With the marathon now behind me- two weeks behind, in fact, and the holidays winding down, it is time for me to stop resting on my laurels and look forward to what fitness in 2016 will mean to me. The past few months have been incredibly busy ones; not only was I in the midst of a super-duper running regime with my eye on that marathon finish line, but after spending much of spring and all of summer unemployed, I started a full time job just before Thanksgiving. Having the structure of a running program already in place helped keep physical activity a part of my daily life as I made the transition from person-who-has-more-free-time-than-she-knows-what-to-do-with to person who now-is-required-to-sit-at-a-desk-for-eight-hours-a-day-and-is-struggling-to-find-time-to-make-gym/dog walking/cooking-priorities.
With the completion of the marathon comes a brief and necessary respite from an intense running schedule, but without the set-in-stone dates with my running group, I’ve been finding it a challenge to make my workouts a priority. The biggest problem I’m faced with is that I’m a morning person and I’d like to be both at work and at the gym in the mornings because it is when I am at my best. Because I am bound by the limits of science and physics and because I do not know where Hermione Granger stashed the Time Turner necklace when she was finished with it, it is not possible for me to be both at work and at the gym simultaneously.
I am fortunate in that my new workplace (at a job I am starting to really like for its mental challenges even though I wish I wasn’t sitting at a desk for hours on end) is flexible and I am allowed to set my own 8 hour workday schedule. This is a huge blessing, and I know it. Because of this flexibility, I have been able to get myself into work as the sun rises and be at the gym ready to go by 4:00 pm. This is, in theory, plenty of time for a normal person to fit in a good workout and still have enough time to make a healthy dinner, and this is where I must find a way to compromise between my laid-back, no hurry no worry, unemployed schedule when I had to be sure to stretch my daily tasks to fill all of my waking hours and my new schedule of one who is gainfully employed and there now seem to be more things to do in a day and, even though I wake up a full hour earlier, less time in which to do them.
For me, the solution, as always, is planning. I’m taking time this week to buckle down on my meal planning so that there are fewer spur-of-the-moment trips to the grocery store for a single item and I’m also trying to make sure I have a loose idea of what I want to accomplish at the gym each week. It is much easier to decide that I don’t have time to go to the gym when the gym is this vague idea of somewhere I will go to do something in order to get a little sweaty; it will be harder to talk myself out of going when I know that Monday is “arms” day and Tuesday will be “legs” day because on Thursday I want to go for a run which means “legs” day can’t be on either Wednesday or Friday. Having a concrete plan makes it much harder to say “no thanks, I’ll pass,” and that is a good thing especially when it feels like my schedule, as often happens this time of year, has wound itself out of control.
It’s mind over matter for us as we wind down 2015 and look forward to new beginnings. It is time to make a plan and give ourselves a hard time if we make excuses and don’t stick to it. Its time to find a goal to work toward- it doesn’t have to be a big goal, maybe you’d like to be able to stay on the elliptical for 20 minutes without feeling like your heart will burst, perhaps you’d like to start lifting weights and have your eye on being able to do some biceps curls with the 10 lb dumbbells without dropping them on your toe, or it might be as simple as dragging your tired, sweatpants-clad butt off the couch and taking a mile walk five days a week- these are good goals! I’ve set myself another big goal of running the Hapalua Half Marathon in April and hopefully improving my time, and having that looming on the horizon will help keep me from becoming fused with the couch (so will the awesome new running skirt my parents gave me for Christmas! I can’t wait to take it on its maiden voyage).
Remember, as you’re setting your post-holiday fitness goals, to set some simple, easy to attain goals alongside your bigger, harder goals. It can be overwhelming to work toward the goal of losing 10 lbs if you don’t have the gratification of first accomplishing the goals of eating more vegetables, walking at least 10,000 steps in a day, or making it to the gym three times in a week along the way. These smaller goals help you achieve the bigger goal and give you that nice feeling of accomplishment, and there is no better motivator than feeling accomplished.