goal setting

3 types of resolutions

Happy New Year, and welcome to 2016!

Millions of people will be making new year resolutions this year, trying to make themselves into a better version of themself. Unfortunately, today being January 2nd, probably about half of these people have already failed.

Here are some simple thoughts about the three different types of resolutions (goals):

Quitting: Trying to quit a 'bad' habit is the hardest of all the goals. Stop smoking, stop drinking, stop checking facebook, etc. These are excellent goals and will definitely make for a better, more healthy you.

The challenge is because they never end. Everytime you have a craving, you have to fight it off. And then, if you have another craving even 5 minutes later, you have to fight it off again. (It's kind of like the terminator in that regard.)

Don't take these goals lightly. Yes they are worth going after, but only if you have a full game plan in place and you're completely dedicated to winning.

Multiple Process Goals: Something like losing weight, which is an excellent goal and one which will have many positive impacts on your life, but it's not as simple as it sounds.

You'll probably have an 'eating' component, and an 'exercise' component, and each one of those can have sub-goals and daily opportunities for success or failure.

Single Task Goals: These goals are straight forward, easy to identify, count, and track. An example would be something like 'exercise 3 days per week'. You can plan for this, do it, and check it off your list.

These goals might not be easy, but they are more likely to be successful, because they can be tracked at the task level.

Summary

You can be successful at any goal you choose, as long as you can break that goal down into actionable (and trackable) events, and then you go after it with passion and dedication.

Happy 2016!

- Chris Butterworth

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holidays, resolutions, and 2016 programming notes

Here we are at the midway point between Christmas and New Year's - smack dab in the middle of The Holidays. I thought I'd share a few quick thoughts today:

Holidays - I hope you enjoyed a great Christmas (or whatever holiday you celebrate), and that New Year's will be fun and safe. I write a lot about diet and exercise as means to health and fitness, but physical fitness alone doesn't get you to the finish line. It's also important to be healthy emotionally, and spiritually. This is a great time to celebrate, explore, and connect with your family, your friendships, and your faith.

Resolutions - the social webs will be filled with resolution advice, so I'm not going to bother with details you can find a hundred times over. But I do want to stress a couple points:

1.) Choose Resolution(s) that matter. Whether it's one simple thing, or a complete lifestyle overhaul, choose a resolution that will make a difference to your life, and then see it through will all the energy, focus, and passion you can conjure. Be resolute in your success.

2.) Start Anytime. If there's something you want to change in your life, why wait until next week? Start today! Or start any other time.. If something strikes you in March, or over the summer - simply pick a day and get after it. Give it all you've got - no holds barred. Success doesn't have to start with January 1st.

2016 Programming Notes - This will be my last post of the year. I finished 2015 eight posts shy of my writing goal; the problem is that my goal was way too low. I've been asked by a number of people to write more frequently, so I will try to do that in 2016. However, because there are only so many hours in the day (and I'm not willing to give up any more sleep or any more workouts in order to write more), there will have to be a trade-off:

In 2016, look for more frequents posts, but also for shorter posts. My typical post has generally been 800 - 1,000 words, along with a photo or two and several highlighted links. I think I can convey the meat of most topics with a shorter, text-based article. At the very least, let's give it a try and see how it goes.

I'd love to hear your feedback in the coming months - let me know what you think..

Farewell, 2015. We enjoyed your time.

Welcome, 2016. We're looking forward to another terrific year!

- Chris Butterworth

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200 posts ago: fit-20 workout - July 4th edition

100 posts ago: making your own trail mix

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checking in on my fitness plan

I've been challenging myself to the same weekly goal since mid-September (you can read the challenge here). Now, 3 months later, seems like a good time to reflect on what I've learned:

Success
  • Big success will come when you have enough little successes to keep it company. Running a couple miles in the morning doesn't feel like anything Earth-shattering; heck, it's not even worth sharing on social media. But the results add up:
  • I had previously only run 50 miles in a month once before; I've now done it two months IN A ROW! (and I'm getting close to the mark for this month too!)
  • On a weekly basis, I had clocked 10 miles only 20 times, with the last one being 67 weeks previously. I have now run 10 miles 9 weeks in a row and 12 of the last 13!
  • You can't short-cut success, anymore than you can wake up one morning and decide to run a marathon. But a short run, everyday, adds up to a lot of miles.


