My 2016 New Year’s Resolutions

We’re one week in to the new year already! It’s felt like a funny time to try to make any changes. First, starting the year with a three day weekend is definitely not the time to do a juice fast or anything. Jack and I enjoyed the time off together and with our families, and there was absolutely no cleansing going on 😉 In fact, there was one night that we had pizza and linguine for dinner (along with giant martinis) and then went to a bar, where we had tequila shots and soft pretzels and Oreo cheesecake. I am still a little bit in shock at our gluttony.

So then we headed back to work, but we had Christmas #6 with my stepdaughter, which consisted of more linguine and wine and exciting news that she is moving to California. Now, we’re trying to settle in and behave ourselves, but we’re going to Mexico in a week so I’m kind of like, what’s the point???

The good news is that I’m sticking with my diet (in spite of the previously mentioned carb-a-thon) and am now officially down 10 pounds from my summer chubster-ism. Woo hoo! In my dreams I will lose another 8, but no pressure right now.

In terms of my goals for the year, I’m going to start off by focusing on the first half of 2016. And I’m not going to have as many lofty goals as I did last year; this time, they are more specific.

Fitness/Health

  1. Continue my diet for as long as I can stand it.
  2. Eat primarily vegan meals, but not freak out when I have a cheeseburger or some ice cream.
  3. Learn to use the kickass Garmin I got for Christmas.
  4. Run a sub-25 minute 5k by July.

Organization

  1. Clean out the linen closet.
  2. Clean up, organize, and decorate our home office.
  3. Follow a schedule with my volunteering.
  4. Focus our donations on one nonprofit, rather than giving small amounts to a lot of groups.
  5. Make new passwords for all our accounts (and keep track of them!).
  6. Replant all my sad houseplants that have outgrown their pots.
  7. Unsubscribe to a LOT of email lists.

Reading

  1. Stop buying Kindle books. Reserve books at the library.
  2. Read: On the Move, H is for Hawk, M Train.

Finances

  1. Start using Personal Capital (or something like that) to track our expenses.
  2. Pay off my $8700 private student loan.
  3. Limit our weekly going-out budget to $100. Related: learn the weekly specials at restaurants in our area 🙂
  4. Cancel our credit cards that we never use.

I feel like none of these are overwhelming. I’ll probably do something like take on one of these each Saturday, so that I stay on top of everything over the first half of the year. The second half of the year will see me examining my job and what I want my future career to look like, but for now, I want to keep learning and see how I feel after a full year in this role.

Did you make any resolutions? Do you think it’s more important to make lofty, dreamy goals, or (kind of boring) check-off-the-list goals that are more easily attainable?

 

2015 Goals vs. Reality

I did turn 40 this year. It actually happened. And I must admit, I’m not dealing with it all that well. I’m more vain and shallow than I realized! I spend entirely too much time focusing on new wrinkles and saggy skin. I’m thinking about trying some kind of dermal filler or Botox or something. Just a little something to perk up my skin. Part of it is that I work in a very young industry, and I don’t want to show my age. Part of it too is just pure vanity.

But enough of that!

Last year was the first year that I truly made a set of New Year’s resolutions and then followed through with them. I have never been a goal setter, but this past year has been a game changer for sure. I never realized how vocalizing a goal would help me to really think about what I needed to do to actually make it happen. Yes, it took me til 40 to understand this!

I was far from perfect in reaching my goals this year. Some of that was my fault and some of it wasn’t. Here’s how things ended up:

