forward momentum

I have mentioned frequently that I think New Year is kind of a silly holiday. That’s probably slightly inaccurate. I think what it really is is that I don’t like when people have ridiculous expectations for how “amazing” it’s going to be or whatever. (For the record I feel the same exact way about birthdays.) I did, in fact, have a very fun NYE filled with lots of friends and laughter and my sliding down the lane after getting a little overzealous in my bowling–and no, I wasn’t drunk.

I actually really like the whole New Year thing when it comes to reflecting on the year and what has happened and where I’d like my life to go in the next year. I think this should be done with some regularity and so New Year is a great time to make sure this happens.

Earlier this week, I was at brunch with Brian (a benefit of being stuck in Utah for so long) and we were discussing motivational speakers. Brian was telling me that Tony Robbins has said that people usually overestimate what they can accomplish in a year and underestimate what they can accomplish in ten years. I actually found the quote:

Once you have mastered time, you will understand how true it is that most people overestimate what they can accomplish in a year — and underestimate what they can achieve in a decade!

This idea has been rolling around in my head for the past six days as I have been thinking about what the next year could have in store for me and I think I completely agree with it. (I have not yet mastered time nor do I know much about the rest of what Tony Robbins teaches.)

Here are some of the things I was thinking about in terms of goals for the next year:

  • Losing weight (the never ending battle in my life)
  • Getting out of debt (financial mastery…not my strong suit)
  • Running another marathon
  • Getting myself the new role I really want in my rotational program at work (I don’t even know what this is yet)
  • Going on a real vacation

Now, keeping in mind this idea of overestimating what I can do in a year, and underestimating what I can do in 10, I’ve been rethinking some of these goals. For instance, I always have these grandiose weight loss plans that have me ending the year at exactly the weight I want to be (about 60 lbs less than I weight right now).

In reality, if I could live in a vacuum, I could probably lose 60 lbs in a year…but that’s all I’d do because I wouldn’t be able to think about anything else if I wanted to actually lose 60 lbs in a year. But what if I just set the goal this year to lose 10 lbs and keep it off. And then next year I do the same thing. Sure, it would take me more than a year to lose those 60 lbs, but it’s not like I would actually lose those 60 lbs in a year anyway. Doesn’t 10 lbs seem so much more manageable? And if I’m working to lose it and keep it off, and the goal is actually realistic, I’m guessing I could actually do it, and I would actually be 60 lbs lighter in six years versus ending every year frustrated that I haven’t lost a ton of weight and feeling like a total failure. And who knows, maybe I’d lose 15 instead of 10 and then I’d be done in four years.

Getting out of debt. The reality is, this is not going to happen in a year and I know this. That said, I think figuring out a realistic ten year plan could really help me feel so much better about where I’m at right now and where I could be. I will set a realistic goal for myself for the next year, and it will take into account the fact that I do want to be able to still enjoy my life. These goals will be more behavior based and less end goal based. I mean, it’s great to say, “I will have these two credit cards paid off by the end of the year,” but if I’m not changing my behaviors, how long will they really stay paid off and in the ten year scheme of things, wouldn’t it be great to figure out how I’m going to get out of debt and then how I’m going to start saving money so I can actually retire one day. (On that note, I do take advantage of my 401k match right now because that would just be throwing money away if I didn’t.)

Running another marathon: the fact is, I don’t just want to run another marathon. I want to run another marathon much faster than I ran the first. Considering how I am sucking wind now when I run any distance, it would be silly to set this goal for this year. But I do want to set a goal that will get me closer to running a faster marathon. So, in an effort to get to my goal of running three races during my year of 33, I have decided my goal will be to run three half-marathons, shaving off 10 minutes each one. (This might sound unrealistic to you experienced runners, but if you knew just how slow I run, you would know that this is totally doable.) This goal won’t require me to eat, sleep, and breathe running, but it will require me to stay focused on exercising.

