December 02, 2013

Sneak Attack--Monthly Goals

Photo: byron chin

So, we're a month away from that most amusing time of year, New Years Resolution Season!

Hope springs eternal, eh?

I know not everyone is a fan of the annual Resolution Ritual.  Each year, millions of earnest folks set lofty goals and then, for the most part, totally blow 'em off a few weeks or days or even hours later.

Getting healthier and/or more productive generally involves willpower, self-discipline, and deprivation--and dressing it up in a party hat, alas, doesn't make it suck any less.


Portion control? Nooooooo!!!
photo: tambako

But, if you, like me, can't help but join in the annual Failure Festivities... what if we give ourselves a fighting chance this year?

Here's my sneaky plan, if anyone else wants to play along.


It's only early December, and if we're thinking of Resolving anything come January 1, we've got a month before we actually have to do anything specific or be accountable for any pledges we might want to make, right?

In fact, December is perfect for not demanding much of ourselves--what with shopping and decorating and cooking and dealing with parties and dinners and seasonal holiday concoctions, whether they tempting and evil or repugnant but foisted mercilessly upon you until you are forced to partake.


Hello, Jello!
photo: lileks.com

So for many people, December is not a great month to try to start a diet, an exercise plan, a new creative project or anything other than perhaps a large bottle of scotch or a refillable xanax prescription.

On the other hand...

What if we don't actually try to do anything virtuous, but instead use the ten minutes a day trick to prepare to do something awesome, further on down the road?

Some Ideas for Relatively Painless Stealth Self-Improvement:

1.  Buy stuff and/or request holiday gifts that will make new habits more fun.


Here's All That Stupid Exercise Crap You Wanted Aunt Crabby!
photo: plan59

From simple pedometers and cooking magazine subscriptions to Big Ass Home Gym Equipment, change is always more fun when it comes with Toys.

2.  Experiment with accountability and productivity tools.


cartoon by Joy of Tech

These could be old-school calendars with gold stars, cheap apps, fancy software or whatever. You can use future email to give yourself a kick in your future ass, or sign up for supportive fitness communities like SparkPeople or whatever makes tracking and encouraging progress sound more fun and less excruciating.

Getting started with new tools before you actually need them, figuring out the login and registration details, and finding out which ones are actually useful and which ones have interfaces designed by imbeciles with brightly colored gumballs for brains, can smooth the way for recording or rewarding actual good behavior when the time comes.

3.  Daydream, Visualize, Fantasize, or even Brainwash yourself.

Cheesy self-hypnosis tapes, vision boards, gorging on Pinterest inspirational photos, reading self-help books, taking a quill pen to a lovely crisp empty notebook with a classy cover... or even just closing your eyes for a few moments and turning towards your imagination rather than your Facebook feed... there are lots of ways to steal a few minutes to prime your brain for future success.

Would that my fairest angel might someday "friend" me!

4.  Clear the decks.

This is the most painful of the "relatively painless" ideas, but it can reap large rewards.

You may have a nagging chore or project, perhaps involving decluttering, reorganizing, applying for something that involves paperwork, etc.  You spend mental energy every day battling guilt, coming up with excuses, working around it, or feeling like crap that it's still not taken care of.

This would be a great time to just suck it up and tackle some of it, right, so it's not getting in the way of more worthy New Years Resolutions?

Here's a wild-ass festive holiday idea:

What if you invite a well-chosen friend or two invite them to bring any portable dreaded chores, and host a chore-party? Is there such thing as a charty?

Supply snacks, and heck, if you occasionally and responsibly imbibe in alcohol, caffeine, herbal recreational substances, sugary desserts or other artificial mood enhancers, mightn't that make your chore feel a bit less chorey?

Yay, the gang's all here!
Ready to tackle those amended tax returns from 2010?

Or, um, on second thought perhaps we might rethink that last tip.

5. Remind yourself of any successes you had over the last year.

Reflect back and think about how you could replicate or build on them. And don't forget to pat yourself on the back for your victories!





(trophy generator Redkid)


And now we come to my favorite part of the month--where readers check in with what they're up to and what they might be scheming to accomplish in the future. It's also the post where commenters offer support or suggestions to other Cranketeers by replying to comments.

I'm not sure yet whether the monthly goal support posts should continue into 2014, or morph into something different, what do you guys think?

In the meantime: what have you guys been up to lately, and what's on tap for December?  

