Join me in my journey into 2021. It’s time for change.
Whew! What a year 2020 was. I will always remember my emotions around this year, as I imagine you will as well. There were many struggles of 2020, as well as some highlights.
As a healthcare provider, working in a hospital, I can honestly say that I survived 2020, I did not thrive in 2020. I can also say that I am ready to choose to thrive in 2021. I am ready to make choices daily that make me a kinder, more compassionate human. Choices that encourage being a better person every day. Choices that encourage physical health, mental health, and spiritual health. I have seen my colleagues around me rally and rise up to the unknown. I have also seen them fatigued, run down and their health slipping away. I feel excited to make this year different. Hope for 2021.
I am not a person who makes yearly New Year’s resolutions. That strategy hasn’t worked for me in the past. And, I would imagine that research would say that most people do not keep their New Year’s resolutions. So, what I have done in the past, that has worked great for me, is to make monthly resolutions. What were some of my monthly resolutions for 2020, you ask? I have no clue. I didn’t keep up with it past February, as a global pandemic was on the rise and I went into fight or flight mode. Fight or flight mode…..For the entire year!
January 1st is right around the corner.
In comes a new year. Happy 2021! This year will be different. This year will start with making deliberate choices to improve my health!
I want to set 500 goals all at once. I want to start on January 1st with a bang. I want to workout every day, including meditation, more water, less work, and more! However, I want to be more focused this year than I was in 2020. In the past years, I have set monthly goals. Each month, I had a different focus. I made different goals for the month, and that would be the main focus.
Hope for 2021…..choose to be 1% better every day
Narrowing my January goals was very challenging. Health. Everything comes back to health. If health is lacking, everything else is harder. Tempers are shorter. Patience is lower. Sleeping is harder. So, I chose to focus on my health for January.
My goals for January are:
- No alcohol. “Dry January” is what the cool kids are calling it, apparently. Alcohol consumption rose in 2020, and I was one who helped that statistic. I know that I feel better, sleep better, and am more clear when I don’t drink. I want 2021 to be all of the above.
- More water. Early on in the pandemic, I really struggled to drink water throughout the day. I would get home from work, not having had a sip of water all day (and then, see the bullet point above-Is their water in wine?). As the year progressed, I was better at navigating water breaks with my mask, shield, and hand sanitizer. However, better was still not enough. My goal isn’t an amount, but it is habits that I will change to drink more. Research shows that if you “marry” a habit with one that is already in place, the new habit will take place faster and be sustained longer. I brush my teeth every morning. I will drink a full glass of water, first thing in the morning, along with brushing my teeth.
- No Spend Month. I know, I know, this isn’t totally health-related. But, it is. I will explain. However, first, let me qualify this, I will still pay all of my bills, buy fresh vegetables, and pay for anything that needs to be paid. I will not buy any “wants.” The health-related part is that I will food prep vs buying any take out/delivery. And, even better, I will food prep as much as I can from the food I already have in my freezer. Win! I just want to get a better handle on my finances as far as all the small spending goes, that adds up quickly.
- Daily movement. This has been a tricky one for me the last few years after some health issues. I come from an endurance background (Ironman Triathlons, 50-mile run, bike tours) and was advised by my MD to “take a break” a few years back. I took a long break. Started doing yoga and hiking. Still wanting more as far as my fitness goes. I am ready to feel like an athlete again. I am ready to be stronger and move better. I am looking for my passion for movement that includes movement, strength, endurance, and community.
Let’s start 2021 with thriving. Controlling that which we can, and letting go of the other “stuff.” Choosing to be 1% better each day. I will be posting a weekly blog, that will follow my monthly goals. I will also be posting my weekly movement goals. Follow along with those too! Or, better yet, choose your own and commit for a month.
Over the course of the last few years, I have been more and more interested in finances, and all that comes with saving, spending, giving, making and more. My interests include helping others to figure out finances. I love when I get texts from friends saying that they no longer live paycheck to paycheck, or that they have an emergency fund set up, or they set up a 401k-the list goes on. When I started my website, I anticipated it being more about movement, because that is what I have lived and breathed for the duration of my adult life. However, the more I help others with tidbits of information here and there, the more I wanted to have a finance tab on my website to have one place that I can direct people to initiate some finance education. So, here we are.
