April 02, 2013

Do You Bother With Baselines? April Goals & Giveaway



So for those who are new here, this is a monthly Cranky Fitness feature in which Cranketeers check in about goals, or maintenance, or life in general, and offer each other support and encouragement by replying to each other's comments.

We've got a couple of nifty MOVband activity monitors as a giveaway at the end of the month, for those who like to measure stuff to see how they’re improving. (Though sadly, this is one of those "U.S." only giveaways, sorry).



And, in my usual awkward attempt to link the giveaway items with some sort of theme, I thought I’d offer a couple quick thoughts on whether or not to bother establishing "baselines."

No, not the kind you have to hit a baseball on the correct side of or it’s foul.


Or, if you prefer, “fowl”.

No, I mean the sort of baseline that establishes exactly how pathetic or awesome you are currently, before you start messing around with some new sort of plan or scheme to get better results.

Oh, and, we'll also find out who the winner of last month’s Polar HRM Monitor is!



Baselines: Where the Heck are You Starting?

Sometimes it may be profitable to take a little time, anywhere from a few minutes to many months, to get more information about baselines before getting all hardcore about a new program or goal.

For example, say you wanna eat healthier, exercise more, and lose weight. Great!

Would it be helpful to have some clue what and how much you’re eating now, and how much and what kind of moving around you’re doing? Or would you rather just start doing things differently, content with the vague notion that you kind of suck now and would like to suck less in the future?

Why You Might Want to Establish a Baseline:


For some people, this can be useful to:

1. Ease the transition from thinking about changing to actually doing stuff differently. Not only is tracking existing behavior a convenient way to put a toe in the water of a possibly chilly but invigorating lifestyle change, but strangely enough, separating out the "self-observation" part from the "have to do anything about it" part can help you get better at both.

2. Get more information about what you're dealing with. The more you know about your existing habits and patterns, the better shot you’ll have at finding good opportunities to troubleshoot and design your environment to encourage success and avoid self-sabotage.

3. Establish an "It’s All Good: mindset." By measuring before you start changing things up, you can relax a bit about how much you might suck, because you're determined to make things better. And heck, you’ll notice improvements more quickly if you have a long ways to go!

Or, conversely, if things are not as bad as you thought, that’s great news too!

4. Motivation Boost: getting specific about what and how much you want to change can lead to concrete targets, which can get some people really fired up in a way that “I want to be better” just doesn’t seem to.

For example, after years on the sidelines, I recently started running again despite a history of plantar fasciitis, probably a bonehead move. And, not shockingly, I run a lot slower than I used to. But finding out how long it takes me to run a given distance is a strangely compelling piece of data! Now that I know what my baseline is, I’m way more eager to try to improve it.

5. Discouragement-Prevention. Change is often kinda f--cked up in the way it goes back and forth and up and down unpredictably. Knowing where you started, particularly if it seems embarrassing and pathetic now, will really help you down the line when you’re in a slump and tempted to forget how far you’ve come.

On the other hand…

Why You Might Want to Just Say Screw It and Jump Right in

These are far more self-explanatory, and you’re all probably bored by now anyway, so let’s keep this brief.

1. It’s too darn depressing to confront your current starting place and it just makes you want to crawl under the covers and weep.

2. You’re so psyched and full of momentum you don’t want to wait a second to start making changes, and you have a short enough attention span that you could get swallowed up by the internet trying to research measuring devices and tracking options and end up on the other side of a web wormhole watching sea urchins mate on youtube to the musical accompaniment of Enya, self-improvement plans long forgotten.

3. Tracking of any kind seems like a huge pain in the ass and you figure "you'll know it when you see it" in terms of changes for the better.

In any of these instances, then the hell with the baseline, just charge right ahead!

About the Activity Bands

You can learn more at the MOVABLE site; these are also designed to be used on a larger scale by companies or institutions, if you happen to have one that is trying to challenge everyone to get their butt moving.

Cribbing from promotional literature, you can:

Track your movement with our easy-to-use, wrist-worn activity monitor that records all movement, not just steps. The MOVband is equipped with three modes, making it easy to switch from time, to daily moves, to total move mileage.




About these Goal Posts and Giveaways

We're easy here!

A goal or aspiration could be about anything and it doesn't have to be healthy. Or you could be an anti-goal person who thinks goals are counterproductive but nonetheless have some interesting observations about your own inner workings or experiences or practical advice for others.

And while there is a giveaway component, the real point of these posts is that it's easier to stay on track with our continuing efforts to make our lives better when we know others care how we're doing! 

If you'd like to join us, the post is "open" all month, and I'll be reading and commenting as will a few hardy regulars, even if we all do tend to slack off a bit after the initial week or so.  (And hey, it occurs to me that the inherent drop-off is actually a good subliminal advertisement for life coaching!  Because you can't wander away as easily from your self-accountability if you have a life coach on your ass every week wondering how you're doing).

Giveaway winners will be chosen by Random Number generator, but as usual, a smaller secret group of participants will be nominated by me based on participation and/or other arbitrary indicators of awesomeness. And sorry again about the U.S. only thing.

Winners have a week to check back to discover if they've won.  And winners who don't think they'd use the prize or are from an ineligible country who check in in time can still "win" in that if they'd like, they can choose whom they'd like to have the prize go and feel all generous. Otherwise I'll re-draw.

And finally, Last Month's Polar HRM Winner is...

Walking with WalkerLady!  Congratulations!

Any thoughts on baselines? How did goals go last month and what's next on tap for April?

San Diego Chicken via Rolling Stone

151 comments:

  1. OK, this month I'm going to take my own advice for once, and spend from 3-5 days setting a baseline.

    I keep saying I want to put more time into "long term" versus short term pursuits, yet the daily stuff keeps calling more loudly.

    Whether it's ebook writing or coach marketing or professional education or whatever, I'd like to see how much time I'm currently carving out for future-investment type activities and then see if given concrete data, I can increase it in coming weeks.

    Fingers crossed...

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    1. Crossing my fingers for you too!

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    2. OK, thus far into my baselining: I TOTALLY SUCK at carving out time for long range goals. Seriously, a grand total of 45 minutes in 3 days.

      Which is awesome news 'cause I can only go up from here, right? Right??? Though haven't quite figured out what magical new intervention is that's going to enable me to do that. Anyone know how the scientists are doing on the cloning thing?

      Methinks a few more days of baselining combined with some brainstorming is in order...

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    3. Death Ride GrandmaApril 5, 2013 at 10:42 PM

      Crabby, I think you are too hard on yourself. What's wrong with 45 minutes??? I know plenty of people who never get close to that. If you keep that goal in your mind, and don't give yourself such a hard time that you're feeling too guilty & worried to come face to face with it, it'll happen. There's a famous business grid that lists urgent & not urgent on one side, and important & not important on the other. Urgent tends to get done, even if it's not so important. The problem always lurks in the important but not urgent quadrant, and long-term stuff tends to lack urgency. So at least you're not alone. I certainly find myself there often enough, but it always seems to work out ok. And brainstorming sounds sort of fun, too.