72 comments:

  1. My sole contribution to this cause is this: the Notes from the Universe perk me up something fierce five days a week. I got the idea from you, Crabby, in one of your posts and decided to subscribe. So thank you. They are excellent motivation for everything.

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    1. That's so cool, Leah, that the Universe is still speaking to you!

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    2. I used to get those...can't remember why I don't anymore. May have to subscribe again.

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  2. November goals:
    1. 12 trips to the Y - hmmm. I probably did about 10, but wasn't very good at WRITING IT DOWN! At the end of November I signed up for AirMiles at my Y (1 Air Mile for each 2 visits) which although ridiculous (I could easily earn more air miles by shopping at the liquor store) may help my motivation. Also I have been enjoying my newish routine - 10 min. bike, 10 min. treadmill and 10 min. elliptical with 2 sets of weights between these cardio intervals.
    2. 9 Yoga classes - attended 10! And my flexibility has improved! I also got slopping about recording these, but the yoga studio lets you check your attendance history online.

    Schemes for December
    1. 12 Y visits including 4 swims
    2. Try cyclefit (spin) class at the Y
    3. 10 Yoga classes
    4. Bake 2 cakes - yup my plan to eat healthy includes cake baking. No cakes at home = feel deprived = binge on junk food VS beautiful cakes at home = I am taking good care of me = don't feel binge-ish.
    Good wishes to all!

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    1. Phoebes, excellent job on the 10 out of 12 for the Y, and yeah, the air miles are kinda funny, you'd probably have to live to be 75,000 years old to get any free flights--but on the plus side, going to the gym you have a better shot at it than going to the liquor store. :)

      And love your sensible combo of goals for December, lots of variety, and just wish I could stop by your house for some home made cake!

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    2. Great job on the November goals, Phoebes!!! Go YOGA!

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  3. Novel and useful take on the resolution conundrum, Crabby!

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  4. HaHa - when the boys were younger I always considered it a success to make it through another day with everyone alive and relatively whole!!!
    I like this approach and think I will work on #4 - clear the decks. I'm currently trying to clear my blog feed but can't really focus because I keep thinking about all the other stuff I have to get logged off!!

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    1. Ack, Kim, if you can get caught up on social media in any of its multifarious forms, you would be SO way ahead of me. Good luck on that!

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  5. My goals to get through December:

    Keep reading Cranky!!! You never fail to make me laugh and inspire me to do at least a little bit.

    No chocolate covered cherries or eggnog until Christmas Day.

    Keep walking and walking and walking- for sanity sake. I have lost 29 lbs x=since June and I am determined to not let the holidays de-rail me like I have in the past.

    Happy happy!!

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    1. Hey thanks so much larsonrh and welcome!!!!

      Wow, that's AWESOME on the walking and 29 lb weightloss, and I love your determination not to let the eggnog or chocolate covered cherries win this year!

      Happy happy to you too!

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  6. I do love that last trophy and some days, that was my only goal!

    My ultimate goal for December is to not eat the candy off the gingerbread houses after we decorate them. Eating the candy during the decorating party? Perfectly acceptable. But it stops then!

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. Excellent rule!

      Excuse the deletion. You'd think that with a two-word reply, I could actually spell both words correctly!

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    3. It is a VERY good thing I am too lazy to do holiday baking or I would totally, totally scarf it all down before anyone else got to look or taste.

      And Trabb's Boy, correct spelling is optional at Cranky Fitness, but I totally understand the obsessive need to go back and fix.

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  7. This was seriously clever! If I did goals, I would totally use December to prepare for them. Also, "Change is always more fun if it comes with Toys" is my new motto.

    I have a kind of a goal for next month. A friend and I are going to try a CrossFit introductory boot camp in the new year. I really want to, because it is so badass, and because it would be a new toy. My trainer is not a fan of CrossFit because so many practitioners prioritize completion over form, and she seemed kind of horrified when I told her. But then I could see her relax as she remembered that it was me I was talking about, and the chances of me pushing myself to the point of injury are laughably small. Hell, the chances of me going back for Day 2 are pretty small. I guess I'd call this more something to cross off a bucket list than an actual goal.

    If you want to start small, Crabby, you could set up a PayPal button and call this monthly goal thing a club with a suggested donation but no pressure because you don't want to exclude those who can't afford it. Or you could start bigger.

    Anyway, good luck to you all in meeting your goals this month!