  1. Learn to do a handstand. FAIL. Not necessarily from lack of effort though. I worked pretty hard to build up my upper body strength, but there wasn’t much I could do about my wrist. They are weak, slightly arthritic, and leaning towards carpal tunnel syndrome. I have pretty lousy joints overall. Thus, no handstand for me, but I have peace about that.
  2. Pay off our credit card debt and personal loans. SUCCESS. I also paid off my car! We were lucky enough to both make good bonuses this year, along with nice salary increases, and we made some money when we sold our house. I’m very happy to say we knocked out all of our consumer debt other than my husband’s car, and that’s just because we’re waiting to see what VW is going to do about the “clean” diesel debacle.
  3. Be less anal. I’m calling this a SUCCESS. I think I’m little bit more go-with-the-flow. I can’t change who I am inside, but I am committed to continually finding compromise with other people and their ways of doing things.
  4. Run a half marathon. SUCCESS. Boom.
  5. Downsize. SUCCESS. Man, I was all over the place with this one over the year. We went from looking at one bedroom condos and vacation cabins, to almost buying a five bedroom house, to ending up in a perfect-sized three bedroom with almost an acre. We’re sort of turning it into that cabin we also wanted too 🙂
  6. Meditate. FAIL. I tried. I don’t like it. I know it’s something that you get better at, and the couple of times I did it, I did feel more relaxed and clear headed. But making it into an obligation sort of took away the benefit. Maybe one day…
  7. Drink less. FAIL. I’m trying not to beat myself up about this one. I did a few alcohol-free weeks, and I’ve cut back recently as I’ve been losing weight, but this summer, I relied on our end of day cocktails to help with the stress of my new job and our move (mostly during our two month hotel stay).
  8. Go to marriage counseling. FAIL. We never went, not once. We talked about it. We talked about us, our relationship. I think we don’t have as much motivation to go to therapy together because we’re crazy in love and really do like and enjoy each other 95% of the time. It’s not like our marriage is in trouble or anything. We’re totally committed to each other and plan on spending our lives together. But I know there are old hurts we need to resolve eventually, things that always seem to bubble back up when you least expect them. To be continued.
  9. Write. SUCCESS. This will be my 117th blog post, according to WordPress. This is undoubtedly the most I’ve ever written in a year. I’m also doing social media posts for two non-profits, so I’m writing some there as well. I would still like to learn to write essays, so hopefully I’ll have some time and energy to devote to that in 2016.
  10. Continue to evolve my relationship with food. I think I can call this a SUCCESS. This summer was eye-opening, as I experienced stress-eating (and the accompanying weight gain) for the first time. Not good! I also had to pretty much admit defeat when it came to controlling what I was eating during that time. My self-discipline was stretched thin during the first few months of my new job. I thought I could use this blog as motivation to lose weight, but instead I just added on a few more pounds. In hindsight, I was just barely keeping everything together, so it was a bad time to diet. Over the year, I think I tried every kind of fad diet or gimmick I could find. NONE of it worked (shocking, I know). But now that things are settled, I’ve been able to lose 9 pounds since Thanksgiving. And this was during the holidays and a trip to Chicago that had the express pupose of eating! I’m feeling good about that. I’m understanding what works for me. For example, I am do not have success with low carb. Or Paleo. For me, I need to eat tons of vegetables and fruit, and add in protein when I’m craving it. I need to be very restrictive about the types of food I eat, especially fat. The more fat I eat, the more I crave it. It’s worse than sugar for me. And if I’m restricting what I eat all day, then dammit, it’s totally fine to have a glass of wine or a martini at night. I can’t be good all the time 🙂
  11. Try some minimalism projects. This is sort of a toss up, but I’m calling it a SUCCESS. Mostly, I realized I’m not a true minimalist, so while it’s not what I was expecting, it’s a great lesson. I like to keep the clutter very low and to stay organized, but I like to have stuff too. I prefer to have things just-so, rather than make-do. If I have things that are as perfect as they can be, I won’t want more things. So I’m going through my life and our home and working on that that now.
  12. Practice empathy, be more compassionate and stop being so judgy. SUCCESS. Now, being compassionate and empathetic is a life-long project and something I will always be working towards. But what I realize now, here at the end of the year, that most of what I meant by this was directed towards my co-workers. We were all way too close and they were driving me crazy. Getting away from them helped me stop being so judgy. Other people’s life choices are none of my business.
  13. Do a volunteer activity once a month. MIXED. I did not volunteer for most of the year. I did donate a fair amount of money, but it’s not until the last couple of months that I’ve been actively volunteering. But I would say I made up for lost time! As a social media volunteer, I’ve been posting for my two charities several times a week, and daily around Thanksgiving during the shopping madness. Moving into 2016, we’re working on an agreed-upon posting schedule so I can better organize my time.
  14. Travel less often, but more memorably. SUCCESS. We started the year at the beach, and then made trips to Asheville, Jekyll Island, Louisville, and Chicago. I also traveled for work, to Portland, New York, and Dallas. It was not as much travel as 2014, but we were able to stay in nicer places and do more while were there. This is a trend we’ll continue.
  15. Find a new job. SUCCESS. I knew it would be tough, but it’s been tougher than I imagined. But all these hard things are absolutely helping me grow, and I have learned so much. I miss my old company and my friends there, and I have the feeling I’ll go back there one day. I definitely needed to leave though, so I don’t regret that.

Of my 15 original goals, I had success with 10 & 1/2. The importance of each of these waxed and waned throughout the year. I really struggled over the summer and early fall to accomplish much besides working, running, and keeping my head above water. I’ve also struggled to find a true focus for this blog, but since I’m enjoying writing here, it’s not something I’m too concerned with 🙂

In all honestly, I’m pretty damn pleased with myself for setting these goals and following through with them. Even the ones I failed at, I truly did make attempts to follow through. Mostly they just became less of a priority as the year went on. I added in some goals here and there, with varying degrees of success. I’m excited for a new beginning and have lots of great ideas for 2016. See you then!

