The Best of December

Hi everyone,

As promised, we are publishing our 5 most popular articles shared via Twitter last month. Now you know where to find them so you can continue to be super smaht! 🙂

Enjoy…

How to Set Goals Like a BAM

Hi BAMs, and Happy New Year… almost!

If you are like 90% of the population, you are thinking about, or trying not to think about, resolutions and goals for 2017.

Let us help.

Last year we published a very successful blog post on goal-setting, so we are re-posting it below (with a few updates/edits). (Because why re-do what already worked once?? Also: holiday season fatigue/laziness.)

Read on, and consider this approach. We hope it helps you out! And if you have other ideas that work for you, please do share!!

We wish you the happiest of New Years…

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Look! The New Year is upon us! That magical evening in which the strike of midnight suddenly wipes the slate clean and all is new and anything is possible. The stressors of 2016 are gone, everyone is happy, and your life is perfect.

Now is the time to start something epic, so let’s see…

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All of the above? Why not? There’s a whole fresh clean new shiny year ahead!

Yeah. NO.

If you know us, you know we are not about drastic changes, and we certainly are not believers in magic wands that make everything perfect overnight.

On the other hand, we don’t believe in just leaving things to chance. Our BAM community is made up of real, awesome, badass women who face a myriad of challenges every single day, and who strive to overcome them and become healthier and stronger.

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Some of you have shared your challenges: health issues, family concerns, job problems, kids who are a handful, relationship challenges – you name it, it’s happened! And yet, we, as a community, come together to support each other to move through those challenges and remember to look after ourselves and continue on our journey towards health and strength.

We present to you: The BAM Goal-Setting Process. If you can, set aside at least 20 minutes in the next 24 hours to think through your goals for the coming year. You will:

  1. Ask yourself a few questions, and be honest with your answers.
  2. Ponder three specific areas for improvement
  3. Choose one, two, or three of those areas.
  4. Set a specific, measurable, realistic goal in that/those area.
  5. Identify a buddy.
  6. GO!
  7. Re-visit and re-assess quarterly.

Step One. Ask yourself a few key questions.

Find a quiet moment, make a cup of tea (or whisky, or both), and jot down your thoughts relating to the following:

  • What is one thing I did in 2016 that I feel proud of?
    • What things or conditions or people enabled me to be successful at that one thing?
  • What is one thing that I wish I had done better in 2016?
    • What were the barriers that prevented me from doing it?
    • What can I do to eliminate those barriers (or at least make them a little lower to the ground and easier to climb)?
    • Who can I ask for help?

Step Two. Consider Your Health and Fitness, Personal, and Community Goals.

Now that you have an idea of your success factors, think about these three areas.

Health & Fitness. Do you want to:

  • Be stronger? Maybe strengthen your back so lifting your kids or a snow shovel doesn’t hurt? Maybe deadlift a certain weight?
  • Jump rope for 5 minutes and do double-unders without hitting your face with the rope?
  • Fit into a size smaller pair of jeans?
  • Lower your blood pressure?
  • Decrease anxiety?
  • Keep up with a CrossFit class at your local Box?
  • Walk or Run a 5K? 10K? Half? Full?
  • Do a Triathlon?
  • Climb a mountain?

Note: goals here should be focused on well-being and strength, not numbers on a scale or physical appearance.

Personal.  Do you want to:

  • Improve relationships in your life?
  • Continue your education? Learn a new language? Take a cooking course? Finish your degree? Get a Masters in something? Learn to do watercolours?
  • Improve the quality and frequency of your “Me Time?”

Community. Do you want to:

  • Worship?
  • Volunteer?
  • Perform Random Acts of Kindness?
  • Get involved in your child’s school?
  • Teach?

Step Three. Choose a Goal.

Now pick a goal (or goals) relating to one of the areas you pondered. Before you get all excited and choose all three, go back to the questions you answered in Step One.

Is it realistic for you to choose a goal in all three areas? Maybe it is, especially if you start with small goals. Maybe it’s not – you are just too busy and overwhelmed right now, and the least little thing will throw you off track, and you’ll be down on yourself.

