Disclaimer…and DAY ONE
The following twenty-one blog posts will be taken from the e-book-to-be that I wrote two years ago. As I stated before, I wrote them as chapters in a book, which then sat on my computer for…two years. Since each of these has to be slightly modified, and since there is no way I’m going to be able to post daily after a six months hiatus, I thought I needed to write this brief disclaimer. My goal is to get each post up, and then bundle them together into a pdf package which will become my “gift” when people sign up to be on my email list. I know that there is a way to post date the posts…such that I could load them all and time them to go out sequentially. However, that sounds like such a daunting task that I’m pretty sure I would lose steam and it would sit for another two years. Therefore, it will take longer than 21 days to get the entire Boot Camp up on this site.
So if you are planning to start today (and if you are, hooray for you), there is a slight modification. Each day, simply repeat the exercises for the previous post until the next post. It won’t hurt anything at all. You will still get stronger and healthier, it will just be stretched out in time a bit. It may get a bit weird if I ask you to journal about a specific thing. In that case, you can either just read what you wrote the first day, or take the opportunity to expand on it. If one day, I ask you to do a meditation, you’d simply repeat it, or maybe prolong it a bit. Get it? Okay, here we go:
I am sure you have seen the “YOU” books at your local bookstore: “YOU: The Owner’s Manuel,” “YOU: On a Diet,” “YOU: Staying Young,” You: Staying Young Workout,” “YOU: On a Walk.” Drs. Oz and Roizen have quite a thing going.
I have a proposal. On this first day of Boot Camp, you get to describe “YOU: Your Best Self.” It is very hard to stay on track and reach a destination without knowing exactly where you are trying to go. This very important first exercise today is to define your vision for you own wellness. Later, we will work on defining your path to this destination. This isn’t what your parents or spouse or doctors want of you. This is what you want.
Now, I want you to get out a pencil or pen and some paper (hopefully somewhere you can return to easily…not the back of a receipt or junk mail). Take a few long, slow breaths, and start describing your best self. Be completely honest regarding your potential. Be realistic, but also be courageous enough to stretch a little. What do you look like? How do you feel? What is your expression? What are you doing? Who are you with? What are you wearing? Where are you? How are you spending your days? What is important to you?
Just keep writing. Don’t stop to spell check. Don’t worry about grammar. Pretend that you are painting a picture with words. Leave out no detail.
Done? Are you sure? Go back and read it just to see if you left anything out. As you read and imagine yourself as this person in your “word picture.” How do you feel? Excited? Nervous? Not sure you can do this? That would be perfectly normal. It can be daunting to really reflect on your true potential.
Now pick out the ONE most important aspect of this vision. It could be the smile on your face. It could be that you are working at a very different job than you currently have. Maybe it is that you are swimming the English Channel. Just pick out the ONE thing, and write it down. Is there a connection between this thing and the other parts of your vision? This is frequently the case.
Good. Now what is the reason that you picked that one thing over the others? Why is this thing so important to you? Keep asking yourself “why?” until something resonates as a “Yes, that’s it! That is why!” Here is what I mean:
I want to be a certified kettlebell instructor. Ok, Julie, why is this important?
Because I set this as a fitness goal when I was depressed about being sick and needed motivation. Okay, why did you set this as your goal?
Because this is an intense training that even “normal” people have a very hard time completing. And why is it important that you complete something difficult for healthy people?
Because I want to feel healthy for as long as I can.
Ah ha! You see how this works?
When you come to your “ah ha” write it down in BOLD print. This is your motivator (or motivators if you have more than one answer to “why?”) for the next 21 days. When you get discouraged, or tired, or you think about quitting, come back to this main REASON (S) I AM DOING THIS.
All right, now get a new sheet of paper. Come up with four to five long-term goals that will get you closer to the VISION that you just described. I want these to be action goals…things that you will be doing regularly in one year, which will put you firmly on the path to your vision. So, for instance, don’t write, “I will be a famous pop star.” Instead, it would be something like, “I will write music two hours a day, and sing publicly three nights a week.” “I will eat a peanut butter and honey sandwich every night before bed” would be much better than “I will weight 10 lbs. more than I do now.”
Try to have your goals cover several different dimensions of wellness. They could have to do with exercise (hint), nutrition, stress management, relationship, disease management, intimacy, work/play balance, communication, cognitive or emotional patterns, spirituality, or finding meaning. Or maybe you have other categories I haven’t listed. Pick a few that seem most important to work on at this stage of your life.
Don’t overdo it here. People like to set goals. It’s fun. But if you set too many, the chances that you will achieve them diminish greatly. Less is more. Pick at least three, but no more than five, goals. Make sure they are SMART.
- Specific: If you are going to start exercising, exactly what will you do, how many days/week, and for how long?
- Measurable: You need to be able to know with 100% certainty when you have achieved your goal. For instance, completing a 5K jog is measurable. “Becoming a jogger” is not.
- Actionable: The goal needs to be something that you can do, or that takes action on your part. An example is “I will call a friend weekly,” not, “I will be liked by my friends.”
- Realistic: I’m 50, with CF, and I sink. I should not, for instance, have the previously mentioned goal of swimming the English Channel.
- Time Bound: There needs to be an end point. If not, we either procrastinate, or forget what we are trying to accomplish.
WELL-BEING TRACKING SHEET
Now, you need another sheet of paper. You may want to do this on a spreadsheet software program, but you can also just do it by hand.
If you want to do it yourself, make a grid, with 21 columns (days) across the top horizontally, and up to five rows vertically. The name of each row is going to be ONE action item that you deem essential to do every day in order to make a darn good start at meeting your long-term goals.
Here is why. If you do these things every day for 21 days, you have created a habit, a good habit that will hopefully carry you forward throughout the year as you begin to bring your Wellness Vision to life.
As a rough guide, try to come up with at least one action item for each long-term goal. For example, while I was on my IV antibiotics, my vision was that I was running another half-marathon with my friend before the end of 2008. My long-term goal in line with this vision was to be running (walk/jogging) four days per week, with one long run of up to 10 miles per week by the time of the race. During my infusions, my daily action items to put me on the path toward this goal were to walk 30 minutes every day, and to do alternating days of 30 minutes of gentle yoga or lower body resistance work.
Ok, the tracking sheet is your final piece of mental/paperwork today. Good job. All you have left to do now is prepare to begin your action steps tomorrow. Do you need to find your walking shoes? Do you need to go to the grocery store? Do you need to create a peaceful spot to meditate? Whatever it is, finish up today by making all the preparations.