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    4. Hey thanks DRG!

      And yeah, I've seen that grid and it's really helpful conceptually, yet dang it, the lure of Urgent/Unimportant is so hard to resist. Especially since it's so dang comfortable and familiar.

      Funny that yet again this is another example of stuff I seem to be able to help clients with, yet still struggle myself. Heal thyself, smartypants lifecoach!

      But you're right, 45 minutes every few days is better than nothing, and hell, it's a BASELINE.

      I'm currently trying to figure out whether investing some energy in a shiny new productivity toy I just bought (voice recognition software) counts as "long term" stuff or if it's really just a form of goofing off/play... but hell, even if I love toys at least the aspiration is that I'll ultimately save some time with it. Given your generous conceptualization of all this, I'll borrow your attitude and add that time to the 45 minutes and things are starting to look a little better!

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  2. I set goals every month, and I try to make them bigger each month (albeit only marginally). This month I've set goals to do with increasing my online revenue, also strength goals to achieve a the gym and of course how much weight I want to lose.

    As the old saying goes, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail :)

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    1. Online revenue? OMG Paula, if you get that figured out, someday I gotta move out of my plan to fail strategy on that one!

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  3. When I got my personal trainer back last spring, I refused to do any kind of initial photo or measurements of weight or body fat because this was about wanting to develop healthy habits and build strength -- not about moving away from some "bad" version of me toward a better one. For people who are not such neurotic wrecks that they immediately assume "baseline = bad version of me", they're probably a good idea. But I prefer to just note new accomplishments and aim for even better next time -- all future oriented and positive.

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    1. Interesting Trabb's Boy about the "baseline = bad version of me." Makes me think about how easy it would be to subconsciously equate "area I'd like to improve" with guilt/shame/etc.

      I want to consciously reclaim the pre-change version of myself, in whatever endeavor, as a sympathetic, well-meaning character who just could use some guidance and encouragement and try to be gentle with it.

      Hmm, will be heading off to the shelter later, maybe I will picture the prechange part of me as one of the kitties or pooches who just needs a little help learning boundaries and getting a bit more adaptable in order to end up in a happier place.

      And sheesh, am I getting cornier and cornier or what?

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    2. i get that "bad version of me" thing. I used to want to forget and vanish any proof of my "current" self. But once I had my daughter (almost 6 years ago) I became cemented in reality. So many photos! So now I've sort of embraced the current me and I like to have that baseline so that I can really see how far I've come, I guess. There's no getting past someday sitting around looking at old video or photos of my fat self... I just want to do it in my fit and healthy self. I even find myself loving this sculpture of a heavy woman I saw on Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/listing/107571553/counterbalance?ref=shop_home_active
      I'd love to have her in my garden someday. (But not necessarily while I look so much like her.)

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    3. Wow, tree, thanks for linking to that sculpture, it's beautiful! And a reminder about how screwed up we can be about body image that we can fail to appreciate that beauty when we're not hit over the head with it by a talented artist. Thanks!

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  4. OK folks, heading off for a busy day but will definitely be back to reply to comments later in the day if anyone wants to pop back later and chat. This is my favorite post of the month!

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  5. I don't think I'm setting a goal this month - maybe I can spend the month figuring out what my next goal should be and establishing a solid baseline! I like the idea of the baseline but I'm awful about actually doing it! It would be an easier way to set a cap on the goal maybe.
    And, because I'm flaky these days - I might change my mind later and come back in with an April goal!

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    1. Let's reframe "flaky" as flexible, Kim! And I think figuring out a goal IS a goal, and sometimes it can take more than a month. Committing to the process of looking at it is pretty awesome, so good luck!

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  6. Baselines and monitoring... I'm a "gamekeeper turned poacher" on this one - there was a time when I could have told you my PBs, both running and cycling, over my ten or fifteen frequently used routes without even hesitating. And for the two or three that I hammered the most, I could even tell you what was a good split time at certain points!

    That would have been fine if I was the kind of person who's actually interested in the numbers, but I think the reality is that I was just doing it because I felt like I should... Eventually, just last year, sanity prevailed! I uninstalled Endomondo from my phone, took the computer off the bike, and stopped paying any attention to how far or how fast I was going. I stopped weighing myself at the same time, so now I'm limited to the very vaguest idea of distances or times and could only hazard a guess at my weight, but I'm enjoying the process a lot more and my jeans still fit, so I'm happy with the new approach! #8-)

    Your mileage may, of course, vary.

    Anyway... After skipping a goal post (or two?) because I was working with a Thoroughly Awesome Life Coach, I'm all ready to go with April's goal! I use a flashcard program called ankidroid on my phone (and its more basic web interface) for studying Spanish vocabulary; but I have a problem. I read in Spanish as much as possible for practice - blogs, books, magazines, you name it - and I look up every word I'm not totally sure about. Every word I look up becomes a flashcard, and I have a backlog of HUNDREDS of them with more being added every day!

    So, my target for April is to complete all the flashcards Anki sets for me every day, up to a maximum of 140 reviews and 10 new cards (I already know I can't take in more than ten words a day) each day. I think that's a commitment of about 45 minutes a day, which thanks to the work with the Thoroughly Awesome Life Coach should be possible while still getting more other stuff done than I was previously.

    Not even slightly fitness related I know... Sorry! #;-)

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    1. This is so awesome Shadowduck, love the flashcards and the way you've broken it down. But even more I love the way you were able to consciously look at baselines and measurement and 'progress' and figure out what worked best for you!! (Also love the gamekeeper turned poacher analogy. Hmm, I think I'm a poacher turned gamekeeper at the moment but you never know when I'll next be sneaking under a fence past a No Trespassing sign. Probably any minute now...)

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    2. It could be fitness related, Shadowduck, depending on what you used the flashcards for. I have no time to download and play with it this week, but I will be. I think I should pick your brains on a regular basis.

      Mary Anne in Kentucky

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    3. Anki's awesome, solarity, I'd recommend it for pretty much anything that can be worked into a "prompt and response" format. And my brains, such as they are, are always available for picking!

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    4. Death Ride GrandmaApril 5, 2013 at 10:51 PM

      This sounds very cool. Maybe I'll set that as a goal for after the Death Ride. Once upon a time I knew Spanish fairly well, but it's long gone. Hurray for your system! And thanks for introducing it here.

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    5. I"m happy to forget fitness for a moment. Especially for the cool flashcard technology!! I think I can use that for studies as well!
      And sounds like a sure fire way to increase your vocabulary!

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  7. So far in 2013 I've only been focusing on increasing my mileage. So with 3 months of running I've hit a weight loss stall. April my goal is to clean up my diet and work on my abs! ...while maintaining 20+ miles a week :) Wish me luck! Day 1 & 2 have been successful ;)

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    1. Congrats on a great start to April! Sounds like a cool goal to maintain on the mileage while working on the diet and abs. Good luck with the expanded goals!

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    2. Congratulations on 3 months of running!!
      I think working on abs is always important and thanks for reminding me of that!
      Wishing you much luck!

