Obligatory New Year’s Resolutions Post

As 2014 came to a close, I’m likely one of many people that reflected on the promised improvements they made this time last year.

For me, New Year’s resolutions have always been kind of useless. I’m not sure that I’ve ever really achieved any of the goals I set for myself. I do like considering the New Year as a blank slate, though. I think dwelling on the mistakes of your past can be destructive, but setting broad goals without any sort of infrastructure to help achieve them defeats the purpose.

What good is “lose 60 pounds” if I don’t also include the steps I’ll need to actually lose that much weight? Case in point, losing 60 pounds has been my New Year’s resolution for a good two years, but not only did I not achieve that goal each year, I put on more weight.

Finally shedding 18 pounds wasn’t due to multiple resolutions; my weight loss was due to accomplishing small goals and changes throughout the year (and yes, weight loss medication my doctor prescribed).

It was setting a goal to work out four times a week and including two vegetables with dinner (something we still struggle with). It was trying desperately to avoid eating carbs for lunch and dinner. It was signing up for three 5Ks with a goal to do them without walking. It was striving to go to yoga once a week. Those little goals had more of an impact on my success than the bold statement of “lose 60 pounds.”

So, this year I’m taking a different approach to New Year’s resolutions.

In that vein, here are some small goals to get 2015 started:

Finances

Our paltry savings were wiped out when we moved to Raleigh more than four years ago. Consistent financial insecurity has caused us to put any potential savings toward chipping away at debt (medical, credit card and student loan).

someecards.com

someecards.com

While that hasn’t changed, I decided to build up our savings again by automatically drafting $20 from each paycheck. It’s not much, but it’s a start. I’m sure I’ll be tempted to transfer those accrued savings, but in my savings account is where they should stay.

Fitness

The past year, I’ve focused mainly on cardio because I only have time to do one workout each day and the dog can’t lift weights. This year, I want to do at least two days of strength training per week.

I’m not giving up running (or “running”), though. As I’ve written about before, now that I’ve reached my distance goal, I’ll be working on speed to bring down my mile time. Like last year, I’ll sign up for a few races to keep me focused and motivated.

earthporm.com

earthporm.com

I want to continue going to yoga at least once a week, kicking it up to two when it works with my weekend schedule. At the very least, I plan on incorporating yoga into my strength training routine. Sun salutations are like yoga burpees, I assure you.

(They look easy, but do 10 rounds and tell me how your arms feel the next day)

Food

We’ve been half-assing an attempt to include more produce into our diet for a while now. Most of it goes in the compost pile unused and rotten. This year, on top of wasting less, I want to start thinking about our meals a little differently.

A recent dinner of bratwurst, steamed broccoli and sautéed radishes and chickpeas / After the Knot

A recent dinner of bratwurst, steamed broccoli and sautéed radishes and chickpeas / After the Knot

We generally focus on protein and build dinner around that.

Example: We have chicken. What can we make with chicken? Chicken cutlets. OK. What else are we having with it?

Instead, I’d like to focus on a particular vegetable and build the dinner around it, even if it’s still the side dish.

Example: We have spinach. What can we make with spinach? Sautéed spinach. OK. What else are we having with it?

I have no idea if this mental change will work, but it’s worth a shot.

Dog Training

My dog is freaking awesome, but she’s far from perfect. Her recall only works in my yard and she gets so excited when she sees people or dogs that are obviously her new best friend, she lunges and barks until her harness gets twisted and people stare at me with their judgey eyes. This is Bailey’s terrifying way of saying, “I love you and I’m so happy to see you.”

Let her off leash for a picture on the Blue Ridge Parkway? Nope. I'll never see her again. / After the Knot

Let her off leash for a picture on the Blue Ridge Parkway? Nope. I’ll never see her again. / After the Knot

We’ve already started learning a new cue, “touch,” to help bring her focus back on me. We’re also working on “focus” to keep her attention there. This year we’ll continue working on these cues, along with practicing recall in the front yard, outside the boundaries of our fence.