Going on a real vacation. So, first of all, with all of my missed flights, this has been a real vacation. I have slept more in the past two weeks than I would have thought possible. I feel great. I’ve enjoyed eating good things, playing lots, and just hanging out. That said, I want to go on a fun trip to an exotic place (read: outside of the U.S. and western Europe). Realistically, with my current plans for the coming year, trying to do something like this would be stressful and, financially, a little unrealistic given my other goals. So, instead of making sure this one happens, I’m going to start planning for a serious vacation for next year or the year after. I will need to figure out about what it will cost and how I can start saving for it a little at a time. Again, I want to be realistic about what I can achieve in a year.

As for work, I think this is the one area where it’s easy to be realistic about what I can do in one year because I don’t have a lot of control over it. I definitely have some lofty goals for the next five years, but what I need to do is start looking at those goals and talking to my mentors about how to best reach those goals.

In fact, with all of these goals, I think it might not be a bad idea to find some people to mentor me and find some good books to read to keep me motivated (suggestions?).

Anyway, I’m excited about the year ahead…and the next ten years! Seriously, I feel like anything is possible and hopefully, by being realistic in my one year plans and ambitious in my 10 year ones, I will be able to keep this forward momentum going.

the continual weight loss drama of my life

I know I haven’t written about this much, but I feel like it’s time for an update. I’m still losing weight. The process is very, very, very slow, but something about the slowness of it gives me comfort. I think it might be some psychological thing where I think that because it’s taking so long to get off, it won’t come back. True or not…the psychological comfort is helpful.

You want to know what else is helpful? Getting sick for a week. Or at least I thought it was until all of that weight turned out to just be water. It was quite depressing…gaining 6 lbs over night. Seriously. But all in all the process is going well. I’ve gotten below “mission fat”, praise all that’s good and holy! In case you don’t understand the term “mission fat”, this was how fat I was when I returned home from being on a mission for my church. Over the course of 16 months I managed to put on 35 lbs; “mission fat” was my all time a high…a weight I swore I would never ever see on a scale again. And yet…and yet…

I am now below “mission fat”. It feels great. My goal is to never see that number again (including whenever I end up pregnant) so I have a lot more to lose. I’ve been learning a lot of helpful things in my classes at school (interestingly enough). It’s not that I’m learning about weight loss, but I’m learning a lot about how to change behavior. And actually one of the books I’ve had to read does talk about weight loss specifically. The book is called Influencer and the authors (one of whom is my professor) have found three key behaviors present in those individuals who manage to lose weight and keep it off. Are you ready for this? I think your minds might be blown. They are 1) weighing yourself every morning, 2) eating breakfast, and 3) doing cardio at home. (Seriously, the book is worth reading.)

I know those of you who struggle with any kind of long-term trial/addiction can understand what I’m talking about. Losing weight, in the long-term, is about a lot more than eating less and exercising more. I have years of habits that have to be altered. Not an easy task. But I really do think those three behaviors are helping.

The good news is things are going well. I’ve had some set-backs, but I am managing the discouragement that normally accompanies those much better than I ever have. I’m being patient with myself. It’s kind of nice. Plus, I don’t really have any other option. With as busy as I am with school and life, and as much as I travel (not conducive to weight loss chez moi), I have to be willing to accept setbacks.

But here are my fantastic accomplishments for the week. Push-ups; I can do them and not on my knees. That’s kind of a big deal. The other one just happened tonight. I clocked a mile under 10 minutes. I realize a number of you out there could do that in your sleep (almost), but considering how little I’ve been running lately and how much I weigh right now, that’s a great feeling. Sometimes I think about how fast I’ll be able to run with 20, or 30, or 50 lbs less to carry and I get really, really excited. That’s the best motivation.

Speaking of motivation, are any of you watching The Biggest Loser? (I watch a total of three hours of t.v. a week generally…this and Lost. That’s it.) Seriously, I love that show. It’s so inspiring to me. Now, I would love it if I could commit all of my time to losing weight (and I think I’d kick some serious trash), but that’s not why I find it inspiring. What does inspire me? The fact that I have so much less to lose than the contestants.