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    1. Trabb's Boy, thank you so much for the encouragement on that elusive goal of "monetizing"! I am actually, under tip #3, listening to cheesey self-hypnosis tapes with the hope they will magically boost my creativity and confidence which in turn will lead to SOME sort of "business" plan, if being cranky can be said to constitute a business.

      And I too have been intrigued by crossfit but too chicken to take it on. (Plus I have that problem of sometimes wanting structure and direction, but not actually wanting to have to do what anyone else tells me to do.) So I am very impressed that you are bravely taking it on, and will be very curious how it goes!

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    2. I would love to see an update when you have done the CrossFit Trabb's Boy. It is not for me...but I admire those who do it!

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  8. I think the Christmas season is going to sneak past me, this year. My December goals are to keep plugging away at unpacking boxes and hope that this house addition doesn't go more than twice what was estimated. Okay so I guess my goal is to try not to get TOO stressed out.

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    1. If you get to all your boxes and your home improvement plans don't cost twice as much as you think they will... you will be the first human in history Hilary! Good luck with what sounds like a crazy busy month!

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    2. Here's hoping your unpacking goes better than mine has! If you're not working seven days a week it probably will. :)

      Mary Anne in Kentucky

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  9. I resolve to look at more cute animal pictures because they make me smile and more smiles are always good. Thank you for the leopard in the party hat!

    Also, I would like to finish sorting/de-cluttering my basement. Put a good dent in it this spring, but would like to finish up so I can get rid of my too large corner desk unit, and replace it with a small desk and another book case or two. Hoping to pick away at some of that this month.

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    1. I highly recommend the Panda Cam for your cute animal fix:
      http://www.zooatlanta.org/1212/panda_cam

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    2. Yay for cute animals and pandacam! And javachick and QD, you guys both have great animal pics on your blog, and they're of your actual awesomen animals and not just swiped off the web like mine.

      And javachick, good luck on the decluttering and Great Desk & Book Case Swap-Out. Sounds like one of those projects that once you're done you'll be really happy you did!

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    3. I'm all about the videos of the goat screaming like humans.

      I'm also all about deck uttering. I told my partner a couple of night ago i would enjoy a tv channel of people decluttering.

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    4. Snicker "deck uttering" thanks spellcheck!

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    5. Love the way spellcheck is SO helpful in predicting exactly what we really mean. Though I think "deck uttering" sounds way more fun than decluttering!

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  10. I love the photos you find. HA! My current goal is to get rid of this nasty head cold that literally popped up in one days time and knocked me on my fat ass! If I can get rid of that bugger I'll be a happy camper. But really my main goal is to find a decent enough paying job so I can stop living off what measly 401k I have left and not wait until January 1st to really kick my workout plans into overdrive.

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    1. Sheesh, you can't catch a break Starving Diva! First the job stuff and now getting sick on top of it. Hope the job hunt and and the workout plans go really, really well!

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    2. Good luck on the job hunt Starving Diva! I hope you find exactly what you are looking for!

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    3. ...and I hope you feel better!

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    4. Aw, feel better soon! And good luck with the job hunt!

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  11. My resolve for this month needs to be more working out. When i'm having to do it at home, i have no motivation.

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    1. So taking care of kids and kitties doesn't count as exercise? Shoot. Well, good luck messymimi in getting the more "official" workouts in!

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  12. This month I am going to work on making sure I have a plan. December is stressful and when I go in unprepared bad things happen like arguments, upset tummies and weight gain.

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    1. Planning is such a pain in the ass Cindy but yeah, thinking ahead is SO smart because stress totally sucks, and tends to doom progress in all other areas. Not that I necessarily do enough myself... :)

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  13. I resolve to not make resolutions. Dammit. I just did.

    Umm, but seriously...I guess I'd have to work on scheduling better. No time like the present I suppose! Maybe that'll take some stress off my holiday travels. :)

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    1. LOL Courtney! Hope your travel is stress free!

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    2. Courtney, I'm with you, that whole scheduling thing is such a hassle... and then trying to actually STICK to whatever schedule you come up with... Sigh.

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  14. Successful with my November goal. Meditated every day. I am almost done 365 days of meditation and am quite impressed with myself.

    I finish school in April, so my goal for 2014 is to get a job. That's it...maybe. As it gets closer to the end of the year, that may change. But I am done with the lofty goals you spoke of.

    I like the monthly Cranketeer goals, but I am easy and go with the flow. Whatever you decide on for 2014, I am sure it will be a fun time!

