Setting (and kicking) Goals

This past week I read a great book by Gretchen Rubin called The Happiness Project. It’s a fun little read about how focusing on small changes in your daily life can bring you more fulfillment.

The book allowed me to indulge in a little self-examination, and I rediscovered that I am quite a happy person. In fact, when the Pixar movie Inside Out was first released, my colleagues at the time came to the quick conclusion that in my brain, Joy would be the one calling the shots. This was humbling and lovely to hear – that not only am I a joyful person on the inside, but it radiates to those around me.

While I would love to dedicate myself to my own Happiness Project, with my due date only 11 days away it looms a little too large for me. Instead I thought up a list of some great goals I’d like to set for myself in both the long and short term.

There will be others, but I think these are a great start for me going forward. As I mentioned in my last post, one of the things I’m most looking forward to postpartum is the opportunity to reclaim my default setting as a highly goal-oriented woman.

In no particular order, here are some of my focuses for the near and distant future.

  •  Continue flossing daily – This may sound like a small thing, but I’ve been flossing everyday since my last dental appointment in January. I’ve NEVER been able to maintain this habit for more than a week or so, and it feels great to have finally mastered it. Here’s hoping I can keep it up!
  • Exercise six days per week – I understand the importance of a rest day, so six days a week seems more manageable than seven. I accept that postpartum this will be very gentle to start, but eventually I can’t wait to get back into running and Pilates, and I’m even obsessed by the idea of taking up climbing.
  • Keep a food log/cut down the sweets to once a day – Pregnancy has amped up my sweet tooth to a whole new level. I’d rather indulge in something small once a day than keep up the bottomless pit type sugar habit I’ve got going now. I’m not pressuring myself to achieve this goal too quickly, but I know keeping a food log will help.
  • Teach Pilates regularly – Even if it’s just filling in at a studio once a month, I want to get to a point where I’m teaching often, not just sporadically like I am now.
  • Donate blood – I’ll have to wait the standard 9 months after giving birth, but this is my favorite charitable activity. I am a blood type that is in high demand and I would like to become a regular donor, rather than waiting for them to call me when there is a shortage.
  • Run a 10km, half-marathon and marathon again – These fall in the longterm category for sure. I used to love racing before I was knocked back with injury in early 2015. I’m going to take it incredibly slow after giving birth, but in the next couple of years I want to become a regular racer again. Half-marathon is my favorite distance, but I’d like to challenge myself to do another full (though hopefully on a course that’s less hilly this time).
  • Monthly purge of clutter – This won’t be hard as I absolutely LOVE purging our house of clutter. Making it a monthly activity will give me a great buzz and keep our home feeling tranquil.
  • Read for pleasure everyday – I do this anyway for the most part, but with a baby on the way I know it will be a challenge to prioritize “me time.”
  • Take on a sports trainer role for a local sports club – As a physiotherapy student it’s crucial I start getting some real world experience. I’m not putting a deadline on this, especially as I adjust to motherhood, but I want to keep it front of mind as a goal to achieve sometime in the next year.
  • Meditate weekly – I have tried and failed many times to adopt meditation as a regular practice. I do like it and recognize the benefits, but it is hard for me to commit. By making it a weekly rather than daily activity, I hope it’ll be an easier habit to keep.
  • Listen to music everyday – I tried and failed to listen to an album a day for a month last year. It was a great goal, and I would like to continue devoting time to entire albums rather than just songs or playlists, but a good start is just making music a part of my daily routine, whether as an activity on its own, or while cooking or working out. It makes me so happy and in our current world, which is so saturated in stimulation, something as simple as listening to music can get lost in all of our other distractions. When I was a teenager I had music playing in my room at all times. I miss that!

General immeasurable goals I’d like to keep in mind include – maintaining a positive attitude, avoiding complaining, gossip and nagging, keeping up with friends and family, making time for creativity such as writing and knitting and minimizing the time I spend on social media. I want to focus on being present in my own life.