And speaking of The Biggest Loser, if you want a great workout I highly recommend Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred. Kicks. My. Trash. In less than 30 minutes. Seriously amazing.

And in case you were looking for some new tunage for your workouts…here are my latest favorites:

  • I Hate This Part – Pussycat Dolls (yes…I am kind of embarrassed, but whatever)
  • Welcome to the World – Kevin Rudolf and Rick Ross (I personally like the non-explicit version)
  • Jai Ho – From Slumdog Millionaire
  • The Way I Are – Timbaland (not new…but still fabulous!)
  • Crash and Burn Girl – Robyn (yes…Robyn…the one-hit-wonder of the 90s)
  • Le Disko – Shiny Toy Guns
  • Day ‘N’ Night – Kid Cudi
  • I’d Like To – Corinne Bailey Rae
  • Hypnotized – Big Gemini (this is more of a cool down song…but I’m loving it)

Where am I finding all of these…the radio. Yes, I’m listening to the radio these days and with the help of Shazam, I manage to find and remember the names of all of the songs I want to download.

For some other favorite songs (not necessarily workout stuff), I’ve updated my sidebar!

good to great

In all my “road tripping” this summer, I have been listening to audio books. I love audio books and I love that now, thanks to iTunes, I can sample the voice of the narrator before I buy the book (yes, I buy them because I like to share them).

Well, lately I’ve been into non-fiction of the business variety and my most recent “read” was this great book by Jim Collins, Good to Great. It’s the story of how 11 companies that met a very rigid set of criteria, took the step from good to great…ergo the name of the book. The book is really interesting from a business perspective, but also from a life perspective. I’m not going to do a full review here, but I do want to share one little part.

During their research (Jim Collins is the author, but there was a team of researchers), the term “Stockdale Paradox” was coined. It is in reference to Vice Admiral James Stockdale who was a POW during the Vietnam War, and his ability to face the brutal reality and continue. He survived EIGHT years over there. Jim Collins had the opportunity to spend some time with him and as they were walking across the Stanford campus, the following conversation took place (this is straight from the book):

I didn’t say anything for many minutes, and we continued the slow walk toward the faculty club, Stockdale limping and arc-swinging his stiff leg that had never fully recovered from repeated torture. Finally, after about a hundred meters of silence, I asked, “Who didn’t make it out?”

“Oh, that’s easy,” he said. “The optimists.”

“The optimists? I don’t understand,” I said, now completely confused, given what he’d said a hundred meters earlier.

“The optimists. Oh, they were the ones who said, ‘We’re going to be out by Christmas.’ And Christmas would come, and Christmas would go. Then they’d say,‘We’re going to be out by Easter.’ And Easter would come, and Easter would go. And then Thanksgiving, and then it would be Christmas again. And they died of a broken heart.”

Another long pause, and more walking. Then he turned to me and said, “This is a very important lesson. You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end—which you can never afford to lose—with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”

To this day, I carry a mental image of Stockdale admonishing the optimists: “We’re not getting out by Christmas; deal with it!”

For whatever reason, this passage struck me and has stuck with me since then…and not in terms of every aspect of my life, but when it comes to weight loss. I know that probably sounds weird, but in most aspects of my life, I am a firm believer in the “it always works out” principle…without any consideration for when it is going to work out. However, when it comes to losing weight, there is always a deadline, a goal, and “end” in sight. And, just as Stockdale stated, that “end” comes and goes and I’m still fat and every time it becomes harder and harder to hang on to hope.

So…it’s time to face the brutal reality that is my weight and say I don’t know when it’s going to happen, but I do know that if I keep trying and keep exercising and keep working on a healthy lifestyle, it will happen. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel, but I have no idea how long the tunnel is.

please stay tuned…

I’m alive. I promise. I just have lots going on. But here are a few quick updates…because I keep forgetting to share them.

