Hello September

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And goodbye August! It seems that along with the beginning of September and all it usually brings; school, back to more regular schedules, and the like, Fall has come along as well. Not totally out of the norm, but the sudden switch from bright and sunny and hot, hot heat filled days to rain, chills and dark grey has seemed quick. Quick and perhaps far too early. Yet this year unlike previous recent years I am looking forward to the rain, the leaves, the cool weather. Maybe it was actually getting my fill of summer, of being overly warm often enough to feel satisfied. Maybe it’s because now my apartment will be bearable or I’ll be able to sleep under multiple layers of blankets (my favourite!). Maybe I’m looking forward to turning on my oven without fears of overbearing heat filling my apartment. I’m not sure, but I do know I’m not saddened by the onset of Fall like I sometimes am.

September also brings with it the feeling of a new year. As someone who spent many many years in school, September was always the beginning of a bright new year. New classes, new books, new friends, new roommates, new chances and new possibilities. I always find myself drawn to goals at this time of year unlike any other. This year I’m finishing up my 365 photo a day project (in just about 50 days or so), and getting ready to find myself a new year long project. Will it be writing for 30 minutes a day? Will it be to complete a craft/art/diy project a week? I don’t know. And I’d like to have a decision soon, so that I can maybe do a little organizing before I begin, so who knows where it will take me?

The anticipation of starting goals is one of my favourite things. In the past years I’ve avoided goals after I achieved some very sought after goals and, well, found them to leave me feeling slightly underwhelmed and disappointed. In the last few years though I’ve done some digging, and really unearthed what I want my life to look like; and this means I stay away from goals that won’t bring that into being. I have issues with even the concept of SMART goals, which I don’t think it helps people really dig into the why of their goal, which is ultimately more important than making sure it’s “time sensitive” or “measurable”. In the past my small amount of perfectionism, combined with surface level SMART goals, and no real sense what exactly I wanted from my life, left me with achieved goals that left a sense of hollowness.

Yet this year, just as I’m looking forward to September, I’m looking forward to goals, to seeing what I can achieve.

So maybe for today I shall leave it at that. Maybe some of my goals will reflect a need to write on here more, to get digging into health, nutrition and more. We shall see.

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Nutrition Month–let’s get ready

March is nutrition month, and this year Dietitians of Canada is asking you to take a 100 Meal Journey.

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Image source.

A what now? You might be asking.

What it is

Every month most people eat roughly 100 meals. When trying to make new healthy habits around eating you have 100 opportunities to make small changes that can add up to big health benefits. When it comes to goal setting and making habit changes a lot of us have a habit of doing something really big or doing a whole lot of different things all at once. This ends up being no good. Too big of a change and we get shocked and the change doesn’t stick. Too many changes and we get overwhelmed and revert back to what’s easy: the bad habit we want to change.

Time to get SMART?

A lot of goal setting talks about S.M.A.R.T goal setting. SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Reasonable and Timely (ok the words are sometimes different but always with the same gist).

An not SMART goal: eating more fruits and vegetables.

A SMART goal: I will eat an extra serving of vegetables at every weekday lunch meal.

I don’t love S.M.A.R.T goal setting because it doesn’t make you dig down to your why. You can set perfectly great SMART goals but if you don’t dig into the why behind them they can leave you feeling unfulfilled.

So going back to the vegetable goal – that’s great but if you don’t have a why figured out, it probably won’t stick.

Why?

We know vegetables have lots of benefits but if you’re just doing it “because it’s the right thing I should be doing”, you probably won’t keep with it. “To be healthier” also probably doesn’t mean much.

So what does “the right thing” or “being healthier” actually mean to you? Does it mean having more energy in the day? Is it so you can get through the afternoon at work and have energy when you get home to your family?

Answering the why to our goals can be enlightening. Suddenly things like “lose the last 10lbs” become about “staying healthy and alive so I have energy for my grandkids when I’m old” – which is much more meaningful (no judgements if your health goals are not that deep – we all start somewhere).

Whatever you do…

Keep It Simple. Remember this is a 100 meal journey; you have 100 opportunities this month for those small changes. Should every meal involve a new goal? No fricking way. But pick a goal, maybe one or two, and you have a 100 Meals at which to work on it. Will you fail a couple times? Probably – but look at those slip ups with curiosity instead of judgement and you might surprised at what you learn about yourself.

Hop on over to Dietitians of Canada for some more ideas on goals and what’s coming up next for Nutrition Month!

March Goals

Before I get into my March Goals, let me share a tip. It’s called the Confidence Rating. It comes out of Stages of Change models, and Cognitive-Behaviour Theory. When you decide on a goal, ask yourself the following question: On a scale of 1 to 10, how confident am I that I can achieve this goal?  1 = no confidence, it ain’t gonna happen! And 10 = oh it’s done! If you rate yourself lower than 7, you’re unlikely to achieve the goal. (You must have 70% or more confidence that you will achieve your goal…)

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Anyway, with that tidbit, I’d like to talk about my March Goals. I talked about at the beginning of the year not creating goals, but instead setting an intention (which seemed to be the cool thing to do, and really I’m not very good at being cool, never have been).

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And mostly I’ve been okay goal-free for the past couple months (and even the fall before that). But as I’ve settled into working, and living in the “real world” I’ve started to itch for some goals.

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They’re pretty simple, and they are as follows:

1. Mindful March: I read about a really interesting project on this blog. She kept a journal for 100 Days, recording eating, workouts, other important life aspects, and her moods on those days. Seeing if there was a trend. I’d like to do the same, I’m starting with March, but maybe it will go further, who knows?

2. Cardio: My workouts for the past 2-3 months have been hitting the gym for some weight lifting. As March is here, along with some awesome sunny weather, I can feel an itch to get out and run/bike/go fast. Where I live is a lot of small towns all about 50 kilometers apart, a long term goal of mine is to bike to all the respective communities by the end of the summer. Obviously this means I need to get into some serious cardio fitness. So my goal is to get out on my bike 3x per week, in the morning before work (yay Spring Forward). This week I’ve simply started getting up earlier, and next week with the sunrise being an hour earlier, I’ll get out on my bike Mon/Wed/Fri.

So those are my two goals. I’m definitely 90% confident on goal #1, but closer to 70% on goal two. This is mainly because I haven’t really had the discipline in the last couple years to follow through on cardio workouts (no idea why), but I’m hopeful I can make it happen now.