine getting started on your resolutions/goals/dreams, but can't seem to hold the course, or maybe you've enjoyed the 2-3 month break at the end of the year and are now scratching your head at where to begin... this is for you.
A few humble hints on how to get and keep yourself going on whatever it is you want to accomplish. Doesn't matter if it's get out of debt/save money, lose weight/get healthy, clear the clutter out of your home so next year you have a place to host the New Years party, the steps are all the same.
It's what I'm coining the 5 "S" approach. It's 5 things that really helped me and, while some of them may come across as tough love, they helped me to love myself a lot more along the way than anything else - and heck, my name is Stephanie so it's a fun coinkidink. :)
The rest of you - you can enjoy time off from reading... or if you have hints or tips to add, please chime in! :)
[by the way, this is gonna be long... might want to grab a cup of water and/or coffee & get comfy ;) ]
This is number one for a lot of reasons, but the biggest is that most people find themselves in a situation where they are desperate to make changes and throw themselves into a project, only to find themselves burnt out in a matter of days, giving up and never looking back. Instead of rushing headlong into an all-or-nothing induced failure, do something radically different: take the slow road to success!
Instead of trying to do everything NOW, start the process slow - rather than paying off $10K in credit cards, digging out your overstuffed home and losing 50 pounds in January (the biggest changes people want to make in their lives on January 1), pick one thing you want to accomplish in the next 30 days - tracking your spending/eating, spending 5 minutes tackling the pile at the end of the couch where your mail ends up, etc.
Be patient. Don’t expect miracles overnight. If your goal is to shed excess pounds, focus on being healthy and feeling good rather than how much weight you’ve lost. Most people don’t see results for 6-8 weeks.
This is the fun one! This is the everyday/consistent one that I know I struggled with for soooooo long. It's that "Motivation" thing that baffles so many - how can you keep going so long after you've started?!?!
(Ok, I'll wait for the laughter to die down before I continue... better now? Ok... lets get back to it ;)
I refer you back to #1 - start slow. When you make changes out of desperation (must. lose. weight. NOW!) you usually say "I'm going to exercise for 2 hours every. single. day!" Well, that's hardly slow... and not very easy to keep up on. But if you broke it down, and opted for the slow road of, say 15 minutes of movement each day, it's a whoooole lot easier to find that stretch of 15 minutes than it is to find 120. And you're not so wiped out afterward that you can't function.
Steady doing something every day, rain or shine, tired or bouncing off the walls, rich or poor, until it becomes a habit. Once you build that habit, go back to #1 and find the next thing to add on to your plate and apply #2 to it.
sus-tain-a-ble: adj. Capable of being continued with minimal long-term effect on the environment
This is a 'define it for yourself' approach. For me, it means not doing anything now that I'm not willing keep doing for the long haul. When you get started on a goal that seems insurmountable - shedding yourself of 50+ pounds, clearing out tons of clutter or digging out of a lot of debt (to continue with the examples given at the beginning) - you usually are inclined to take BIG action at the beginning so you can see immediate results. That's all fine and dandy...
Thing is, the results, and the effort needed to achieve it, is something most people can't maintain for a long period of time. Restricting your eating/spending, over extending yourself with exercise or putting money out towards bills, doing a marathon 3-day cleaning session - all those things will give you a result you can SEE, but you're too pooped and/or stress to keep it up and end up falling into old patterns.
To use the marathon as a metaphor - ask anyone who's ever run one, thought about running one, heard of running one, or, on a dare, looked at a training and race plan (heck, forget a marathon, lets dial it back and do a 5k!): You never, ever sprint at the beginning. Ok, you might off the starting line because of the excitement, but you learn early on that if you don't pace yourself, you'll be completely spent before you hit mile 2, let alone mile 26.2!
When you go #1 Slow, and #2 steady, you'll achieve small successes along the way that will propel you forward so you can keep the habit up, build on it, and finish the race strong. Then maybe, just maybe you'll be ready to take on something new when you're "done".