Do you know how much you spend daily? monthly? yearly? When yearly expenses come around, are you scrambling to pay the bill, or moving money around to cover expenses?
The first step that helped me the most as far as finances go was just being aware and keeping track of what I spend. I initially started doing this process via an excel sheet. It took hours. I then found YNAB (You Need a Budget) and this has been a game changer for me. To say I love it is an understatement. To say that it has changed the way I think about finances is also an understatement. I have since used this platform daily in order to track finances. IT was a steep learning curve for me. I actually started it with their free 40 day (ish) trial and stopped. I picked it back up again a few months later, dove in head first and have never looked back.
Your products and how to make them 1% better, or more, for your health and the health of our environment.
First and foremost, I am not advocating buying products that you don’t already purchase. I am advocating buying products that you already buy that are higher quality/clean products.
As I continue my research, I have heard of “toxic load” or “endocrine disruptors” a few times but didn’t really understand what they meant for my life. A friend invited me to a zoom meeting about endocrine disruptors, and I went down the rabbit hole of research from there. It’s surprising to learn that there are many aspects of our beauty products that are not only unhealthy for us but are actually detrimental to our health and our environment. Did you know that there are things in most cleaning products that we use that can be interfering with our hormones? Interfering with the messaging system of our bodies?
Some of the most researched ones include Parabens, bisphenols, and phthalates. Go ahead. I will wait here while you go check your shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, beauty product, cleaning products, etc for these names.
There are many other big names that you want to avoid. They all have long, hard-to-pronounce names. One site that is a great resource to help sift through some of the information out there is https://www.ewg.org. You can put your products in a search bar and it tells you your risk, based on different aspects of your health. Check it out for the products you already have.
Once this information became apparent to how damaging this could be to our health, the decision was made for change. Starting with products that are used frequently, I changed out my shampoo, conditioner, face soap, and body soap. The products felt amazing and I received a lot of compliments on how good my hair looked immediately. Further research ensued and all of the products that I use were changed out. I even started using a night moisturizer and morning moisturizer, which I have never used in the past.
The more research I did, the more I loved these products. The companies mission involves many things that resonate, including providing products that are sustainable and reliably sourced, multi-taskers, and providing healthy, glowing skin. They are working hard to get these products in recyclable containers, refillable containers, and made from recyclable materials.
There is currently (as of April 15th, 2021) a 20% off for all new customers. Check it out and let me know if you have any questions:
We always have a choice in life. We may not like the choices we have to choose from, but we can always choose how we react, our attitude, how we treat others, how we treat ourselves, our inner voice, and so much more. For 2020, I had a lot of excuses and didn’t always choose the healthy choice in life. I usually go big. All at once. And then start over. I been thinking a lot lately about what life would look like if I chose to be 1% better daily. Small changes add up.
Choose: Pick by preference. To prefer, or decide. To want; desire.
One: Single unit.
Percent: One one-hundredth of a part (1/100)
I am a lifelong learner. My goal is to be an expert in my career. It has been my goal for the last 20+ years. Learn. Know more. The more I know, the more I realize I have so much more to learn.
I strive to help my patients get back to their desired function, faster. Better than before. Inspiring for them to want to move better.
Recently, my goals have expanded. I want to be better in more areas in life aside from physical therapy. I want to learn more about finances and to be more deliberate with money and what I spend money on. I want to move better, so I can be pain-free and play with my niece and nephew. I desire to be aware of my community, the earth, how to help others, how to love people more. I want to be more patient. Kinder. I want to know more about politics. Just kidding, I want to stick my head in the sand when it comes to politics, but I should want to learn more about politics.
When the “time out” started (thanks COVID-19), I had more time to take a step back and think about what I wanted life to look like. I had been working 5 jobs. One job was full time, the other 4 were very part-time. I loved what I was doing, but it wasn’t sustainable. COVID made three of them disappear, at least for the time being. I now had the opportunity to reflect on life and think about what I wanted to change. I was able to think about which ones I wanted to go back to, and what else I wanted to change.
The path I choose will always involve helping others choose to be 1% better each day.
Enter, the blog.
Why “Choose One Percent?”
