goal setting

You are not too old and it's not too late!

Have you ever thought about something you would like to accomplish, a goal you’d love to achieve, and thought: I wish I had started 6 months ago; 1 year ago; 5 years ago; 20 years ago ... ?
Whether that goal/ dream is related to health, career, relationships, new skills, societal contributions, or any other area, it’s not too late. You can take a step today.

What are you doing between now and age 100? 

Our life expectancy is getting longer. It is not uncommon for a person to live into their 90s, and age 100 is no longer rare. So look at the age you are now and image a life span to 100. How many years is that? How many months? Do you want to imagine all your accomplishments and dreams are behind you?

Full disclosure: I am in my mid fifties. In many ways I find this to be a fantastic time in life to start new adventures. My children are adults and no longer need my daily time, energy, and parenting. I have solid education and experience under my belt. My head is more clear about what is important and exciting to me. Often in our 20s, 30s, and even 40s, we have so much going on which may/may not include: getting an education, developing relationships, working, starting a family, setting up a home, financial concerns, raising children, advancing a career, and on and on. At the same time that our lives are so full, we feel this pressure (from ourselves? from society?) to “have it all”. It’s not enough to be a parent, or to have a job. We have to be this top notch parent (so much could be said about THOSE pressures); have not only a job, but an interesting career that shows the world your passion; follow a rigid workout schedule; travel the world (gotta get those photos); write your memoir/fictional book/screenplay; be a great daughter/son to your aging parent; and I don’t know what else! Hey, maybe give yourself a break, because guess what? You CAN start something totally new later in life.

Here is my story. This is me in my 20s, 30s, and 40s: I have a good education [B. Sc (O.T.)], a career as an occupational therapist, happy marriage, children, home. Then I took a few years off to focus on family - there were a lot of pressures/demands and it was not a good time to be putting my energies anywhere else. When it was time to get back at the career, I was fortunate to have supportive people around to help me ask this question: do I want to do something new? Yes I did. However I was in my late forties and those nagging thoughts were there. Is it too late to start something new? Am I too old? Especially looking at moving into the fitness industry! As a woman teaching fitness, shouldn’t I be in my 20s and have a ponytail???

I took courses and obtained fitness certifications, including personal training. I started working for a lot less than what I had been earning, but realized how much fun I was having. Decided to start my own business, with steep learning curves all the way. But spending half a day learning through online tutorials was more interesting to me than dusting the house (hey, that’s just me). I joined networking groups, and put myself out there in many ways. Embraced social media which up until recent years was not in my wheelhouse, and talked to myself about getting out of my comfort zone - hello fellow introverts! Today suncoastfit is thriving and I lead successful fitness groups, train private clients, and have developed a program called “Walker to 30 Minute Runner”. My most recent exciting development is the soon to be published book “Walker to 30 Minute Runner”.

It turned out that those nagging questions were just that - nagging! NOT too old! NOT too late! And the image of the 20-something with the ponytail? Those trainers are awesome too, plus I discovered there is a niche for all types of fitness trainers. Many of my clients comment that they chose me because of my age - because I was relatable. So the age thing has become an asset.

That’s my story .. but what is yours? It doesn’t have to be about career, business, or any one thing. People start running, learn to paint, take on a social project, and do so many interesting things, starting in their 50s, 60s, 70s, and on.
It’s not about looking back and thinking I should have started then. It’s about looking at today and being grateful to have today to start. What is one small step you could take. 
You are not too old and it’s not too late. 
What is your story??

Staying on Track to Fitness Goals (Why is it so hard?)

A very common scenario: You want to meet a fitness goal. It could be showing up at the gym 3 times per week, attending a class once a week, running more kilometers, running any amount at all, doing a home yoga program, doing ANY exercise at all!! You feel motivated, write down the goal, buy your gym pass, purchase some new runners. Tell people about how great it is going to be. Make all sorts of plans. Then a month later berate yourself for doing only one workout and nothing more!!!

Guess what? You are not alone. In fact some stats show 70-80% of people who make fitness related New Year’s Eve goals have given up on them by February. In my work as a personal trainer, I often have clients ask me to set them up with a program that they can then follow on their own. I am always thrilled when in following up with my clients they are on track. More often I hear “AAAAAK, I don’t know why I fell away from my routine”.

First, don’t beat yourself up. Similar to many aspects of life, when we look around (especially on social media) it can look like everyone else is doing things perfectly. Other people’s perfect airbrushed highlight reels can result in wondering “What is wrong with me!!” Take it easy: here are some reasons WHY staying on track with fitness might be difficult, and some suggestions worth trying.