I’m sure there are more goals I’ll be adding to this list, but for now I’m excited to have something concrete and in writing to keep me accountable moving forward.

If you’ve got some goals you’re working on I’d love to hear about them!

The Road to Marathon

A few weeks ago, I made the big decision to pursue Perth’s City to Surf marathon as my fitness goal of the year.  I quit soccer and other sporting commitments so this can have my total focus.  I’ve been in pre-training for the last few weeks, and I’ll be starting the official Hal Higdon novice program in a couple more.

What I have learned so far is that running a marathon isn’t a decision you make just once; it’s one you make again and again.  You have to recommit every time you set your alarm for 5:15am and again when that buzzer goes off and you’re tired and all you want to do is sleep.  When you wake up ten minutes early, you start to bargain with yourself, trying to rationalize an excuse to put off the run until evening.  You have to strategically set out your clothes the night before, and charge your ipod.

This week, I am also starting to add some light cross and strength training to focus on my weaker muscles.  Even the specific rest days are all part of the bigger picture.  I think about this goal all the time and what more (or less) I could be doing to help myself achieve it.

This past weekend I ran a free 5k race in East Perth.  The Claisebrook Cove parkrun takes place every Saturday morning at 8 with the help of very enthusiastic volunteers.  Some of my friends have been doing it for weeks now, but this was my first one.

The last bend before the uphill finish. Dying of heat!
The last bend before the uphill finish. Dying of heat!

I’ve been reading books about running to pump myself up and learn what I need to know.  For now I’m taking a break from that and letting my body be my guide.  I’ve also got a training schedule and motivational post-its taped to the wall next to our bed.  Matt is being incredibly supportive.

Last Sunday was my 27th birthday.  I got up early in the morning to go down to the beach to support my good friend Thuy in her first triathlon.  I am so proud of how she did.  Teri and I took heaps of photos to capture the moment for our tri friends.

Post race photo with our little champ!
Post race photo with our little champ!

I’m keen to start doing triathlons in the next few years, but this year is all about the marathon.  I don’t even own a bicycle…yet.

Today I got new running shoes and they are gorgeous and I am bursting with excitement.  Maria is coming over later to help me break them in through a nice social walk.  I also looked at bikes and am in love with a purple beauty.  Need to save a few pennies before I can go back for her.  Sigh.

New Year, New Goals

Hello 2013!

I know it’s been ages since I last graced the internet with my thoughts and opinions (though perhaps only to the sound of crickets), but now I’m back with a new set of goals and hopefully a better outlook on life.

It’s a big year for Matt and I as we are now ENGAGED!  We have so much to plan and so much to save this year, that I’ve decided my focuses for 2013 are saving heaps and (not-so-surprisingly) devoting myself to fitness.

Exercise is basically my obsession, so that shouldn’t be too hard, but saving is a huge struggle for me.  Matt is trying to help me get started since he is an excellent saver.  I have condensed my two thoughts into easy sentences, which I will be posting to the bathroom mirror:

Sweat Once a Day                  Only If It’s Free

Lululemon, which is one of my favorite companies, encourages people to “sweat once a day” and I am adopting this as my mantra.  Even on recovery days, I will try to go for walks or do yoga or pilates, just to keep up with a new routine of fitness everyday, no excuses.

Only if it’s free applies to time I spend with my friends.  Apart from the occasional event requiring me to dole out a bit of cash, I’m trying to keep my catch-ups to taking walks, going for runs, having tea at home or other general activities where I can spend time with loved ones without breaking the bank.

I encourage others to join me in “Sweat Once a Day” and see how long it takes you to feel better and have more energy in your daily life.  #sweatonceaday for those on Twitter.  Let’s see how this goes…

5 ways to Get and Stay Motivated

Motivation (or more accurately, lack-thereof) is one of the biggest problems affecting our lazy society.  I would go to the gym, but it’s such an effort. I’ve eaten so well this week, I can take a break today.  It’s too far away, I can’t be bothered.  Sound familiar?

