What a Difference a Year Makes….

As we’re coming up to the end of 2013, I’m looking back over the year to see if I’ve accomplished everything I thought I would. I’ve hit the mark on some goals, missed on others. The big thing I’ve realized is that it’s one more trip around the sun….and I need to make the best use of those opportunities.

This time last year, I was not in the best shape (that’s putting it mildly). I weighed too much, I was too stressed out, and kept putting off making a positive change. I finally got to a point where it was more painful to stay where I was, than it was to start moving in a direction that I wanted to go. So, I set some goals, shared them with a few trusted friends, and started working on them. I kept it pretty quiet at first, but as other people started noticing my changes, I felt better about sharing them.

After putting it off for way too long, I got serious about eating right and taking better care of me. Over a period of about 9 months, I lost 80 lbs, getting back to my high school weight. I would joke with people that I was trying to get down to my original weight…..7 lbs, 7 ounces. It took a lot of work…but mainly it took focus. Exercise was important, but eating was more important. I needed to eat less, but also to eat better. Some days I needed to make sure that I ate enough.

Exercise was a big part of it, too….but I needed to follow Covert Bailey’s advice – “Start so slowly people make fun of you.” The first day I went jogging (not running), I jogged 60 feet…then I’d walk 60. Each week, I’d add a bit more jogging…..and eventually, was able to start (slowly) running. I progressed to running my first 5K, then a 10K….then a 10 miler…..and eventually a 1/2 Marathon.

To keep from getting injured, I alternated running with biking, and built up my distance gradually, going from 5 miles in the early spring, to riding two full century rides (100 miles) in the fall. During the course of the year, I found a few truisms:The old saying about it all being about “Eat Less, Exercise More” is true….but emphasis needs to be on the “Eat Less” part. I found that I could out-eat any exercise program. For me, losing the weight came down to one simple rule. “It’s what you eat.” If anyone asked me about other rules, I just repeated rule #1. It’s that simple. Not easy…but simple.

I also realized that the process I followed could be applied to almost any goal – so here are three principles that worked for me:

1) Write your goals down – That’s goal setting 101, and I’ve known it for years…..I knew it so well, that I didn’t think I had to write mine down…..and subsquently didn’t make any progress. In fact, if I didn’t write them down, I couldn’t fail. THAT was the big realization – in order to move forward, I had to risk failing. So, I wrote my goals down, and made sure that I reviewed them daily to keep them in focus.

2) Share them wisely – In 2014, I’m going to be more public about my goals, because I’ve found a greater level of confidence that I can achieve them. In 2012, I needed more support, so I kept my circle pretty small. Find people that you know will be supportive of your goal. Too many times, other people can be negative or not supportive. It’s not always intentional, but when you’re striking out on a new path, you need the right team behind you. Find good people that are on your side.

3) Track your progress – I found that one of the biggest keys to moving forward was knowing where I was in relation to where I wanted to be. Accountability was important – not just with others….but mainly to myself. At the end of the day, if I didn’t care enough to be accountable to myself, neither would anyone else. Here’s  living proof: These pics were taken 1 year apart, at the Seagull Century – I don’t know who that guy is in the left picture….but the bike looks a lot less likely to break in two on the right:

What a difference a year makes!

So, how has your year been? Have you achieved what you set out to do? What have you learned? Good news is…2014 is right around the corner, and now is the ideal time to take action towards your goals. Make a difference in the way you do things, and you’ll make a difference in yourself.

Shameless plug time: On February 5th, 2014, I’ll be supporting the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF) in the 2014 Empire State Building Run-Up. 1576 steps, 86 flights, and over 1,000 feet straight up. If you can make a donation, large or small, I would be most grateful.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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