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?



September in Review

We’ve made it to October. My favorite month! So far it’s just been hectic and rainy, but that should change soon. I feel like September flew by. Between being stuck in the hotel (for six weeks, ugh) and being slammed at work, I don’t even know what happened. Honestly, I’m glad it was such a blur. I’m generally a fan of savoring my time, but this has been such a rough few months.

I was just reading my revised goals and my thoughts on them in September, and for the first time this year, I feel so removed from those goals. This blog has done wonders for keeping me on track, but I’m almost laughing at myself right now. I know it’s just because I’ve been so busy and have zero time to think about accomplishing anything else, but I look at what I wrote last month and I can’t even relate.

I do have some low key goals for the fall and for life in our new home. Overall, I’m committed to being healthier than I have been recently. I’m anxious to get out and find lots of fun running routes in our little town. I’m so happy we have a real kitchen again and can cook at home. I’m considering joining a CSA so I can really eat locally. But mostly, right now I’m just trying to get through each day without screwing up something at work. I can’t even think about decorating our house, which is the fun part of moving!

Overall, September wasn’t a failure. I didn’t make much progress, but I also didn’t completely fall off the wagon. Here’s to a more productive (and fun!) October!

August in Review

Happy September! Happy almost-fall!

I always feel relief when August is over. I’ve made an effort to enjoy summer more the past few years, but the truth is, it’s just too hot and too long down here in Atlanta. Yes, September means it’s not that long until it’s getting dark at 5pm and we’re freezing when we get out of bed in the morning (to run in the dark, no less), but it also means the best month of the year (I’m looking at you, October) is so so close. It means there will be a break in the humidity, that it’s time for football, that we can start anticipating the holiday season. It’s that precious time right before the good stuff, like the last couple of days at work before a vacation. I love it 🙂

August was exhausting. A weekend trip to Indiana for a wedding, lots of packing and cleaning, trying to dig my way out of the total confusion that is my new job, moving, house hunting, and lots and lots of running (to keep me from going crazy). We’ve been in a hotel for 10 days now, and we have no prospects for a new house. I’ve been to hot yoga twice since we got here, and it’s been damn amazing. I had forgotten how good it makes me feel (and how challenging it is!). I’ll definitely be incorporating it into my workouts moving forward.

I’m happy to check my progress against my slightly-revised goals:

  • Learn to do a handstand: I think I’m going to have to accept that this won’t get done. My wrists are really weak 😦 I also need to work on my balance. The good news is that yoga will certainly help. Maybe I will be able to do a headstand or something instead…
  • Continue to pay down debt: We’re doing well here. The money we made from the sale of our townhouse really helped, for sure. We’re on-track here.
  • Continue running and possibly do another half-marathon: Also on-track here! I’ve been running a LOT. I’m doing shorter distance but running more often (like almost every day). I think we’re going to do a 15k trail race in November, so it’s time to start hitting some trails.
  • Sell our house and figure out what’s next (condo, cabin, lake house, who knows…): Sale = done! Figure out what’s next, um, TBD here. We were really close, again, to buying a house, but couldn’t agree on terms with the sellers. We’re considering buying a condo or another, smaller townhouse, something that we could live in for six months to a year and then rent out when we find something better. We’re going to look this week at some condo neighborhoods. I know we’re all over the place with this. I guess the moral of the story is, if we’re going to buy something closer to the top of our price range, we aren’t willing to make a lot of compromises.
  • Drink less: Fail, fail, fail. I blame the stress. And girls just want to have fun!
  • Go to counseling with my husband: Also fail. But we’ve been talking a lot, and being kinder to each other. And having at least half of our move finished is helping a lot 🙂
  • Continue to write here: I haven’t been writing as much, since I’ve been in kind of a lousy mood for much of the month. I haven’t wanted to bore anyone with that. And I haven’t had much inspiration; I feel more like I’m just getting by right now. But I’m enjoying reading all of your blogs, and I’m compiling lots of ideas for future posts, when I’m feeling more positive.
  • Eat better. (Lose 10 pounds.): Ugh, major fail. My thoughts are that between the chaos of my new job and our move, I can’t even deal with being on a diet (or drinking less, for that matter). It’s like that’s my reward for all the stress. I’m trying to be accepting of this and the fact that I’m just heavier than I want to be right now, but it’s not forever.
  • Volunteer more: Fail. Our weekends have been slammed with packing/moving/house hunting/working. Yes, it’s an excuse. I think I am also feeling like I need to protect my chill time as much as possible. I’ll get back on track with this once we’re settled.