Here are my five ways to get or stay motivated:

1. Set Reasonable Goals:  If you have never run a mile in your life, don’t just decide one day you want to run a marathon.  Start small, and create little goals for yourself along the way.  Even if you are working toward a bigger picture, it’ll help you stay super motivated if it involves smaller wins along the way.  Setting reasonable goals also means SPECIFY SPECIFY SPECIFY!  Don’t just say “this week, I’m going to be healthier.”  Instead, say “this week I’m going to exercise 5 days for 30 minutes each.”  Your brain likes variety, so allow yourself many ways of accomplishing the task.  If you need help, or just a little encouragement, check this out:

*To set the “right” health-related goals, maybe have one session with a physio, dietician or a personal trainer to find out where you are weak and what your focus should be.

2. Prepare! Think ahead: Of course it’s easier to stay in bed than to go for that morning run you promised yourself you’d do.  The best way to fight the morning groan is to set your alarm for a couple minutes earlier than you need.  That way if you have an inner argument you haven’t wasted the time you could have spent accomplishing your goals.  Also get to bed at a reasonable hour and set your clothes and other necessities out the night before.  Make sure those running shoes are staring at you when you roll over in the morning.

Thinking ahead also applies to the way in which you RSVP.  Don’t say yes to an event or Friday plans with friends if you foresee that the week will completely take it out of you.  Anticipate how tired you will be before you commit.  People aren’t offended if you say no from the start, and it’ll help you be more motivated and energetic for the next big activity.

3. Pump up the Jam: There are three times when you are likely to listen to music outside of home: In the car, on public transport and while you exercise.  These are usually areas where you need a bit of a pump-up.  Driving around running errands can be taxing, the bus ride to work can be a bit depressing on a dreary Monday, and exercise in the city or at the gym can be not-so-relaxing.  One of my small hidden talents happens to be making mixes.  I love a good mix, and I have since the Napster days when we first realized we could have the music we want and put in together in a compilation of our own creation.  I believe that events, whether significant or not, require a good mix.  I love listening to the radio every once in a while because it’s a great place to find good running songs.  I find music helps me drown out the noises of the outside world and focus inward.  Here are 5 of my all-time favorite exercise/pump-up songs (feel free to judge!):

-If We Ever Meet Again by Timbaland ft. Katy Perry (I know it’s random, but I love to put it toward the end of a running mix because it really gets me going all over again)

-Super Freak by Rick James

-Sleepyhead by Passion Pit (perfect first song to get you started)

-Take Over Control by Afrojack

-Don’t Feeling Like Dancing by Scissor Sisters

Don’t forget the general treasure chest that is the 90s.  90s music is the BEST for singing loud in the car or jamming out during a run.  Another Night by The Real Mccoy is my all-time fave, but other great ones include: Rhythm is a Dancer, Mr. Vain, and of course the Jock Jams megamix.

Use music whenever you need it.  Personally I need a super sweet dance mix if I’m going be motivated to clean the house.  It’s the main reason I love to clean alone!

4. Phone a Friend: This one is pretty obvious, but having a friend along is one of the best ways to stay motivated.  Whether it’s a new diet or a vigorous exercise class, having mates at your side makes everything easier and more fun.

I personally am someone who likes a balance between friends and independence.  More often than not I go for goals by myself.  But I have many friends who find it extremely difficult to exercise alone.  It’s all about personal preference.  Make it a routine if you can, on Tuesday I go to Body Attack with Meg, on Sunday I go for a long run by myself.  Routines keep you in the right head space, and you are more likely to accomplish your goals if you feel like it’s mandatory (even when self-inflicted).

