It’s that time of year again – well, if you engage in year-end reflection and contemplate / prepare for the year ahead. Finding a reliable metric on the percentage of Canadians who make resolutions has proven more challenging than expected, but the Toronto Star tells me around 68 per cent made a resolution in 2012. Research conducted on behalf of Goodlife Fitness (by Ipsos), tells us that 33 per cent of those polled plan to make a health-related resolution. The website Statista tells us that after health and wellness goals, financial goals, travel and leisure and quitting bad habits are a respective second, third and fourth in terms of priority (I’m fairly certain they are simply reporting the Ipsos survey data without sharing their source…cheeky). Yet, the metrics around who keeps these goals is a bit disappointing to say the least. It seems very few of us stick to our guns and see our resolution(s) out. My reliable data source, the Toronto Star, tells me that only 19 per cent of Canadians see it through the year.
What are we resolving to change? We tend to focus largely on our bodies. Why? Because we want to improve our quality of life, prevent health risks, lose weight, have more energy, and so on (just check out the Ipsos data). These are great reasons, but I think it’s largely to do with our body-obsessed culture of looking like sexy, greased-up muscle gods (or beasts). We want to be the people we see everywhere we look (aren’t those paid ads on Instagram infuriating?) – and damn, that’s hard to achieve.
So what do we do? We head to the gym. We crush our first workout. We drink our shake. We eat our protein bar. We feel incredible. We know, without a doubt, we are going to kick this year’s resolution’s ass. And then, the next day…well, it hits us. We can barely move. Our arms feel like lead. Every step an agonizing stretch of tight (but stronger) muscles. We collapse on the couch, unable to put the peeled carrots and avocado in the juicer. We wallow in self-pity and reach for the almost-finished Terry’s Chocolate Orange under the Christmas tree (we realize we need to take the tree down and agonize over the pain we will feel when reaching the star). And we eat the orange (the chocolate kind, not the fruit kind). And we love it. We tell ourselves, “I’ll burn this off in my next workout…I’ve got this…OK…just one more piece”. We don’t return to the gym. We tell ourselves we’ll go tomorrow.
Side note: I love me some Terry’s Chocolate Orange.
We may repeat this cycle at another point in the year. Perhaps we save it for the following year. So why do we do it? Are we self-sabotaging out of the gates because we don’t want to run the risk of failing. Is it easier to fail with the masses at the outset than stick it out and fail later? Is it because we simply lack the grit?
Perhaps it’s because we are expecting too much too soon. Perhaps we need to take another look at the goals we are making and determine if they are reasonable. For example, if you haven’t been to the gym in 6 months, creating a workout routine that includes a 5-day regimen of weights, cardio and yoga is perhaps not going to end well (read above scenario with said orange). Even for those overly active folks, this sounds daunting. That’s way to much, too soon.
So what is Live It Active encouraging you to do?
Go back to those goals (you need to write them down to have any hope of sticking to them) and carefully review each one. Break them down. Make them simple. Make them achievable. Ensure you create gentle goals. And as you achieve, make your goals more challenging. There is no rule that says you can’t revisit your goals or change them throughout the year. In fact, you should be reviewing and updating on a regular basis. Why? Because we change as our lives change. Things are in constant flux and thus, having static goals simply won’t work. We need to be kind to ourselves and being kind means being realistic about what we can commit to.
Here’s an example of how to tackle this:
- Original goal: (A non-runner) Run 5 KM 2 times per week and one long run on Sundays.
- My thoughts: For a non-runner (someone who doesn’t regularly run and hasn’t trained in let’s say, six months) to commit to three runs a week, starting at 5 KM, is a stretch and will prove painful. My recommendation is to break this down a few more levels to set up for long term success. Your body and brain will thank you.
- My recommendation (and remember, I’m no professional): Find a local running club. The Running Room has great programs for individuals learning to run. They break running into 1-2 minute increments to start and build up from there. More specifically, you will start by running for 1-2 minutes followed by fast walking to recover. You will then repeat this as you build up your endurance, ligament and muscle strength, and overall mental grit. Running is as much mental as it is physical (perhaps even more). Also, having a support crew is awesome and makes entering the exercise world much for pleasurable. If you want to go it alone, look up beginner running programs and follow. Don’t push it.
- Revised goal: Explore local running programs. Find a 5 KM running group and / or a beginner’s running program online that breaks running into small increments with recovery time. Run 1-2 times per week of increasing length and speed, as advised by the running group or developed program. Follow rest and recovery recommendations.
