We’ve just reached the end of the first week of 2017. A round of applause to us all for making it! By now most of us have planned out, written down or at least thought about some resolutions. Every year we feel compelled to reassess what we want to achieve in our lives, pressured into being the healthiest, happiest version of ourselves.
I actually think it’s great to make goals and revisit them regularly, whether that’s at new year or any other time. However, the saying “new year, new you” can be quite misleading, and frankly, depressing. Why should I be attempting to reinvent myself? Do I have such deeply ingrained self-loathing that I feel I should become a different person?
Fashion magazines don’t help the matter. January editions are filled with ridiculous plans and expensive solutions accompanied by images of gorgeous, fit and slim models. Instead of providing a source of motivation, these articles leave me feeling exhausted thinking of all the things I should be doing and won’t be able to achieve.
So what should we do?
I’ve tried writing down lists of feats I’d like to achieve, regimes to stick to and consistent improvements in all manner of fantastical sports and hobbies. I’m lucky if I can tick off 3 or 4 things from such an unrealistic list by the end of the year, leaving me with a sense of failure and underachievement.
So this year I’m tackling it differently. I have some long term goals, things I hope to achieve whether it’s in the next year, or next few, but what I want to focus on is seeing improvements and reviewing them through the year. One of my friends told me hers the other day and also recorded her reasons for them, which is a great idea for focus and motivation.
My long term goals are:
Run a marathon by the age of 30
I’ve done four half marathons now and several 10k runs, but I’ve never had the guts to take it further, although I dream of being able to run an ultra, and I’ll never get there if I can’t run 27 miles!
Learn to rope climb outdoors
I’ve bouldered in Fontainebleau a few times now and as much as I love bouldering, I know a much bigger world of climbing opportunities will open up to me if I can learn to rope climb outside. This means getting much more comfortable lead climbing, and rope climbing regularly. Ideally, I’d like to go on a climbing course with my boyfriend and some friends, and get really comfortable with the ropes, so watch this space!
Be able to do multiple pull ups
So far I can manage one, and a half hearted second. I can’t campus up climbing routes and I feel weak not being able to pull myself up effectively. I like feeling strong and capable, and know that improving my upper body strength will improve my confidence and ability with climbing.
Learn to handstand
I only managed to headstand for the first time last year, so I’m not expecting miracles, and being upside down scares me. I reckon if I keep building up my balance and upper body and core strength, I will eventually make it, but only if I practice. I have no other reason to want to do this, other than the fact that I’ve never been able to do it and have always wanted to, since I was a kid.
Be able to do the splits
Again, something I’ve always wanted to achieve and never been able to do, but with splits, I know that improved flexibility is good for my body, and definitely my climbing. Also, let’s be honest, it would be pretty damn cool.
Enjoy road cycling
I hate it at the moment – more on that soon – I am terrified on a bike and don’t want to go out on my own. My first goal is to get comfortable on the bike, and eventually to learn to love it. I understand that people love it and can see why, but I just can’t quite manage to love it when I’m actually on a bike!
My shorter term, ongoing goals to help me achieve some of these long term goals and also just to make me feel good, I’ve split into three sections, with fitness obviously being key for someone who’s trying to take on more and new challenges!
Increase flexibility, stretch for at least 15 minutes as many days as possible
Before bed or after exercise for example. Stretching needs to be consistent for improvements to be seen, and I’m not very consistent. I want to ensure I don’t get injured, so I need to keep my muscles supple, but I’ll also never achieve the splits if I don’t stretch!
Improve upper body strength
A mixture of weights, HIIT and training after climbing should help. I’ve started by trying to make sure I do at least 5 minutes of hangs and attempted pull ups after climbing sessions.
Get outside more, whether hiking, running, cycling or climbing
Especially hiking and cycling, getting outside is the perfect way to explore my country and others for very little money, have a good time, keep fit and socialise.
Keep climbing consistently
Over the past few months I’ve been trying to climb twice a week and I have seen improvements. When I don’t go, I see myself go backwards so quickly. The joy of trying harder routes and managing to push myself a bit more every week reminds me that it’s worth it to keep going.
Stay active every week with a mixture of HIIT, weights, cardio and climbing
I know I won’t manage it all. I did the Body Coach plan in 2016 and I know I can’t keep up the long workouts 5 times a week. But if I can ensure I do some of it every week, I’ll minimise how many peaks and troughs of fitness I go through.
Complete the ride to the Somme
This charity to ride to the Somme for SSAFA is my goal for cycling. The charity helps veterans and their families who have to deal with the ongoing trauma of the effects of war and, having lost family in the First World War, this seems like a fitting tribute to my family, while also feeling like I can help support current soldiers and their families for the fantastic service they provide our country with.
Start and maintain a blog
I’ve had this account for two years. I’ve wanted to start writing about my adventures, to inspire others who are as unsure as I am about whether they can do it. But I’ve ended up having too much fun doing them. So better late than never, this year I am starting my blog and I hope I can inspire or encourage even one other person!
Whether it’s a walk in the countryside in my neighbouring county, or a big trip somewhere, travelling keeps us open to new ideas, people, adventure and possibilities. I love discovering new places and the feeling of excitement that travelling gives me. Even if I have no money, I intend to travel in the UK at least!
Dry brush/exfoliate my legs and arms twice a week
Sometimes it comes down to the small things. Ever since I was born I’ve had bumpy skin on my upper arms. My mum thought it was eczema but the doctors said it wasn’t. It doesn’t bother me, but it’s not smooth and silky. It’s the same with my thighs. I know if I dry brush a couple of times a week it goes away, but that is EFFORT. But I like the result…so….I’m going to try and keep this up.
Drink a little less alcohol
Perhaps exaggerated because of December, I just feel I’ve been drinking a lot lately! I love going to the pub, beers with friends, enjoying delicious wines over dinner and sometimes a nice night cap of whisky. But everything in moderation. If I drink at the weekends I end up not being so productive the following morning, missing the best time to get out and exercise. I don’t want to give up, I’m not doing dry January, but now Christmas is over I’m going to be reigning it back in so I can focus more on my health and fitness.
It seems like quite a lengthy list, but I do most of these things to some level anyway. This serves as a reminder to keep these activities consistent. To not give up, and that there is a good reason to keep going.
I hope you’ve got some positive goals for 2016 and beyond too. It’d be great to hear what yours are and how you’re going to make sure you stick to them, feel free to comment below.
Here’s to 2017!