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  8. I have recommitted to exercise and healthy eating, on my 4th month now and I am down 17 pounds. While this is good my goal is to be able to eat 1200 calories a day and still lose weight, that was on 900-1100 calories, yep messed up my metabolism. I am doing Jillian Michaels program and love it and she said you have to commit to eating enough calories in order to reset your metabolism so you can lose weight and get enough nutrition. It is a hard goal because I want to see weight loss and 1200 a day (I'm 50 and 5'2...)even with doing the workout videos every day I may see 0 or 1/2 pound a week loss and that is not motivating for me! Wish me luck, I would love to win this so I can track better!

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    1. Hey PaperSunshine, that's great that you've been able to maintain the hard work over 4 months, but how frustrating that your being "good" by dropping your intake actually messed things up. Sounds like some sensible advice from Jillian's program to eat a bit more, and I bet your body is going to appreciate the extra fuel.. and probably turn it into muscles since you're doing so well on the exercise.

      Good luck!

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    2. I'm in the same boat PaperSunshine. Being short and 45 means you get not much in the way of calories if you want to lose weight. 1200 does it for me with exercise. But it is slow, instant gratification does not happen. If I go below 1200, it does not work because I cannot live with what I get to eat. 17 pounds is an awesome weightloss!

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    3. Oh my goodness, 1200 sounds like a frustratingly small amount to work with. Must take some creative plotting and scheming to get within budget and still have treats, and also must take a LOT of patience. Great that both of you are resourceful and determined!

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    4. Death Ride GrandmaApril 5, 2013 at 11:00 PM

      Good luck!

      I am NOT an expert on this stuff at all, but I do wonder if you really need to get down to 1200 calories. Once upon a time I lost some weight (about 30 pounds) and I know I was eating more than that. I am 5'1" and I was about 50 at the time. I did keep cranking up the exercise level, but for the first several months, it was only 30 minutes on the stationary bike.

      And you really should congratulate yourself on that 1/2 pound per week. First, it means you are sticking to your plan, and second, for what it's worth, I often find myself thinking that slow and steady may be the secret to sustainable weight loss. At least that is what worked for me. It's sort of easier to go slow & incorporate little changes you can stick with. I've been at more or less the same weight now for over 10 years, and I don't think I ever lost more than 1/2 pound in a week. So I'd say give yourself a big pat on the back - you're doing great!

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    5. Totally agree with DRG, slow and steady is the way to go!

      "Be not afraid of going slowly, be afraid only of standing still."

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    6. oh man, paper sunshine... that is grueling, I know. I can tell you that I know someone who lost over 100 pounds and she had more stalls and weeks with 0 pounds lost than I could have ever withstood.
      I agree so wholeheartedly with the need to eat enough calories to lose. Especially at our age (I'm 48). It took me years to let go of those times in my 20's and 30's when I could lose 10 pounds in 3 days by not eating.
      I think it's vitally important to look at where your calories are coming from. That is what might make the difference. This is why Weight Watchers won't work for me... I'd eat all my "points" in frozen weight watchers treats!
      I wore a bodybugg for a while a few years ago and I did love it. It inspired me all the time to do a little more. I even danced around while doing dishes and it made a big difference!
      Hope you win one!

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    7. Thanks Tree and Shadowduck, it's so easy to feel stuck and discouraged and it's so helpful (for all of us!) to get your perspective and wise encouragement.

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  9. No need for me to win, but I am playing along. I just started bike riding again. My goal is to work back up to an upper mid-range gear, say 14th. I found anything higher was too hard on me and I needed a few days to recover. My goal is to do some of the 12 mile routes I used to do a few years back. If I don't, it's cool, I'm still riding.

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    1. Hey great goal Leah, and sounds like you already know your baseline. Biking is such a great way to get out, and I know you are the sort to make an adventure out of every outing.

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    2. Heh... My commuter bike has eight gears and my "proper" bike for longer distances has twelve, so fourteenth is forever out of reach!

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    3. Death Ride GrandmaApril 5, 2013 at 11:02 PM

      Yeah, Leah! Riding is so much fun!

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  10. I hope you have worked on your foot strike and run on softer surfaces, Crabby.

    Those Hooter's Girls that worked some of the Spring Baseball games didn't seem to know fair from fowl! Of course only the die-hardest of the baseball die-hards
    were dumb enough to complain about it. I imagine they were beer-deprived at the time.

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    1. Thanks Dr. J; YES I have indeed been working on foot strike and only run on soft surfaces. Plus I limit running to just a couple of quick runs a week and don't push it. I'll back off and bench myself immediately if any pain recurs. So far so good, but I'm not going to be an idiot about it like last time.

      And that's pretty funny about the Hooters girls!

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  11. I'm not a numbers person so baselines don't do a lot for me, but I have to say that my friend and I are running intervals and it IS fun afterward to compare how we did, say, today, to the last time...and seeing the improvement makes all the huffing and puffing that much more worth it.

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    1. Good for you Shelley for doing intervals! Hardcore but the payoff is huge. And you made me realize that I could get data on intervals myself since they are definitely something that require a motivational boost.

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  12. I live by baselines, a habit carried from my management days when "if you can't measure it, you can't manage it" was my mantra. In my early days of exercising regularly (way back in 2007), I couldn't do *anything*. Not even one real push-up. I was humiliated and embarrassed (there were tears on one particular day), but I turned around my thinking by focusing on the fact that the math was going to be really, really easy when I calculated my progress. Silly, I know, but it got me back into a more positive and upbeat frame of mind. :)

    These days I do multiple sets of push-ups and I made it up to 53 in the Hundred Push-up Challenge (before getting bored with the program, rounding up and calling it done). Now I'm working on explosive push-ups and am soaring at approximately 1-2 inches off the ground. None of this will win me any fitness medals...until I compare it with my baseline of zero. When I'm successfully doing a hand clap in the middle of that explosive push-up I'll have these days of 1-2" clearance to look back on.

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    1. Wow Cammy. You are my push-up idol. I'll be happy to stay off my knees for more than 15. But yeah...starting small. :)

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    2. Wow Cammy, that's the most inspiring "baseline" example I've heard in a long time!

      I'm kind of where you are with explosive push ups, and have always wanted to do the "clapping" thing. Thanks for the inspiration!

      And bdaiss, 15 full body pushups is an excellent goal that is way beyond what most women and many men can do, so go you!

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    3. Thank you. There are people who can out "push" me any day of the week, but I (finally) learned not to compare myself with them. I'm much better served comparing myself to my starting point.

      And yes, @bdaiss, 15 is an excellent goal. I didn't mention that I do two reps of 5 (for now) of the mini-explosive push-ups. Race you to 15? (I'll probably need a few months head start.)

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    4. Are you kidding me?! Explosive push ups?!! You give me hope, Cammy!

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  13. I fall in the second camp. I am too impatient to set baselines. If I get to the point where I am going to start measuring something, chances are that it is because I know what I am doing now does not work and I want to move on . . . and the sooner to move on the better. :)

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    1. Good that you know yourself Dave and that you're happiest diving right in!