Running in the Cold
  • Is Hard - my very first post on this blog was titled "Running in the cold is hard", and I still think that's true. But I've learned a few things this winter which have made it easier:
  • Gear Matters - As the morning lows have dropped from the 60's through the 50's and 40's and down into the 30's, I've been able to wear the right gear - which makes the cold a little more bearable.
    • Ear Band - a simple, inexpensive fleece headband to cover my ears has made a world of difference. I can't explain why I've never used one of these before.
    • Layers - base layer long sleeve, short sleeve t-shirt, long sleeve microfiber running sweatshirt, long sleeve baggy cotton t-shirt, and I'm out the door! When the temperature is mid-30's or less, I'll skip the last cotton t-shirt and replace it with a heavier cotton sweatshirt. For bottoms, I've been fine with track pants all the way down to 32 degrees. (my coldest run so far.)
    • Gloves - warm hands are a big deal (almost as much as warm ears), but I didn't like wearing gloves. Luckily my long sleeve microfiber running shirt has really long sleeves, so I've been pulling the sleeves down over my hands, and it works great.
    • Feet / Socks - I generally run in Luna Sandals (more on that here), and I rode the cold weather all the way down to 32 in my Lunas. However, that last week of 36, 35, 32 sucked, and my toes were numb after 10 minutes of running each day. I've since decided that anything lower than 38 degrees deserves socks and "typical" shoes.
  • Patience, and Savor your Victories - when it's really cold outside (or wet, or windy), I know before I even start that I'm not going to break a speed record that day. So I give myself permission to run at whatever pace my body wants to run. The victory comes from taming the "lazy beast", keeping the streak alive, and adding miles to my body's fitness, and from doing something all my friends think is crazy. (Maybe I am crazy, but I get a bit of pleasure from knowing I'm the only one out there getting it done.)


Consistency Wins
  • Before the Run - Sometimes I don't want to get out of bed in the morning. Simply rolling my feet over the side of the bed is a huge victory. However,
  • After the Run - I have not once, repeat - not one time, finished the run and thought I would have been better off with another half hour's sleep. I might wish I had gone to bed earlier the night before, but I've never felt like the run was a bad idea.
  • Pace - it's difficult to explain how much better I am at running today than I was 3-4 months ago. My fastest times are faster than they were, which is to be expected. But what's unexpected is just how much easier running has become. My "slow" runs today, where I'm just cruising along at a fairly easy pace without breathing too heavy or exerting myself too much, are at about the same pace as my "fast" runs used to be.
  • Endurance - My 2.25 mile baseline course around the neighborhood - it used to feel like a workout and today feels like a warm-up.

Conclusion
  • It's been 13 weeks - that's a long time compared to one week, but it's a drop in the bucket in the grand scheme of things. That being said, it's a great start.
  • I'm not a marathoner, and I'm not even very fast compared to the "real" runners out there. But I feel a lot more comfortable running than I used to, and I'm getting faster.
  • Add to all this running that I'm able to do more push-ups and pull-ups than I could 3 months ago, and I'm more flexible than I was, and that my weight has remained constant while at the same time I've been able to increase my meal portions - and it feels like a win-win-win.

I think I'm going to stick with this program for awhile longer - maybe I'll revisit this post in the spring..

- Chris Butterworth

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200 posts ago: links I like 07-03-12


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should you use a fitness tracking app on your phone?

If you're trying to accomplish something specific, such as losing weight, gaining strength, or running a marathon, it's important to keep track of your progress.

There are scores of smartphone apps available to help you keep track. The question is: should you use one, and which one should you use?

I love tracking data, and I love technology. But these apps are only useful if they make your life better or easier.

I've been using RunKeeper to track my running for almost 5 years now. It works for me because I like having my phone with me when I run (just in case I need it), so I don't have to do anything extra except push the start button, and RunKeeper does the rest.

I've tried using LoseIt! and My Fitness Pal as food journals, but I've found myself spending too much time trying to log my foods. Since I spend most of my working day in front of a computer, it's just faster and easier to look things up online rather than on my phone.

The key is to do what works for you. Smart phone app, computer spreadsheet, pencil and paper - it doesn't matter.

Have a plan, keep track of how you're doing against that plan, and adjust as necessary. It's that simple.

- Chris Butterworth

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my fitness plan 092015

You're only in shape for whatever it is you're in shape for. These days I'm trying to stay generally fit - I don't have a big race on the horizon, and I'm not hiking the canyon anytime soon - I just want to stay healthy and fit.

So what's my current workout plan, and why?

