Our winter was harsh and everlasting. We experienced snow and ice, an overabundance of clouds and below normal temperatures. As a result, many of us were sedentary, gained weight, alienated ourselves from the outside social world of friends, allowed our January good intentions of daily exercise to be smothered by frost, and sought comfort in the world of pasta, bread and sweets during our times of stress and winter blues. To make matters worse, the cold and dreary spring weather and snowstorms have lulled us into thinking summer will never arrive. Don’t be fooled by Mother Nature! Before you can say “sunscreen,” the heat of summer will be upon us, along with our wish that we were in better shape, physically and mentally, to enjoy it.
Close your eyes and think about this: It is summer and you are wearing shorts or a swimsuit with confidence. You are enjoying a game of tennis or round of golf with energy and without subsequent injury, or you are happily planting flowers without rushing to the E.R. because your back gave out. Wake up! Unfortunately, many of us don’t think about a plan to get ready for summer fun (remember those New Year’s resolutions?) because our hectic lifestyles prevent us from setting summer goals and putting them into play. The good news? It is not too late! Dare to take the summer challenge.
I know what you’re thinking – the task of getting in shape is all too daunting, and I don’t have time to do it because there are too many areas in my wellness plan that need focus. I hear you! So, together, let’s set a plan for taking small steps NOW to make big progress by June 1. Ready, set, go!
Step one: Right now, spend 5 to 10 minutes thinking about your current state of wellness/health and writing down where it can realistically be on June 1 (seven weeks from now). Consider each of these areas:
Weight: (i.e. lose 10 pounds)
Fitness: (i.e. walk 15 miles a week)
Nutrition: (i.e. eat four vegetables a day, four fruits a day and two desserts a week)
Organization: (i.e. clean up my office)
Socialization: (i.e. get together with eight friends I haven’t seen all winter)
Step two: Break down these goals into miniature goals that you can easily accomplish each week.
Weight: (i.e. lose 1 pound this week)
Fitness: (i.e. walk a total of 3 miles this week: 1 mile on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday)
Nutrition: (i.e. eat two vegetables and two fruits each weekday this week)
Organization: (i.e. clean out the top, right hand drawer of my desk)
Socialization: (i.e. call Terry to meet for coffee on Wednesday morning)
Step three: Change the mini goals each week by increasing your ability.
Weight: (i.e. lose another .5 pound this week)
Fitness: (i.e. walk a total of 5 miles this week, adding 1 mile on each weekend day)
Nutrition: (i.e eat 3 vegetables and 3 fruits each weekday this week and limit desserts to 3)
Organization: (i.e. clean up the pile of files under my desk)
Socialization: (i.e. send an email to law school classmate to have dinner Friday)
Step four: Sit back and enjoy better health and a fun summer!
By setting and gradually increasing the mini goals each week, you will be motivated to continue progressing toward the ultimate June 1 goals, which will no longer seem insurmountable. For example, today, thinking about losing 10 pounds by June 1 with leftover Easter candy at the house and the bottomless bowl of M & M’s at the office might seem impossible. But, if you set a mini goal to lose 1 to 2 pounds each week of the seven-week period, you will easily be 10 pounds lighter by June 1.
Or maybe you have longed for a clean and organized office, but the thought of this “job” is enough to paralyze your limbs and numb your mind. So, take it one drawer at a time each week. By June 1, your organized office will be the envy of your peers and you will be more efficient because you will know exactly where everything is located!
Fitness goals are difficult for many to set and maintain. As you sit there reading this article, the thought of exercising five days a week is simply not within reason. But, if you set a mini goal of walking for 15 minutes on three days this week and increased it gradually by a few more minutes each week, by June 1 you might be walking 3 miles, four days a week.
Nutritionally, thinking about eating the recommended daily five fruits and five vegetables makes you want to run to Dairy Queen for a consoling ice cream sundae. But, if your mini goal is to eat three fruits and two vegetables, three days this week, and you gradually add more fruits and vegetables each week, you will be very close to the recommended goal in seven weeks.
What about socializing? After the December holidays, we tend to hole up in our abodes, not to be seen until mid-May when the race track opens. This brings on additional winter blues and depression, because we, as a society, really do enjoy laughter and socializing. Yet, it’s hard to get the social ball rolling. So, set a mini goal this week to have coffee with one of your gregarious friends. Next week, choose a different person you’ve not seen for a long time and share stories of the good old days.
We in the legal community thrive on challenges. So here it is, just for you. I double dog dare you to take the summer challenge. And, knowing how you enjoy challenging others, I invite you to challenge your co-workers, peers, family and friends. I look forward to hearing the inspiring stories of how you took this double dog dare and met the challenge to be ready this summer. Let the games begin!•
Sharon McGoff is a graduate of Indiana University Maurer School of Law, a certified personal trainer and health fitness specialist with the American College of Sports Medicine, and a certified life and wellness coach with WellCoaches, Inc. She welcomes your questions or comments at [email protected] The opinions expressed are those of the author.