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  14. March found me completely off my game. On every front. So I guess you might call April a baseline. I'm trying to get back to my regular plans. Less junk in our diet, less mindless internet, less dead space. More planning, more projects, more check marks on my to-do list. We're bringing the kids out to sunny CA over Memorial Day (Legoland and Disneyland) and I am determined not to do that in a mu-mu and with a pile of stuff left at home to worry over.

    Gonna have to check out the MOVband. I'm *this close* to picking up a fitbit. (Just debating if I want to wait for the Flex or go for with One.)

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    1. Ah shoot bdaiss, that's frustrating. But did you see Anonymous's comment on the April Fools post? Apparently April 1st has a great tradition as being a whole "new year" and clean slate for fresh starts. Especially if you're French, but heck, I say we can all cash in.

      I'm so bummed we just miss each other as it would be fun to see you in California! But we'll be landing on the East Coast just about the time you arrive.

      Some day I hope!

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  15. Most things, i just jump right in, because i don't want to know how bad it got before i started working on it. Oh, well.

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    1. Well, jumping right in can be a really great stategy messymimi!

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  16. For me, everything depends on the situation & what the goal is - sometimes baselines are important to me & other times not. I think with food & clothes size, a baseline is good to track progress... just me but hard to really assess things if you don't know the size you start at if you are using clothes vs, a scale for a baseline.. AND if you don't lose or change to a smaller clothes size, best to know that you are putting in your bod...

    Others like just life or me movement - no baseline - maybe it is just to be a better person or stop the negative self talk which is one thing that has always held me back & still working on that. I think all the NOs I have gotten thru life come to haunt my mind. Some periods in my life are better & some not so good - now being a so-so time...

    Sometimes I think formal goals may put too much pressure on some & actually burn them out so I think this depends on the person... some thrive on it & others not so much...

    Great as always Jan!

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    1. Good point Jody that some things are too hard or too weird to baseline... like negative self talk. How many times a day? Hard to picture getting that on a chart!

      On the other hand, NOTICING it when it happens more and more often is the first crucial step to changing it. Realizing you have different options and practicing swapping out those negative thoughts with positive ones can't happen if it's happening at the unconscious level. The fact that you're aware of the negative self talk and working on it... that's huge! Hope the so-so shifts into awesome really soon!

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  17. Forgot to say that I still think you should try the Hoka shoes for your running - they will change your life! :)

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    1. I am going out of my way to check out those Hoka shoes this weekend! I don't run but I have osteoarthritis in my knees and need a quality shoe. They really look interesting to me too!

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    2. Hokas are TOTALLY worth the exhorbitant cost, IMO! Even thought a PT had me recently start alternating with more minimally oriented shoes for shorter walks - even she said go with the Hokas for medium to longer ones.
      And - yeah... I walk. Too many aging body issues. But, I walk pretty fast and it IS a bonafide workout. And - yes: I totally miss running. Even though I was never fast or even "quick". I hate explaining to folks over and over that when I do events, I am walking. So, most of the time I don't explain. Anyhow - the Hokas? Go get a pair!!!
      And, baselines? This is the FIRST time I am completely embracing that notion. I took the "before" pictures recently for the just recently commenced program; took the measurements, etc... The real "test" for me in this is in how much acceptance of what and who I am right now and who I become I can muster. It's not really about the pictures or the stats.
      And I'm actually looking forward to all this! Who knew?

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    3. Wow, perhaps I need to give these Hokas a shot someday! You guys are really tempting me.

      Oddly enough, I've been having the most luck with a semi-minimalist shoe, it seems to go well with foot-strengthening and a shift to a midfoot strike, but should I ever get more regular about running and be tempted to go more than a few quick miles, it sounds like Hokas might be the answer!

      Hmm, I wonder who their PR rep is... where are those lovely shoe offers when you need 'em?

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    4. Oh, and Anon, how funny that we are totally on the same psychic wavelength about re-embracing baselines? ;) Love the way you are framing the self-acceptance as part of the goal apart from any external "progress". It's by far the most important part! Yay you!

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  18. Did you hear me holler your name? Oh wait, you are Crabby McSlacker, not Crabby McStinker!!! I couldn't believe I won!!! Thank you, thank you, thank you! I knew bribery would work! hehehehe

    I am hoping the prize will help get me back on track too. Today I DID make it to my first martial arts class ... and survived.... and didn't hurt myself or others around me! I have about seven more free classes to go. I needed to do something to motivate me to get back on track with my exercising. I get bored so easily!

    My goal is to try the martial arts, for the free one month trial. Then spend the money for a membership there or at a local gym. Somehow I am going to find the money for a trainer for at least a few sessions if I go back to the gym. I wish I could afford one all the time! Things never did work out with the trainer I was trying to meet up with a few weeks back and I have given up on him. :(

    I hope to get a photo of me in my martial arts outfit. I think it is called a Gi. If I do, you'd better not laugh at me. I felt SO out of my element today! My class included four boys...teens or tweens maybe, one 20-ish year old girl, and the two instructors, one male and one female. I got lots of special treatment...I am sure it wasn't because I have the coordination of a donut.

    Thank you again SO very much for the prize!!! Smooooooochies!!!! :D

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    1. Oh and I am going to record my baseline measurements to see what changes happen over the next few months. Tho I have not gained or lost weight, I think I have gained belly inches! grrrrrrr

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    2. Which martial art are you experimenting with, Sherri? There are probably better uses of time purely in terms of fitness, but they're a great way to work on flexibility and agility - and a whole TON of fun! I'm in preparation for my jujitsu black belt grading, probably some time next year, and still enjoying it!

      By the way, a gi is the most common uniform (there are others) so it's a fair bet you've remembered the name correctly.

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    3. Taekwondo and it is a good move for me if my sore muscles are any indication this morning! I am just this side of 60 and any exercise is a good thing right now. lol I have about eight lessons in this free package and classes are twice a week. Once that is done, I am pretty sure I will go back to strength training in the gym. I liked it so much last fall and it did do a lot of good for this old body!!!

      I really wanted to just try the Taekwondo for the novelty of it, They know I am in it for the exercise, not for defending myself. I will be happy with my white belt and the free gi that came with it, I DO plan to get photos too! It all gives me even more appreciation for those who have advance to any level above white belt. :)

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    4. I agree with Shadowduck as to gain from the gym vs martial arts training at this point.

      BB in jujitsu is quite an accomplishment! Congrats! (BJJ?)

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    5. Wow, I know nothing about martial arts so this is fascinating!

      Sherri, sounds like a great experiment and that you know where it fits in the overall context of your healthy goals, and that you're having fun with it! Plus, if any other cheap or free martial arts classes come your way in the future you already have the gi. And who knows, I think there are also sometimes gym classes that incorporate martial arts moves in cardio classes, and while purists might sniff at how inauthentic and cheesey they are, those of us who don't know any better might still get something out of 'em. If one came along you'd be that much less intimidated by having some familiarity with at least one martial art.

      And as women, I think we could all learn more about self defense, so that's a bonus too. Can't wait to see the pictures!

      Will get to the post office soon to mail the polar, could you send (or resend, can't remember) your mailing info?

