Live Well: 2014 Resolutions Scorecard

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A few of you may remember that one year ago, I wrote a post about making specific New Year's resolutions. The best thing about specific resolutions, I argued at the time, was that you can measure your success or failure. Because how can someone know if they've truly succeeded in their resolutions to "work harder" "be happier" or "get in better shape"?

As a result, I think the only fair thing would be to actually go ahead and see how I did on my resolutions. Here's how:

Resolution #1: By the end of the year, be able to run up the Lyon Street stairs without stopping.

Result: Success!

This one was a bit of a surprise, even to me. I chose to make my resolution about the stairs because I have never, ever been able to run the entire length without stopping. (They are LONG. And steep. It's hard to describe - you'll just have to come visit me and I will show you!). I also chose the stairs because it's very measurable - you can either run them or you can't. However, I did not spend my year working out on the stairs. I spent my year going to Crossfit. And while that should have made me more fit, I wasn't sure if it would make me a better stair runner.

Last Friday, I decided to go test myself. And I made it, much to my own surprise. While I know I'm in better shape now than I was a year ago, I think at least 50% of my success came from a determination not to quit once I hit that final flight! Either way, I'm happy. (The photo above was my celebratory photo from the top.)

Resolution #2: Read 18 books by the end of the year.

Result: Success!

I have mixed feelings about the success of this resolution. While I made it to 18 books (19, actually) I purposely selected shorter books, and I didn't end up reading many books that I loved. So it ended up being 19 short, rather mediocre books. I'm happy I made reading more of a focus last year, but I think I can do even better. More to come when I talk 2015 resolutions tomorrow.

Resolution #3: Take an international trip (and no, our trip to BVI did not count).

Result: Fail

Yep - I failed at this one. We DID make it to Hawaii (which was amazing - I really need to recap that trip sometime soon), but we didn't end up going anywhere internationally. Just like with resolution #2, my main takeaway from my performance on this one is that there is room for improvement in 2015. Our trip to Hawaii made me realize how much I enjoy traveling, and how much more of the world I want to see. Expect to see this same resolution on my list for years to come!

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Well - we made it through Monday! All of us at work were laughing about how much yesterday morning felt like the first day of school. Most people had taken off at least one week for the holidays, a tiny timeframe compared to the average school winter vacation, but an eternity when you work a 9-to-5 (or 6 or 7...) job! Just like when I was going to school, I had trouble getting to sleep on Sunday, the night before my first day back. And just like school, the first day felt kind of long and kind of tiring, but at least I got to come home and celebrate with a delicious dinner + an episode of Gilmore Girls. Speaking of which...Gilmore Girls and Friends being on Netflix is simultaneously the best and worst thing that ever happened to me/my productivity.

Back tomorrow with 2015 resolutions!

Be Well: Ouch

Image via fitness19.com

I have a confession to make: I haven't worked out in over a month.

Well, I hadn't worked out in over a month until this past Saturday.

Although I've been traveling, and working, and just generally running around in life like crazy lately, it's still not a good excuse for how badly I fell off the workout wagon. But your exercise routine is one of those things that tend to snowball - just like getting on a good streak can mean you're consistently in the gym for weeks (heck, months!), one week off can turn into...five weeks off.

This is where I should be giving you great advice for how to get back on the wagon, but to be honest, I don't have much wisdom to impart. When it comes to that first workout, you pretty much just have to force yourself to do it. It should get easier from there.

It should...but it doesn't. If you work out properly that first time back, you should end up sore. Really sore. And that's where I am right now. My legs are so stiff that walking around my apartment is a challenge. Not a single fiber of my body wants me to work out again, but I know I have to - it's the only way this gets easier (other than giving up altogether, which isn't an option). My advice here: take it slow, but don't be too easy on yourself. On Sunday morning I went to yoga (most painful yoga class of my life) and this morning I went to yoga again. After this, it's going to be a week of running stairs, doing pushups, and generally hoisting myself back up onto that workout wagon. I know I can do it.

If you have any great tips for getting back into the swing of things, I'd love to hear them!

Be Well: Live Well, Live Long

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I could probably write a post a week, each one featuring a new reason why you should exercise, and never run out of things to write about. Seriously. But although the reasons to work out are innumerable, I have never heard an argument more convincing than the strong scientific support that shows that getting regular, vigorous exercise will both lengthen your life and improve your life's quality.

What's crazy to me (and unbelievable to most) is that exercise has been regularly proven to have a more significant impact on your mental acuity than doing logical puzzles, crosswords, or other "brain exercises." It turns out that nothing replaces regular exercise - going on a challenging hike will do a lot more for you than playing a game of Scrabble or reading a book.

Being reminded of exercise's power to improve my life is one of those things that makes me sit up and take notice. I can only derive so much motivation from the promises to feel healthy today, have flatter abs, or have improved self-esteem. In many ways, those results seem very intangible to me (okay, maybe not the abs) and have never served as long-term motivations for me to get up and get moving. But days added to my life? Knowing that I am keeping my body and mind from breaking down? For whatever reason, that is a currency that means something to me. I would much rather live to be 90 than live to be 80. And I'm determined to be the kind of person who hikes and swims until the very end.

Want to know the best part about this? It's never too late to start. Seriously, committing to making a change today will improve your quality of life. It doesn't matter if you're 15 or 65. So put down your phone, get away from your TV, and take a walk around your neighborhood. Or swim a few laps in your pool. Or join an exercise class. Just do something that makes you break a sweat. Oh, and try to find something you like. That's always the #1 thing that will help you stick with it :)

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Completely random topic change: I don't know about you, but I'm a pretty big Tracy Chapman fan. Hours upon hours of listening to her album Telling Stories on a road trip one summer pretty much cemented me as a member of her fanbase. So when I heard a cover of her song Fast Car played when I was at yoga this past weekend, I was immediately intrigued. In fact, right after I left yoga that day I came home and started googling "Fast Car cover." It took me a little while to find, but I finally identified it: it's a duet sung by Boyce Avenue and Kina Grannis. (No idea who they are? Yeah, me either.) ANYWAY, this is the really long way of saying that you should totally listen to this song! Find it here.

Also - how much does Kina Grannis sound like Taylor Swift? It's INSANE! I didn't believe it wasn't Taylor Swift until I was presented with indisputable video evidence.

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Have a great Wednesday, y'all.