5. Get the Gear: Matt and I are both avid writers and sometimes we lose inspiration.  I find that buying myself a pretty new journal is often a good place to start.  It gets me in the mood to write.  A few of my friends have recently started exercising more, and once they invested in some quality clothing and equipment, they found it easier to stay motivated (one of them didn’t even previously own a sports bra, despite being a decent athlete).  Exercise clothing is my weakness.  Matt can’t understand why I need 5 pairs of spandex (2 for yoga, 1 for running, 2 for both).  But when you have a rigorous fitness routine (and you’re a slave to the sun when it comes to laundry), it ends up making sense.  I always try to get in on the sales at lululemon when they happen.  It’s best to stock up whenever you can.  I love having the right gear, I feel it legitimizes my athletic status.

Do your research, and make sure you aren’t wasting money on things you don’t need.  Also be sure that your new activity is one you’ll be into for a good long while (aka don’t invest in a yoga or pilates mat for one class only).

There you have it, my 5 ways to get and stay motivated.  When I come up with ideas for 5 ways, I do my best to portray changes people can easily make.  It’s all about forming good habits and making small adjustments.  After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day!

Making Lemonade

Not often do I use this blog for product promotion, but this time I’ve stumbled upon something truly special.  Yesterday I was browsing my Facebook news feed when I noticed a link post from an old college acquaintance.  Her description announced it was her “latest blog post for The Zesty Digest.”  Not knowing she was a blogger, I was intrigued.

The Zesty Digest is a daily blog by an ezine called Sweet Lemon Magazine.  After reading Margaret’s article about healthy snacking, I found myself clicking through the archive finding myriad interesting posts.

The most exciting part, however, was the photo on the right under “magazine stand.”  The cover girl for the current Sweet Lemon issue is Inslee Haynes, a fellow W&L grad!

I discovered Inslee’s company by chance (again through Facebook) as we weren’t close back in college and I didn’t have her in my friends list.  I’m fairly certain I would have mentioned her site before, but I’ll do so again anyway.  She is an inspiration to girls with a dream.  She took what most would consider to be a “hobby” to the next level and has made it into a career.

Inslee by Design is absolutely fabulous.  As a fashion illustrator, Inslee makes cards, calendars, sketches, prints, invitations and does commissions.  I have been a fan of hers for quite a while now; her cards are great to give as presents or to keep.  I will soon be getting some of her prints now that Matt and I are redecorating the office.  I’m also planning on snapping up the 2013 calendar and some more cards for Christmas.  (Gift idea alert!)

I won’t post more images from Inslee because I want my readers clicking the links and checking her out!  Her site has always been in my blogroll, but feel free to browse her blog and also her Facebook page.  I find creative people so inspiring, and I am so happy that she has been such a success.

But back to Sweet Lemon for a moment…After reading through some of the back issues and the current issue cover to cover, I have learned a lot, and I cannot wait to write-up my own pitches for submission.  The great thing about Sweet Lemon is that even if every article doesn’t apply directly to me, it’s still great seeing so many strong, talented 20-somethings on the pages of a magazine.  I’m getting really tired of all the celebrities and the mags focusing solely on sex.  This magazine is about fashion, cooking, travel, lifestyle and above all REAL PEOPLE.  I have several ideas floating around in my head and I cannot wait to put them on paper (well, in internet form).

Even if you don’t have time to browse the whole magazine this weekend, at least check out The Zesty Digest.  They post new articles everyday from real women around the country (and presumably the world).  I hope I can be a helpful Aussie correspondent!

28 days: A Cry for Help!

Hi everyone (if you’re still out there)!  I’ve let things go a little too long for a full update, but here’s a few tidbits for you:

This Saturday will be my last Beginner 1 class at 8limbs in Leederville.  It’s been an amazing 6 weeks and I’m so sad that it’s already over.  I’m excited to start Beginner 2, but still hemming and hawing over which day of the week is best for me.  I’ve been keeping up well with my Ashtanga yoga practice at home.  I try to do it nearly every morning for at least 20 minutes.

In other news Matt and I got to under 100 days in our countdown for America.  We both need the holiday so badly!  I realized lately I’ve been so busy that I haven’t stopped to make enough time for “us,” so to remedy that I’ve let a few things drop here and there to try to make up some time together.  It may sound silly, but after 3 and 1/2 years, I still miss him when we’re apart, even just for the day.

