This is an update of a post originally published in 2015. I think it is important to take stock of where you are and if it’s where you want to be. If not, make a deliberate change to get on the path.
It is fall as I am writing this. If you made New Year goals, you should be in your “after” situation right now. This was going to be the year, you were going to make the changes you know you’ve been needing to. You were going to establish a healthy, disciplined routine.
Or maybe you’re on that vacation you wanted to get in shape for. The big trip you bought comfortable shoes for, in anticipation of covering miles of European cobblestone. Perhaps your active vacation was carrying golf clubs on your dream course. I hope some of you got to do that.
We Are All Busy
One of the biggest perks of my job helping people in the gym is that I interact with a large number of the same people on a very regular basis, and I get to see real trends as they happen.
It is fascinating. We are more alike and in tune with each other than we think. When the seasons change and the weather is beautiful, nearly everyone bounds in the gym with energy and optimism.
Likewise, I see moments when the collective sentiment is a very unenthusiastic “blah.” This was the case recently in Austin, and could have been caused by low grade, often undetectable mold allergies, according to a local acupuncturist.
This is why I can say with certainly that if you feel like your year has gotten away from you, you are not alone.
Summer is busy, fall is busier
Summer often passes in a blur of planning and flying by the seat of your pants. You’ve got to plan work and family schedules, childcare, summer camps, and vacation hotels and activities.
Regular appointments are subject to reschedules and cancellations, and long vacations end with a pile of emails and to-dos awaiting at the office.
Before we know it, summer turns to fall and the sweet relief of routine. Until after school sports, and new activities. Holidays and holiday planning sneak up.
And so, it is easy to see why our fitness routines fall by the wayside. We are almost a year removed from New Year’s Resolutions, where the abundant optimism of others propels you along too.
What Should You Do?
But you still have goals for your body even when life is busy. You still want your abs to be a little tighter, and your back to be pain-free. So what is a busy person to do?
Something. Anything, but do it now. Do not wait for “the right time” or til life gets a little less busy. It’ll never happen, because as soon as it does, something else gets thrown in your lap.
Healthy, successful people do not wait for the right time.
Pick one thing and commit to doing that one thing. What is that one thing? I don’t know. I’ll give you a list of ideas, but I recommend you take a mental inventory of your strengths. You know yourself and your habits better than anyone else.
Exercise is an extremely nuanced topic we could study forever. There are years-long graduate programs of study in exercise, and hundreds of thousands of research studies on exercise. The big things, however, are well understood: eat well and move your body. You know which of those you are good at, such as cooking a great chicken salad, or committing to morning yoga classes.
Your activity must be something:
You can do everyday, or with some regularity
You are 95% sure you can maintain
See what we are doing here? We are setting you up to be successful. We are setting you up to win.
Commit to doing this thing for one month. You can continue on if you like, but it’s perfectly fine to quit at one month.
No guilt! No guilt if you miss a day. Just prepare better so you can do it tomorrow.
Give this some thought, then if you choose to commit, give it a real, honest go. It doesn’t matter how small or insignificant the action is. You are making a commitment, making positive change, and establishing a habit.
Why Just One Thing?
People do better at change where there is only one change to focus on. After your month, you can pick a different one or add another. Remember, the smallest healthy change you make is better for you the the comprehensive health overhaul that you abandon.
(Reason #2 for just one thing, I always wanted to make a cheesy title like that. “Do this one weird trick!!” Haha!)
Stretch for 15 minutes every evening
Attend yoga or Pilates class 3 times a week
Floss your teeth every day
Drink 64 ounces of water every day
Weight train 3 times per week
Get 8 hours of sleep every day
Cook a healthy breakfast every morning
Have 2 boiled eggs every morning for the 12 extra grams of protein
Meditate for 15 minutes every day
Do a challenging sudoku or crossword puzzle every day
Express gratitude every day
Give a genuine compliment every day
Walk around your block every morning
Consume approximately 25/38 grams of fiber per day (female/male, respectively)
One final note. Email me if you need accountability! Email me to tell me your habit! I would love to update this list with healthy habits I haven’t mentioned, and I’m fantastic at nagging, I mean, checking in to see how you are sticking to your plan.
About the author
Kathryn Alexander is a strength coach and personal trainer in Austin, Texas. She loves hiking, college football, and the feel of a perfectly knurled barbell. Read more about Kathryn here.