Running
  • 10 miles per week, or more.
  • at least 5 runs per week (and preferably 6).
    • Mon - 2 miles fast
    • Tues - 2 miles slow
    • Wed - 1 mile fast
    • Thurs - 3 miles slow
    • Fri - 18 minutes of 1-minute intervals (one minute running fast; one minute recovering at a slow jog; repeat)
    • Sat or Sun - 2 or 3 miles slow, or a nice trail run.
  • I typically run early in the morning, first thing, before eating or drinking anything. I just get out of bed and go.
  • Stretching - I'm enjoying some stretching while cooling down after running on most mornings. This is a big change for someone as non-flexible as me - maybe one day I'll be almost flexible...


  • 3 times per week, do one or the other (alternate exercises each time)
  • 3-4 sets at a time, in rapid succession, of as many as I can do.
  • Add in some extra core work if I have anything left in the tank.
    • For pull-ups, this means knee lifts or leg raises.
    • For push-ups, I can do planks or dozens of other variations.
  • I generally do these in the evening after work.


Why this Plan?
  • The running / push-ups / pull-ups combination gives me a good mix of cardio and strength training.
  • I did this workout a lot over the summer and really enjoyed it.
  • I like how I feel when I'm in "running shape", and I like how I look when I'm in "pull-up shape".


Why these distances / reps?
  • A goal should be attainable, but not easy.
  • I've used RunKeeper to track all my runs since 1/1/2011, and the data shows I've run 10 miles in a week 20 times since then (out of 247 weeks.) I haven't run 10 miles in a week yet in 2015, and I only did it 5 weeks in all of 2014 - with the last one being in May 2014 (approx 67 weeks ago.)
    • This goal is doable, since I've done it many times in the past.
    • But it won't be easy, since I haven't been able to do it very often. Getting 10 miles in on a consistent basis will be challenging, and hopefully rewarding.
  • As for the reps on push-ups and pull-ups - I want to feel sore enough to know I worked out, but not too sore to be comfortable the next day. I also want to get stronger over time, but I don't need to look like a body builder to feel successful. Enough is enough - no need to overdo it.
  • I wrote about the optimal amount of exercise a few months ago - this should be more than enough to stay fit and healthy, without being excessive.
  • I'm thinking this might be a worthwhile plan for the next year, but I'm going to commit myself to it for the next 10 weeks, and re-assess from there.


Eating is King

As always, diet has a larger impact on weight than exercise, unless you're working out for several hours a day. So I'll want to continue to eat a reasonable amount of real foods (or as close to real as practical) to maintain my target weight. Running several days in a row does not give one free license to eat unlimited amounts of fast food!

So there you have it.

Simple, but not easy. Attainable, but not without consistent dedication. And rewarding - I should be in "fit and healthy" shape when my 10 weeks are up (the week after Thanksgiving, coincidentally, and speaking of eating reasonable amounts...)


- Chris Butterworth

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200 Posts ago: Fit-20 Workout 06-27-12


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small. consistent. big.

Small, done consistently, becomes big.

We see it everyday, without even realizing it.

  • That guy in your office who used to be a lot bigger? He didn't just drop 60 pounds one day last year - he lost those 60 lbs a little bit at a time over the course of the last year. You just didn't notice it right away because each week's change was so small.
  • That friend of yours who's been posting on Facebook about her first marathon? She didn't just decide last week to run in the race next month - she's been training for it, running a little bit further each week than the last. Heck, she probably couldn't run a full 3 miles without walking on her first training session.
  • Those giant-sized, high school aged people living in your house and emptying the refrigerator daily? They used to be those cute little kids who looked so grown up ten years ago when you dropped them off at their first day of school. Turns out they've been growing and maturing, a little imperceptible amount each day, for a long time.


Today is probably not the day you're going to achieve your goal - your end goal will be the accumulation of lots and lots of tiny victories compiled over a much longer time period.

But today could be the day you lose your goal. Apathy, laziness, and just "not doing it" are the enemies of actions achieving goals.

Keep your eye on that big goal way out in front of you. And keep moving forward, one small step at a time.

- Chris Butterworth

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my diet starts next week

Have you ever heard someone talk about next week's diet, while gleefully shoving another piece of cake down their neck?

It's one thing to choose a future dated starting point because you want to get your ducks in a row before you start. Maybe you're spending time this week:
  • Researching calorie counts of the foods you eat most often.
  • Researching ideas and building a menu of foods you should be eating, or re-calibrating portion sizes of foods you already eat.
  • Tracking your current eating habits, to be more aware of potential pitfalls.
  • Clearing your pantry of the worst offenders and shopping for better alternatives.
  • Taking the first step forward with a 1, 2, 3 workout program.