I don’t have any tattoos. Not even the “M Dot” everyone gets when they cross the finish line of an Ironman Triathlon. If I were to get a tattoo, it would be the word “choose.” Through life’s ups and downs, I always went back to this word. I get to choose how I react to things. I get to choose how I act and what I say. I get to choose to move on or wallow in my sadness after breakups. The wallow has won out longer than I have wanted in the past. However, it always comes back to choice for me. What is important is taking action to show this in life.
Will you choose to react differently today? How will we grow in 2021?
What would life look like if we strive to be 1% better every day? One percent. Every day. In all areas of life, little by little. I have done challenges in the past. New years resolutions. Monthly goals. What if I chose, daily, a little bit better? I still have goals: move better, be stronger, save more, spend less, learn more, love more, be more patient and the list goes on. I now have a daily roadmap in which to challenge myself.
What will you do today that will make you 1% better?
Hanging. How many of you used to play on a playground when you were little? You could swing yourself across the monkey bars easily? Who has done that recently? Let’s chat about grip strength. Again, we lose it as we age. If you have been following along for the last couple of months, are you seeing a theme of strength loss with age? It’s true. And, even more true, we have the control to change this. It will just take a plan and some work.
Standing up from the ground. As a physical therapist, I often practice this with my elderly patients. It is an important skill to have, often times under the umbrella of “fall recovery.” If someone falls, how do they get themselves back up? Over the last year or two, I have noticed that this is more difficult for me. I can do it, but it’s not this quick, easy, graceful flow of standing up. This needed to change. So, I added these two movement patterns into my last workout!
I set a timer for 30 minutes and did the following circuit, as many times through as time allowed:
- Hanging from a bar. I did three repetitions, all until fatigue. The first time doing this workout, I lasted 5 seconds each time I hung from the bar! There was plenty of room for improvement here.
- Ring rows X20. This is a great posture strengthening movement, as well as core!
- Ab roller X10. Yes, the ab roller from the 80’s (?) is what I used to activate my core.
- Lateral step-ups to a 12″ box X10/side. This is an interesting one for me because I can do it with no problem on my left side, but my right side is much more of a struggle. This is something that I notice too when I am doing lunges or standing from the ground: my left side forwards is much easier than my right side forwards. There is room for improvement here too.
- Floor transfers, 2X/side. There are so many variations to how you can do this. I like Turkish Get-ups if you want to follow a specific, step-by-step plan. On this particular workout, I just did what felt natural with standing from the floor- rolling to the right twice and then the left twice.
In listening to a podcast last night, the host was talking about different milestones which people should be able to hit at various ages in order to have longevity with movement well into the aging process. There were different aspects of movement that the podcast host spoke about, including standing on one leg, standing up from the ground, long jumping, and more.
The podcast ended up just saying “never stop playing.”
This resonated with me. As a physical therapist, I have many of my patients crawl. Back to one of their first movement patterns. Crawling is a foundational movement pattern that people struggle to do correctly after they stop doing it many years earlier, or if they are injured.
At this point, I would hope that you have stopped reading what is on this page and slithered to the floor in order to see how you do with crawling. Go try. I will wait.
How was it? Did you try forwards? Backward? Sideways? Upstairs? Downstairs? Over different surfaces?
Was your crawling reciprocal? For example, did you move your right arm and left leg forwards at the same time, then change to your left arm and right leg forwards at the same time?
Were you strong in your shoulder blade/stability muscles, or was there a “valley” between your shoulder blades? I cue patients to “push the earth away” or “pretend there is a fire coming towards your chest.”
Was your neck lined up with your back, or was it hanging forwards, towards the ground?
Did you have pain while you were crawling? Did you feel better after you got back up on your feet and started walking again? What did you notice about your walking after crawling?
Do you want to learn how to move better? Watch kids move. Watch how they lift blocks from the ground. Look at their squat in picking something up off of the ground. As we age, many stop moving correctly. How will you work this week to move a little better?
Most importantly, how will you play today?
For my 40th birthday, I took myself on an adventure to Iceland. It was beyond amazing with snow caves, glacier hiking, waterfalls, snowshoeing, connecting with like-minded adventurists, and more! Adventuring. I always want to be able to get up and go on active adventures, at any time. This is the overarching goal as I think about my February goal. The goal: stronger every day.
