In my last two articles I spoke about the 5 pillars on which your health is based and about the power of habits. As we launch into 2020, I would like you to bring your 20/20 vision and hindsight to learn from your past mistakes and resounding successes to create meaningful New Year Resolutions.
First and foremost, fitness is based on those five pillars which are interconnected: Exercise, relaxation, food, learning and social interaction. Once you set a goal in one of those pillars, you need to adjust your goals in the other pillars so there is no imbalance and your fitness does not start crumbling down. For example, if you set your goal on a hard exercise program, make sure you adjust your nourishment so your body can sustain that program. Keep some relaxation, learning and social activities alive, so you do not burn out. Avoid setting weight loss as a goal but rather set your goals as the behaviors necessary to cause weight loss such as drinking more water, eating more vegetables, setting aside time for yourself and relaxation, and slowly and progressively creating the habits of exercising. Stay the course even if it challenges you. It takes about a month for a new behavior to become a habit and six months for it to become part of your personality, so be patient and kind to yourself.
Create more highlights: Ask yourself what your highlights of 2019 were, what your successes and achievements were and then decide to do more of those things. If a trip was the highlight of 2019, start planning a new adventure for 2020. If you notice that certain people were consistently part of your highlights, plan on spending more time with them. Reflect on those highlights and write down your intentions for all aspects of your life: physically, professionally, mentally, socially, travel, relationships. Are all the five pillars of your fitness and well-being included? If yes, those goals should continue. Write them down and reread them as needed during the year. Keep the positive self-talk and don’t beat yourself up if you backslide, start anew, be persistent and never give up.
As a USMS member, there are a few events and tools which may help you stay the course:
First there is the one-hour postal which consists of swimming for one hour in a short course yards (or longer) pool of your choice, any time between now and February 29, 2020. You can do it very competitively as an e-Postal national championship, and compare yourself with other people in your age group. If you are new to swimming or you do not like the competitive side of swimming, it is the perfect fit for you too as you can do it by yourself, in your own pool, at your own pace. You just need a friend to help you count your laps. You can stop and take a breather but cannot use any equipment such as fins, paddles or snorkel. It is an achievement you will be proud of for the rest of 2020.
If you like equipment and gadgets, or still need them for support, the 30 minutes fitness swim might be a good challenge for you. It has to be done between February 15 and February 29, which might be the time in which swimming becomes a habit if you started at the beginning of the year. As a tool, USMS is offering the six-week training plan tailored to the beginner, intermediate or advanced swimmers, which by itself is worth the $10 or $12 entry fee. It also supports the USMS “Swimming Saves Lives Foundation”. If you are new to swimming and going to the pool by yourself, following the six-week training plan and celebrating by the 30 minutes challenge might be just what you need to stay on track and keep you motivated. Once you have made swimming a habit, USMS is also offering a bunch of online workouts tailored to most all swimmers. It is a gold mine if you are swimming by yourself, at least for inspiration.
Feeling fit and healthy feels amazing. It will bring highlights in your life and make 2020 your best year ever. Happy New Year everyone.