We're very close to the start of a new year, and it's time to look back and reassess where we would like to go in the next year, and reinstate the programs that worked last year.
Lots of us have challenges around the holidays to stay on track and tend to stray away from our healthy exercise and nutrition programs, but that's normal, and usually we get re-focused around the first of the year.
Here's my question for my esteemed readers:
Looking back over the year, what WORKED to keep you focused and committed on your fitness program, while still keeping your life in balance with your other priorities and responsibilities?
I have a tendency to skip workouts. At heart, I'm a slacker, through and through. It's so much more comfortable and familiar to me to sit on the couch and eat something yummy than get my rear in gear and go do that workout.
So for 2006 I tried something new. I set minimum distances that I wanted to make every week, and tallied up how many weeks I met that goal. (Separate numbers for running, cycling, swimming and my nutrition goals). I set the bar very low - about the amount that I thought I could do "easily" - so that it was readily achievable every week even when I didn't really feel like it. Every week I kept good records (in the sidebar) and kept track of whether I had made it that week or not.
Everyone says that consistency is important, but I've never seen anyone provide a workable method of tracking exactly how consistent someone is - or isn't. This approach worked great for me, and helped improve my consistency ENORMOUSLY this year.
I did a lot of workouts on the last day of my week to meet my minimums that I normally wouldn't have done. Even if I felt tired and lazy, I could usually still get out for a couple running miles to put toward my weekly total. And every week I started out with a fresh slate - that seems to be important for me psychologically. Every single week I didn't have to make up for past slackness, but instead I was able to start over from scratch towards a new tally.
It also helped me to make a weekly plan and keep my daily numbers updated nearly every day and publicly viewable in my sidebar. I only missed updating it for a very few days out of the year, usually when I was traveling or sick, but I didn't use vacations, nor an "off season" as an excuse to slack off entirely this year. Even if no one but me really checked that sidebar, and I rarely (if ever) adhered precisely to the plan, posting the numbers there daily made me feel some accountability and reminded me of what I wanted to accomplish every day. It kept my attention correctly on the daily process that's needed for fitness, without getting too overwhelmed in the magnitude of the long-term performance goals.
For the first time in 2006, I don't think there were any weeks this year that I did *no* workouts - that's a new one for me! Normally after a big event like a marathon I would take off entirely for a week or sometimes even two or three.
It also helped keep my attention balanced on all four disciplines - so that I hardly ever completely neglected running, swimming, cycling, or nutrition - as I have a strong tendency to do while I focus on "other things". (Like sitting on the couch and eating, or sitting at my computer for far too long).
It added up! We're not quite finished with the year, but this is what I have accumulated so far:
2006 swim goal (1500 meters/week or more) met: 43/51 weeks
2006 bike goal (20 miles/week or more) met: 43/51 weeks
2006 run goal (10 miles/week or more) met: 40/51 weeks
2006 food log goal (5 days per week or more) met: 37/51 weeks
2006 swim total: 90 miles
2006 bike total: 2734 miles
2006 run total: 707 miles
I also lost about 20 pounds during 2006, and while my body weight has leveled off for a while, at least I didn't re-gain it.
I'm not burned out - I'm in a good frame of mind and fairly motivated to get started on a new year of challenges. I'll review my numbers and re-set my goals and keep rolling.
What worked well for YOU this last year??