Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Why You Should Make a New Year's Resolution

What is your New Year's Resolution?

That's the question of the hour this time of year. 

I hear a lot of people reply that they don't make resolutions.  "Why bother, I don't keep them anyway," they say. 

Is that you?  If it is, I ask you to pause to read this and reconsider that response.

Take a moment to consider why you don't keep them.  I imagine that it is because 1) your previous resolutions have either been too vague or too big and 2) you have an all or nothing mindset.

This year I'm going to eat healthy.

This year I'm going to lose 100 pounds.

This year I'm going to exercise everyday.

There are some people that can make broad or big statements like that and stick to them.  I'm not one of them and I imagine that I am not alone.

I'd say - "This year I'm going to eat healthy."  I do just that for the first few weeks of the year.  Then there is a big football game and I'm making all kinds of scrumptious tailgating food.  There goes that resolution out the window!  Back to my old way of eating!

I'd say - "I'm going to lose 100 pounds this year."  Over the first few weeks I would lose five pounds.  Then I'd have a stressful week where I would eat a little more, exercise a little less and . . . BAM!  Gain two pounds.  There goes that resolution out the window!  Back to my old ways.

I'd say - "I'm going to exercise everyday."  I'd work out on the Wii or go to the Y or go for a walk everyday for a few days.  Then one night I have to work late.  The next night JJ has a basketball game and Ellie needs help with her homework.  The next night I take Ellie to her music lessons and there is a meeting at church.  Yikes - three days in a row with no exercise.  There goes that resolution out the window!  Back to skipping the gym.

If I can't be perfect ALL the time then I want NOTHING to do with this resolution. 

Five year's ago I made a New Year's Resolution and I kept it.  I kept it because 1) my resolution was specific and 2) I didn't give up. 

My health was heading down a dangerous path.  I needed to make wiser choices and get healthy.  But what exactly does that look like?  I needed to lose at least 50 pounds, but to me that was a huge number.  I needed to eat better, but I really like chips and brownies. 

I set my focus on something smaller - a 5k run.  I knew what that looked like.  I could picture 3.1 miles.  16 laps around the track.  1 trip around the big block plus 1 trip around the little block.  I could picture myself going that distance. 

My New Year's Resolution for 2010 was very specific - I will complete a 5k.

I mapped out my plan to achieve that goal and got to work.  But it wasn't always easy.  There were days that I didn't exercise.  Sometimes several days in a row that I didn't exercise.  There were days that I stress ate so much pizza on a Friday night that the idea of putting on my running shoes Saturday morning was not even on my radar.  Those were the times I wanted to give up.  "I screwed up - no running for three days.  Might as well quit."  "Too much pizza - epic fail!  Scrap the idea of getting healthy . . . again!" 

But I DIDN'T give up.  Instead I said to myself, "Ooooops!" and purposefully made the choice to get back on track.  Guess what happened - that feeling of complete failure was quickly replaced by the feeling of complete joy in the victory of clearing that hurdle. 

It is in that moment where most people get stuck.  Do I throw my hands up in defeat or do I purposefully pick myself up and forge ahead?   No matter what I do, I'm not going to be perfect all the time.  Instead of raising a white flag in surrender to my imperfections, I choose to raise my arms in victory to all that I accomplish no matter how small.

Took a walk after dinner instead of watching TV.  YES!  Ate one cookie instead of four.  YES!  Put my tennis shoes on and went for a run even though I didn't feel like it.  YES!

In 2010, I did it.  I kept my New Year's Resolution.  I completed my first 5k.  Five years later I have run over 40 5ks.  I lost 50 pounds and have kept it off.  I went from a size 22 pants to a size 14.  I feel GREAT! 

Change is possible.  You CAN do it.  You may have tried a thousand times before and not made it, but that is OK.  Try again.  Try again in 2015.  Make this your year. 

Be purposeful about it.  Pause for five minutes.  Think.  What do you want?  How do you feel right now?  How do you want to feel?  Set a goal.  A specific goal.  Then go for it . . . and make the choice to not give up.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Five Observations from the Salvation Army Red Kettle

Last Saturday my son and his friend Blake spent the afternoon manning a Salvation Army Kettle at our local mall.  This act of giving was to fulfill their Community Service requirement for their Honors Civics course.  I went along to provide coverage for extended bathroom breaks and food court runs.  Even though it was a tad chilly, I had a great time and learned several things . . .

1) Let Them Wear The Hoodie.  I will stop arguing with my kids when they want to run out the door wearing only a hoodie while their warm winter jacket hangs on the coat rack.  A majority of teenagers (and a lot of adults, too!) walked into that mall wearing only a hoodie.  As a mom I know the value of choosing my battles.  The Winter Coat War is being crossed off my list!