      And hey, thanks guys for pointing out the strengths and weaknesses of martial arts as exercise, I didn't know any of this stuff.

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    6. @Sherri D - Ah, the "morning after aches" ... always a sign of a good session. Twice a week is quite a heavy schedule for a beginner in martial arts - we have a lot of guys start with us saying they'll be doing both sessions, then changing their minds the morning after the first one! #8-D

      @Dr J - No, we do a more traditional style (if there is such a thing in jujitsu), though one of our instructors likes to play around with Brazilian floor work so we do get some exposure to it. Jujitsu isn't as regulated as most martial arts, so although there is a core of techniques that all dojos will cover, outside of that it's pretty much up to the chief instructor... We borrow ideas from Aikido, Judo, Krav Maga, police and military techniques and even boxing and professional wrestling if they look useful!

      @Crabby - For self defence, it's worth learning some basic escapes from strangles and holds, but apart from that you're better off working on your sprint speed and middle distance endurance running! Martial arts are the last resort for when you have no choice but to fight...

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    7. Good point shadowduck, and you can bet RUN would be my first reaction. But probably wouldn't hurt to have some clue how to to wriggle out of a bad guys clutches should the unfortunate occasion ever arise. Or, buy some bad-guy spray. Used to have a canister of something or other that needed a license decades ago... don't even know if that's even recommended any more. I haven't kept up with self defense advice, perhaps a future post...

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    8. I am always game to try new things...especially when free. :D

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  19. My New Year's resolution was to set a different goal every month - that way, I'd always be working toward something, but it would be dynamic and I could adjust it based on what's going on in my life. In March, I focused on my appearance - trying to dress better, pay a little more attention to fashion, etc. This month, my focus is my finances. (Hmm, no shock that with all the shopping I did in March I now have to cut back a bit here!) January and February were about diet and exercise, so I think I'm making some pretty well-rounded changes so far this year :)

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    1. Hey Laura, I think the different goal every month thing is a great approach, and in fact I kinda stole it for these blog posts! Seems to be a way to keep forward momentum going in life, but address the fact that we have to pay attention to balance or things get out of whack.

      So good luck on finances this month! Got any things in mind that might be relatively easy opportunities to cut back?

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    2. Oh, and if you didn't see it, I think Clarissa has a response for you too downthread.

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  20. Dang, more replies coming later for checker-backers, can NOT seem to get online today and due for a rendezvous but back again later!

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  21. I have an autographed photo of the San Diego Chicken....don't be jealous.

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    1. I AM jealous Starving Bitch! The chicken always cracked me up.

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  22. Hey Laura
    I love your idea about setting different goals every month. Such a great way of breaking out of the boring 'staticness' (new word) of traditional goal setting. After this Easter's massive consumption of chocolate I know what my April goal is!

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    1. Clarissa, good luck on April chocolate moderation plans!

      I totally went off the rails at the "natural" foods expo and gobbled up enough free samples of sugar-filled treats during the rest of march to have a similar goal.

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    2. I hope you're doing well with your chocolate withdrawals. I''m right there with you. I started making "cocoa crack" which is a no sugar version of a chocolate treat. No fake sugar either. Just some stevia. It's not good enough to binge on, but it's chocolatey enough to satisfy the craving. (sort of) If you're into Coconut oil I really believe it's healthy... from all my amateur sciency studies.
      oh, chocolate..... Oh, I've found that if I eat a carrot, i don't crave chocolate as much. no idea why.
      good luck!!!!

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    3. I agree on the stevia/cocoa combo, it's a great low cal low glycemic substitute. And I have a post coming up on another sweetener on monday.

      And coconut things! I've been using coconut flour, baking powder, sweeteners, eggwhites, coconut milk and cocoa for quick microwave chocolate cakes that are very filling and low sugar/carb/calorie... yet another post I think.

      But the carrot thing actually works for you tree? Wow. My chocolate cravings just laugh demonically at carrots. :)

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    4. well, only sometimes. Actually carrot juice works better. it's just so rich. And too often I don't even try it... when the demonically laughing craving is in charge..
      My bottom line is that when I eat sugar I have almost no power to choose anything else. But if I'm pretty clear of it and have a craving, that's when the carrot thing can work.
      possibly.
      I'm an optimist.

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  23. I'm not a baseline person, which is odd since I LOVE to keep records of all kinds. When I start something new I tend to jump right in and only later think it would have been nice to know where I started from.

    I'm not sure whether I want to win this wrist thingy or not. Their site is amazingly hard to navigate and short on information. (What happens if you practice the piano for an hour????) I also find wearing anything on my wrist but a stretch band watch unbearable. Yet I'd be very interested in something that would track the kind of physical activity at my job that isn't walking: lifting, pulling, bending, and so forth. How about if I win it and don't like it I pass it on?

    My goal for April is to get the house that the tenants SAY they're moving out of without an actual eviction process ready for sale at auction. The part where I sign a contract with the auction house is simple enough. The part where I dig up all the plants I want to save and move them to the completely unprepared yard where I'm living now is not simple at all, especially working seven days a week. I'm putting off any thought of further unpacking until after that gets done, which may include most of May.
    I did finally get the tax stuff all sent off to the accountants, but it took me three weeks of March, not one. I must have done a fair job, since I haven't heard back from them asking questions.

    Mary Anne in Kentucky

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    1. Wow, I see what you mean about the website (I didn't bother to look at it before as I'm not really interested in winning the wristband)! Heavy on animations and buzzwords, light on information...

      And that's a really good point about playing piano, or anything else that involves a lot of wrist movement while otherwise staying pretty sedentary... Good job most jobs don't include lots of anything like that! *cough* typing *cough*

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    2. Hey MaryAnne, that's great that you continue to make progress on all this stuff despite your demanding work week!

      The plants sound like they're weighing heavily on you, is there a way to make it less an "all or nothing" thing? Just go for a "rescue mission" and grab a couple of favorites and prep a smaller area, and if you have time for the rest, great, but if not, consider them a gift to the next new occupants? Or you probably have better ideas of how to make the task less onerous and more approachable or joyful.

      Oh, and given all the financial complications of the last year or so with house sale etc, doing your taxes is quite an accomplishment!

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    3. All I had to do for the taxes was collect everything, and scan it with an eight year old scanner (with eight year old software) so I could email it to the accountant. Which I finally got done!

      The plants are all things I love (and they're free; I can't spend the money for five different colors of iris, and four of peonies, and six varieties of daffodils. Plus the narcissus that were from my grandmother's house. I've already lost her hostas; didn't have time to move them from the other house when I sold it.) And that's only about half the plants I want. They all badly need dividing (when I bought this house back in 1999 the woman told me she'd divided the iris five years ago and they needed it again, and I never got around to it) so I'll be leaving them for the next owners as well as taking some for me. So this is a very important project for me.

      I continue to be amazed that I get to work seven days a week and do a reasonably good job. Looking forward to the possibility, in a few months, of cutting back to six. We'll see how the finances go.