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    1. Eleven solid months of meditation, yay!
      (And that will certainly make job-hunting less stressful.)

      Mary Anne in Kentucky

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    2. Kimberley, you are amazing! I've been so pleased to hear about your success with meditation and it really does give me hope that habits can be changed for the better.

      Good luck on the job search, and thank you SO MUCH for all your awesome contributions to Cranky Fitness, you are such a wonderful inspiration and so generous in encouraging others. You rock!

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    3. Wow! Congrats on your meditation

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  15. My goal for December is just to get through it, day by day, and into January when I finally get to cut back to only six days a week. The December workload at both jobs will be a bear, and I can't possibly fit as much into my days off when they start next month as I think I can, but I will survive!

    As a goal-free person (sounds better than goalless, don't you think?) I've gotten a remarkable boost out of these goal posts. They've made me think harder about what my priorities should be when there is more that must get done than there is time for.

    Mary Anne in Kentucky

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    1. Your schedule sounds like a bear, tiger, lion and a walrus all wrapped in one. Tough going for you, but January is just around the corner (trying to be positive!).

      Goal-free is sweet! No pressure!

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    2. Goal-free sounds kinda great, Mary Anne, very liberating! But I too love the goal posts because of all the inspiring things people seem to be doing.

      Hoping that in the coming year you get a little more time to relax before you even think about goals, you've got it coming!

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  16. I've decided that productivity is overrated, so I'm keeping it simple this year. I'm resolving to eat more vegetables, less meat, and to take more naps.

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    1. vegetables and naps, what's not to like??? Excellent plan, yoga-pants girl!

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  17. Uh oh. I had to go look at my November goals to figure out what I was supposed to be doing. Not a good sign of keeping up with them. I lucked out - they were sort of built into my life & they pretty much happened. But Crabby, I have to thank you for your 10-minute post! The biggest thing I accomplished this month had nothing to do with exercise. I finally sat down to put in my 10 minutes of cleaning up some old, nasty accounting confusion, and, and, and...once I started, it kept moving and I am free at last - figured it out. That was sort of a sneaky post, really. I mean, sitting down & starting really is the hardest part of some of these tasks. Once I was there, I got through it.

    I have never been much of an annual resolution maker. As soon as I tell myself what to do, I start trying to figure out why I shouldn't have to do it. (Hmmm. Maybe I should tell myself I have to eat lots of chocolate cake?) But I think your ideas about making something we want to achieve appealing are right on. So maybe we can actually find room for another piece or two of exercise stuff, maybe I can get a packet of gold stars, and hey, maybe this time next year I really will have regained the strength to do pull-ups.

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    1. I like your contrary approach to new years resolutions, DRG! I hereby resolve to goof off more, exercise less, and triple my calorie intake... think that'll work? Or probably it would be the first year I ever accomplished all my goals

      I am SO impressed that you used the 10 minute trick to tackle something that sounds so intimidating... just the word "accounting" let alone connected to "old" "nasty" and "confusion" gives me the willies. So glad you are now free of it!

      And I'm just barely hanging in with 1 pullup (down from 3) and soon to lose that too unless I buckle down, so if you get psyched to tackle 'em let me know and it might motivate me to crank up the motivation myself.

      Though I'll let you handle those incredibly long endurance rides up mountains all by yourself!

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    2. Yeah, I think that chocolate cake goal would be a bit risky. But on the pull-up front, you're on. When I was a kid, I could not understand why anyone thought they were hard. Swinging from ring to ring was just plain fun - and I remember some very cool rings in the college gym, too. But somehow, when I was maybe 35, I was at a playground with my kids, and suddenly discovered that just hanging there was a serious challenge. Yikes. I have now reached the point where I can hang there, and even pull myself up a few inches, so it will happen one of these days. I am getting to know muscles I had NO idea existed before, though. Ouch.

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    3. You're on, DRG!

      I am currently at (sometimes) 1 pull-up or 1-2 chin ups. (And even a little water weight seems to be enough to make 1 pull up impossible sometimes). Let's see if either of us can improve by the end of the month from where we are now!

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  18. My goals for December:

    1. Listen to my body and heal my shoulders. Even if I can't do my beloved bench press.
    2. There are always squats and deadlifts. And balance work.
    3. Do the Ba Duan Jin at least 5 days of week.
    4. Start the annual cleaning out of drawers/cupboards.
    5. Smile more. I feel better when I smile. And so does the world.