Prioritize Fitness, Personal, and Community, and decide where you want to start. In which area are you most likely to be successful, and therefore motivate yourself to keep going?

Step Four. Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself.

Whatever you decide, make sure your goal(s) has/have the following characteristics (based on SMART goals, if you’ve ever heard that term! Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely):

  1. Make sure your goal is achievable. Ask a friend if you’ve bitten off more than you can chew, or if you’ve set a realistic challenge for yourself.
  2. Make sure you are very clear about what your goal is. This means it is measurable and has a timeline.
Non Specific – BOO! Specific – YAY!
Firm up my waist Lose an inch off my waist by 03/31/17
Lower my blood pressure Reduce my blood pressure by 20 points systolic and 10 points diastolic by 04/15/17
Run a marathon Run the Main Street marathon in under 5 hours on 06/20/17
Go to the gym more Go to the gym 3 times per week
Add more variety and healthy choices to my diet Choose three meals from the Heart Healthy cookbook each Sunday night and add it to the meal plan for the coming week
Get along better with my teenagers Spend at least 2 hours of quality time with each teenager each week. (What is quality time?)
Take more time for myself Go for a walk/yoga/tea with a friend at least two times per week for one hour.
Look into volunteering at the library Call Mr. Smith at the library by 01/10/17 and inquire about their volunteer program. Sign up for it or another program by 01/31/17.
Go to church/synagogue/mosque more Go to church/synagogue/mosque at least twice a month.

 

Step Five. Employ the Buddy System.

Find a buddy who will:

  • Review your goal with you and make sure it’s specific, measurable, and realistic.
  • Check in with you on a weekly basis to see how you’re doing.
    • Doing well? Great! High Five!
    • Slipped up? Your buddy should NOT be someone who says either:
      • Oh that’s ok. Better luck next week, OR
      • You idiot. Why didn’t you do that?
    • Your buddy SHOULD say:
      • OK, let’s take a look at what got in the way. What needs to happen next week, and how can I help you be successful? OR
      • This has been happening for a few weeks in a row. Let’s take a look at the goal – maybe it wasn’t as realistic as we thought. We can tweak it and start again!

Do you have someone who will do that for you? Family member, friend, co-worker?

 

Step Six: Go Forth and Kick Ass.

Go! Do great things! Achieve your goal! This should be easy, right?

Step Seven. Have a Quarterly review.

You and your buddy should review your goal quarterly and decide if it’s time to up the ante and pick a new or another goal.

Let us know what you think. We would love to hear about your goals, your buddies, your achievements, your challenges, and your thoughts.

Happy New Year, friends,

Love your First Ladies,

Linda, (Lissy), Sarah, and Ruth

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October Goals

(From our very own First Lady Sarah.)

BAMs, it is October. The PUMPKIN ALL THE THINGS retail frenzy is in full swing. Canada is so over summer that their Thanksgiving has come and gone already. Over at Home Depot, they are already setting up the Christmas displays.

With the lazy days of summer assuredly in the rear view mirror, fall is a fitting time to refocus and reset. September started off strong for me but as life got busier again, my old pattern of pushing self-care to the margins crept back in. Without being intentional about the path to my long term goals, I know they will fall to the wayside. I am confident that I am not alone in this struggle. In the spirit of BAM Buddy accountability, I thought I would share with you my own high and low points from the last few months.

Re-re-evaluate.

Back in January, Ruth led us through a goal-setting exercise to prepare us for the year ahead (click here to read it). She talked us through choosing SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely). As part of the plan, she recommended we review our progress quarterly.

When I last checked in with you in June, I talked about the work of re-assessing goals when life happens. At the time, my challenge was motivating myself without the accountability of a half-marathon training schedule while preparations for an upcoming move were eating up all my spare time. I set a modest running goal for myself and a secondary goal of joining a rowing club after we moved.

I’d love for this to be the part where I tell you a fabulous success story, wherein I run toward victory, stress-free, with muscles rippling and a toss of my impossibly glossy hair. But here is the unvarnished (wild-haired, exhausted) truth: The running goal fell apart not long after I made it. I had underestimated how consuming our move preparation was going to be this time. I forgot how needy my children could be when their parents are stressed-out. I forgot about last minute attempts to squeeze in time with friends. And about farewell parties and field day and ballet recital rehearsals. I did what I could, but I didn’t run three days a week. And then we moved.