As we age, we need more strength than we do cardiovascular endurance. Don’t get me wrong, we need both. However, the strength we lose decade after decade is incredible. The good new is, we can do something to combat this! We have control over our strength. I have always loved cardio. In the past, it was triathlons and ultraruns. Lately, it is backpacking and hiking. In the back of my mind, I have always known that I need to work on my strength. It wasn’t until it started taking more to get up off of the floor that I took it seriously. However, never serious enough. Welcome to my February goal! I have a plan that includes daily strength.
The February calendar will have daily strength, Monday-Friday. Each day will consist of 10 min of core and 20-30 min of strength (broken up by upper, lower, body weight and full body).
I could (and will someday) have an entire blog dedicated to the core. As a physical therapist, I have learned many ways to engage our core. I have never loved having someone “tighten your core.” I have always looked for ways to use our core without it being a conscious act. If we look at how kids move, we do not have to tell them to tighten their core prior to them lifting their blocks or toys from the ground. We should automatically engage our core. At some point, we lose this automatic engagement: pain in the past, poor motor patterns, trying to avoid current pain, and many more reasons.
My 10 min of daily core will not consist of situps, crunches, or planks. These are common exercises people do for their “6 pack abs.” They are not inherently bad exercises, just not ones that I see as optimal, or functional.
Some of the core exercises I will be doing will include:
- quadruped alternate upper and lower extremity
- farmer carry
- plank with shoulder tap
- ring rows (two arms or single arm)
- pull-ups (or some variation)
- floor to overhead movement of the weight
- many, many more…..
What is your February goal? What plan do you have in place in order to be successful in achieving this goal?
What movements will you pick for your 30 minutes of strengthening?
Let’s look back at our January goals and see how we feel!
My goals were:
- No alcohol. I felt great! I know I feel better and sleep better when I don’t drink. This was no exception. I felt amazing! I slept incredibly! I won’t go back to drinking like I did was in quarantine. I will have a glass of wine with friends, but leave the rest. I love the way I feel!
- More water. More work is needed for this goal. I need to figure out how to drink more water throughout the day, especially at work. The mask and shield encourage me to forget to drink, and then I try to make up for it when I get home from work and that doesn’t work. I will continue this goal into February, but I will have steps in which to achieve this goal.
- No Spend Month. Success! I feel successful with this goal. I have been using YNAB (You Need A Budget) for the past 3 months. This has been eye-opening as to what I spend money on. My grocery budget was WAY higher than I thought (wine is expensive!). And, I had a lot of food to eat in the deep freeze that I wanted to get through. This month, I learned to be more deliberate with my grocery money, meal prep, and use what I had. I will continue the findings into February.
- Daily movement. Yes Yes and Yes! This was a game-changer month for me. I finally found something that I love! My new found app works for my desire for improving cardio, strength, mobility, and more! I have loved the Peloton app (discount code: 7F7RJ6). I have dripped sweat daily, and finally feel like an athlete again (more on this later)!
What were your January goals?
How do you feel about your success?
What new habits will you carry over into February?
Finding a passion for movement….again
When I was an undergrad, I remember waking up early and running a mile loop around the neighborhood with a few roommates. It was cold. I was always last, but I was out there. Making steps to be healthier and at the same time, connecting to my community. Always feeling better for getting it done. This escalated from a 10k to a 50-mile run, from multiple half Ironmans to 5 full Ironmans. Nothing beats the feeling of crossing the Ironman finish line for the first time and hearing Mike Reilly calling out your name!
There was a strong passion for training for triathlons, racing them, and finding some incredible friends through the triathlon and endurance community. Multiple half Ironmans, 5 Ironmans, a 50-mile run, cycling to San Diego solo, as well as a plethora of other races. Fast forwards a few years, and for multiple reasons (and let’s be real, a lot of excuses later), I have struggled to find a passion that includes what my body needs now: strength and mobility and what my mind craves: community.
There are a plethora of online resources out there, and now that the community is opening back up (slowly, thanks COVID!), there are a lot of local community gyms. As we get older (after our 20s!), we need more strength and less cardio. Finally, after a lot of searching, trial and error, and frustration, I found my passion again! For the last 5 weeks, I have been cycling, lifting weights, stretching, doing yoga, meditation and so much more. All of this, with the sense of competition that many desire as well as community (albeit, an online community). Keep searching for your passion. You will find it.
