A Year of STRENGTH

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With each new year, I like to focus on one specific health goal and make that goal non-negotiable.

This doesn’t mean that I don’t have other goals. It just means that this particular goal is placed front and center… typically because I have a habit of pushing it to the back burner.


Last Year

Last year my focus was on trying new whole-food plant-based (WFPB) recipes. I made a commitment to try one new recipe a week and share them on the blog.

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This process helped me to:

  • Learn some great new recipes.

  • Improve my cooking skills.

  • Make healthy food preparation easier and more efficient.

As a result of this year-long commitment, I developed skills that will benefit me for years to come.

Getting creative in the kitchen has become an enjoyable part of life for me, and I look forward to continually improving in this area.

This Year

With the new year, it’s time to focus on a new health goal:

  • One that is important but not exactly enjoyable to me.

  • One that I tend to put off.

  • One that therefore needs to be placed front and center, so that I can improve in this area.

My goal for 2019 is to do 730 strength exercises throughout the year.

This averages to 2 strength exercises per day. (The exercises don’t have to be done daily though. For example, I could do 7 strength exercises twice a week, if it works better with my schedule. This allows flexibility, which is helpful to me.)

To increase my chances of success, I will be implementing 5 SUCCESS STRATEGIES.


Success Strategy #1 - Write It Down

I have written my goal down. It’s important to not skip this step. According to research by psychology professor Dr. Gail Matthews, writing a goal increased success rate by 42%!


Success Strategy #2 - SMART Goals

The type of goal you set matters. I'm using the well-known SMART goal framework (making the goal specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and time-bound):

  • Specific - Strength exercises (3 sets of each exercise)

  • Measurable - 730 throughout the year (average of 2 per day)

  • Actionable - The goal is all about me taking consistent action (performing strength exercises).

  • Realistic - This amount is totally doable. I can knock out 2 strength exercises in less than 10 minutes. (Lack of time is not an excuse!)

  • Time-Bound - Throughout 2019.

 

Success Strategy #3 - Accountability

By announcing this goal on the blog and in the mHp Facebook group, I'm purposely adding a layer of accountability. In other words, I am making others aware of this goal so that they will hold me to it.

Of note, research by the American Society of Training and Development (ASTD) found that good accountability practices can increase success rate by up to 95%! (Want some accountability? Join the mHp Facebook group!)

Success Strategy #4 - A Compelling "Why"

In the beginning, new goals are fun and exciting. But once the newness wears off, sticking with a goal becomes much more difficult. To help me prepare for this, I need to be very clear on my why.

I love this quote by Gail Hyatt: "People lose their way when they lose their why."

So why is this goal important to me?

Well, I can tell you that it’s not because I have a dream of competing in body-building competitions.

Although, you never know… :)

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(I had way too much fun making that picture.)

If you know me, you know that my interest is less about fitness competitions and bikinis, and more about long-term health and well-being.

That may not sound as exciting, but don’t forget that looking good in a swimsuit and competing in athletic events can be awesome side effects of developing a healthy lifestyle!

Here are some compelling reasons to make strength training an integral part of a healthy lifestyle:

  • Increased metabolism. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn throughout the day. Our metabolism naturally slows with age. Strength training (in addition to a healthy diet) is a great way to maintain a healthy weight.

  • Preventing sarcopenia. Sarcopenia is age-related muscle loss, and it starts in our 30s! This leads to weakness and decreased ability to perform daily activities, which worsens with age. The best way to combat sarcopenia is through strength training.

  • Bone health. Weight-bearing exercise strengthens bones and helps to fight off osteoporosis. (This is especially important for women, who are at greater risk for osteoporosis than men.)

  • Fighting off chronic disease. Strength training helps to fight off a number of lifestyle-related chronic illnesses, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and chronic pain.

  • Improved mental health. Strength training has been shown to improve cognitive abilities and self-esteem, while decreasing anxiety and depression.


Success Strategy #5 - Keeping Score

It’s important to keep score, both when you’re doing well and when you’re not.

Score-keeping shows the progress you’ve made, which motivates you to keep going. It also shows you that slipping up isn’t the end of the world, and it reminds you that every action counts.

Ever find yourself in a pattern of repeatedly starting over? (“Starting Monday, I’ll do a better job.”) You can avoid this by making a commitment to keep score no matter what, with no do-overs.

I will be sharing my own score-keeping below, checking in on a weekly basis. I will also be checking in on Mondays in the mHp Facebook group. (I invite you to do the same!)

So there you have it!

That’s where my focus will be this year. Again, this doesn’t mean that I won’t be doing other healthy activities, such as regular cardio exercise and healthy food prep.

Strength just happens to be more challenging for me, which is why I want to devote more attention to it.

How about you? What area of your health needs to be placed front and center?

Best wishes on reaching a health goal that is important to you! I hope you find these tips as helpful as I do.

A note about my score-keeping… The first number is the amount of strength exercises I’ve actually done. The second number is where I should be at this point in the year, assuming an average of 2 per day.