Our moving truck was two weeks late, which threw off our careful planning for the first month in our new home. We pitched a tent in the living room of the empty house and waited. We decided to repaint all the bedrooms. Once our stuff finally made it across the country, we discovered two things: this house has significantly less storage than our old one, and one of our movers helped himself a very generous tip–my engagement ring and anniversary band.

Having moved so many times, I knew to anticipate a case of the blues. It happens every time–a few weeks of everything feeling just…hard. I used to get angry with myself for my lack of resiliency. I’d watch a little too much TV and struggle to be productive. What was wrong with me? Why couldn’t I hack it?

In the midst of one of these seasons several years ago, a therapist asked me a question that changed my life: “What if it was just neutral?” she said, “Not good, not bad, but neutral?” It was a revelation. I didn’t need to be so hard on myself. As long as the less-productive choices weren’t destructive, could I allow myself to call them neutral? When I gave myself this bit of grace, the shame and exasperation evaporated. I know now to expect some move-induced entropy. I also know that the struggle won’t last forever, so I don’t need to be as frustrated by these blue periods.

Try, try again.

If you ever plan to climb a mountain in the snow, one of the skills you have to develop is ice axe self-arrest. The only way to practice self-arrest? Launch yourself down a snowy incline and try digging your axe in as you tumble. You practice because when you fall by accident, the ability to sit up or flip over and dig in while sliding downhill becomes a matter of life and death. In practice, you also learn pretty quickly that you probably won’t stop the slide on your first try.

In a lot of ways, this summer felt a bit like I was falling down the side of a mountain. Tripped up by unexpected events along the route I’d charted for myself, I tumbled downward, reaching for something to anchor myself and end my free fall. I knew on a purely chemical level, if I triggered the neurotransmitters in my brain with exercise, I would feel better. It wouldn’t make the mess in my house go away. It wouldn’t make me less lonely. But it might lift the cloud a little and give me the energy I needed to slog through the rest. One particularly challenging afternoon, I told my husband that I was going to run on the treadmill at the local Y until I was happy again. (Mercifully, it only took about 2.5 miles.) I understood that moving my body would help wake up my brain and I could run my way to a better attitude.

The summer wasn’t even half over, though, and despite being driven to the treadmill in my moment of desperation, I still hate running indoors with the white-hot loathing I generally reserve for thong underwear. But I needed to move and it was 100 degrees outside, so I readjusted my expectations. I found some group fitness classes at the Y and started going.

As my body adapted to the familiar rhythm of moving again, my mood improved. I met some neighbors. I reconnected with old friends. And I emailed the rowing club.

On a muggy evening in late July, I climbed into a rowing shell for the first time in 19 years. Out on the river that evening, it felt a lot like the relief of finally getting the tip of your ice axe solidly into the snow after a few hundred yards of tumbling. I wasn’t at the summit. I wasn’t safely back in my tent. There was still a lot of work ahead to get where I hoped to go, but I wasn’t falling anymore.

Re-re-re-evaluate.

So it is now October. In a few weeks, I’ll be rowing in a regatta for the first time since 1997. I don’t know that our time will impress my 21 year old self, but crossing the finish line on the course will be a reminder that I can find my way through a challenging season and come out stronger on the other side. The humidity is finally ebbing away here and I’m finding my way back to running again too.

I’ve got a 5k on the calendar for December. This one, though, isn’t just for me. I want to finish out 2016 running a race with my 7 year old daughter. This move has been really hard for her, too, and she is still trying to find her place here. But she loves to run and has watched me finish a few half-marathons over the years. This time, I want to cross a finish line with her. I hope to show her how to set a goal, how to work toward it by putting one foot in front of the other, and to share with her the thrill of finding strength within that she never knew existed. All while wearing jingle bells on her sneakers.

And how about you?

As we roll into this last quarter of 2016 and reassess our goals one last time, we want to hear your stories of how this year has gone. What setbacks or unexpected victories have you seen? How did you re-calibrate? What unfinished business do you plan on checking off before the curtain falls on this year?