setting goals

Set Backs and Come Backs

July 26th 2015, I competed in my second powerlifting meet. I was the leanest I had been in years. I was strong and I was physically prepared. My numbers weren’t the best. In fact, the weights I was lifting the weeks prior to the meet were much higher. I let myself feel disappointed, but not for long. I knew that that was the last meet I would do. It was a goal and it required a lot of time and hard work, but I was ready to move on.

I actually didn’t want to compete because of the very specific training I had to do which interfered with other goals I wanted to accomplish. I mainly did it because my youngest son, Nigel was competing in his first meet and I wanted to do it together. It was a great bonding experience.

The week I got back, I had much needed surgery on my thumb. I had put it off for a year while I was training and endured a lot of pain. My cartilage was gone and my bones were wearing down from chronic arthritis.

The procedure is Carpel Metacarpal Arthroplasty. They shave down the bones or remove the more deteriorated bone and use the forearm tendon to replace the cartilage. It was pretty invasive surgery. Full recovery can take up to a year. Of course, I knew or rather thought that would not apply to me.

I devised a workout program that I could do to work around my hand. I was quite proud of myself. I busted my ass in the gym despite my disability. Little did I realize that even though I avoided using my hand, that my workouts were stalling my recovery. When the pain didn’t subside and sometimes got worse, my doctor explained that I was still contracting the joint. It was time to take off and focus on recovery.

My lack of consistent exercise soon turned into eating junk and weight gain. It was depressing to see the scale and my body fat go up, yet it didn’t stop me. I ate junk, felt bad and so I ate more junk.

In October of that year, I was slowly working out again but with modifications and then I broke my foot. I spent the next six weeks in a cast. Almost immediately after getting my cast off, I had to have kidney surgery to remove a huge stone and with that came a stint and more time off. Shortly after that, I hurt my back because I rushed back into working out instead of focusing on regaining quality movement and mobility.

Basically, I was injured or recovering from injuries from July through December. Physically, mentally and emotionally, it was one of the lowest points of my life. I ended up completely out of shape and weighing the most I’ve ever weighed in my life.

I was ashamed of my body and felt like a failure as a fitness instructor. Who is going to listen to me when I can’t even get my own crap together?

Last month, after starting and failing more times than I can count, I decided I needed help. Left to my own devices, I will sit on the couch and drown my sorrows in Oreos while watching a Cops marathon. I finally decide to get help. I hired a team of professionals to help me not only with the physical aspects of my life but with the emotional part, which for me is a huge piece of the puzzle.

I got myself a trainer, Beth Andrews,who is helping me reach my next performance goals. I hired a dietitian, Jon Allen to help me relearn to eat healthy and lose this excess fat and I hired a health coach , Carol Donahoe to help me get back on track in all areas of my life.

Having accountability to each of these people is what drives me to succeed. I just started recently and can already see changes in my life. After almost 10 months of being lost, out of control and depressed, I now have a plan of action and a purpose. Although progress is slow since I am just starting with getting my strength back and my eating under control, I feel hope and I feel empowered.

Maybe the last ten months have been a blessing. I now know that if I want to succeed and be the best I can be, I need help. It was a hard lesson to learn but that’s ok because I made the decision to change and I’ve surrounded myself with the right people to help me.

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Starting 2016 Feeling Weak as a Kitten

It’s been so long since I’ve added to my blog. I’ve said this before and I’m embarrassed to say it again. I’m dusting off the blog and getting busy again.

I’m realizing that running a business that requires keeping up with social media, emails, newsletters and marketing and that the writing I love to do and that I’m passionate about, falls by the wayside. That has become the case with my blog.

As soon as I received my 2016 Passion Planner in the mail, I sat down and scheduled time each day to write. I made it as important as any other appointment I schedule. I find that I do better when I schedule things in my planner. I’ve scheduled time to work and time to work out as well

I set the timer on my phone for an hour for each and don’t stop until the timer goes off. That means, no Facebook, no chores and no distractions during that sacred time.

This past year has been tough. I have been sidelined by injuries, surgeries and life. I have hardly worked out since July and am now out of shape and carrying an extra 20 pounds.

After my last Powerlifting meet in July, I finally had the thumb surgery that I had put off for a year. Up until my Carpal -Metacarpal Arthroplasty surgery, I had been training in extreme pain. I sucked it up and continued training knowing that my surgery was scheduled the week after my meet.

I had high hopes for that meet but my numbers (weight lifted) went down during the last months of training. My confidence was crushed with each training day. I would look back at my numbers from the previous year and I wasn’t even close. I wanted to back out and use the pain as an excuse, but the real reason was because I knew I would not do well. I also knew I had to compete. The reason was much bigger than me.

My 20-year-old son, who has always lacked confidence and didn’t like to have attention on himself, was competing for the first time. I was so proud that he was finally putting himself out there. I knew it was such an accomplishment for him personally just to register, knowing that he may not be the best.