  1. We are programmed to rest when we can. Our early ancestors had no choice but to run (after food), to squat (to dig up food), to do upper body work (gathering wood) etc. They had to “exercise” all the time. So when these ancestors were able, it was in their best interest to get some rest. But you did not run for 4 hours today to hunt down your dinner, so understand that you have to overcome the resting instinct.

  2. We are social. Often the fitness routines that are most difficult to keep are solitary: going to the gym on your own or doing a home program. There is much less accountability, as you can fool yourself into believing your excuses, but others may not be as easily duped. Here is my personal story: I joined a running group to train for a half marathon. The first 4 weeks I showed up to every training session. One “hill night”, I skipped. The next running group day, a couple other runners said “hey, you missed hills!”. I started in about the weather that night, and how I was tired, and a couple other excuses, and then as I heard myself I said, “ya, those are all just my excuses”. Yes, even those of us in the fitness industry have struggles to stay on track. But it is a little harder to skip out on a session when others will notice. Recommendation? Join a fitness class, get a running/walking buddy, sign up with a hiking group.

  3. Habits rule our lives. Think about your morning routine. You don’t have to leave a note to yourself to brush your teeth, convince yourself of the reasons why you should brush your teeth, set short and long term goals around teeth brushing. You just do it; it’s a habit. Now habits can be either beneficial to your health (drinking a glass of water first thing every morning) or not (eating potato chips every day after work). So the magic bullet here is to develop the habits that will support you. When starting a fitness routine, it won’t begin as a habit as this takes time. But picture when it might be a habit. Is it sustainable? Is it at least somewhat enjoyable? Does it interfere with other important parts of your life? If you know that you can fit into your schedule 2 yoga classes per week, you enjoy yoga, and the timing works with other aspects of your life, this has a good chance of becoming habitual. The goal is having to think about it less and less as you continue with your fitness habit.

So recognize that your desire to rest is pre-programmed and you will have to actively overcome it. Finding something to do with other people, even a class with a bunch of strangers, can be a positive step toward success in fitness goals. Think about developing habits, those practices that become your lifestyle. Your lifestyle becomes your life.

Remember the idea is not to beat yourself up. It’s to lift yourself up.

What Are Your Fitness Goals?

Take a moment to think about your overall health and wellness.  Choose one area where you would like to see a change.  This could be increasing the amount of time you participate in fitness activities each week, reducing intake of a certain unhealthy food, quitting smoking, getting a better night's sleep, or incorporating meditation into your routine.  These are just a few of the hundreds of possible goals a person could have with respect to their health.  

Once you have one idea in mind of an area for change, state it in the form of a goal.  State it in a way so that you will know when the goal is achieved.  For example "get in better shape" is vague, and it can be difficult to determine when this has happened.  However, "each week I will attend two yoga classes and go for one 45 minute walk for the next month" is an objective goal.  At the end of each week, and again at the end of the month, it can be determined if the goal was met.  

For more details on how to set and write goals, look up S.M.A.R.T. goal setting.  A quick search online will produce many well written articles, so I won't repeat that here. 

Once you have defined your wellness goal, take this important step:  get out a piece of paper and a pen/pencil/coloured pencil.  Write that goal down in big letters, taking up the whole paper.  This gets posted somewhere you will see it everyday.  You can also take a photo of your written goal and make it your screensaver, so you will see it throughout the day.  The act of physically writing it down and frequently looking at your goal will switch your brain into gear to make it happen.  

Now take that overall goal and decide what steps need to happen.  With the goal listed above, going to yoga and walking, you may need to purchase a pass at the yoga studio, check your walking shoes, call up a friend and make a plan so you have a walking partner, organize childcare, check out the yoga studio schedule, etc.  Each of these steps carries you on your way toward the goal.  Take out another piece of paper.  Write out all the steps.  As you achieve each one, put a big (I mean BIG) check mark beside the item.  It will feel great as you check things off your list.  Don't do it in your head, do this physically.  

Get out your calendar.  This can be on your laptop, phone, diary, whatever you prefer.  Schedule time to achieve your goal.  These time slots are as important and non-negotiable as any other in there.  If you have scheduled 7:30-7:45 am meditation on Tuesday, then on Tuesday morning make sure you are ready at 7:25 with everything you need for a quiet 15 minutes.  

When you see your posted goal, when you notice the entry in your calendar, smile and feel proud. You are working toward a positive change.  Give yourself a mental and maybe physical pat on the back.  If there are slips, which will happen, do not beat yourself up! Tomorrow is another day and a chance to get back at it.

What is your health and wellness goal going to be?