      Mary Anne in Kentucky

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    4. Hooray for a day off, hope that indeed happens before too long Mary Anne! It is truly amazing you get so much done without one.

      So wow, it does sound like the plant rescue will be well worth the effort even if it's a huge job. But then the unpacking stuff you've gotten done looked so daunting too and yet you made so much progress, bit by bit, so I'll bet you'll find some way to get those plants happily re-situated!

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  24. IM SOOO PRAYING I GET BACK TO YOGA IN APRIL.
    and yeah.
    praying only for now.
    havent looked into classes yet :-)

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    1. Hope it happens for ya Miz as I know how yoga centers you and makes the rest of life fall into place more easily! Good luck!

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    2. BIG fan of Yoga here too! I was also surprised how many Yoga moves were in my first martial arts class yesterday. :D

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    3. Miz, I did look into classes when I moved into the city, and they don't work out for someone who works until six, but isn't free at ten in the morning, either. And there are at least five studios within three miles of me. Hope you have better luck.

      Sherri D, when I took my first karate class I said that the warm-up moves were all yoga done ten times too fast, and the instructor laughed; he must have had some passing familiarity with yoga.

      Mary Anne in Kentucky

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    4. oooh, me too, me too...yoga!

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  25. Well one of my March goals was to comment "more" here on my favotite blog. Mission accomplished as I particapated 3 times I think. Improved from my basseline of zero. I also bought a juicer and completed all thirty days juicing twice a day and lost 10lbs. Both those goals together allowed me to increase my walk/run routine and sign up for two 5k races this season so far. Baseline awareness is key for me because I have made such improvement. Thanks for all the support here. Love ya! Christina

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    1. Christina, thank you SO MUCH for coming here, love your commments and hope you keep coming back!

      And wow, consistent juicing, 10 lbs, 2 5k races... you are on a roll! If you have any insight into how you motivated yourself to such awesome accomplishments, would love to hear more at some point because this kinda thing is so inspiring to others.

      Note to self: zero baseline notion could be very reassuring, as so far I'm at exactly zero on my April goal, but still just in tracking mode, thank goodness.

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  26. I read way more than I post here, but this sparked my interest--I'm back on Weight Watchers (because it works for me) and tracking the food is a goal within itself. I schedule exercise twice a week (loving Zumba) and would like to get to 3 classes a week--most weeks. Other nights if it ever turns Spring my DH and I walk a couple of miles around town. I've been feeling very drifty lately (is that even a word?) --I'm at the same long term temp job as we are following DH career, don't know when we will move, when anything will happen.

    I called it a "low-budget" kind of hedonism. Guess if I had more of a goal than sucking all the fun and joy I can out of each day it would be more measurable, but isn't that the purpose--to be as happy as possible on a daily basis given your circumstances?

    so I waiver between lists and letting go. Very interesting topic--will be sure to read everyone's comments...

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    1. Hey Kristen, if "drifty" isn't a word it sure should be! And totally makes sense if things are up in the air and so much depends on DH's job, which doesn't sound like something you have any control over.

      Getting lots of healthy exercise, nailing the WW thing, and grabbing up as much joy and fun as possible from each day... all sound like very sensible aspirations to me, even if only some of them make any sense to "baseline". Though hmm, reading between the lines and wondering about (possibly imaginary) subtext... is there a part of you that's curious about something else potentially exciting out there for you that is perhaps a bit unclear at the moment?

      And I totally hear you about the lists vs letting go! That sums up one of life's biggest dilemmas quite nicely. Doing or Being? How to pay attention enough attention to both?

      Thanks so much for taking the time to comment Kristen!!

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    2. (cue Peggy Lee's "Is that all there is?") I think I'm capable of more but can't really focus on that until we find a longer term place. Thank you for your reply--it's always nice when you know the person read it! I'm now thinking of how I can make Happiness into a baseline...

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    3. Kristen, LOVE that Peggy Lee tune!

      I'm a big believer in day dreaming myself, and limitations about current circumstances don't necessarily deter me from having an active fantasy life. It's my way of dealing with temporary drifty times of life, and sometimes gives me clues about more pragmatic options down the road... but you may prefer a reality based approach!

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    4. Death Ride GrandmaApril 5, 2013 at 11:12 PM

      Drifty - it just sounds sooo appealing! I plan to pack that word into my brain & take it along when we go to Hawaii later this year. I picture floating along over a reef with a mask & snorkel & some time to admire & daydream. Actually, I think spending some time being drifty would be another good goal for me. And be peaceful about it, as you obviously are. Thanks, Kristen.

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    5. Hey DRG, love this conceptualization of "drifty," especially as we're heading to Maui in a couple of weeks! And it would be kinda dumb of me to pack any productivity/accomplishment worries in my suitcase along with the sunscreen...

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    6. DRG, enjoy your trip to Hawaii! I've never been, but know you'll have a great time. I'm only peaceful about it sometimes ;) but balance and moderation in everything, right?

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  27. I tend to have a "baseline" but it's not very high tech. For me it's more along the lines of knowing that in the beginning I could do 30 minutes on the treadmill and be slightly winded but now I'm doing 40 minutes and I'm not at all winded. I am easily overwhelmed if I get too specific. :)

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    1. Brandy, that sounds like the perfect sort of baseline to me. It's a way to really see progress without getting overly obsessive about numbers, which have a sneaky way of being uncooperative sometimes despite our best efforts. And so cool you're getting so much more fit!

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    2. I love that feeling of being stronger... not getting winded anymore! Congratulations on that. That's fitness, right?

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  28. I’m going to set my goals and giveaways right away.

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  29. I am always aware of my baseline weight,measurements and times. And it sometimes drives me crazy. One of my (already failed) goals for this year was to not care about how far or fast I walk. But I just really do care, and I can't seem to break the habit of tracking distance and time. And it's crazy, because it's not like I'm training for anything specific, and even if I were, it's not like I'd be a top competitor. So I guess I'm just being competitive with myself, which is either a good thing, encouraging me to power on, or not, leaving me feeling underwhelmed with myself. I think the answer is "yes," depending on the day.

    So my goal for April is to just focus on my ever-so-slow march to my goal weight. 5 pounds to go, but those little creeps are so very happy in their ancestral home on my outer thighs that I think I am going to have to order an eviction notice.

    Gaye

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    1. Too funny about the walking competitiveness, but I TOTALLY get that. The joy of being increasingly illogical as I get older is the realization that I can simply choose to care only when I do well. THEN it counts and is an important measure of achievement! But of i don't measure up with something, then it's a completely meaningless number.

      I seem to keep coming to the conclusion that logic and "objective" reality are over-rated. :)

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    2. "eviction notice"! LOL
      I have never been within 5 pounds of my goal, but I know what you are talking about...
      How about some great deep massage to enforce that eviction? I've heard it can help.

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  30. I am still sticking with my daily meditation goal and so far I have been successful every day of 2013. Yay me!!!

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    1. Holy Crap Kimberly, that is AWESOME!!!!!

      Seriously, I'm am totally impressed. Way to go!

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    2. Every single day?! \o/ I don't think I ever managed two days together!

