After a long, gray winter, too many hours inside on the sofa, and way too many gallons of ice cream, I am ready to embrace spring. I added a few pounds over the winter, mainly due to lack of motivation, weather conditions, and a string of annoying injuries. However, with the arrival of spring (and it looks like it is finally really here), I am committing myself to cleaning up my health, in the same way that I am cleaning up and clearing out my home. It seems somehow natural to me that the two should go hand in hand.
I have been thinking about this for several weeks now, trying to visualize what I want my healthier life to look like. What are my ideas of a “healthier life”? How will it differ from my life now? What kinds of rhythms will exist for me there?
After a lot of thinking, I came up with several things that I can envision in my “healthier” life:
- time in each day for reflection and centering,
- plenty of rest, so that I am more productive and alert during the waking hours of my life,
- feeling fit and healthy, not stuffed full of cookies with nagging little injuries, and
- energy to engage more with my family, to complete unfinished projects, and to be able to handle anything that comes my way.
I know from past experience that regular exercise, including weight training, healthy eating, and plenty of rest makes me feel much better overall, with more energy and a positive outlook. Therefore, Exercise, Healthy Eating Habits, and Rest will be the three pillars of my plan. I hope to eventually incorporate weight and core training, relaxation exercises and meditation, and perhaps even yoga. But my focus at the start is consistency.
I used to run regularly three times a week. On the evenings during the week that I planned to go running, I refused to schedule other events. No errands, school meetings, etc. If they fell on one of my running nights, my answer was that I had a previous commitment. When I began to train for the Cherry Blossom 10-Mile Run last year, the training plan called for 5-6 runs per week. I was usually only able to manage four times, sometimes five, but just adding that extra day of running made a lot of difference in my training. I felt that my body adapted better, I got faster, and recovered more quickly from the workouts. And all that time on the road was good for me mentally. There were times during a run when I realized that I had not had a single thought, about anything, for several minutes! That “brain silence” is rare for me, and I only find it when I am running.
Therefore, my initial goal will be to consistently complete four runs a week, including one longer run. These runs can be short or long, slow or fast, as long as I run four times, and one time is a “long run”, or about 1.5 times longer than my other runs that week. The only exceptions are sickness / injury, dangerous weather (heat, ice, lightening), or non-movable family commitments. This will establish a core practice of consistency within the Exercise pillar of my plan. I am not focusing on speed or distance, only consistent running.
I have already been using my Passion Planner to schedule my runs, and I will continue to do so. Each Monday, when I arrive at work (or after breakfast if I am not working), I sit down with my Passion Planner and map out my goals for the week. After any immovable commitments, such as doctor appointments, school plays, etc., the first thing that I put on my planner are my runs. You can see in the photo above that I have scheduled four runs this week, on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Sunday, with an 8-mile long run on Friday (running and other healthy habits are highlighted in pink). I have completed my two scheduled runs so far this week, and see no reason why I won’t be able to complete all four!
I have been using this method successfully since the beginning of April, which was when I determined that consistent exercise needed to be the first step in my “Get Fit” plan. I want to continue to build consistency in my running through May, at which time I will add a new, consistent healthy habit to one of the other pillars of my plan.
I will post regular updates as I go along. If you are interested in following my progress (or making sure that I stay committed!), follow me on Twitter. I post all my runs to Twitter via RunKeeper, many times with awesome photos of the places that I run, or the people / animals / flowers that I meet along the way. Just click on the Twitter icon in the upper right-hand corner of the screen.