How was your 2015? Are you happy with your progress? And what are your thoughts on resolutions? Will you be setting any this year?

 

It’s Fall, Y’all!

Like most people, I always get excited as a season transitions into the next one. Then, of course, I get tired of the cold/heat/humidity/rain/darkness/sunniness/etc, and start looking forward to the end of that season. That said, this has been a long, hot, stressful, not-much-fun summer, and fall is for sure my favorite time of the year, so this transition feels extra-special to me. This weekend there is a chance that the temps will be as low as 50°, so that pretty much demands we be outside. Here’s hoping we actually make it to the mountains for some hiking, since every time we plan something like that, Jack ends up with a work emergency and we cancel our plans. The only bad news is we have all our cooler weather clothes in storage, still being homeless and all, so we might need to hit up Old Navy for some warmer clothes. Oh, the humanity 😉

The seasonal transition also helps me with motivation for making good changes. I’ve been reading a lot of posts about people still getting that back-to-school urge to get organized/get focused/get new outfits. After more than a decade and a half out of this routine (grad school was year-round, lucky me!), I can finally say I don’t get this feeling anymore, at least not just with fall. Each time the weather changes, I feel like totally overhauling my home and my routine. In general, I just love a clean slate 🙂

I was excited to see this post from the Crunchy Radish (who you should definitely be following!) yesterday. She helped me to really organize my thoughts on the changes I’m making as we roll into this lovely weather. My goals, based on her recommendations:

  1. Try a new workout: I’m excited to incorporate weight training back into my schedule. I’ve been doing a lot of running this summer, to take advantage of the early morning light and the good sweat. Being in this hotel with a gym right downstairs, I’ve been getting back into my weight lifting routine. I’ll also be doing my best to fit in some hiking on the weekends, and I’ve already started going back to hot yoga once a week. It’s the best in the colder months.
  2. Unplug: This is a tough one! Now that I mostly work remotely, I’m online more than ever, with less actual human interaction. I also have to be available for more hours of the day, which means I can’t really cut the cord with my laptop until after 8pm. All my reading is done online. I must make it a priority to hit up the good ol’ library for some actual books. I’m going to head there this weekend; it’s a good time to make a date with my mom 🙂
  3. Be a veghead: So, I usually eat a plant-heavy diet, but this summer, with the stress of moving, living out of boxes, and the carbs I’ve scarfed down before my runs, my diet has gotten horrible. Let’s not forget the stress eating I’ve done as a result of my new job, plus all the life-is-really-hard-right-now -I-should-reward-myself thinking that has lead to waaay too many desserts. I’m up 8 pounds since the early spring. I tried to motivate myself to lose weight by posting about it here, but it was a total failure. Jack and I started a low-carb diet on Tuesday. It’s the best way we’ve found to keep ourselves on track. The bad part about it is that it can easily become very meat-centric, so I’m trying to find ways to keep it healthier and more veggie-focused. Sure, it’s harder, with this tiny hotel kitchen and no oven, but we’re eating lots of eggs and salads and stir-fry, with some shrimp and turkey for leaner protein. I’m hoping to spend some time this weekend at my parents’ house, so I can take advantage of their full-sized kitchen to prep a bunch of food for next week.
  4. Sleep deep: This is something I’m always mindful of, and I really get 8 hours of sleep most nights. It’s not always the most restful (hello three dogs and a snoring husband!), but at least I’m in bed. I’ve gotten off-schedule a bit in the hotel, but I’m still a pretty dedicated sleeper 🙂 (Edit: Check out these wonderful tips from Deliciously Ella. I think it’s time for me to start a new ritual of reading an actual book in bed before I fall asleep.)
  5. Focus on you: Again, I think I’m already mindful of this. As I’ve gotten older, I think I compare myself less to what others have/don’t have. I do try to focus on self-improvement, and I’m lucky that I am happy with the work I’ve put in to getting my life to where it is at this point. I get really down on myself, however, about gaining weight and not having enough willpower. I know there is room for more structure and less laziness in my days, and I know I have to set restrictions in my routine to keep myself healthy. If I am on-track with the other items in this list, that will help to keep my head clear and my self-confidence up.
  6. Baby goals: Love this! I know it’s important to have stretch goals, to work towards doing something crazy, but it’s also necessary to have lots of smaller, very realistic goals along the way to feel like I’m accomplishing something. As an example, with our low-carb diet, we cut waaay back on the drinking. But rather than say, no drinks til we lose 10 pounds, we said, no drinks til Friday night this week. For our finances, instead of saying we can’t go out at all, we’re limiting ourselves to $50 a week, so we can make it more meaningful and have a night out to look forward to.

What are your goals for this fall? Do you find yourself more motivated with a new season?