I’m not normally one to make New Year’s Resolutions. This year though, something has to give. I’ve been trying unsuccessfully and, if I’m honest, half-heartedly to get back into some semblance of a workout routine for over a year now. I think I’ve finally figured out a formula for success. At a minimum, it has worked for me this December. I think I have enough of a formula down that I’m willing to share it publicly and officially call it a ‘New Year’s Resolution‘. I’m hoping that by being public about it I’ll have extra incentive to stick to something that will make my mood, health, and well-being better this year.
Backing up a bit. Things went off the rails when I sprained my ankle (badly) on the way to a workout class back at the end of 2016. The doctors put me in a boot for four weeks. Four weeks was enough to drop right out of my routine. When I went back I felt out of shape and super discouraged. I stopped making it something I was committed to doing. Then I changed jobs. My lunch hour workouts no longer worked. I looked up from my desk six months later and realized I was no longer a little out of shape. I was a lot out of shape. I needed to do something different.
I’ve been trying and failing at ending this vicious cycle for most of the rest of the year. Putting a positive spin on things I’ll call it “failing up”. Through a process of elimination, I’ve figured out what doesn’t work and what might. I actually got a jump on things in fits and starts this December and have actually strung together about twenty days worth of workouts.
Failure: Evening workouts. Working late, having fun out and end of the day exhaustion made this impossible to commit to.
Lesson: Morning workouts are a must.
Failure: Working out at home. Since I need to workout in the morning the living room is simply too close to my bedroom to get me up and going. Basically, its too tempting to think I can stay in bed just a little bit longer if I only have to walk down the hall to workout. One morning I hit the snooze button enough times that I had enough time for one plank and one squat.
Lesson: I need to workout outside the home.
Failure: Coffee. I’m a night owl and normally can’t function before my first cup of coffee. If I was getting up extra early to workout I figured my coffee would need to be extra strong. As it turns out coffee right before a workout doesn’t work for me. I felt sick to my stomach. The coffee also made me want to linger at home.
Lesson: No pre-workout coffee
Failure: Caffeine Free Doesn’t Work for Me. Wow! The two mornings I tried to go cold turkey were awful. One morning, I got all dressed to workout and went back to bed. Basically, no caffeine at all is a non-starter. Energy drinks with caffeine picked me up but sloshed around in my stomach and need to find a bathroom mid-workout. Caffeine chews didn’t work well for me either they were too much like candy to make me feel healthy.
Lesson: Alert Caffeine Gum With 40 mg of caffeine in each piece, it equals out to a half cup of coffee. Alert is just the pickup I need. I set a piece out next to my keys so its ready to pop in my mouth as I walk out the door. I also have a spare piece stashed in my pocket if I need an additional boost mid-workout.
Failure: Early morning classes. While I used to love taking lunch hour classes at my gym when that worked with my schedule. I hate those classes when they occur at 6 am. I don’t have it in me to be with a bunch of other people and definitely, don’t want to look in a mirror at that hour. My best friend needs the peer pressure to keep going. To each her own, just find what works for you!
Lesson: Outside all the way! Rain or shine. Sleet or snow. For me, the fresh air seems to be the only thing that works wor workouts early in the morning. This winter I’m cross country skiing or jogging and then doing some strength moves on my front poarch at the end.
With all those failing up lessons learned, I’ve settled on what I think is a winning formula for my get back in shape and stay in shape resolution.
My Formula for Success:
- Morning Workouts. This is the only time I can find to workout consistently.
- Outdoor Workouts. Fresh air and distance from my bed make this work.
- Coffee Is Strictly Post Workout. Coffee, as I head out the door, makes me too queasy.
- Alert Gum is Key.
- Prepping the Night Before Is Essential. I didn’t fail up into this one I just knew searching for socks, or gloves would never work that early. So I lay it all out the night before. Every item of clothing, the gum, a water bottle, even my socks and shoes.
So far so good. This formula allowed me to sneak in 20 workouts this December. And despite a deep chill in the air, the New Year is starting out on track too.
Additional Tips and Tricks
*Make your goals bite-sized and they won’t be so hard to attain. My first goal was to workout two mornings a week. Much easier to execute on than my current goal which is 5x per week.
*Find ways to reward yourself that are a part of your get healthy goal:
If I make the extra effort to get to a certain trail and up a certain hill I’m rewarded with this view as I pant and catch my breath.
Although coffee is still something I drink throughout most days if I’ve been particularly good about my morning workout I’ll get a cup that looks like this as a reward.
Even a special salad from my favorite restaurant can turn into a reward at the end of the day. It’s certainly a little more special than the bag of lettuce sitting in my fridge!
*Forgive yourself! ‘Failing up’ is all about getting it wrong and learning from your mistakes until you get it right. Also, some days will just be hard. Last week I had a jog where the first ten minutes seemed ok. Then I had to stop and catch my breath every half block. I have no idea why but the next day I got to ski and it was great.
What is your winning formula for getting into shape? Getting back into the swing of things can be hard. Share what works for you so we can all fail up into a happy and healthy 2018 together.