So for September, I’m going to keep running, keep hot yoga-ing, keep trying to eat more healthfully, keep house hunting, keep learning at work. This weekend is football! I’m excited to go to the Chick-fil-a Kickoff game here in Atlanta to root for Louisville (go Cards!). Hopefully we can do a hike or trail run on Labor Day. I have two trips to Dallas planned, for work, so I’m looking forward to meeting my clients and my team there. I’m praying we’ll find a place to live that works for us. Hotel living is NOT good for the whole pay-down-debt thing. I’ll be working on staying positive and strong and healthy, and looking forward to October 🙂

How was your summer? What are your goals for the fall?

Lose 10: Update #2

So. This whole losing ten pounds thing. It’s reaaaaaallllly hard. It’s really not working. My weight is all over the place, depending on how much sodium I eat, or how much wine I drink, or whether or not I sweat buckets on my morning run. This week it’s been as high as 132 and as low as 127. I’m not sure if I’m losing weight or not.

This is absolutely frustrating and demoralizing.

As of this past Tuesday, I’m back MyFitnessPal. I loathe tracking everything I eat, drink, and do, but it seems to be what I need. It keeps me hyper-aware of what I’m consuming. It will also be helpful, if after a few more weeks I’m still seeing days in the 130s, to better pinpoint the foods and activities that are most beneficial.

In addition to the motivation I’ve got from the promise I made here, I also have two trips planned that are helping to keep me dedicated to this plan, despite my lack of progress. I have my first trip to Dallas to meet my new clients at the end of September, and Jack and I just booked a week in Mexico for January (!!!). It is so important for my confidence at work to feel I look my best. I’m generally older than most of the people I work with, so at least I need to be thin and well-dressed! Shallow, perhaps, but it really helps me feel less insecure. As for our winter vacation, we were excited to realize we have enough travel reward points to cover our flights and hotel, so we can save our money for meals and activities. I would love to spend that week in a bikini and for once not be self-conscious.

I’ll keep on keepin’ on with this diet. (The good news is my running is going well. I’ve been very dedicated to getting out there at least four days a week, despite the ridiculously suffocating heat and humidity we’ve had since May.) I’m only two weeks into my Lose 10 plan, and I’m for once focusing on the Big Picture instead of trying to lose five pounds in a week.

Here’s to a healthy and fun summer weekend!

June 2015 Resolution Check-In

The first half of the year is in the books! I do feel like time is flying, but thinking back to when I started this blog in January… that was kind of forever ago. Each month, when I do these reviews, I tend to get down on myself, and focus on all the things I haven’t accomplished. I want to change the tone this month, and for the rest of the year, and focus more on what I have done, like my friend allroundbetterme.

I’ve done some “big stuff” this year. I ran a half-marathon (finally!). We listed our house (and are currently under contract – fingers crossed!). I start a new job on Monday. I’ve been writing here regularly. I turned 40 (!!!). We’ve been much more mindful about our travel, taking more meaningful and less frequent trips. I even went horseback riding on the beach, which has been a dream of mine for pretty much forever.

I had a lot more motivation in June than I did in May. I ran or worked out at least five days a week, even on vacation. My mood has been pretty good, but that probably has a lot to do with giving my notice at work and spending a week at the beach 🙂 I did a decent job with eating well, but I drank more that I should have, what with pool days, my birthday, goodbye parties, vacation. We’ve also continued to spend more money than we should, but are getting more committed to pulling back there.

What I’m learning about myself is when there is a clear goal, such as “complete a race” or “find a new job,” I seem to do pretty well. It also helps that these goals are finite. What is tougher is less exact goals, like “be less anal” or “start a meditation practice.” These are things that I can’t just accomplish and check off the list. They are life changes, or even personality changes.

For the second half of the year, I do still want to:

  • Learn to do a handstand.
  • Continue to pay down debt.
  • Continue running and possibly do another half-marathon.
  • Sell our house and figure out what’s next (condo, cabin, lake house, who knows…)
  • Drink less.
  • Go to counseling with my husband.
  • Continue to write here.
  • Eat better. (Lose 10 pounds.)
  • Volunteer more.

As far as being less anal and more empathetic goes, this just hasn’t been bothering me the same way it did at the beginning of the year. Part of this is because of the changes at work. I was able to loosen up a bit, hand off some of my projects, hire some really good people, and accept that not everyone has the same standards as I do – and that’s not a bad thing at all. I’ve also been more conscious of how I deal with my husband. He and I are such different people. We have a lot to work on, but we’re so committed to each other and our marriage that I know we’ll continue to try hard.

