This year has been a heavy one. If we went back five years and told ourselves we’d live through a historic, global pandemic in 2020, we might’ve been hard to convince. It’s like a bad movie. Or maybe an inspiring movie, too, in some ways. There are so many photos and videos of people cheering on frontline workers, visiting loved ones through windows, zoom sing-a-longs…all kinds of beautiful things that emerge amidst the chaos, seclusion, and sadness. Isn’t that always the pattern, though? Struggle forces us to break through a new surface of what it means to be human. Lots of hard things converged this year, and we looked into the mirror. What are we doing to each other? For each other? How badly have we hurt the earth? How much do we need connection? Have we asked for change in the past while still being part of the problem we are trying to change? It’s a reckoning year. I am thankful for the beautiful moments sprinkled within all the ugly. I feel hopeful even if tired, dazed, and anxious, too.
Because it’s a heavy and multi-faceted moment in history, it is hard to know how to care well for ourselves. It is difficult to know whether to push yourself and hold your health to a high standard or relax and just “make it through” so to speak.
I have seen plenty of social media posts encouraging people to use the past months creatively and for things you’d never otherwise get to or have time for. Other posts vehemently oppose that stance and free people of all expectations, feeling that adding more to anyone’s plate might be more burdensome than helpful. I see both sides, and depending on the day can vacillate between which I find to be more helpful!
There is probably a spectrum that we all sort of land on regarding our health right now. Some may have relaxed a bit— an outcome from being quarantined, isolated, and having life upended in a number of ways. Others may have buckled down and sought to stay as healthy as possible to give themselves the best chance of fighting off COVID where they to become infected. And then there are the ones who went into quarantine unhealthy and came out like a new person— fit, trim, and motivated. Humans have a thousand ways to cope with hard things— and there is little precedent for our current situation. Wherever you land on this spectrum, no one should be judging you. YOU shouldn’t be judging you.
As I look to 2021, I understand that my mental health is tied in real ways to my physical health and by being intentional about eating well and working out, I am gaining some control in what feels like an out-of-control year. While I worry that the gyms here in New Jersey might close again, I know that by being a little creative and not being a baby about heading outside in the cold (which, historically, I am in the winter:), I can maintain my fitness and go into 2021 excited about being proactive, healthy, and reaching new goals— even if the beginning of the year still looks like quarantine, shutdowns, or just “not normal.” The New Year always feels exciting to me, and I love new fitness goals. This year doesn’t have to be different if we don’t want it to be.
Some people are motivated externally more, and others are able to find internal motivation. We all pull from both types to some degree, but evaluating which type of motivation helps you most can set you up for success. If you need external motivation, you can find this in a variety of ways to stay motivated.
· An accountability/workout buddy (can totally be virtual)
· Short-term, reachable goals with specific rewards at each milestone (new sneakers after a month of running— go for it)
· A personal trainer or coach (support a small business in this way, too!)
· Facebook or Social Media groups that give you some interaction with others and goals to compete for
I am much more internally motivated, which as an Enneagram One, makes a lot of sense. Showing up for my health and fitness feels like the right thing to do. I know I have one body and it’s my home for one precious lifetime. That thought alone has picked me off the couch time and time again to get to my workouts. If you are internally motivated easily, then spend a little time considering your thoughts around health and why it is so important to you. Crystallizing those beliefs can be helpful and even create some easy-to-remember mantras to keep you showing up faithfully.
I wanted to offer a short list of resources for all types of people to get their creativity around health and fitness flowing for 2021. Just because this year has been crazy heavy doesn’t mean it has to steal your goals and excitement for turning a page in 2021. If that feels like too much right now, that is okay, too! But some of us might need some normalcy around the end of December, and planning some personal fitness and health goals could be comforting and even a relief.
Can’t Hurt Me (if you respond well to straight talk and expletives; audio version is great:)
Finding Ultra (get a wealth of info while being inspired to challenge yourself at any age)
Compete to Create (for unlocking your potential)
· Connect a short circuit of exercises (like 10-15 reps of three different movements, i.e., squats, lunges, and calf raises) to something you do multiple times a day. For example, each time you go the bathroom or drink a glass of water, you perform this circuit like it is attached to that action. This gives you a prompt to remind you, so you will be more successful at doing your exercises faithfully.
· Write down your goals. We’ve all seen it a thousand times already— but this idea WORKS. Write down a series of short term goals: one week, two weeks, one month, three months. Give them each their own separate page in your notebook or planner and then underneath each, list your action plan in smaller steps. Be precise and make sure your goals are REACHABLE to build a sense of success tied to your efforts!
· Create a Pinterest board with healthy meals if you do not already have one. And then work off this, choosing your 7-10 favorites, creating a shopping list that you can always keep with you. If you shop unprepared, you will eat less healthy. Also, keep a list on the back of the dirty dozen and try to ONLY buy them organic!
· @richroll for incredible health & fitness conversations (although his guests span a gamut of all things inspiring, and his podcast episodes are packed with useful information)
· @kaisafit— she is contagiously happy, gives short movement circuits to try, and is a freaking beast of an athlete… #mygirlcrush
· @massy.arias for workouts from home, with minimal equipment and for agility/strength
If the gyms close…
· Get outside. I’m totally there with you if you hate the cold. I hate it, too. But bundling up, even for a hike or walk, isn’t the worst thing. Do something different to take your mind off the chilly air and focus your attention on the activity you are doing.
· Get yourself 2 sets of dumbbells. One set at a low weight and one at a moderate weight. This is an investment that you’ll probably never have to replace and will always be accessible. Put them in a place you SEE THEM EVERY DAY. Not under your bed. Not in your closet. Trip on them, friends. It’s a reminder they are there for a reason. Watch Netflix and get a 25-minute upper body workout in.
· Call a friend and be each other’s accountability. Have regular checkins. Support her/him like you want to be supported. It’s contagious. When you feel supported and encouraged, you will show up more often. This is a benefit of external motivation.
In January, for 31 days, I’m going to offer a daily newsletter with motivations, short circuit workout ideas, and healthy choices to jumpstart 2021. If you’d like in on this FREE resource, join HERE. I’d love for you to be on the list…we can all start 2021 on our own terms as far as our health and fitness is concerned.
Be smart. Stay healthy.
Sign up for an email each day in January to motivate and inspire you to make 2021 your healthiest year yet!