Food = Energy

Food = Energy

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

SMART Resolutions for the New Year

It's here already. It feels like it was just yesterday when 2012 was ending and 2013 was about to begin. Now an entire year of accomplishments, failures, minor setbacks, and various hills and valleys are over and done with and t is time to look forward to a  fresh, new year full of exciting possibilities. I'm definitely not going to wipe away all of 2013 and start with a clean slate; I'm going to take what lessons I learned in 2013 and apply them to my aspirations for 2014. It's going to be a great year.

For starters, I'll be back to taking classes again. December 23rd marked the end of my student teaching experience and now I have 5 courses left to take before I receive my Master's in Education in May. My dad saw the big 5-0 on his cake this past November and my mom will see it on January 31st which is definitely something to look forward to. Val and I will celebrate 3 years in February with a much-anticipated dinner outing at the most talked about vegan restaurant in the city, Candle 79.


2014 will also be filled with various athletic goals as well. Val will be competing in the USA Triathlon Collegiate National Championships in April and, of course, training hard for that race until then. I am hoping to start the new year with a January 11th 50 mile trail race although might have to take the 30 or 40 mile option due to some unforeseen training woes. Post-January will be full of exciting running challenges for me. I will be registering soon for my second marathon in late April (NJ State Marathon in Long Branch) and am hoping to recover quickly enough for a mid May 50 mile "urban" ultramarathon in Pennypack Park in Philadelphia. This summer I will likely attempt my third (and seemingly annual) triathlon in July unless I choose another running event to pursue. Most important on my 2014 Calendar, however, is a feat that Val and I will be attempting together within the next several months that will surely test our willpower--if not our entire relationship! 

All these events and the training that will be required will definitely require many more of my go-to bar on the run and even as part of my lunch. Good thing I got a couple of gifts like the following for Christmas this year:

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My parents gave me a nut mix and Clif bar goody box for Christmas! Such smart parents!!

My wonderful Val gave me, among other things, a box of Spiced Pumpkin Pie Clif bars. I believe this seasonal flavor is already done being produced so I'm definitely stretching these bars as much as I can (a week maybe?)

I hope you, too, have some awesome resolutions for the new year. This is the year you will show everyone just what you're made of. Resolutions tend to end after the first month or so and you'll hear (and maybe even create) tons of excuses for ending a former new year's resolution. "Not enough time in the day." "I was too tired after the gym." "I wasn't losing any weight, so why bother?" The list can and does go on and on. How can you protect yourself from failing to see your resolutions all the way through? You need to be SMART!

What being SMART means, is that you should literally be setting smart resolutions that you can actually achieve. SMART is actually an acronym and it is broken down as such:

Your resolutions should meet these criteria to increase the likelihood that you will achieve success. Let's take a look at a common resolution and see how it measures up to the SMART criteria: Being healthier this year.

Be Specific about your resolutions. Wanting to live a healthier lifestyle is admirable and a perfect goals, but what EXACTLY does that mean? Will you reduce your sugar intake? Will you exercise at least 5 days a week? Will you stop eating processed foods? Will you, ahem, adopt a plant-based diet? "Healthy" is too broad and you find it easier to include some specificity for a resolution such as this one.

How will you measure your success? Reducing sugar might be the step you want to take to be a healthier you this year, but how will you know that it's working? If you are unsure that your reduced sugar intake is helping you then maybe you will resort back to the foods and tastes that are more familiar, yet less healthy for you. Will you weigh yourself to see overall weight loss? Will you try to fit into your old jeans to determine a slimmer waistline? Will you attempt to run 2 laps or 1 mile on a track once a week and see how much faster you are able to run this distance after a month or so? There are many ways you will be able to measure your success this year.

If you are currently overweight by 20 pounds or more or if you cringe at the sight of broccoli, you will greatly benefit from setting resolutions that are attainable. Someone who is overweight by 20 pounds or more might have a resolution that eliminates this "overweight" status from their name, and while this is a great and perfect goal for someone in this predicament, losing 20 pounds or more in 1 year and keeping that weight off is an incredibly daunting and challenging task that requires great discipline, support, time, and effort to achieve success. To make this immense weight loss goal more attainable, you could break down the resolution into parts: you can aim to lose 5 pounds every 2 months or maybe you only seek to drop 10-15 pounds this year instead of 20 or more. Making a goal attainable can help keep you motivated in your personal challenge to achieve success. Similarly, if you completely avoid vegetables, I wouldn't advise that you set a goal that you will be eating every vegetable at the grocery store by the end of the year. Break that goal down and maybe aim to include one or two vegetables a month and see where that takes you.

Making sure your goals are relevant to your life at the moment is also important. What is most important to you right now in your life? Is it your career? Are you trying to start a family or just beginning one? Maybe you are trying to get through college with a decent GPA while balancing a couple jobs on the side. Your new years resolutions should match where you are in life and what you deem most important to you at this point in time. If you are starting a family, perhaps you will be more likely to achieve resolutions that involve your new family. If you are really trying to break through in your career, perhaps set a goal that either helps you in that endeavor or allows you to de-stress a bit and give yourself some me-time doing what you love. An irrelevant goal is one that will likely be dropped and thus may bring on a sense of personal failure which, though it is not the end of the world, is stress that nobody needs and can be avoided by making your resolutions relevant. 

And lastly, your new years resolutions should be time-bound. When do you want to achieve that resolution? By the end of the year? By your birthday or class reunion? By your friend's wedding? By your wedding?! Having a set time-frame for meeting your goals will keep you on task and increase your chance of success. 

Here's to hoping that you all achieve success this year! 

Happy New Year everybody and happy running!

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