      +1 to everything Crabby said!

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    3. Thanks! It is HARD...but I am doing it!

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    4. okay, that's totally impressive!! I'd have an easier time of doing cardio every day than finding a peaceful moment.

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  31. I actually don't have any baselines, but I think it this is a great idea especially I want to measure or to know if there are any improvements in my performance every time I workout. I also want to be more specific with the number of times I must do a certain routine I might as well reconsider some things, especially my goals for this month. Hopefully, I'm going to attain it.

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  32. I'll be honest, I always have good intentions but every single month I fail on this. I'm gonna change it this month though :)

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    Replies
    1. Me too, Maxine!! This post, and reading all the comments is already getting my head more into the game in a positive way. There are plenty of days left in April. Good luck!

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  33. I am late to the game but I am a numbers girl. I track because it lets me know if I am getting anywhere. Without a start point, how do you know anything?

    My goal this month is to start paying attention to my protein/fat/carb ratio. I may start to reduce the carbs. I have been very resistant to this as I don't think cutting out food groups is sustainable or sensible. I am working my way through the Alzheimer's Diet book (thanks Cranky) and it is giving me pause for thought.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sigh maybe my goal should be to figure out how to stop being unknown

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    2. Hey Tina, looks like you figured it out!

      Yeah, I have similar ambivalence about moving from "slow carb" (i.e, carbs with low glycemic impact like whole grains, beans, etc) to "Low carb." Have been experimenting myself; find it's not quite as dreadful as I thought (though I don't go WAY low carb); however, I'm not noticing any dramatic difference in fat burning, brain sharpness etc. Research and professional advice seems to be all over the place on this too. So I think personal testing is the only way to know how it affects how you feel and function.

      On the other hand, I'm shameless in my use of stevia and other natural no-cal sweeteners, which helps a lot. I eat a huge amount of vegetables and protein, and concoct my own bizarre fake carb substitutes and still allow myself "real" carb treats and slightly cheaty processed (but mostly natural) fill ins like the Quest bars which I'm now addicted to. (But then being a bit taller I have a slightly higher calorie budget than you do).

      Gosh I'm prattling on, I think it's time for a low carb blog post! Anyway, I think you're smart to pay attention to sustainability, so incrementally might be the best way to play with it?

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    3. Hi Tina!
      Oh yes, the carbs! Necessary for sure. But which ones? That's the thing. And which work best for your body, etc...
      I like how you say you'll start paying attention. That makes sense. And it's easy to get rid of the obviously empty calorie carbs (bread and pasta anyone?)
      I look forward to hearing more about how it goes for you.
      Good Luck!

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    4. I like the "slow carb" idea. I am adding more legumes right now and finding it is working so far. I am keeping my fruit though, I will arm wrestle anyone who comes between me and my blueberries

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  34. Love reading this blog. Since i started on this epic journey to fitness (not there yet)I have laughed and cried along with you.I have had quite a bit of success since I signed up to Fitbug activity tracker system. I am just trying to do a bit more today than yesterday and it seems to work.My, it's tough though.Keep believing.

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    1. ooh, I really like that idea of doing a bit more today than yesterday! Thank you for that. It might just keep me from sinking into a hole one day when I start the rant about how I'm not doing enough.
      Yes, Keep believing!

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  35. Death Ride GrandmaApril 5, 2013 at 11:22 PM

    My goals - well, it's pretty much about the Death Ride, and that will take up more and more time until July, when it happens. I am on track. 80 miles tomorrow, then a series of increasingly climby rides & beginning in June, time at altitude.

    Then what? I actually wonder about this whole goal thing. No question but that they keep me doing things I am glad to have done, but it's a little scary when I keep setting myself new (and as my mind seems to interpret that, bigger) goals. And I really, really don't think something bigger than the Death Ride is a very good idea!

    It's a lot of fun, especially at my age, to continue to do stuff I never dreamed I would/could ever do. But I also really love Shadowduck's idea of tossing the computers & just enjoying being out there. Maybe I need to think of ways to keep doing stuff without such specific goals. Maybe. Gotta think about that a bit.

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    Replies
    1. Interesting DRG that you're so successful at shooting for these amazing fitness feats and accomplishing that it sounds like you might be curious about looking in other directions as well for fulfillment? So few people get to the point where they can ask the question "I'm doing so well at this stuff, does 'more' still equal 'better?'"

      The fact that "drifty" resonated with you as possibly a pleasant place to be is interesting too. I suspect that should you decide to experiment a bit with slightly different mindsets, you'll probably have fun discovering entirely new dimensions of growth to play in.

      Have fun!!!



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  36. I personally love to know the baseline so I can be sure that there are results or if I was able to get some improvements using whatever program I have. I think that is important as a motivation as well.

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  37. My goals for the month of April are to do 5 day's a week of the Turbo Jam advanced schedule. I entered in my own strength with 10 minute trainer. I took a picture of the calendar I had set up, and put it on my blog as well as my facebook. This way I am more accountable to get it done! :)

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    1. that sounds intense! I imagine you're going to feel pretty awesome by month's end!

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    2. Wow, yeah, good point Tree. And Sherry, I love the idea of taking a picture of the calendar and posting it to help with accountability!

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  38. I"m so glad I saw this in time to get in on it. I need the support. I've spent a lifetime making goals and mostly failing to achieve them. Weight loss goals, I mean. Something about that date or "event dieting" as my friend calls it, really sinks me. But that might be a specific kind of syndrome.
    I love having fitness goals and that's where I put my energy these days. For this month my goal is to move every day. I'm starting yoga on tuesday and something called "tough girl workout" the next week. I just have to stop thinking about food. It leads me nowhere good.

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    1. Death Ride GrandmaApril 6, 2013 at 9:18 PM

      Well, that's great! If you achieve fitness goals, your body will be healthier and happier. Maybe weight loss needs to be secondary to other goals. I don't think there are many people who succeed at it when that is their only goal. As I mentioned before, I lost 30 pounds (forever, I think, hope) and I really only do a few things to get there. Dieting is not one of them. I move more, a lot more; I make sure I am hungry before I eat, I wait a little longer (maybe 1/2 hour, or until I finish a task) for treats, just to be sure I really want them. Doesn't change things fast or even steadily, but over time, it seems to give me control.

      So - maybe use the time you are not thinking about food to think about what you are doing great at - yoga, "tough girl workout," moving regularly, and give yourself full credit, Tree Peters!

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    2. Thanks DRG!! You know, just the idea of waiting 1/2 hour to make sure I'm hungry is a brilliant idea that I've never tried. Feeling out of control is definitely the worst thing for my daily self esteem.
      thanks again!

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    3. Hey Tree,

      First off, so glad you are here! Love all your great thoughts on so many things.

      DRG has some wise words, and you are so not alone in struggling with this stuff. But yeah, I find focusing on the "more" and not the "less" makes the whole process more positive. Just reframing "not getting to have a treat now" and "building the self-control brain structures that let me wait longer and have more and more self discipline" makes it seem less like a sacrifice and more like a cool skill I'm gaining.