This week, I challenge you to go online (or in-person once this is allowed!) and find a fitness class that you might enjoy. Maybe even try something new. Something out of your comfort zone.
As I was brainstorming ideas for goals for the upcoming year, I kept coming back to one question: what is my why? Why do I want these to be my goals? What do I want to accomplish with this? How hard am I willing to work to achieve these goals?
What is your why?
I started this year out with a health goal because without my health, it’s harder to do other things. Not impossible, just harder. I work in a hospital and see sickness daily. I see people of all ages, struggling to move. Struggling to get in and out of bed, to walk down the hallways, to walk up and down the stairs. Health is of the utmost importance for daily function.
I have “tweaked” my back a few times over the last 10 years. The first thought that always occurs to me is “I am a physical therapist, I should know how to keep my back healthy!” Then, I spend the next few days having a hard time moving, not sleeping well, not working, not seeing friends, and not living the life I want to live. I never want to have that pain I experienced with back pain again. I never want to be sidelined from life again, even if it was just a short period of time (although it felt like forever!).
What is your why?
Your “why” should be stronger than your excuses. It should be something that you think about and it motivates you to start and to not quit when you are halfway through, feeling like you want to stop. Your why should be strong enough to get you through those times. We need a strong why.
What are some possibilities of your why as it relates to a health goal?
- being able to play with your kids, nieces, nephews, and grandkids
- Standing from the floor with ease
- Getting out of bed without pain
- Traveling and exploring with endless energy
- Having steady energy throughout the day
- Moving with ease, with no pain
Overall being the healthiest version that we can be, 1% at a time. What are some of your reasons?
How will you Move More this week?
What does your week of movement look like? My goal is to be stronger and move better. One of my favorite things to do when I am pressed for time is Tabata workouts. This consists of 20 seconds of work (pick a movement, any movement) and 10 seconds of rest. I like to pick 4-6 movements, depending on the amount of time I have. There is an unlimited possibility of movements which you can choose from. Some of these include squats, lunges, push-ups, ring rows, step-ups, side lunges, mountain climbers, jump rope, and many, many more.
When I think about what movements I will choose, I think about two aspects.
- Am I using different muscle groups? If I do a push-up (chest/arm muscles), what will I then do to balance this with a back exercise (example: ring rows).
- Overall, I try to choose exercises that are single leg/single arm vs both at the same time. For example, a lunge vs a squat. The reason for this: I am weaker on my right side. When I do lunges, I struggle a little bit more to stand up with my right leg forwards. When I do squats, I don’t notice the asymmetry. Don’t get me wrong, squats aren’t a bad exercise to do. I need to focus on cleaning up my asymmetric movement patterns, so when I do a squat, I will add weight to one side to force me to work harder on one side and then switch sides that the weight is in for the next round.
I challenge you to take this week and try a few Tabata workouts. I also challenge you to look at movements that focus on one side at a time and see if you notice any asymmetries in your movement patterns. Of note, no movement should cause any kind of pain. Modify, modify, modify.
Example workout of 4 movements I would choose:
- side step-ups
- plank with shoulder tap
- quadruped alternate arm/leg (see picture above)
Over the course of the last few years, I have been more and more interested in finances, and all that comes with saving, spending, giving, making and more. My interests include helping others to figure out finances. I love when I get texts from friends saying that they no longer live paycheck to paycheck, or … Continue reading Budgeting
First and foremost, I am not advocating buying products that you don’t already purchase. I am advocating buying products that you already buy that are higher quality/clean products. As I continue my research, I have heard of “toxic load” or “endocrine disruptors” a few times but didn’t really understand what they meant for my life. … Continue reading Your products and how to make them 1% better, or more, for your health and the health of our environment.
We always have a choice in life. We may not like the choices we have to choose from, but we can always choose how we react, our attitude, how we treat others, how we treat ourselves, our inner voice, and so much more. For 2020, I had a lot of excuses and didn’t always choose … Continue reading How will you choose to make life 1% better every day?
Hanging. How many of you used to play on a playground when you were little? You could swing yourself across the monkey bars easily? Who has done that recently? Let’s chat about grip strength. Again, we lose it as we age. If you have been following along for the last couple of months, are you … Continue reading Monday Movement: Hanging and Getting Up