Friday, February 23, 2018

February: A Chance to Begin, Again

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Michelle Sutton-Kerchner

Have more than a day. Decide to wake up and plow ahead, despite the fact it’s February …

February has a cruel reputation. Some consider it the most challenging month of the year. Dreary days, dark nights, flu, and overall boredom often keep people shut inside. The daily mood: ready to slip faster than an unsuspecting pedestrian on black ice. It isn’t surprising most  New Year’s resolutions have already been buried under a heavy wool blanket.

Hibernating Is for Bears

One third of those who make new year’s resolutions are expected to break them by the end of January.

Where are you?

Hopefully, you are in the midst of super progress. Though, it may be unlikely. After all, there was a bad cold, followed by a crazy work project, interrupted by that day it was too cold to even step outside. The list goes on. The excuses are unending, yet repetitive. Life coaches and wellness experts recommend a few simple steps to keep on track when your motivation is ready to hop the next train to syndicated TV-ville.

Go Easier

It's a lifelong journey, one small step at a time.
It’s a lifelong journey, one small step at a time.

If you’re struggling to reach goals, it is likely you made them insurmountable. Be specific. Rather than aim to lose 30 pounds, aim to accomplish the steps needed to get there. And, make those steps small. Don’t attempt an overhaul of your life. Recognize fitness and healthy eating are essential to a weight loss goal. Then, incorporate those aspects into your daily living.

Rather than trying to work out five days a week, begin with one. If one day is overwhelming, start smaller. Spend that designated fitness time in workout clothes. After a few days of this, spend one of them in workout clothes at the Center. Start with the smallest step and build upon it. Oversimplify.

An early-morning scenario: If you plan to begin a fitness routine in the morning, understand it is difficult enough to rise an hour earlier. Imagine an hour earlier while adjusting to a cardio and strengthening routine. Not many want to abandon a warm bed for a cup of coffee. Forget getting up early to exert yourself physically!

One step at a time. Get up half-hour earlier. Enjoy a healthy breakfast, along with the doughnut habit. (No need to quit that yet; today is for adjusting to an earlier wake-up time not pastry withdrawal.) If you feel inspired, do something healthy during this time. Grow accustomed to self-improvement during this earlier hour, even if only spent in gratitude for a new day.

Avoid starting non-related habits in the process. Stay focused on your ultimate goal for this time: a morning fitness routine, not a jump on the laundry. Perhaps prepare dinner ingredients for a healthy meal at the end of the tiring day. You may not be exercising at 6:00 a.m. yet, but you’re heading in the right direction for dropping those 30 pounds.

Be held accountable.
Be held accountable.

Next week, consider setting up a personal trainer appointment or your nursing evaluation during this new time. You’ll be used to getting up earlier by then, and can take the next step– accountability to the commitment.

Try this scenario or one similar at your next opportunity. The mind almost can be tricked into making such small changes. Life is a discovery process. Keep what works and discard the rest. You may find you aren’t a song bird but a night owl. Know yourself and customize goals accordingly.

Get Support

Once you set your baby steps in action, get others involved. (The accountability factor.) Inform your partner, best friend, and office mate of your attempts. Find a fitness mentor. Perhaps you notice her regularly hustling into a Group Fitness class, mat in hand and smile on face. Quietly join her, with or without a formal introduction. This may lead the way to workout buddies and inspiration galore. Maybe you see the same personal trainer monitoring the Exercise Floor. Ask him/her for advice and to keep a watchful eye for your attendance.

Most importantly, keep a visible tracking sheet for yourself. Check it off the old-fashioned way with ink to paper. Seeing this displayed in a prominent spot is a reminder GPS of your journey. Reward yourself along the path. In the beginning, reward frequently. As several weeks pass and new becomes habit, reward for larger steps. Make the rewards worthy. You’re working hard at this, even if it is only an earlier wake-up time or one less sweet treat a day.

Practice Patience

Until your baby step becomes a habit, avoid taking more. Make sure every step is attainable, and become charged by the small accomplishments. You are embarking on a lifelong improvement journey. Diet and exercise trends are often obstacles to creating a lifestyle. By definition, they are temporary (i.e., trends). Commit for life. It’s the only way to succeed.

Many rush into a new year with a list of resolutions. They do not have a plan, a compass, or any other helpful tools. They are overflowing with zest still bubbling from the holiday champagne and a bunch of unrealistic ideas. The material world dictates what is supposedly needed. In a frenzy, we charge toward it. Everything is sought after– from expensive sneakers, apps to track calories, and software to organize. Slow down and simplify. Only you can decide what you need for a healthy life. It likely does not require a shopping spree.

Everyone slips, even fitness gurus.  In the early days, your reaction to these mistakes or perceived failures is critical. Be gentle and forgiving with yourself. Again, be sure your goals are realistic and steps to reach them small. Their main purpose in this phase is confidence building; a warm-up to a lifelong health kick. Right now, your subconscious wants to proceed with life as it has always known it. Don’t give it any reason to revert back, such as expectations of overwhelming reform.

What’s the Word

Life Coach Brady Mikusko suggests choosing one word to describe the year as you wish it. Some ideas: wellness, balance, awaken, breathe, health, or joy. Grow your baby steps from this one thought for a year that flourishes in truly the right direction.

In China, 2013 is the Year of the Snake. The Chinese culture proclaims those from this sign need to avoid stress and hectic lifestyles. Sleep and relaxation are thought required for those born this year to achieve a long, healthy life.

Keep calm, picAlthough based in cultural tradition without scientific backup, why not go with the idea. Make this your year for achieving calmness. Make that your word. Surround yourself with quiet when possible and let the world speak to you. Meditation may not directly sweat off pounds, but it can certainly get you to the Center.

Calm. Invite it over. It’s an ideal, germ-free visitor for the season. For the year.

Counteract the Calendar

Enjoy a slice of summer.
Enjoy a slice of summer.

Bring the picnic indoors in front of the fireplace. Roast marshmallows from the hearth. Take the family to Family Swim at the Center for off-season water activity. Play Frisbee in the snow. Dance in your living room. Try a new recipe, biweekly. You may discover flavors of another time and place. Invite friends for a barbeque party and enjoy grilled food and salads. Sprinkle seeds for the birds and watch them indulge in the quiet of the cold outdoors.

Take summer favorites and put on a winter spin. Get creative and be inspired by today’s beauty. Befriend February. The moment has much to share. Before you know it, the complaints will be about shore traffic, kid’s boredom, and anything else that comes with summer’s heat.

Today is the first day of the rest of the year. Make it positive …


“New Year’s Resolutions, Will Power, and the February Fade,” by Lynette Crane at

“Will Your Resolutions Last Until February?” by Tara Parker-Pope at

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