The biggest thing to report is that I recently saw my GP for a general checkup and to ask a few questions about digestive health.  As it turns out, I am getting too much fiber.  It could be that I have high levels of it in my body already, or (in her words) I might be “eating too healthy.”  I need less of the good and more of the bad…The easiest way to balance this out (seemingly) is to cut out bread.  Starting Saturday I am stuck on a bread-free detox for 4 weeks.  After that I can reintroduce it slowly, but I need to give up my beloved multi-grain and swap it for white.  Sounds weird, and it is, and I’m freaking out!

PLEASE let me know any and every recipe you can for easy lunches and breakfasts sans bread.  I am allowed to eat rice, but no obvious breads, pastas, desserts (like cake) etc.  My biggest concern is what to eat at brekky without having to cook, and which salads I can make in large batches on a Sunday night to set me up with a few lunches to bring to work during the week.  Also fruits and veggies are high in fiber, so I’m not really meant to supplement with too much more of that good stuff, just continue eating a normal amount.

Despite my recent injuries, I have signed up for 10k in Fremantle on the 16th.  I want to make sure I’m getting enough energy to continue a rigorous exercise regime.  Without bread I’m just afraid I’ll never feel full!  Welcome fats and dairy, goodbye pasta and muffins…

27 is all about the chemist

Today I made that once in 3 months trip to the chemist.  (Australians study pharmacy, they don’t “go to the pharmacy.”  Here it’s all about “the chemist.”)  It’s always expensive.  I put off this trip until I’m out of nearly everything.  When my night cream ran out a few days ago, it was the last straw.  Here’s what I wore after work:

Today was the final appearance of the Country Road blue pants.  It’s time to wash them, so they will not be making another appearance.  I needed a cute, yet active outfit for my quick post-work errands and appointment at the chiro.

We live near one of the best pizzeria’s in Perth, and tonight was a lazy takeout night for sure.  Mostly because we’d defrosted steaks, but had nothing good to eat with them.  I feel like a mega fatty since I’m still not doing exercise until my knees recover.  I’m still creaking like the Tin Man up and down stairs, so still no running for me. Sigh.

Since the place (Marco’s) is just down the road, I only need my pink Coach wallet for pizza expeditions.  I love this wallet.  I’ve had it for years, though I didn’t bring it with me to Europe.  It’s the perfect size and it’s elegant, girly without being tacky.

Last year my new years resolution was to take better care of my skin, and since then I’ve become somewhat of a collector when it comes to facial products.  My absolute essentials are the Aveeno cream cleanser and the Clinique eye makeup remover (I have sensitive eyes, and it’s one of the few products that doesn’t sting).  I do endless research online to continually perfect my skin routine.  Moisturizer, face mask, exfoliating scrub, toner (I only use this sparingly) and anything made by Avene are also key to completing my collection.

The addition of a night cream was the biggest change from my pre-2011 rituals.  I’m only 26, but I like to think I can somehow get a jump on the aging process, and night cream is a logical first step.  I like to try different kinds, and I’ve loved both the Sukin organic one (my first night cream) and the Olay Anti-Aging that just ran out this week.  Today I bought my third one.  The brand is ulittlebeauty, which is just adorably Aussie.  I bought the eye balm as well because my old one poked a hole and leaked everywhere.

Just one last little tidbit to share, it’s vintage Herbal Essences!  I love Priceline pharmacies because they carry the largest range of products.  It’s a chemist designed for women, even the membership cards are pink.  I adore cool finds like these; I loved this shampoo back when I was in elementary and middle school.

I don’t remember any of my 2012 resolutions, but I’m so glad that in 2011 I was able to find one that really stuck.  And it’s not just about the face, I’m also the one you can always depend on to provide the sunscreen.  I try to avoid scented lotions because the dyes and perfumes can be harmful.  Even my body wash is just Dove sensitive skin.  Don’t be vain when it comes to skincare, take care of your skin, it’s your greatest protector!