I am one of those people who loves the fresh-start vibes of the New Year. Paging through an empty planner, wondering how I’ll fill it—what trips I’ll take, the races I’ll run, the people I’ll meet, the projects I’ll work on throughout the year. It’s exciting to me to fantasize about all the goals I could accomplish, and I love the idea of planning out my must-dos for the year while leaving space for spontaneity. I also just enjoy the idea that we have another 365 days to do something fun and interesting and empowering and impactful and any other positive adjective that might represent what’s ahead.
But I’ve realized this year, more than ever, how much some people dislike playing the resolutions game. I realize there’s a certain pressure that can come with setting big goals or constantly hearing “new year, new you”—a phrase that definitely makes you cringe, right? Sometimes we just want to feel content in our lives and not have to set these new objectives or make changes to be better (whatever “better” might mean to you). And I think that’s also 1. A-OK and 2. kind of amazing. To be able to say you’re happy and satisfied, and you simply want to keep living the life you’ve created is an accomplishment in itself and something pretty powerful.
I think the other issue, though, is that many of us put too much pressure on ourselves; we give ourselves a hard time when we don’t get that goal or change that habit or have this jampacked, successful year. And that can easily overpower the positivity of a fresh start and the excitement of how you’ll fill the blank slate of the year.
Looking back over my planner from last year—in which I write down basically everything I do every day—I realized what I felt most proud of was getting quality time with my friends and family. Seeing reminders of movie nights and brunches and walks through the park, that’s what made me smile the most and feel the most fulfilled, yet it’s also those daily and weekend events that I can so easily forget by year’s end.
I accomplished things this year that I worked for ~years~ to finally achieve (like getting a full-time gig) and I’m so proud of that. But I’m also proud of all the quality time I got to spend with people I love and that I actually got to do that as much as I did, even in a pandemic era.
So, while I will still be over here setting goals to snag some PRs, swap social media for new books, and make strides at work, my one main goal of the year is simple: Remember to appreciate those little moments that fill out the year and continue to make time for them. The coffee dates and weekend park hangs (solo or social) and trips with girlfriends that fill the soul—those are the real gems of the year. And to me, signs of a successful 365.
A few other people’s words about wellness I’ve read (and loved) recently:
If you take one thing away from this newsletter, I hope it’s that movement brings so much to life besides changing your body or making you smaller. Exercise is meant to be a celebration of the body—an activity that adds to your life, rather than one that takes anything away (except some stress). I say this because this excerpt from the book, Let’s Get Physical by Danielle Friedman (now on its way to me), sums up that message eloquently. Plus, she mentions a group I’ve admired for some time, the Women’s Strength Coalition; she talks about coming back to fitness post-baby; and she has this quote from Shannon Kim Wagner of the Women’s Strength Coalition: “For me, picking up a barbell meant focusing on my body, for the first time, in a way that had nothing to do with shrinking or making myself smaller. It felt radical to search for safety in myself, as opposed to looking for it in approval from others. When I chose to stop getting smaller in my physical body, I stopped existing for other people.”
A story from October, but also on NY Mag’s list of the top stories of the year, you’ll find “Katie Couric is Not for Everyone” very interesting. I did not read her apparently controversial memoir (though I might add it to my Audible queue now), but she reveals a couple of bombshells and a whole lot about her career in TV news. It sounds to me like writing the book was pretty cathartic and freeing for her so I can do nothing but support that and appreciate the fact that she’s been analyzing the role she played in supporting the misogynistic industry she worked in for so long. I also now more clearly see the link between her and Jennifer Aniston on The Morning Show.
I find it somewhat difficult to look at the big picture when planning out my run (and overall fitness) goals for the year. It’s easy to say you want a PR at a race, but how do you really get there? I know there are peaks and valleys when it comes to training schedules and you should embrace those to reveal your best performances, while also getting the rest you need. So, I loved this story by Cory Smith on Runner’s World about how to strategically plan out your race calendar for 2022. He suggests starting out the year with easy running, then working toward a half marathon PR, then a shorter distance PR, then the marathon, and wrapping up the year with R&R. I’m going to be following his advice, even if I swap that full 26.2 in the fall for another half. (Full discloser, I edited this story.)
The latest updates on the fitness industry:
Lindsey Vonn joined the team at Tempo, the at-home strength training system. She’ll back the platform and help create workouts for it, which you can follow along.
The American College of Sports Medicine releases a fitness trends list every year, and what tops the line-up for 2022? Wearable technology. Because we just can’t get enough data.
Calm is getting in on the mind-body connection with their new series: Daily Move with Mel Mah. The quick sessions help you tap into your body with a mindful movement practice.
Here’s one form cue that always resonates with clients…
These words tend to work for individuals I train as an ah-ha moment for feeling stronger in a move or activating the right muscles. I’m bringing back the reminder about the mind-muscle connection this week because I’ve been using it in sessions pretty often lately. Sometimes, if you don’t feel an exercise in the muscle an instructor says you should be feeling it, all you really need to do is think about engaging said muscle. Take the glute bridge or deadlift for example—think about squeezing the butt (as cheer coaches might say, “pinch the penny”) as you lift the hips up for the bridge or stand up from the bottom of the deadlift. The same goes for bicep curls (engaging the biceps), rows (working the back), or planks (tightening that core). Now, the catch is that sometimes you might need a little extra work outside that move to get the glutes or core activated, for example. But that’s a different story. Try this simple step first.
One move to add to your exercise routine…
OK, two: banded bicycles and banded mountain climbers. You know both of these moves, but add a mini band around your feet (at the arches) and it turns up the burn in your core in such a good, challenging way. Make sure you keep your feet flexed for both moves, so the band stays on, and focus on good form. Think shoulder to knee for the bicycles, so you’re actually sitting up into a crunch, not just moving your head side to side. And make sure you maintain a strong plank through those climbers.
For a full workout, try…
Time to Walk on Apple Fitness+. Walking is an underrated form of exercise! It feels good for the body and mind and it’s simply the perfect way to split up the day. And I love that Apple made it a priority with their Time to Walk workouts. The best part is that you get to listen to different celebs talk about their lives and behind-the-scenes events and often share some of their favorite music. I loved walking with Jane Fonda and Gina Rodriguez, personally, but I don’t think you can go wrong in hearing from any of your favorite personalities. They also regularly offer new releases.
The gear I’m loving to get me out the door…
I spent lots of time researching and testing the products, chatting with trainers and other fitness colleagues, and working with other Runner’s World staffers to bring together the 2022 Fitness & Nutrition Awards, so head on over there to see some of my top picks of the year in many categories. And then report back on what you bought and loved *wink wink*.
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