I love my day job and where I work, however I do wish it was a little bit closer to where I live. In the winter I can sometimes spend over two hours a day driving in my car. Recently, I decided to think on how I could spend this time in a more meaningful way and take advantage of what could actually be seen as downtime in my otherwise crazy schedule. Where I landed was to use these hours to work on self-growth, and ultimately fell in love with listening to audible books and podcasts. One of the very first books I listened to, and fell in love with, was "Girl, Wash Your Face" by Rachel Hollis. If you haven't read or listened to this, I would highly recommend. One of the most powerful chapters, and what inspired this post, was regarding commitments and how to work on maintaining them, especially to yourself.
Did you know that you are normally the first person you break a promise to? It's much easier to let yourself down than it is to let other people down - you generally feel a greater sense of guilt for the latter. However, the promises you make to yourself are actually the most important. What if you had a friend who constantly let you down? You would probably start to think negatively towards them in some way. Well, that same phenomenon applies to the way you think about you. Breaking promises and commitments to yourself can lead to a negative sense of mental health, and a feeling that you are not worthy enough to have others keep their commitments to you.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been nothing short of life-changing for every person around the world. It has changed the way we work, the way we shop, the way we eat, and in fact the way we live our every day lives. It's now strange to think about when we will be able to have physical contact with another person that we don't live with, and even much less important things such as have a 'normal' trip to the store, or to go see a movie in a theater. As someone who has struggled with mental health, this idea, along with quarantining for several weeks has led me to breaking many commitments to myself.
The first commitment that went swiftly out the window was my fitness and health routine. Before the pandemic, I had a very regulated schedule. Monday, Tuesdays and Saturdays I would go to Orangetheory Fitness with my husband. Wednesdays I did boxing with my friend, Dawson, and generally on Thursdays I would go for a run straight after work with my dogs. As a routine oriented person, this worked for me. It was something I could easily stick to, I knew what to expect the next day, and I loved it. In all honesty, I generally felt lost when I was no longer able to go to these various places. As such, I quickly stopped working out.
It started with just telling myself - "I'll work out later tonight." Which turned turned into - "I'll workout tomorrow," - which then ultimately led to not working out at all. I started to snack more, gain weight and feel badly about the way I looked. You can see here just how quickly breaking one promise/commitment to myself led to an even larger overall change in my habits and the way I thought about myself.
Things did get on the right track, however, when i got an email from one of my previous class coaches where she simply asked me how things were going. Right then and there as I was typing (and having to say that I had taken several steps backwards) I knew I had to do something differently. I was not just letting her down - I was letting myself down. It fueled a passion inside me, and reminded me to think back on Rachel's advice to "never break a promise to yourself." I can proudly say, I have not broken a single promise about my fitness routine to myself for over a month, and I couldn't be happier. This didn't come without effort, struggles, and a lot of soreness. However, there were some simple steps that I found helpful along the way.
Set a Goal
The first step is to set a goal, and to make that promise to yourself. This could be a small goal, or it could be a large goal. Quite frankly this goal can be anything you'd like, however, I suggest following the S.M.A.R.T goal setting method.
What is S.M.A.R.T?
Specific – What are you trying to achieve? Make sure that your goal is specific, versus a general statement. The more specific a goal is the more you are able to determine if, when and how you will be able to reach or exceed your goal.
Measurable – What metrics are you going to use to determine if you met this goal? A goal is easier to measure the less subjective it is.
Achievable – I think this is one of the most important aspects of this model. As I said before, you have to walk before you can jog, and jog before you can sprint. If you haven’t run previously, or don’t like to run in the first place – running a half marathon two months from now may not be an achievable goal. Setting an unachievable goal can cause you to become extremely discouraged, very quickly. Trust me I’ve done it (that half marathon goal was one I tried, and failed, to accomplish in 2016). Think about what your interests are. You want to challenge yourself, but you also want to make sure it’s something that you can attain and then continue to build on year after year.
Realistic – Can you achieve your goal realistically thinking about your current time commitments, and other barriers that you may experience?
Timely – You will want to set a time limit for your goals, which can be a little bit tricky! You won’t want it too far in the future that you can’t imagine achieving it, but you also don’t want to give yourself too short of a time frame that is not achievable, realistic, etc.
Track Your Goals
Who doesn't like crossing things off of their 'to-do' list? The sense of accomplishment for that one day could be enough for you to do the same thing the next day!
Make yourself accountable to the goal you set out to complete, and to yourself! There are many options and methods for tracking. You can track your goals by writing your schedule out on a calendar, using an app such as My Fitness Tracker, or find an accountability partner to talk with. Find the one that works best for you!
Don't Let One Day Throw You Off Track
Let's be honest - life happens. It gets in the way at the most inconvenient of times. There may be a time when you ultimately have to break a promise to yourself. However, don't let that day become the next day, and the day after that. Giving yourself rest is important, but after that rest make sure you jump right back into it!
And Finally, Put on a Great Workout Outfit
Alright - you may think I'm crazy here however when I look good, I feel good. I believe even at home it is extremely important to wear clothes, especially workout outfits, that make you feel beautiful and confident. The more I feel confident, the more it mentally makes we want to keep going with what I started in the first place.
And P.S. - workout outfits don't have to be expensive. All three of these outfits were found on Amazon and each piece was under $30!