It’s the end of January. By this point most of us have given up on our New Year’s resolutions. Gyms are clearing up, fast food revenues are picking back up, as most of America gets back to the status quo. So I figured I’d offer a bit of advice for making, re-making and sticking with resolutions.
Weight is something that I started struggling with when I was 12 years old. I was a chubby teen and recently I found out that I’m genetically predisposed to obesity (more than the average American in fact!) As a teen my motivation for getting in shape was getting chicks. This has pretty much been my motivation to stay in shape. But lately it has taken on a life of its own, exercise makes me feel good. I’m addicted to it. It has become a habit that I can’t stop.
Less than two years ago, I thought there was no way I could ever run 26.2 miles. Ever.
Then Preston, my little brother, started training to run a marathon and my competitive nature got the better of me. At the start of 2012, I started training with the Road Runners for the LA Marathon. The experience was transformative. I had to stop going out on Friday nights, start waking up at 6 am Saturdays for long, cold runs. Sounds miserable, but it was absolutely exhilarating – the camaraderie, competition and the runners high.
I completed the LA Marathon in 2hr56min – 80th out of 20,000 runners. (If I was a woman, I would have been in ninth place!) This fall I trained for New York, which was ultimately postponed due to disaster relief efforts post Hurricane Sandy. Now, I’m training to run the Boston Marathon, which will take place April 15th.
Through my experiences in training and completing marathons, I have come up with a list of advice for anyone training for a marathon or keeping any self-improvement resolution. It all boils down to two things:
Motivation – why are you doing this? The more powerful the motivation, the easier time you will have. So really think about this. Maybe it’s because you want to stay healthy and be able to run around and keep up with your kids. Maybe it’s because you want to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. No matter what motivates you, having a goal and a purpose is essential. When I ran the marathon, I jumpstarted my motivation by focusing on the needs of the people I care deeply for. I decided I was going to run to raise money in order to pay for better schooling for the children of my employees in the Philippines. Fundraising Video Here. When I was training I thought about JT and Jeru, two of the four kids we were going to send to school, and that got me through the training pains. On race day, I found myself inspired by the thought of improving their lives and that powered me to the finish line.
Habit – a lot is being made lately about Habit. If you have time read this book. It turns out that most of what we do every day is driven by unconscious patterns that we aren’t even aware of. This is why you can space out when you are driving a familiar route, and still get there safely. These patterns are deeply, deeply ingrained in our brains and it takes a lot to undo them. But the good news is once undone, maintaining your new habits is as easy as maintaining the old habits.
So what is your motivation? Why are you doing this? Make it as dramatic as possible.
Once you figure that out, commit. But forget about committing for a year. Commit for a month. Commit to exercise three times a week for a month. Commit to eating a low carb diet for a month. Whatever you commit to, keep the commitment. And remember, it’s just thirty days. When it gets really tough, just focus on getting through today only.
I’d love to hear how some of you have made and kept resolutions.