This is the second biggest gift you can give yourself when you embark on any sort of life and/or behavior changing journey. (The biggest is #5)
Find someone who encourages you, inspires you, has gone through what you are going through now... here's the kicker, though: find someone who is where you _want_ to be, or at least is a few steps ahead of where you are now.
Let me explain - One thing I loved when first joined SparkPeople.com was the abundance of people who were going through _exactly_ what I was: They had a similar amount of weight to lose as I did! They were single with cats too! They had desk jobs! They had hypothyroid! They had PCOS! All LIKE ME!!!
We bonded, we commiserated, we planned... and we all stayed exactly the same.
Then one day on a whim I did a bit of searching and came across a few people who had very similar stories to my own. I saw their struggles reflected in my life. I experienced their challenges because they were my own.
The only difference was that they over came them. In the smiling faces I saw myself and I saw something that I lacked - Confidence! Victory! Achievement! At that moment I dared to think, no... I dared to believe: If they can do it, why can't I?!
Go forth and find that person or person's that inspires you to move just a bit past where you are now, to set you on the road to where you can be. There is only one difference between them and you - they dared to believe they could do it.
And so can you!
This is a cheater one because it wraps up 3 "S's" that are separate, yet very connected, into one: Self-improvement Self-examination Self-discipline
The connection is best drawn by Peggy over at thebratfactor.com (the name will be changing soon by the way) in her email today:
"Webster says that self-discipline is "the correction or regulation of oneself for the sake of improvement." Getting to know, love and ultimately guide my inner child Nelly has been the key to my self-discipline and improvement in several areas of my life. Until I met Nelly, I didn’t realize how much of an affect I could have on myself for the sake of improvement.
"Playing with your inner kiddy puts a playful spin on self-discipline! Today, pick one action you will take to correct or regulate yourself. It could be to announce that you will not be eating any sugar today, or you are going to walk for 15 minutes or limit computer time or act out of kindness. You decide and then stay awake to what your inner kiddy has to say about it."
I'm sure you read that all and thought, "You said #5 was THE most important gift I could give myself... I still don't get it."
Here's the thing that I discovered - In the relm of weight loss/health improvement, we go about things in a very backwards way. All the information, the media, etc., tell us that all we have to do is buy this book, follow this plan, use this piece of equipment, and we'll be slim, trim, toned and awesome in no time.
We give it a whirl over and over again, and are still frustrated by the starts, stops, derailments and disappointments. "I'm eating and exercising the way they say, why am I not able to stick to it and/or gain it back when I lose it?!"
Because, while diet & exercise are key, they aren't THE key.
You want to know what it is? It's YOU!
Ok, it's a little broader than that - it's your past. All those things that have happened to you, the habits you've developed, the attitudes you have towards food, the comfort you associated with chocolate chip cookies that developed as the one happy moment you spent with your mom in 4th grade, the hurt you felt when someone you respected spoke harshly to you that caused you turned your emotions inward, the elation you feel when you go out on the town and enjoy your favorite celebratory food.
All of those things have brought you to this moment.
All of those things have created an environment in your mind that is content to keep things just as they are.
And all of those things need to be addressed before you can make long term, lasting changes in your life.
I'm not saying you have to go through any sort of therapy, unless you choose to. I'm merely suggesting that while you're on your slow, steady, sustainable path to success, and you have found someone to model your own success after, you take a bit of time to do a bit of navel gazing and look at what /really/ makes you tick.
You see, you can choose any sensible eating and exercise plan you want... it's you, your goals, your attitudes and habits that will help you either stick to that plan for the long haul, or pull you from it at the first sign of trouble.
*whew* Finally! I'm done!!!
If you made it this far, KUDOS to you!!!
There you have it.
While the approach may be simple, it won't always be easy.
When was the last time you accomplished something great without being scared? Honestly, think about this. Being scared about your goals means that you are challenging yourself and are setting yourself up to do something beautiful and amazing - like discovering your true passion, your gifts and finding out just how amazing YOU really are!
I believe in you! I believe that you are worth the effort... Are you ready to believe it for yourself?