My goals for the summer:

  • Lose 10 pounds. For real. Doesn’t matter how I do it, just matters that I do. This will be done by September.
  • Do a volunteer project. Just one. It will get the ball rolling. This will be done by September.
  • Continue my Motivation Monday posts.
  • Pay off one of our two remaining credit cards. This will be done by September.
  • Run at least three days a week. Lift weights at least two days. Continue the handstand efforts.
  • Move. If everything goes according to plan (big if, I know), we’ll have to move out of our current home in mid-August.
  • Enjoy the summer! Be outside as much as possible. Float down the river. Go hiking in the mountains. Cookout often.

Happy Independence Day weekend to all my American friends!

Motivation Monday: Make Today Harder

Today’s inspiration comes from David at Raptitude. I enjoy his thoughtful writings each week. I’m not going to add much to his blog post, because he says it better than I can.

But I’ve been thinking a lot about taking chances, about setting goals, about putting myself into uncomfortable situations — all so I can grow. I’m not going to expand my mind and my skill set without trying something new. I’m not going to be able to run farther if I don’t get up at the crack of dawn to head out for a few miles. I’m not going to get to know myself better, or become healthier, or have more self-confidence if I don’t do some things that are hard.

And I agree with David, that something that may seem hard is actually going to make our lives easier in the long run.  I mean, I’d much rather be terrified to do a few presentations, so that I will eventually stop being scared at all; I’d prefer lifting some heavy weights a couple times of weeks than becoming stiff and immobile as I age.

Anyway, head on over to Raptitude and let me know what you think! Happy Monday 🙂

Motivation Monday: Morning Rituals

Greetings from Jekyll Island!

Jack and I are here to celebrate my – wait for it – 40th birthday! I can’t believe it’s actually here. But that’s another post…

Being in the hotel has reminded me yet again how much I value our morning routine at home. I was always a sleep-til-the-last-possible-minute person, until I’d lived with Jack for several years. I thought he was crazy for getting up early, to give himself time to drink coffee, check the news, exercise, whatever. I think he started it when his children were young, and it was his only time for some peace and quiet. He continued his routine after his marriage ended, and into our relationship.

I’m not sure when exactly I started to join him in rising a bit earlier than needed. I know that when I was in grad school and still working in restaurants, I was still sleeping until 8:30 for a 9:30 shift. It must have started after I started working in an office again and had to sit in traffic each morning, and after we had three dogs to feed and walk.

I’m also not sure when I started to add in a workout. But over the past few years, I’ve gone from sleeping until the last minute to getting up at 5am when I don’t leave for work until 8:20. And I love it. I wouldn’t change it. I’ve recently started waking up early on Saturdays (maybe at 6 instead of 5 though), and I’m ready to do it on vacation too. We slept until after 7 this morning, and I was bummed that I missed the sunrise and the cooler temps.

I never thought I would call myself a morning person, but that’s exactly what I’ve become. I’ve been seeing a lot of blog posts lately about morning rituals and wanted to chime in on them. I’m someone who can honestly say that I made a change, that I changed my nature. I go to bed early, I get as much sleep as I can, and I wake up at 5am (one day this week I got up at 4:30 and loved it!) and I’m so much better at life as a result.

If you’re a regular reader here, you already know I’m no saint. I love going out and staying up late and eating and drinking too much. Like I said, being a morning person is not necessarily in my nature. But it’s worth it to give up some of that to feel more in control, to have time for myself each morning, to be responsible first thing each day. And let’s be honest, if I run and clean house in the morning, I don’t have to do it at night, which leaves more time for cocktails J

Our morning ritual involves making coffee, cleaning up whatever mess we left from the previous night, drinking said coffee, feeding/medicating/walking three senior, high-maintenance doggies, going to the gym or working out downstairs or heading out for a run. We might have a banana before our run, but generally we make breakfast to take with us to eat in our cars on the way to work. We sometimes make our lunches, but hopefully our nighttime selves were nice to our morningtime selves and took care of that already. Possibly the most important part of our morning ritual is the time, peace, and quiet, for a morning poop. I tried to think of a delicate way to say that, but whatevs. A daily “evacuation” is pretty much mandatory if I’m gonna have a good day.

So yeah, there’s no yoga or meditation. Maybe there’s a cup of green tea, but generally it’s coffee with too much cream. I swear by some sparkling water with apple cider vinegar to keep my immune system up, but that’s about as hippie/new-agey as I’m getting. I always make the bed, try to do the dishes, and leave the house in a state that I’m happy to come home to.

I encourage you to start thinking about your own morning ritual. Here’s a little inspiration, but I say, think about what makes you feel happy, strong, and in control, and try to add that to each day.