Forming new habits, one 30-day challenge at a time

Hello, 2012! I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about this year lately; my goals, wishes, hopes. I’m all for making resolutions – they work for me, at least for a little while. At the same time, I hate how everyone seemingly makes these goals on the first of the new year, crowds the gym, swears on nutrition, and then so many people (including me) lose those goals in about a month, maybe two.

I don’t want that to be me this year.

So to avoid that, I’ve considered a few things. First of all, let’s not think of these goals as “resolutions” – it carries too much weight on my shoulders. Instead, I’m going to think of them as habits. There’s a great blog post from Zen Habits about creating fitness habits, which you can read here. I used that as a basis for my thoughts.

Secondly, I considered what I am already doing in my life, and opted not to have those be part of the new “habits” I am forming. They are part of my days already; perhaps not to the extent I want them to be, but that is something I can work on.

I already:

-Went gluten free, and have stayed so through the holidays and for about three to four months now.

-Go to the gym regularly. I’m in love with my new gym classes (yoga, pilates, kickboxing, spinning, cardio pump, power sculpt, etc.) and go almost every day.

Thirdly, there will be no habits/goals/resolutions regarding getting pregnant. We all know, above all, that is what I care about most for 2012 and forming some sort of timeline around it would be a bad idea.

Lastly, I’ve found that to form new habits for 2012, one would need to be very specific. “Eating healthier” won’t cut it. “Exercise more” won’t work either. If you aren’t extremely specific about what you want to achieve, there will be too many gray areas and you’ll lose it. For example, my husband has just started training for a full Ironman triathlon that will take place this summer. His goals include 1) finishing that race, and 2) getting down to a specific goal weight in training. He will form his new “habits” around those goals.

I had been considering a sort of “30-Day Challenge” for a little while now, and liked the idea a lot. Rebecca, on her blog, had a 30-Day Blog Challenge that I thought was cool. Then, this morning, I stumbled upon another idea, stemming from Invisible Mother and Hannah Wept Sarah Laughed. 12 Months, 12 Challenges. I like it! Instead of challenges, I’ll be thinking of them as new habits.

I’m going to give it a try, combining the ideas. Instead of coming up with the habits I’d like to form now for each month of the year (like 12 Months, 12 Challenges), I’m going to just work on one month at a time, and go about it like a 30-day challenge. I’ll keep them up on the sidebar and will update my progress regularly. There is no reason I can’t do one specific thing every day for a month.

So, January is here. My goal for January is to eat smaller portions. My 30-Day Habit is going to be cutting my normal portions way down, by about half, especially at dinner. Why? Well, I generally eat as much as my husband at dinner (and sometimes lunch), and sometimes I could keep going when he is full. He’s over 40 pounds heavier than me. This should not be, and it reflects in the scale.

I also will judge if my portion size is the right one for me by how I feel after 20 minutes. I am used to stopping when I am FULL, sometimes uncomfortably full. If after 20 minutes, I am still hungry, I will have more veggies, or a little more protein. I highly doubt I will do this, however.

Yes, this is going to be really hard. I have the worst self-control when it comes to portion sizes. But that’s why it’s called a challenge. I’ll be forming a new habit – eat less, feel better. That  means for any gatherings in the month of January, I still will have to eat a small portion.

Notice I didn’t decide upon the type of food to eat. One month at a time.

I invite you to give this a try. Make your own “12 Months, 12 Challenges”, “30-Day Challenge”, or combine the two, like I did. Make yourself accountable for it – if you have a blog, post about it, regularly. If you don’t, write it down in a journal and make sure to look at it daily, to remind yourself of how well you’re doing or to get a kick in the butt. If writing isn’t your thing, tell someone who won’t mind hearing the updates. Make sure others know – it’s a surefire way to keep you going when you don’t feel like you can.

So, what is your January 30-Day Challenge going to be?



Holy yoga! I’ve just discovered my newest sport.

I’ve heard nothing but good things about yoga – to help with all my health ailments! It’s supposed to help stress (all that deep breathing). It’s good for your joints and body in general (so much stretching!). It’s good for autoimmune issues (or so I’ve been told). People with thyroid problems have sworn by it. Finally, it’s good for pregnancy (again, so I’ve heard…) I had no reason not to try it.

I think I’m hooked!

My gym offers a million different classes. I already had done spinning in the past, and recently switched my Tuesday and Thursday mornings over to “cardio pump”; getting my butt kicked to the beat of pop music.

Now, though, I’ve added yoga to the mix. I finally feel like I’m in control of my food choices enough to care about serious exercise (and small portions). Therefore, I’m trying to hit up the classes at the gym as often as possible. In the past few days, I’ve done an “all levels yoga” class, and just last night, “Yogilates”. My step-father said, “What? Mocha lattes?” I wish – instead, I was bending in all directions and feeling the burn, without breaking a sweat.

I love it! I highly recommend it. Here’s why:

1)It’s so relaxing!!! Sure, while you’re twisting in a completely unnatural position you’re counting to 20 and praying you get to lay back down. But when you do finally lay down on your mat, close your eyes, and find your breathing, it is the most relaxing thing ever. And the burn you feel later is worth it.

2) You work your muscles without using weights! I’ve got a pretty sore stomach right now, and last night my butt and legs weren’t feeling so great either. But I didn’t use a single weight – all I did was stretch! Stretch and hold, that is. I read recently that Adam Levine, lead singer of Maroon 5, got super buff from yoga – no weights at the gym. I totally see why.

3) No matter how bad you think you look (I’m right there with you), you blend right in! People of every walk of life do yoga. The super-fit college girls, older men with shoulder pain using yoga as therapy, middle-age women who aren’t really fit but are just starting out, and everyone in between!

4)It’s comfy. You’re on a mat (I recommend buying your own…eew), you wear stretchy comfy clothes (the same ones after eating a huge meal…you know.), and you even take your shoes off. Now, I don’t do feet. At all. On anyone. I don’t care how nice you think they look. So I keep my socks on. I don’t even want to stare at my own. But I’m liking the socks.

See? There’s four reasons to try yoga. I’m only two classes in, and I’m looking forward to the next one. Let’s see what the health benefits are in a month or two!