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    1. Love these Deb!!! Though I have no idea what Ba Duan Jin is, and the first thing that leaped to mind was the Bada Bing strip club from the Sopranos, and I suspect I'm not on the right track with that? :)

      And yeah, good reminder: smiling good!

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  19. I am always late to the party:

    My December goal is to eat when I am hungry. Not bored, not happy,not angry not anything but hungry.
    Goal number 2 is to keep up with the physio exercises everyday even if they don't appear to be doing anything. Perhaps if I give them a chance, they might just work.

    Off to read everyones comments now.

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    1. You are never too late Tina!!! Always appreciate your comments.

      And I gotta say, I am quite challenged on the "only eat when hungry" thing myself and am tempted to steal your goal.

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  20. I like the monthly goal postings because if I only take time to comment on your blog once a month, this would be the one to comment on! My goals are to work on a daily lifestyle routine that I can live with, enjoy, and keep at least as healthy as I am right now, if not improve on that a tad. I've been going through a lot of 'mental' work and am feeling very optimistic about it all. 'Abby' has been a fun diversion! She is actually motivating me to like myself more and more importantly, to trust my judgement!

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    1. I think mental work is the most important Sherri, and the more I read about neuroplasticity and actually changing brain structure for the better--the more I think it "counts" every bit as much as any other kind of exercise. And it was fun to meet "Abby" over at your blog, hope she hangs around for a while.

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  21. On tap for me this December is surviving my first holidays on my journey.

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    1. Ooh, holidays are tough Cassandra, hope you stay strong and determined but also gentle with yourself if things don't always go exactly as planned!

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  22. Loved that last award, Crabby!

    It reminds me of an old saying "Every day above ground is a good day!" and a Wanda Sykes thing about taking care of her nieces/nephews "As long as they're alive when their parents come to pick them up, I've done my job!" This approach to every day life keeps things pretty simple AND makes anything beyond seem like a win!! What's not to love????
    Anon

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    1. Thanks Anon!! And really, so much of the pressure we put ourselves under is optional--if we'd only realize it! If we were still cavewomen, it would be: "alive at end of day? WIN!"

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  23. Late to the party as usual & I need quite a few of your tips! I don't do resolutions but I certainly have things in mind to improve in 2014!!!! If I brainwash myself, maybe I will accomplish #2! :)

    I really want to work on the self-love & less negative comments to myself which I have already been working on & doing much better. For me, always a work in progress & I will continue with that.. without it, I think I am stuck from all my years of not having any of that... no more trying to be what everyone else wants me to be...

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    1. We're all works in progress Jody, and you always have such a positive encouraging message for others that it always surprises me that you struggle like the rest of us with the self-talk... but given how incredible you are at exercising your body, I bet you can exercise your mind to an equally awesome place.

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  24. I'm still working on the same hamster wheel: get my lazy @$$ out of bed in the morning. (Although really, first step is: put your night owl @$$ to bed earlier.) I do like the clear the decks tip! I for one have vowed NOT to bake this season. Might make some chex mix, but no cookies except those left for Santa. I also have a few other personal projects (photobooks, sewing) that need to be completed. Which would help me with the getting to bed earlier thing. Yee haw! Is it just me or has this been the LONGEST yet fastest year ever?

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    1. Totally with you bdaiss on the year being both fast and long, how does that happen?? And good luck on the getting to bed/getting up schedule shift, can take awhile to do that!

      I'm lucky in not being much of a baker myself, or I'd be SO screwed during the holidays. :)

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  25. At the moment, I do what I can, to distract myself from the coming year. Some transitions are easier than others and some come along prematurely, due to choices that could have been different. I will make a point of learning from others. Reducing sugar consumption is at the top of the list, along with scheduling medical tests in a timely manner.
    Sorry for the serious tone and thank you for providing so many of the bright, shiny, fun and funny, thought provoking, moments during the year. You and your blog are among the gifts I cherish, this year.

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    1. So sorry it's a tough transition time dlamb, know that you are dealing with a lot.

      And a serious tone is nothing to apologize for!!! I love when people keep it real down here. I really appreciate your kind words, as sometimes I wonder if this silly blog adds anything that's useful to a world already so over-full of things to read, so your encouragement is priceless, thank you!!!!

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  26. The whole new years resolution thing is immense! I think people just mainly set unrealistic goals because they feel like the will have a lot of time to achieve it and then don't start till like, july or something! Small, gradual changes are the ones that tend to stick!

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