This time of year is typically marked with family, friends, celebrations, and New Year goals. Undoubtedly, some of the most widespread goals are always linked to physical health and gyms everywhere rejoice! I had a friend who used to tell me she would never go to the gym in January and February because it is insanely packed, but, come March, the people traffic has died down. That whole concept is very interesting. I mean, at this point, New Year’s resolutions can be boiled down to January and February resolutions. But the whole year? For most of us, it’s not.
Awhile ago I ran across a picture of the first woman to complete the Boston Marathon. Her name is Katherine Switzer and the year was 1967, when women were thought too weak to run long distances. Although she trained, although she was fully capable, and although she, like all of the men, deserved to prove it to herself, she experienced harassment and ridicule. In her memoir,Marathon Woman, she explains that just after being physically harassed by other runners, she told her running coach:
You know that guy Jock has gone up ahead and is probably arranging for one of those big Irish cops to arrest us when nobody is looking. If it happens, I am resisting arrest, okay? And something else.” I turned to Arnie and looked him in the eye. “Arnie, I’m not sure where you stand in this now. But no matter what, I have to finish this race. Even if you can’t, I have to—even on my hands and knees. If I don’t finish, people will say women can’t do it, and they will say I was just doing this for the publicity or something. So you need to do whatever you want to do, but I’m finishing (Switzer, 1967).
Every time I read this, something ignites inside of me. She is a trailblazer and through her commitment she has helped set a stage for women athletes. She was committed to run and she was committed to finish, because it became something more than the run. Somewhere in all of us there’s that determined piece in our brain that moves beyond the task at hand and quitting is no longer an option. Let’s find yours this year and start blazing trails everywhere!
When you look at your own life, it may be helpful to ask yourself, “How can I be a trailblazer?” You may say you have no interest in it, but I would challenge that. You don’t have to do heavy scale work to be a trailblazer. Dream big, but start small. You can be the first woman in your family to run a 5k, or the first woman among your friends to figure out how in the world to exercise with children. Remember: this blog is not just for current athletes, this blog is for women of all ages and of all capabilities. Just because you may not have been involved in health or fitness before, it is NEVER too late to start life changing habits. What can you do this coming year to set the stage for your lifestyle change?
When I was 16, I started a personal tradition. It was a way for me to make sure at least some of my New Year’s resolutions made it past February. I would write down all my goals for the year, making most of them realistic and measureable. For example, the first few years I did this, one of my goals was to take my contacts out every night. That obviously did not happen, so that little goal made its way through 5 rounds of New Year planning. Today, I’m happy to disclose that I no longer have that problem, and the contacts sit in their little case every night…PHEW. Anyway, each year on New Year’s Eve, I take out my goal list, reflect on the things I was able to accomplish and the challenges I had. Then, I make my new list, many times with the same goals transferring over and I start again with a better plan. Although I LOVE my yearly lists, they are really just stepping blocks to what I like to call: My Life List. My Life List consists of all my major goals, like Climbing Mount Everest, being a good friend, and walking/running across America. Although I know in 2015 I won’t be setting trek across the US, each yearly list I make helps me become the person that will. At 16, I never would have believed I would run a 100 mile race when I was 31, because at 16 I wouldn’t have been able to. Yet, setting and accomplishing my yearly goals gradually pave the way for me to discover the limits of my physical and mental capabilities.
So, you may be thinking in your head: I don’t like to exercise, I’ve tried everything before, I like food too much, or I don’t have the time for this. If you’re thinking it, someone else has, too, and I’m sure most people can relate. But, you have to believe there is something out there that will captivate you. Moving beyond fitness and healthy eating, look at your life from a holistic point of view and overall health and happiness. What brings you joy? What do you love? We find ourselves in the things that we love, so write those things down. Get creative and think outside of the box, and take these next few weeks to really start to discover parts of yourself you didn’t know were there. Actively discovering who you are is an amazing journey, and one that will surely change you for the better.
Over the next month I will be dishing out my top tips for the most committed year of your life. By January 1st, you will be prepared, motivated, and more determined than ever to reach your life goals and become the better you. So stay tuned!