Monday, December 28, 2009
Personal Best - Time to Take Flight!
If you have ever been involved in competitive sports, you know that a personal best (PB) is the next best thing to a record. It's the best you've ever done whether it is a time achieved, distance, weight lifted, runs batted in ...anything like that. While it is really neat to actually hold a record in something, achieving personal bests are VERY satisfying and move the carrot out a little farther each time for your next PB.
I am suggesting that beginning January 1 and ending December 31, 2010 we all work on achieving our own personal best in our health status this year. Let's look at PBs a little deeper first.
Typically personal bests are recorded with a beginning and an end point. You start and at the end, you look to see if you have achieved it. But frankly, you often know - barring unforeseen circumstances, when you are on track for it while you're in the middle of it. And that feeling of potential achievement helps you push a little harder. When I was running for many years, I had certain routes I would take so I had visual milestones all along the way. So if I got to the grocery store on a certain corner at a certain time, I could tell if I was on target for or behind a personal best time. Either way, I would push a little harder at the milestone point. Those little points kept me on track and made me better. If I was always running in a new place with no milestones to compare my time to, it would have been really hard to push myself. Where am I?
How can we relate this practice to our own health in general? For one thing, most athletes don't decide they are going to be the world's best athletes in general. They pick their sport and often a specialty even within that sport.
So I am suggesting that you DON'T make a new year's resolution to "lose weight," "eat better" or "exercise more." These goals are way too general and can be overwhelming as you throw yourself into a lifestyle change that is vastly different than the way you've been living. So you set a big goal of being healthier, defining what that means to you personally and then set much smaller goals you can actually achieve over the course of 2010.
Being able to achieve small goals sets you up psychologically to feel successful enough to work on the next goal and the next goal. For instance, if you don't exercise at all and you know you need to, don't start the new year deciding you're going to exercise 5 days a week for an hour a day. From nothing to five is huge. But if you break that goal down to "I'm going to start by working out one day a week for an hour and keep it up for a month," then by the end of the month two days may be in the realm of possibility. If not yet, keep at it for another month and try again. Then maybe the next small goal would be to stick to two days a week for two months, gradually working up to your five days as you ease into it over the year, making it work for your schedule.
Keep a "visual milestone" like crossing off days on the calendar that you've exercised. If you post a full-year wall calendar somewhere where you see it all the time, it can keep you motivated. Buddying up with a friend who has similar goals AND motivation to achieve can help you go to the gym or to your class when you sometimes feel like being lazy. Push each other - you have goals! And, BTW, if you don't get to exercise that one or two days one week, don't throw up your hands and say "Well, see, I blew it, I can't do this." You just get back on the horse. Never, ever give up.
You can apply this same principal to healthy eating, getting more sleep, taking more time for yourself and more.
Set a big goal and then break it down into little goals so you get there. Your personal best is waiting for you to hit it in 2010. You don't need to be the best anybody ever was; you just need to work on being the best you ever were. Start by being better than you were this year next year. Start planning for long-term health by achieving a PB this year and then setting the bar a little higher for yourself next year and just keep going. Health is best when you plan for the future, not just for today or this week, but for a lifetime.
But you know that...... You read this blog. Take off!!!