      And more activity! And more tasty ways to eat vegetables! And more sunshine! And more laughter! And more happiness, gratitude, love, and compassion!

      Lots of "mores" to go chasing...

      And hope you check back with how it's going, whether awesome or frustrating, because there are some great supportive folks here. (Like you!)

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    4. Sorry about the typo, "as" not "and". :)

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    5. Thanks for that list of "mores" Crabby! I needed to read that just this very morning. I love to think that way. So happy there is finally sunshine to grab. I sat with my face to the sun for a while yesterday and felt so good.
      This post, series and your people are really helping me get over this first brutal hump of getting started. Thank you!

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    6. So glad to have you hear and I love all the inspiring things you're saying to other folks too.

      I'm a work in progress myself, but whenever I find myself feeling discouraged, the shift from "more" to "less" really seems to help.

      And you are so right about the brutal hump of getting started! New brain circuitry to build which takes practice and patience, but soon a lot of this stuff will be MUCH easier!

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    7. Oh for cryin' out loud, seriously, "glad to have you HEAR?"

      Must. Freakin'. Proofread.

      Thanks again Tree!

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  39. Thanks for the motivational tips. I find the hardest part is starting! Once I have I usually enjoy myself.

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    Replies
    1. I'm exactly the same Jessie. So, why doesn't knowing that about ourselves help more?! I suppose it does help. Nice to know what to look forward to.
      Good luck starting!

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  40. I always do baseline testing. It helps to set goals, but it also helps you figure out what kind of weight you should be lifting to achieve your goals.

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  41. My main goal at the moment is to reduce my calories and start losing pounds. I've started a journal of what I eat and I'm quite dismayed to see that my eating habits are really out of control. On the positive side, I've already seen that if I pick up the pen before putting any food in my mouth, I'm starting to really reconsider how hungry I actually am and if those calories are worth eating.

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    Replies
    1. The times I kept the food journal, I lost weight. I guess it just makes me conscious and so I don't eat all those little things that really add up.
      Great job keeping your journal.
      and thanks for the reminder!

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    2. That's great Tina and Tree that the food journal thing helps!

      I HATE HATE HATE tracking and it ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS serves to remind me of my goals and get more conscious of what I'm doing.

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  42. Thanks for the tips! I would like to maintain my weight for now. My challenge will be the diet since I don't have problems working out. Henceforth, I will start having my own journal for my diet and workouts.

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  43. Baseline has proved to be very useful in deciding the appropriate weights to choose for your particular weight.

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  44. Time for my own check in!

    So, establishing a baseline was pretty damn helpful, as I was setting aside much less time than I thought for long term goals.

    Have moved into actively trying to increase this and actually put enough time in to complete all of my continuing education requirements for my MFC license, yay! (Of course it helps that tests are open book).

    The challenge coming up is that we're taking off for vacation soon which tends to generate a lot of short term chores. And I want vacation to be VACATION.

    On the other hand, moving from defining my goal as "work on ebook" or "do more coaching marketing" to something less specific like "work on long term goals" means I can try to craft a sort of Spa vacation that adds a little fun type long term stuff. So I'll be bringing along lots of self-hypnosis downloads, airy-fairy personal growth reading, looking for new exercise ideas etc... all can count for "long term" and I can get more work oriented when I get back.

    Let's see how that goes...

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    1. Hmmm... I always find that the less specific my goals are, the less likely they are to get completed! In fact, the further I can break them down into absolutely specific single tasks, the more likely I am to actually do them.

      On the other hand, if it means you're actually going to chill out on your vacation then you get as vague as you want! Worrying that you're not getting anything done isn't going to make for a very relaxed crab, so if you need to feel that you're not totally letting everything go then taking some "fun" stuff along sounds like a great plan. It's not a problem I have, as all my vacations tend to be visiting the in-laws in Spain... Hard to avoid a bit of language practice when 90% of the people you're with don't speak English!

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    2. It's weird, Shadowduck, but it actually feels like more of a "vacation" if I get a chance to do some longterm daydreaming, or exploring cool mind/body hacks, or something other than completely zoning out. Sort of like the way I'd want to go hiking or swimming and not just sitting near a pool.

      But I definitely DON'T want to pack pressure or expectations with the swimsuit and sunscreen.

      And wow, a Spanish immersion vacation is definitely a mind-stretcher type!

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    3. I know what you mean about not finding "zoning out" relaxing... I never used to, until my current family situation led to all my holidays being spent in Spain. Strangely, it didn't occur to me until commenting on this thread that I probably only enjoy it now because I'm still improving my linguistic abilities even while zombied on the beach!

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  45. Has it been a week yet? *checks* Wow, nine days already?!

    Well, that's nine days of completing Anki every day..! And as an unexpected bonus, the commitment to doing it every day, no matter what, seems to be paying off in terms of improved retention. I've even tweaked the ratio a little, to a maximum of 135 reviews with 15 (rather than 10) new cards per day. Even at that, I'm not going to make much of a dent in the 200+ backlog of new words (I add anything up to 20 per day, depending on what / how much I read) but at least I'm stopping it getting too much worse!

    The only downside is that this challenge has coincided with a horrifically busy / short staffed period at work AND one of the more ... um ... demanding periods in the Duckling's development, so a bit of prioritisation has had to take place regarding any tasks which require me to be able to concentrate. About the only other brain-heavy task I'm keeping on top of is my translation work over at Juanelo and everything else is on the back burner!

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    1. Wow, that's awesome Shadowduck that you've been Anki'ing daily even with all the work/family challenges.

      The "backlog" thing that you keep adding to... sounds like it's not decreasing your motivation? But if it ever did, is there a way to be slightly less inclusive in adding new stuff to the pile or is it an all or nothing kinda thing?

      Sounds like a fantastic resource, thanks for letting us know about it!

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    2. Eh... Even a pocket dictionary will have around 40,000 entries, and a reasonably literate adult vocabulary would be more like 60,000 so I'm not expecting to clear the backlog anytime soon! Still, 15 words a day is 5475 a year, and I'm not starting from anywhere near zero.

      I just add a flashcard for every word I look up in the dictionary, it's impossible to predict what words will be useful in the future and which not. I tend to think any word I come across in a book, blog or article is probably current / widely used enough I need to know it!

      So long as I've got a good enough handle on the language to move there permanently in four or five years, I'll be happy.

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  46. My main goal at the moment is to be able to do a handstand. Knowing I can only hold about fifteen pounds easily over my head gives me an idea of what I should get up to to be able to do it safely, but making it a reaching goal keeps me motivated and lets me set smaller goals in my weight lifting to see improvement. I'm working up to regular floor push-ups first and then on to the main event.

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    1. Wow, TCBH, a handstand is such a cool goal to shoot for! Reminds me I was kinda wanting to work towards that and got distracted.

      Good luck with the progression!

      One idea for variety along the way is to do "pushups" from more of a bent over standing position, letting your shoulders take more of the load relative to your pecs. Looks a bit goofy and you probably have lots of other alternatives, but heck, thought I'd throw it out there.

      Will be very curious to see how it goes!

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