Resolution Update: Failures, Freak-outs, and Fixes

I turned around this morning and realized that it's February.

It was like bumping into a friend at the grocery store - one whom I meant to call last week and just didn't get around to it. February's a good friend, but I just wasn't thinking about her until I saw her standing there.

 Physical activity with friends - scootering with college roommates. Oh, how did you ever put up with my silliness? Melanie, Meredith, and me, circa 2008

Physical activity with friends - scootering with college roommates. Oh, how did you ever put up with my silliness? Melanie, Meredith, and me, circa 2008

"Oh hey, February! I didn't realize you were there..."

And why am I turning red there in the cereal aisle of the imaginary grocery-store-slash-calendar? Oh you know, because all those good intentions that January and I promised each other seem to have faded in just a few short weeks.

Yes, I'm talking about resolutions.

How are yours going? I have to tell you - my brilliant plans for January didn't always go so smoothly (if you missed that post, you can find it here). I went allll the way the motivation strategy list a few times just to make it off the couch. My running shoes and I have had an emotional month.

So let me tell you about my journey of getting off track, then about my journey back on, and then how I forgave myself for getting off track in the first place.

  Throwback to when I first learned to rock-climb. You've got to be willing to take a few risks and trust your belayer (the person who's holding the other end of the rope) or you'll never make it up.

Throwback to when I first learned to rock-climb. You've got to be willing to take a few risks and trust your belayer (the person who's holding the other end of the rope) or you'll never make it up.

Step 1: Failure

Oh, "failure" sounds so negative. I don't mean it like that. Every great success starts with a failure (or two or three).

I'm going to be honest: everything hasn't exactly gone as planned this month. For example, I promised to go for a run the day after I returned from vacation. Well... as it turns out, after work that Monday it was already dark outside. And I had yet to sign up for the employee gym. I know, I know - day one of my good intentions and I already fell off the horse.

I ended up taking a walk that evening instead of getting the good cardio that I needed (at least I did something, right?). Then I signed up for the employee gym so I wouldn't have that excuse in the future. And then I planned a make-up day for exercise when I had plenty of light outside and fewer excuses.

Take that, failure. I'm not scared of you.

Step 2: Figure out the Freak-Outs

It's not a problem to fail. It's a problem to fail to move on. The first-day fiasco excuses were not the only ones I've dealt with in the last few weeks. Let me share with you some of the other and how I've decided to overcome them:

Problem: It's January in Colorado.
Solution: Layer up, wear gloves and ear-warmers, and get used to it.  If I waited for it to be sunny with a high of 75, I'd be in bad shape for that half marathon I'm training for in May.

 The view from a winter hike a couple of weekends ago

The view from a winter hike a couple of weekends ago

Problem: It's snowing, dark, and dangerous to run outside.
Solution: Find alternative ways to exercise: the dreaded treadmill at the employee gym, those work-out videos and apps, put on layers and gear and go for a winter hike. Did you know you can even buy lights to tie to your clothing so that cars can see you when it's dark? They think of everything.

Problem: I'm out of time!!
Solution: Am I really? We all have 24 hours in the day - no more, no less. We each make choices about how we spend those hours. So if I don't have time to exercise, it's because I didn't make time to exercise. My schedule changes weekly, so while I'm cooking on Sunday I make a mental plan of when and how I'm going to exercise during the week. I take into account the weather, my work schedule, my after-work commitments, and when my work-out buddies might be available to run with me.

Problems and failures don't need to be permanent. Turn your excuses into reasons you're so awesome for doing what you're doing.

Step 3: Fix it

I don't think anybody could say it better than the ol' Nike slogan: Just Do It.

At the end of the day, sometimes I just have to make the decision to follow through with my plan. I find that one of the biggest reasons we're overcome by fear of failing (and thus fail to improve) is because of our limited view of ourselves.

There is a term in psychology called stereotype threat in which a person's own view of himself limits his or her ability to succeed. Ever heard of a self-fulfilling prophesy? That's exactly what I'm talking about.

 The Zoo Run in Kansas City, 2013 - the first time I ever ran four miles! All thanks to the encouragement of that amazing lady, my dear friend Kristen, standing beside me. <3

The Zoo Run in Kansas City, 2013 - the first time I ever ran four miles! All thanks to the encouragement of that amazing lady, my dear friend Kristen, standing beside me. <3

I am not a runner. I am a terrible athlete. I wasn't good at sports in high school. Look, I'm not being modest or self-deprecating here; I'm being really honest (just ask any of my high school classmates).

I once ran a mile in fifteen minutes. One mile. Fifteen minutes. I was supposed to be running. I now walk faster than that.

I have to remind myself that adult Ann is not high school Ann.

Even now, I'm occasionally asked if I'm a runner and my gut reaction is still to tell them "No! Are you crazy? I'm a terrible athlete." But you know what I did this weekend? I ran four miles in 36 minutes.

While that's not a great pace for a competitive runner, that's a really great pace for me. And the fact that I know what my goals are and how fast I want to train is more than I ever thought I could do. I'm working hard at discarding the stereotype of myself as a non-athletic nerd (although I really don't mind the latter) and embracing my new half-marathon-running self.

So now that we trudged through the terrible month of January, take the start of this new month to get rid of your old stereotype. Start living the you who you want to be - and eventually you will become this.

With much love, Peas and Hoppiness.