 

And that’s it. I’m leaving it at that.

I’d like to get more organized, learn how to sew, learn a new crochet stitch, read more books, go hiking more regularly, go kayaking, and paint the hallways in my house. And if I do all that, awesome. But if I don’t, it’ll be OK.

Here’s to 2015, a blank slate.

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#FitnessFriday: My First 5K

Two weeks ago Bailey and I participated in our first 5K.

As expected, we crossed the finish line somewhere close to the end, but our goal was to jog the entire thing, regardless of how slow that jog was.

I am proud to report that we did just that.

We came in with an embarrassing chip time of 45:42 for a 14:44-minute mile.

I may have been able to shave off a minute or two had Bailey not stopped to do her business three times, but when you gotta go, you gotta go. Also, unlike some people who were running with their dogs, I actually stopped to pick it up.

Shame on you, dog owners.

Bailey and I before the race. I wouldn't have been able to do it without her.

Bailey and I before the race. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without her.

The Course

While I was familiar with the race-location, I had never traversed it on foot, only by car. I knew there were some fairly steep hills, which of course, were awesome.

Half the race, as it turned out, was up hill.

My neighborhood has its hills, but I’ve been purposely avoiding some of the more challenging ones. At this point, I avoid one because it’s in a dark part of my neighborhood. The other, I just avoid.

Maybe some more time on those hills would have helped me out.

The weather was beautiful that day. It was sunny, in the low 70s and a bit breezy.

But man, was it hot. The North Carolina sun is strong and 70 felt like 80. I’m used to jogging in the dark and getting home before the sun has even started waking up. I don’t think I ever wanted it to be 5:45am so badly.

One of my friends jogged alongside me even though she could have just as easily walked. We chatted quite a bit, which is something I’m also not used to. It was great to have her there to keep my mind off of how much I hated that damn race at that moment.

Another friend finished the race well before I did, but came back to finish it with me.

It made my heart so happy to have them both there. I don’t think I would have been able to keep jogging without their motivation and their support. I wanted to stop so badly so many times, but thanks to them, I kept going.

Too Focused on Numbers

I was hung up on my race numbers for a good week. I couldn’t stop focusing on them as though they were some sort of representation of how hard I’ve been working. I focused on those numbers like I focus on the numbers on the scale. I keep hoping for both to go down.

Sometimes I think I focus on the numbers because I can’t seem to wrap my head around what I have actually accomplished. Less than  year ago I couldn’t jog a complete mile and here I was doing three. I couldn’t jog a mile as a skinny kid in high school, but here I am, doing three while 40-ish pounds overwheight.

And maybe that’s why I can’t give myself credit I deserve. Despite all of the jogging, I’m still 40 pounds overweight. The goal weight still seems so far away and unattainable, it’s hard to focus on the weight I’ve lost and what I’ve been doing to get here.

Although my goal weight seems unattainable, I do feel like I have the ability to jog longer distances. I feel like if I wanted to, I could train to run a 10K or a 15K. Those numbers don’t seem so scary any more. They seem real.

Will I do it? Probably not. I’m not convinced jogging that far with a dog on a regular basis will be good for Bailey’s joints in the long run. I don’t want to cross over from making her stronger, to making her weaker.

And quite frankly, I hate jogging. Well…maybe hate isn’t the right word, but I don’t really enjoy it either. I find it boring. Because my neighborhood lacks sidewalks, I need to stay alert for cars. This means I can’t listen to music. Six miles without music? Ugh. No way.

A blogger friend of mine who is also a runner asked me if I was addicted yet. I told her no, but then I went on to sign up for two more 5Ks.

This weekend Bailey and I will be participating in a race to benefit animal shelters around North Carolina.

The second race I signed up for is on Thanksgiving. I’m not entirely sure if Bailey would be allowed to run with me, but I don’t intend on doing it with her. As much as I love having my workout buddy beside me, I kind of want to try this one on my own.

Just me, a rockin’ playlist, and no bags filled with poop.