The same approach goes for any goal – meditation, financial monitoring, calorie intake, cleaning…start off small and manageable. Be kind to yourself. Be patient. Change takes considerable time and energy and you’re going to have days and weeks when things don’t come together – and that’s OK. In fact, that’s normal and to be expected. If you’re able to forgive yourself and move on, you’ll likely have a greater chance of success.
In summary, go back to your resolutions and simplify. Break them down. Make them manageable and relatively easy to start. And as you grow and start meeting your goals, you can revisit and make them more and more challenging.
Happy New Year and best of luck with your resolutions,
Photo credit to Dev Dodia on Unsplash
Past Blog Posts
Blog: The Rejuvenation Retreat; a Monumental Success
“Transcending down into the ground of things is akin to sweeping the leaves that cover a path. There will always be more leaves. And the heart of the journey, the heart of our own awakening, is to discover for ourselves that the leaves are not the ground, and that sweeping them aside will reveal a path, and finally, that to fully live, we must take the path and keep sweeping it.”
~ The Way Under the Way, Mark Nepo
These delightfully apt words, shared by yoga guide and goddess, Tamie Murphy, kicked off Live It Active’s inaugural Rejuvenation Retreat on Saturday, August 19, 2017. Throughout the yin yoga session, Tamie shared a variety of different poems and sentiments to inspire and ignite the imaginations of retreat participants. Ignite the senses and imagination she did; the words and metaphor resonated powerfully with me. It was a beautiful reminder that the “leaves” of life – the dishes, the appointments, the sicknesses and the deadlines – are not the path, simply distractions, and that we must keep sweeping them to stay on course (perhaps with fewer grumbles). But perhaps it resonated most powerfully, because I have finally found (and am walking) my path (more on this later).
The Rejuvenation Retreat, set in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains at The Crossing at Ghost River Retreat Facility, was attended by powerful, creative, and beautiful mommas, all at different ages and stages of their care-giving role. Following introductions and intentions, we moved into our yoga session, followed by quiet reflection anywhere on the grounds, and mindfulness meditation (during which many enjoyed a quick snooze). Massage therapy was also available for anyone interested. During quiet reflection, many participants were drawn to the Ghost River to reflect, write and read. All came with different intentions, but there was one definite overarching theme – to take a moment, to clear thoughts, and to rejuvenate.
Lunch, served in the main house, was a joy to the senses. Hearty, homemade comfort food (with a much inspired flare) adorned plates for only a brief period before being gobbled up. Gentle conversation about our babies (and grandbabies) was sprinkled with much laughter and joy (my daughter’s poop story was a hit; I’ll spare her the future embarrassment by not immortalizing it on social media).
The afternoon exposed participants to a completely different experience for the senses: Shinrin Yoku or forest bathing. All a little uncertain, the participants courageously walked into the forest with local Shinrin Yoku guide, Ronna Schneberger and accepted the first invitation, “to pay attention to all that is moving in the forest”. After 20 minutes of simply observing we reconvened to discuss our experience and receive our next invitation.
As the afternoon progressed, we (myself included) slowly began to disconnect from the rush and swirl of the day to day (even though much had been let go in the morning) and tune into the natural beauty surrounding us. Tuning into our senses allowed our brain to rest and our bodies to relax. The final invitation, to simply sit in nature, allowed participants to reflect on the day and their intentions for the day, week, and beyond. We came together, drank tea, enjoyed some goodies, and chatted about how we can find more time outside with our families.
The day was perfect – the attendees, the space, and the magic of the Ghost River helped to create the atmosphere for rest and rejuvenation. I will be forever grateful to the women who decided to attend my first-ever Retreat; from the bottom of my heart, thank you.
I sincerely look forward to what the future holds for Live It Active and myself. As I said above, I believe I’ve found my path. This path will take a lifetime to walk, yet I excitedly await the challenges, joys, and will work to relish the inevitable sweeping of those forever falling leading me to my life’s work and calling: to help people find wellness, balance, and contentment in their everyday lives.
Live It Active will launch it’s first Speaker Series: Discovering the Inner (and Awesome) Parent in You on October 23, 2017. To check out our incredible speaker, Dr. Sheri Madigan, R. Psychologist and University of Calgary Professor, click here.
This day wouldn’t have been possible without the help of the following people:
- Carol Pegg, The Crossing at Ghost River Retreat Facility
- Karen Davis Rwankole, Photography
- Tamie Murphy, Yoga Instructor
- Ronna Schneberger, Shinrin Yoku Guide
- Leah Haveman, Massage Therapist
- Jenny Thompson, Website support
- Penny Sundstrom Mclaren, Logo Design
- My incredibly supportive hubby