2) Pay Attention to Where You Park.  The number of people who forget where they park their car is quite hilarious!  Some people are embarrassed and try to slink up and down the rows of cars trying not to look like they are looking for their car.  Others stand at the end of a row loudly talking to themselves in frustration about how they can't believe they can't find their car.  One family even went as far to call mall security and the local police convinced that their car had been stolen.  While waiting for the cops, the dad proceeded to call at least 10 people to tell them his car had been stolen and he was going to get a "sweet new one" from the insurance.  It turned out he had parked by pole "17" in the upper Macy's lot instead of "27" in the lower lot.  There are simple ways to remember where you park - take a picture of the closest numbered pole, take a picture of your view of the mall from your spot, write down where you park.   

3) Hold the Door Open for Others.  I could not believe how many people did not hold the door open for the person coming through behind them!  Come on people - it is a simple turn of the head to see if anyone is there.  One lady was coming out with a stroller loaded with bags.  When the woman in front of her let go of the door, it slammed into the stroller causing all of the packages to fall to the ground AND woke up her sleeping toddler.  An elderly woman going into the mall ran into the edge of the closing door when the man going in ahead of her did not hold the door open.  Really, sir?  You almost knocked the cute little lady down!  

4) SMILE!  A simple smile can have a huge impact.  I was shocked at how few people smiled or looked happy as they walked in or out the mall.  As I stood there ringing the bell, I attempted to make eye contact with people, smile and wish them a Merry Christmas or Happy Shopping whether they put money in my kettle or not. In most cases I did get at least a smile in return and often a verbal response, too.  I know I felt a sense of victory when that happened.  Hopefully, my smile had an impact on their day if even for a moment.  I'm always telling my kids that a smile is the easiest, cheapest and sometimes best gift you can give to anybody at anytime.

5) Everyone Can Ring the Bell!  When I contacted the Salvation Army to see if JJ and Blake could volunteer they were more than happy to have us.  In fact, the Captain I spoke with told me that they were in desperate need of bell ringers.  As I stood ringing the bell that Saturday, many parents gave their young children coins to put in the kettle.  The kids were so excited and proud to reach up and drop in their coin. Several then stood there and looked at the bell in my hand.  "Would you like a turn to ring the bell?" I asked them.  Wide eyes.  Silent nods.  Small hands reaching for the bell.  Huge smiles.  They loved ringing that bell!  And I think they got more donations in those few minutes than I did during my entire shift as people flocked to the cute little kids.  The little ones' responses was a reminder to me that everyone can volunteer.  How different would our world be if more families took an hour or two of their time every once in awhile to help others?  What can your family do to help those around you?  I'm always talking about making healthy choices - volunteering our time is definitely a great exercise for the heart! 
The bell we rung was obviously old and well-used.  I thought about the
number of hands that clung to that handle before mine - very inspiring.

 I have to admit that I was pretty annoyed at JJ's assignment at the beginning of the school year - four community service projects?!?  We are way to busy to fit these in!  After spending an afternoon ringing that bell, I've changed my tune.  We've (Yes - We.  This has become a group project!) been able to see the difference we've made in people's lives and had fun doing it.  Even though JJ will be done with his Civics class next year, I'm pretty sure you'll find our family back at the Red Kettle ringing the bell next Christmas!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

High Triglycerides . . . Winning the Battle

Back in October I shared with you that my 15 year-old son's monthly blood work revealed that his triglycerides were high.  YIKES!  The doctor told us that if the triglycerides continued to elevate, my son would have to go off a medication he was taking that was really helping him. 

Well . . . we were back at the doctor's this week and . . . his triglycerides are DOWN!!!  YAY!!  I am so proud of JJ.  We didn't discuss it endlessly and we purposefully did not nag him, but we have seen him making healthier choices over the past month.

We have been pushing ourselves as a family to go to the gym more often, which has been great for him AND the rest of us.  Basketball season has started so his activity level has increased dramatically.  No more hours on the couch after school for this kid! 

I have continued to strive to cook cleaner serving more fresh fruits and vegetables.  I would love to be able to tell you that my son has been cleaning his plate, but that is not always the case.   He'll chow on his favorites - corn, carrots, green beans (that was something new I learned about JJ.  He likes fresh green beans!), apple slices and bananas.  Not so much others, especially vegetables.  When I make casseroles or crockpot meals, I like to think that maybe some of the nutrients from the vegetables that are left piled on his plate has rubbed off on the meat or noodles that he inhaled with no problem.  Wishful thinking I know, but let me hold on to that crazy thought! 

The Battle of the Bulge continues for our family, but we have made a step in the right direction!  A great motivator to push us forward and encourage us to be ready for the next challenge that comes our way.