It's another thing entirely if you're treating your future diet like a death sentence, and you need to get as much "living" in while you can. This sets you up for failure before you even start:
  • The 3-5 pounds you're going to gain this week is just that much more weight you'll need to take off later.
  • By making a big deal out of each glorious dessert, you're strengthening your desire for "bad" foods, which will make it that much harder to put them down later.
  • You're treating the upcoming diet as a temporary diet, rather than a long-term modification of eating habits to a more healthy lifestyle.

Treating a diet like a diet - like die with an extra t on the end of it - is a mindset doomed for failure. If that's your gameplan, save yourself the complaining and just forget about it.

You'll be successful when you can embrace a new, healthier lifestyle - one that you're planning on keeping for the rest of your life. Think slow and steady, small changes, and an overall healthier and fitter you. And then get started - whether that's today or next week doesn't matter.

- Chris Butterworth

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US wins Women's World Cup

Congratulations to the US Women's National Team, who scripted a perfect ending to the Independence Day weekend by avenging their bitter shoot-out loss to Japan in 2011's championship game in a big way - blowing the game open early in route to a 5-2 whooping.



This was a terrific example for all of us - of what's possible with dedication to a goal. Long term, hard work, consistency, discipline, laser focus, day after day...

It led the USWNT to be World Champions. What can it do for you?

- Chris Butterworth

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the 1, 2, 3 getting started plan

With today being the first of the month, and the first day of the 2nd half of the year, I thought I'd share a simple idea to get started down the road to fitness. Here's a simple routine to get off the couch and work lots of different muscle groups in a short amount of time:

Push-ups, Sit-ups, Squats

  • July 1st - do one of each. That's it, just one.
  • July 2nd - do two of each.
  • July 3rd - do three of each.
  • and so on.
  • Each day, add one more of each exercise to what you did yesterday - you'll do the same number of each exercise as the day of the month.
  • It doesn't matter if you do them all in one set, so long as you do them all on that day. For example, on the 20th:
    • do 20 in a row, all in one set. Or,
    • do as many as you can, take a short rest, and then continue. Take as many breaks as needed to get to 20. Or,
    • do 10 in the morning and 10 in the evening.
    • As long as you 20 of each exercise on the 20th, you're on target!


The first few days may seem easy. That's OK - half of the battle is mental, and simply getting motivated to do the exercises is just as important as the physical exercises themselves. You're changing habits and building routines, which isn't easy in and of itself. Just relax and keep at it - it'll get physically demanding soon enough.

By the end of the month you'll be doing 31 push-ups, 31 sit-ups, and 31 squats in a single day. (and you will have done 496 of each during the course of the month!) This will be a great starting point to build from next month.

Remember - the goal is long-term health and fitness. You're not going to completely change your body this month; you're simply making forward progress down the path of creating a better you. Six months from now, a year from now, 5 years from now - it won't matter whether you started with 1 push-up or with 100; if you exercise consistently you'll be "fit".

Now go get after it!

- Chris Butterworth

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2015 is half over - where do you stand?

Tomorrow marks the end of the first half of the year. 181 days down; 184 days to go. (because there are more months with 31 days in the 2nd half of the year - and no February.) How are you doing on achieving your goals?

Little things done consistently add up to big things. You can move a mountain by moving a few stones each day.

25 push-ups a day doesn't seem like an outrageous number. In fact, once you get into "push-up shape" it's probably very easy to do. And if you've been doing 25 push-ups a day, you've done 4,525 push-ups so far this year.

Walking, jogging, or running a mile a day doesn't take long. And if you've been doing it you've now run 181 miles so far this year - about halfway from Phoenix to Los Angeles!

Anyone who can do over 4,500 push-ups, or who can run 181 miles, is in pretty good shape. A lot better shape than if they had spent the first 6 months of the year sitting on the couch! If you haven't done 4,500 push-ups so far this year, now's a great time to get started on the 2nd half of the year.

What mountain are you going to move this year, one little stone at a time?

- Chris Butterworth

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5 thoughts BEFORE you make your goals and resolutions

5 thoughts BEFORE you make your goals and resolutions


pad and pen ready to write down goals image Microsoft clipart

This post is a follow-up to my 8-point primer on goals and resolutions earlier in the month..

1.) Your goal isn't fun. (at least, not in the beginning)

Nobody sets a goal of playing more X-box or eating more donuts. We set goals that will make us happier in the long-term, but that require giving up something fun (like X-box or donuts) or inducing discomfort (like working out or focusing on writing a novel) in the short term.

Understand and embrace this trade-off. The short term pleasure is a drug; the long term benefits of your goal - whether physical, financial, emotional, social, or spiritual - will far outweigh whatever it is you're giving up.

2.) Goals involve change.