I had to set the example. I had to show him that I too could step out of my comfort zone knowing that I would not do well. It was important to me because I know that the lack of confidence I’ve had my whole life and my negative self-talk has been his model. I regret that.

He did great. He set PRs and more importantly, ignited a passion within to continue competing

I, on the other hand, have decided not to. It’s not because of my confidence. It’s because I have set other goals that are more important to me; goals that I have put aside so I could focus on my powerlifting.

I got with my coach and set my goal of completing the RKC’s Iron Maiden Challenge. If you’ve read through my posts you’ll see that that has been one of my goals for several years. That is the goal that I am passionate about.

The Iron Maiden is a huge feat of strength, one that requires consistent training and lots of patience. It’s a goal that does not come easy and may take me a year or longer to achieve.

The challenge is to press, pistol squat and do a pull up with a 24 kilo Kettlebell. That is 53 pounds. Fifty- three pounds of iron; a weight that is so far out of reach at this moment. That is why I have to do it.

My goal goes way beyond just the Iron Maiden. I want to do it to prove to myself that nothing is impossible just because I’m 53 years old. More importantly, I want to inspire and ignite passion in women who think that they cannot accomplish big things because of their age.

So, follow me, better yet, join me in setting a big scary goal and let’s show ourselves and the world that we are strong and powerful no matter our age.

Laurel aka, Super Strong Nana, who is weak as a kitten right now.

playful-kitten-6683

 

 

 

 

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You Can Start Your New Year Anytime

It’s January 31st and by now many people have already reverted back to old habits and behaviors and their New Year’s resolutions have fallen by the wayside. Does this sound like you?

January 1st is just another day. There is nothing magical about this day but somehow it’s become the day when it seems everyone is making resolutions to lose weight, join a gym, quit smoking and make other abrupt changes in their lives. The problem with this is that many people set these goals without a clear plan of action of steps to take and plans for backsliding.

Starting out on new goals and behaviors is exciting but what do you do when that initial motivation begins to wane? What actions and plans do you have in place when getting to the gym or doing exercise becomes a chore? What about plans for backsliding? This is when many people give up. Then the target day to change becomes Mondays, or the beginning of the month or God forbid, on the first day of the following new year.

The good news is that you can start over anytime. You can start your day over anytime. The point is, never give up. Accept that you may have blown your resolve. Get over it fast and pick yourself back up. Changing is not easy. It may take many attempts and many failures but do not give up.

Get a notebook and write down very specific goals. Put a deadline to each goal. Most importantly, write specific things you will do each day to reach your goals AND write some action steps to take when you feel yourself falling by the wayside.

Believe me, I have to pick myself back up many times. I have never claimed, nor will I ever claim to be one of those fitness professionals that always eats clean, works out every day and never struggles with body image. I’ve had a life time of bad habits, low self-esteem and disordered eating and it’s not going to change over night. I just refuse to give up. I certainly get down on myself, but I always manage to get right back on track.

Part of my success in not throwing in the towel and giving up completely is writing. I keep a journal. I write down goals, both personal and professional. I set deadlines. I write action steps and I get help if needed from people who have more experience in areas than I do. I work with a trainer and a business coach. I surround myself with people who are goal oriented, successful and like-minded. When I get off track, lose focus or begin to doubt, they are there to set me straight and get me on task.

If you feel lost or have given up, do yourself a favor and find mentors. Find people who emulate the kind of life you want to live and who are the kind of people you want to be like. Start keeping a journal. Set goals. Expect there to be ups and downs but have a plan in place to deal with them so you can get back on track fast.

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Oh How I Love My Data

I am a data freak! I admit, I am one of those obnoxious runners that take five minutes to set my heart rate monitor,  MapMyRun app, my Round Timer and the perfect playlist. Thankfully, my running partners do the same. I love the data. I want to see my heart rate, how many calories I burn, how far I ran and how fast (slow) I went. The same goes for my weight lifting and gym workouts.

Although I haven’t done a bodybuilding competition in almost 20 years; I still have my workout and food journals. I knew every workout, weights lifted, sets done, how I felt and every morsel of food that went in my mouth. Yes, I was obsessive, but I had to be. I had to know where I was in order to get where I was going.

Setting goals, which I am adamant about and which I blog frequently about are one of the most important things you can do on your fitness journey. Once a goal is set, there needs to be a specific plan. It’s like taking a road trip. You have a destination (your goal) and your plug that into your GPS and follow directions. Next thing you know, you’ve arrived at your destination.

The best way to follow the map to reach your goal is by collecting and keeping data. Obviously, you don’t have to be as obsessive as I am, but you do need to figure out a way to track your progress that works for you.

The easiest way I find is with a good old-fashion training log. My personal favorite is the Convict Conditioning Training Log which you can see below.