  1. The trip to Africa is not happening…for various reasons, the main one being our school (the one we support) in the Congo is about to lose their meeting place (a little shack where school is held), so at this point raising money is much more important than traveling over there. But my shots were not in vain because they are all good for at least two years, so when we go next year, which is the plan, I am fully vaccinated.
  2. I started training my replacement this week. I don’t think I’m very good at training someone to do what I do. Part of it is that I am a pretty intuitive person. Part of it is that my brain moves from subject to subject so quickly that I can’t just teach her one thing without interrupting myself 25 times. And part of it is that there is just so much to learn and do. The good news? Only eight more days of work and they are sure to go by quickly with everything I have to teach the New Girl.
  3. I lost 5.4 lbs last week. Which is great since the week before I gained .8. Do you love how I share the drop, but didn’t mention the increase?
  4. My summer plans are falling into place…I just have no idea how I’m going to pay my bills. It looks like I will be spending my summer bouncing between my siblings. I’m really excited to have a “break” before school starts and to be able to work on Sowers stuff in a big way, along with a new opportunity that looks to be both lucrative and great for the resume. I’m sure things will work out financially…isn’t that what student loans are for?
  5. I have not been running like I should, but will be shortly (I’ve had a cold for almost two weeks). In order to ensure this, I’m running Wasatch Back, entered in the lottery for St. George, about to sign up for the Hobble Creek Half and definitely running the Las Vegas full. If I get in to St. George, I will be running two marathons in the space of two months. It should be a good time.

I think that’s it on the updates. I have more posts coming, but I have a serious case of “I can’t write anything because I have so much to say and can’t figure out where to start or how to say it”. So until that goes away, this will have to do.

some motivation

So, I was reading Shape on Saturday (while on the StairMaster…I can only read Shape when I exercise, otherwise it just depresses me) and I found this very interesting tidbit:

when negative thinking pays off

Pessimists may have an advantage when it comes to weight loss, say researchers at the University of Bath in England. In a recent study, people who pictured what they’d look like if they failed to maintain an exercise program were more likely to stick with it than those who envisioned themselves successful. “Fear can motivated you to take actions,” says study co-author Brett Martin, a professor of consumer behavior. If your workout resolve wanes, imagine yourself carrying extra pounds. After that, you won’t be able to lace up your sneakers fast enough.

So, what do you guys think?

I’ll tell you what I think. It’s true. I know that people always say to visualize where you want to be. You know, the power of positive thinking. Well, I am now a believer in the power of FEAR.

After returning home from the gym, I donned a bathing suit and took some “before” pics (a one piece racing suit, on a chubby super white girl, after a long winter…the worst possible look EVER and no, none of you will EVER be seeing them), and let me tell you, those images haunts me everywhere I go, every bite I take. It seems to be all I see in my mind’s eye.

Guess who was at the gym tonight…no hesitations, no excuses, only fear; fear of looking like this for the rest of my life. I liken it to the first time I saw a smoker’s lung and thought, “I never want to smoke”.

Now, I don’t know that I recommend it for everyone but, for me, it seems to be working; so well, in fact, that when I start to imagine what I will look like when I get to my goal weight, I force that image out and replace it with my “before” picture.

I also hope that no one reads this and thinks my only motivation for wanting to lose weight is to look better. Of course it’s a motivation (and a big one), but it’s not the only one.

ETA: I am loving the comments. I do want to reiterate that I do not recommend this for everyone. I also want to say that this is not about me hating my body. In fact, I think the motivation to exercise actually makes me feel better about it. Like last night, I was swimming laps (yes, in a one piece that is not super attractive) and while I am aware of what I look like in a bathing suit, I also love that my body is capable of so much. I also like focusing on changing what I look like without an “ideal” in mind. This way I am really focused on improvement, rather than a size I want to be, a weight I want to weigh, etc. Does that make sense?