New Year’s Resolution? Be Better.

Oh, how cliché. It’s New Year’s Eve 2019 and I’m making a pit stop at my much-neglected blog. Forgive me WordPress, for I have sinned. It’s been two months since my last post!

Cliché or not, I have the time (paid holiday) and inclination (new year inspired stirrings) to write something today. I’d like to say this will become a regular habit again, but I make no promises. After fifty-three years on this earth, I’ve learned that simply making resolutions and thinking that’s enough to make them stick is only a recipe for failure. I have one goal as we round the corner into a new decade. Just keep working at being better.

One thing I appreciate about getting older is that I’ve relaxed a little bit. My perspectives toward others and toward myself have softened. We are all human, and humans fail. Repeatedly. Some worse than others. What I’ve come to realize is that not all behavior is a conscious choice, but often the result of circumstances and environment. I think we can all love each other a little better if we remember that. And so maybe we can love ourselves a little better as well. I’ve begun to understand at this point in life is that the only true failure is accepting the shortcomings. Without hope, without perseverance, life can get pretty miserable. In 2020, I will keep pushing forward, pick myself up when I fall, and take another step.

One thing that I will not have to work hard on is fitness goals. That’s because, over the past year, I’ve found something that works for me. I have never been an athlete, and for the first thirty or so years of my life was not particularly health-oriented. When I finally made some changes for the better, they were pretty limited. I just didn’t know how to make the right changes. Still, it all worked well for a while, until it didn’t. As I entered my fifties, my body began to rebel. At the same time, I was spending a lot of time caring for elderly parents and I was simply tired all of the time. When my gym buddy’s schedule no longer fit with mine, I chose to stay in bed more often than I chose to get up and go to the gym … where I was barely breaking a sweat anyway.

IMG_8975One day my daughter mentioned that she was curious about a particular at-home workout program. It sounded familiar, and I remembered a former coworker who was active and coaching in the same program. I contacted her, signed us up, and was invited to join an online accountability group … a tribe of wonderful people who encourage each other through the failures and successes on a daily basis. That tribe was the key. I learned to eat better (not that I always do!) And I started out slowly, streaming the at-home workouts and committing to move my body regularly with a four-day per week program. Instead of doing the same few stale exercises day after day, during which I never broke a sweat anyway, I learned a multitude of new moves. I discovered that I can and do sweat! I learned that I could get stronger. I woke up in the mornings excited to start my workouts and didn’t even have to leave the house to do it. My confidence grew and soared, and it felt SO good. Every time I finished a day’s workout, I gained momentum and motivation to come back for the next one. And just this week, I finished the eightieth and final day of one of the more intense programs. I worked out and worked hard six days a week. I’m seeing toning in my middle – a place I never thought would be toned again. I’m noticing muscles I didn’t know I had. My body feels better than it has in years, but more importantly, so does my mind.

The workout program I just finished is something I never before would have attempted. And without the support of my coach and other challengers, I likely would never have kept trying. I literally cried with happiness when I completed the last day. It makes me want to keep working, and I will. I want to be fit and healthy so that I can not only live longer but live better during the years I’m around.

The realization that I can tackle hard things makes me believe I can do other things I’d sort of given up as lost causes. Every year, as one year comes to a close and a new one looms ahead, there are things I think I should do better, or simply start doing. Spend more time with family and friends. Write. Volunteer. Go back to church. There are things I used to do routinely, with little thought. I just did them. Some of these things seem so simple, and yet now that I’ve let them go, I struggle to take the first step in getting back to them. Next thing I know, a whole year has gone by and I’ve failed to do most of them. The days and weeks pass in a blur. When I come home from work, I often give in to the belief that I’m too tired to do anything productive. I tell myself I deserve some down-time to relax at the end of a long day. And sometimes that’s true. But sometimes, it only compounds the belief that there’s nothing left in my tank. I think I could use a bit more balance. I know that often, when I have specific plans after work, or simply talk myself into doing something more productive than vegging on the couch, it’s easy and it feels good. I feel accomplished and less sluggish. I want to do more of that. The mind is such a powerful muscle. It can literally make you … or break you.

This coming year, I’m not holding myself to a checklist of things that ultimately adds up to a list of failures and successes. I’ll be kinder to myself. I’m not saying I won’t try at all, but instead, I’ll encourage myself – like my fitness accountability group does – through both the accomplishments and the pitfalls. I’ll talk to myself like I would if I were talking to my daughter or my best friend. One day at a time, I’ll just keep trying to be better.