My Favorite Training Log

 

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A Goal Without a Plan is Just a Wish

This quote by French author, Antoine de Saint-Exupery hits the nail on the head for me and for pretty much everyone I coach and train. One of the things I like to do when I meet with clients is to get them to set a goal. This is what I get, “I need to lose weight”, “I’m going to try and lose weight”, “I would like to exercise more”, “My Doctor said, I need to lose 50 pounds”, “I want to get in shape”, “I want to be more toned” and my personal favorite, “I need to lose (fill in the blank with unrealistic number) for my wedding next month”.

So without a plan of action, these people; without intervention, will continue spinning around in the cycle of diet hopping, changing workout plans and trying every quick fix available on late night TV, only to find themselves right back where they started.

Does this sound like you?

The answer is simple. Set a realistic, specific, exciting goal that when accomplished will have you jumping for joy and feeling so empowered that you are ready to take on the world.

Here are the steps:

1. Make a goal. Be as specific as possible! If you want to lose weight, how much? Is it realistic? Do you want to hike a mountain in a foreign country? Is it realistic? This goal does NOT have to be about weight loss. It can be about anything. The process is the same.

2. Write it down! Get that goal on paper. I prefer good ol’ pen and paper as opposed to the computer. There is something about the person connection of writing that seems to have more power. Having a goal, no matter how good floating around your head with everything else is going to get lost, so write that sucker down.

3. Write it down. Yes, it’s that important. Put it somewhere you can see it throughout the day.

4. Get support. Ask positive people and family members for support. Have them join you. Stay away from those who discourage you with well-meaning comments like, “You don’t need to lose weight, you are fine just the way you are”. Yes, you may be fine, but are YOU happy with where you are? That is all the matters.

5. Set a date. Your goals need to have a sense of urgency or they will never happen. Again, be realistic. If you have a lot of weight to lose, give yourself 6 months to a year. If you reach your goal before that…AWESOME!! If you plan to run a marathon or climb a mountain, make arrangements, pick a race far enough away that you have plenty of time to train without getting injured.

Here is an example of my goals that are written at my gym for all to see. To my surprise, I’ve reached and surpassed a few of them and had to make them bigger.

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Super Strong Nana

One of my New Year’s resolutions was to blog more often. As you can see it’s already two week’s into 2013 and I’m just now writing my first blog of the year. Ok, so it hasn’t exactly been a priority lately. I’m responsible for another blog for The Tallahassee Democrat and that one has deadlines. Hmmm, maybe I need to make deadlines for myself.

As a person who procrastinates and is easily distracted, deadlines are important. One of the things that I do as a fitness instructor is to encourage my clients to set deadlines. Whether your goal is performance based, fat loss based, work based or any other important thing you want to accomplish, you must set a deadline if you want to succeed.

Setting a goal without a deadline is certainly a setup for failure especially if you are a procrastinator like me.

I am a very creative person. I am always coming up with really cool ideas for my business. I start the process of making things happen and then I set it aside convincing myself that I will get back to it. I never do. I then lie to myself to justify my procrastination. I convince myself that it was a dumb idea, nothing will ever come of it and that completing the goal is not worth the work that must be put into it. I do that with fitness and performance goals as well as personal and work goals.

So now that I know what the problem is, how do I change it? Deadlines.

If you aren’t already using a calendar or a planner, then it’s time to get one. Just a little FYI, I have also perfected procrastinating on this. I search and shop for the perfect planner and pen. Writing goals and deadlines on a plain pad of paper or a boring planner…Never!

Now it’s time to make things happen. Set a realistic deadline. Put it in your planner. I like to count days or weeks back and jot them down so I know that I have so much time before D-day (deadline day). It creates a sense of urgency.

You nor I are going to magically have our goals accomplished on D-day. We must have a plan of action. My performance goals require that I work out several times a week and that my workouts are specific to my goal. Those get scheduled in my planner…Ok, there are not in there right now but they will be as soon as I’m done with this blog.

I set deadlines for the small goals I want to accomplish to reach the bigger goal. One of performance goals for 2013 (and it will probably be the end of 2013) is to complete the RKC’s Iron Maiden Challenge of pressing, doing a pull up and a pistol squat with a 53 pound Kettlebell. In order to accomplish this, I have to set goals along the way. Right now I have an 8 week goal of a weighted pull up with a 10 pound bell and an easy consistant press with the 40 pound Kettlebell and a solid pistol squat.

My business and personal goal is to write a book. It’s been a goal since early last year. It’s been months since I did any work on it. So now I will set a deadline of December 31st 2013. That book is not going to write itself and of course I can’t start on December 30th. So I set aside a couple hours once a week to write and it goes in my planner..again, it’s not in there yet, but will be when I finish this blog. I told you that I am a big procrastinator.

I would love to hear about your goals and especially the steps you are taking to reach them. Post them in the comments section.

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