Project Louise: Learning To Run A Marathon Instead Of A Sprint
By Louise Kennedy
I’ve been meeting with Coach Allison every two weeks to review my progress, set new goals and generally figure out how Project Louise is going. When we talked on Friday, she pointed out that my posts here have tended to look back on a given week and discuss what went right … or wrong. All well and good, she said, but what about exploring the process of looking ahead, breaking my big goal (health!) down into smaller intermediate goals and finding ways to keep moving in the right direction?
This was yet another moment when I realized how lucky I am to have support in this project – from Allison, from Trainer Rick, from Dr. “DASH” Moore and of course from the Naughty Moms.
Specifically, Allison’s expertise in strategic planning and project management brings a perspective that I don’t often have. I have spent my adult life working on daily, or at most weekly, deadlines: You have a task, you get it done, you move on to the next deadline. I’m good at it, I know how to do it, and I keep doing it over and over again.
But a project that will take a whole year to complete? (And, really, if I do it right, it’s a project I’ll be working on for the rest of my life.) Who can plan that far ahead?
Well, it turns out, Allison can. And, thanks to her, I’m beginning to see how I can do it too.
The concept of setting intermediate goals is one of the most helpful for me so far. Those of you who are less challenged in this area may be amused to know that, until Allison pointed it out, I hadn’t realized that my overall weight-loss goal – lose 44 pounds by Dec. 31 – breaks down rather neatly into quarterly goals. Yes, that’s right, lose 11 pounds every three months and I’ll get there. (As a reward for figuring this out, I may buy myself a new T-shirt for the gym. It says: “I’m an English major. You do the math.”)
Sooo … we decided that I should do a six-month assessment at the end of June, assessing my progress not just in losing weight, but in eating more healthfully, exercising more regularly, taking care of myself spiritually and emotionally and generally living a better life. And before that, at the end of March, we’ll take a look at how I’ve done for the first quarter of the year.
This felt so obvious once she laid it out. But it hadn’t been obvious, at least not to me. And Trainer Rick says that I’m not alone in this.
“People set really unrealistic goals,” he told me in a recent session.
He’s had guys come in saying they’re going to work out twice a day – this after not doing any exercise for years. Or someone will want to lose 40 pounds in three months. Even if you met that goal, the changes you made in order to lose that much weight that quickly wouldn’t be sustainable. So, aside from looking great in the wedding photos, what’s the point?
So I am going to remind myself to focus on setting small, attainable goals each week, and to look toward the intermediate milestones that will let me know how I’m progressing toward my ultimate goal. After the unfortunate Cheez-Its incident, I did get back on track with my diet; I’ve been cooking better meals and packing healthy snacks for work, and I even managed to eat only half of the cupcake a friend gave me for my birthday. (Not finishing something – anything – is a huge step forward for me.)
I’ve also gotten back to the gym, and I’ve reminded myself that I can go for a walk at home any time I don’t make it to the gym. I’ve made yoga a regular part of my weekend routine – thank you, Naughties! – and my muscles feel less tense than they have in years. I think I might even be able to do more than three pushups for my next fitness assessment.
In March. Which I can see from here, as opposed to December. And so for now that’s where I’m going to direct my gaze.
Readers, have you set goals for your health and fitness program? How long- or short-term are they? And is that working for you?