As one of my yearly goals, I decided I wanted to work on implementing one new habit per month, or kicking a bad one that was dragging me down. I made a list of what I wanted to achieve. I looked at my list and decided which habit would make the most difference in my life if I started to implement it immediately.
I decided exercising was the #1 habit I needed to work on for 2013. The weight has crept on my me since I had my daughter two years ago, and the extra pounds have been slowing me down. My knees were and back were hurting, my clothes weren’t fitting like they used to, I was having difficulty sleeping at night, and the stress of weight gain was pressing on me hard. Many of my family members have struggled with slow metabolisms and being overweight, and I know it’s not the kind of thing that goes away on its own. I wasn’t exercising and I was eating what I felt like when I wanted to, and that was showing up in many areas of my life- both seen and unseen.
Implementing a habit such as exercising isn’t easy. Most mornings, I had to force myself to get out of bed. Some days, I even had to pray and ask God to motivate me and give me strength because the temptation to throw my good intentions out the window were death-grip strong. I knew I would be reporting on my blog how I was doing, and I didn’t want to fail. On top of that, I know it needs to be done- just like laundry, or dishes, or showering: it *must* become a routine. On the days it was really hard, which was several, I forced myself to walk a single mile. After all- even 15 minutes of exercise enforces more of a habit than no exercise at all.
Initially, I wanted to work out every day, walking at least 2 miles, for a total of 10 miles each week. It became pretty clear pretty fast that exercising that much was unrealistic- at least in the beginning. My body needed to ease into cardio workout so I ended up working out, on average, every other day. I also learned that strength training is an important factor of good health, so I am working on planning an exercising schedule that incorporates both. If you factor that in with… life… sick days and exhausted days, then you can why a daily work out ranks below some other priorities.
Since I made exercising a priority in 2013, I’ve noticed the following differences in my lifestyle:
1. I sleep better. My current morning routine is to get up at 7:30 AM, pack my husband’s lunch and see him off to work, read my bible, work out, get ready for the day, and wake my daughter up at 9:30. (Yes, I know I am very blessed to have a two year old who sleeps until 9:30 every day! She’d sleep in past 10 if I let her.) Before, I would pack my husband’s lunch and then crawl back into bed until it was time for Alaina to get up. Since I’m not sleeping in as much and exercising tires me out, I’ve noticed that I fall alseep much easier at night.
2. I have more energy. When I work out in the morning, I feel like I have already accomplished a lot in a very little amount of time. This motivates me to be productive throughout the rest of the day. On the days I would skip working out, it was harder to get a head start on my day. Not to mention, conditioning my muscles makes it easier to do every day tasks- like making a bazillion trips up and down the stairs for a bazillion different reasons throughout the day!
3. I eat smaller portions. To me, moving my body more seemed more effective if I was also aware of what I was eating. I started paying more attention to serving sizes. I’ve been surprised at how filling a serving size actually is, and even thought I would have eaten much more that in the past, my body has adjusted to eating less. I’m also more aware of calories and how much I have to exercise in contrast to what I eat. That makes it easier to decide on whether or not I really want seconds at dinner.
4. My clothes are fitting better. I can certainly tell when my clothes are starting to loosen up, they are much more comfortable. Even though the number on the scale has barely changed so far, the number of inches is decreasing. I’m trying not to let the darn scale discourage me too much.
5. Working out is becoming the new normal. Before I go to bed, I know I need to allow myself enough sleep to get up at 7:30 am. I know I need to set out my work out clothes. I know that if I have something going on in the morning, I need to make arrangements to exercise during Alaina’s nap time. These things are all becoming- wait for it- a habit. YAY! That’s the point of all of this, right?!
In order to make this a habit in my life, I did the following:
::I woke up earlier.
::I used Leslie Sansone walk DVD’s at home- this allows me to work out while Alaina is asleep and we don’t have to pay for a gym membership.
::I walked outside when it was nice. It’s January, so there weren’t that many nice days. But, walking outside allowed me to add some variety to my routine. After all- working out a lot at home can get boring.
::I planned out when I would work out the night before, if I was busy in the morning, I made arrangements to do it that afternoon or evening.
::I used the app My Fitness Pal to track what I ate and how many miles I was walking daily.
::I sort of followed 21 Days to a More Disciplined Life- I’ve already read through this book several times, so it was hard for me to motivate myself to read through it again when I felt like I knew what it would say. However, I know that it truly is invaluable tool, and in February, I’m aiming to go through it again and apply it to my new habit. The book allows you to accomplish mini-goals while focusing on your habit, so I’m disappointed for letting those go in January. But, even when I wasn’t reading the book, I still held exercising to high priority. I’m proud of myself for at least doing that much.
After all of this- I’m happy to report that while exercising, I walked a total of 35 miles in January. I’m slowly chipping away at my goal of 520 miles for the year. I know that as my endurance gets stronger and the weather gets nicer- that number will continue to jump. I’m thinking I might even throw some 5 or 10K’s in- just for fun!
I’m going to take tomorrow to evaluate my list and decide which habit I’d like to work on next. I’ll also update you next month on how I’ve done with this. After all, a new habit isn’t going to do me any good if I forget about it when I move onto something new.
Did you work on any particular habit this month? I’d love to hear about it! And I’d highly recommend checking out 21 Days to a More Disciplined Life for some help in this area if you haven’t done so before!
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