Understand that your goal will require you to change what you do and how you spend your time. Obviously, right? Because if you were already doing your goal you wouldn't need to set a goal for it.

Change can be uncomfortable. Change requires motivation, energy, and dedication. Change can cause friction. All good things - if you were happy with the way things were, you wouldn't have set this goal!

3.) Goals can be a grind.

The first time you workout, or meditate, or block out time to read, or write a few pages - it feels exhilirating, like you're controlling your own destiny. The second and third time will feel cool, too, but not quite as powerful as that first time.

But pretty soon you'll hit your first dip, where you aren't seeing the results you expected as quickly as you expected. You're tired, you're frustrated, and you can think of plenty of other things you'd rather be doing instead. It's critical to push through this first dip and continue on your new path.

You'll have more dips along the way - setbacks, illness, family obligations, projects at work - but they'll be easier to push through than that first one. And push through you must!

4.) Success breeds success.

Once you see results, it gets easier to buy into why you're making the effort you are. Maybe you've been able to:

  • Run a mile without stopping.
  • Drop a few pounds off the scale.
  • Meditate deeply for 15 minutes.
  • Finish reading a book.
  • Develop characters and a plot in your own book.

Whatever it is you're working on, seeing your own success makes it easier to continue making those short-term sacrifices and pushing through the dips. In fact, most people turn up the intensity once they start seeing results.

In addition to being more successful in that particular goal, seeing success also gives you the confidence to start thinking about the next goal you want to tackle!

5.) I want it BAD.

Knowing everything you're going to give up in exchange for your goal (sleep, TV, video games, fast food, facebook, sweets), and how hard you're going to work at it (sweat, sore muscles, hunger pains, cravings) - you better want this goal badly. You need to be able to elevate it above everything else in your world:

  • Being skinny is more important than eating the snacks in the break room at work.
  • Exercising is more important than that last 20 minutes of sleep.
  • The kids will be OK while I do my thing for a few minutes.
  • Finding peace and tranquility is more important than seeing pictures of other people's kids online.
  • All that stuff.

It's going to be hard. It's going to be uncomfortable. It's going to be a grind.

It's going to be successful - IF you want it more than you want your short-term drugs.

Here's to your success in 2013!

-Chris Butterworth

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goals and resolutions - an 8-point primer

goals and resolutions - an 8-point primer


It's about that time of the year - we're winding down this year and New Year's Resolutions for next year are just around the corner. (We all know how crowded the gym gets in January, right?) I've succeeded, and failed, at scores of goals over the years, and here are some of the key points I've learned:

man running stairs
(microsoft clipart)

1.) Not too many! Pick 1 goal, maybe 2, that you can give your full attention to, and win on that goal. Over time you'll be able to modify that goal and add additional goals.

2.) Envision your Goal; Act on your Subgoals. Losing 40 pounds will be great - envision the skinny you as hard as you can. But your daily actions will include the subgoals of eating less and exercising more.

3.) Consistency Counts. 50 push-ups a day doesn't sound like a lot; you could do a few in the morning, some more throughout the day, and then a few at bedtime. Do this every day next year and you will have done 18,250 push-ups! Small actions, done consistently over time, become great achievements.

4.) Achievement Goals. Running a marathon, writing a book, learning to play guitar. Achievement goals require massive amounts of focus and energy, but once they're done, they're done. You will always have that achievement in your life-resume. Dream big on achievement goals.

5.) Habit Goals. Regular exercise, reading more frequently, writing a blog, social commitments. Habit goals take an enormous amount of time and energy, and their time commitments add up cumulatively. Start with very modest habit goals; you can always add to them later.

6.) Quitting Goals. Smoking, drinking, sweets, soda, watching TV, aimless internet surfing.While quitting something doesn't take time or money, and often gives you time and/or money back, they require a great deal of emotional and mental energy. I think they're the most difficult type of goal, because you'll have multiple opportunities to fail every single day.

7.) Time-Free Goals. Saving money, eating healthier, being friendlier to strangers. These goals require the same dedication and consistency as the others, but they are essentially free - they don't take you away from your other time commitments.

8.) Why this goal? Dig deep to understand why you're working on this goal. Losing 40 pounds sounds good, but why are you doing it? To look better for others? To look better for yourself? To be healthier - to stop taking blood pressure medication? To be around for your grandchildren? To be able to do more "stuff" without getting winded? Goals driven by internal factors are more likely to be successful; goals with an external focus are harder to define and harder to achieve.

This should give you something to think about as you start working on your goals and resolutions for next year. Let's make next year the most successful year yet!

-Chris Butterworth

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