This Time I Will Reach My Fitness and Running Goal
A new year, new possibilities. Another chance to set new goals. But this time, let it be something that I can and will achieve. Make it a small, positive change that I can easily master, with certainty. Big, ultimately-unachievable goals can disappoint and demotivate when we fail to reach them. So, rather, set small and realistic targets for yourself.
That we want to change something is part of our nature, it is a basic need, so to speak. We tend to want to reorient our lives, to make it easier, to improve—sometimes just a tiny bit. Maybe live a little healthier in the new year: sleep more, eat less, walk longer, run faster, finally have more time for yourself.
Unfortunately, overly-ambitious goals mostly overwhelm us after a short time. Of course, you can succeed with them if they are well thought through, carefully planned, and fit into your daily routine. But most of us need a different approach to be successful: small, positive changes that feel good to us and do not require a lot of organization. A careful and gradual adaptation to different habits, through which we experience new, positive things over a longer period of time. Changes that may even displace something negative over time, step by step. Lucky are those who are supported by friends and family. But in the end, it is up to us. The smallest positive changes can inspire us tremendously and motivate us too.
Maybe you have often thought that you want to change some aspect of your life—but implementing that change has not worked out. Perhaps fitness and healthy eating, for example, were neglected because of stress and hectic times. Yet sometimes disappointment provides the best environment for reflection, giving us the power to set a more precise and achievable goal. Experience shows us that making changes in small, attainable steps has a greater chance of success, especially if you really, really want to achieve your goals. It is easy to say, but willingness is one key to achieving your objective.
Small Steps Can Lead to Big Changes
It is very important to take your time. You are in no hurry. Every step, no matter how small, has great value, so do not miss one. Change is like a rocky path that leads through a small stream. Step on every single stone. If you skip one, you could slip. Or you get wet feet and give up.
Sometimes you can organize it in such a way that your new path even becomes like a little adventure.
Practical Tips to Improve Your Fitness
Many small things make a big difference when they become a habit. Using the stairs, for instance, instead of the elevator or escalator. A scheduled workout in the gym, before or after work. Running a few laps on a local track. Meeting a friend for a fun run together. Just half an hour of exercise can do wonders! Would you like to go for longer walks during the weekend? Or would you like to join a friend on your bike and help him part of the way during one of his endurance runs?
Please, read the following too: “Make Your Wishes Come True: How to Set and Achieve Your Goals.“
Those who need a snack during the day to stay productive could make up their minds to pack a super snack every morning. Maybe some fruit, together with a handful of nuts or dark chocolate. It takes little time or effort and would be a much better option than buying sweets in the cafeteria.
Decide to eat more vegetables! Choose your absolutely favorite variety and start dinner with it. Raw, boiled or stewed, a few drops of extra virgin olive oil and some seasoning salt—a real treat. It may take a while for you to get used to the diet change, but digestion and wellbeing will improve over time. Small tip: keep sufficient stock in the freezer.
If I still have an appetite after dinner, I make myself a serving of organic plain popcorn. It tastes good, is healthy and, unlike pretzels, potato chips and such, has low calories and makes you feel a bit like being at the movies.
As for my ongoing New Year’s project: It is the further improvement of my sleep. During my competition and study years I was always aware of the downsides of inadequate sleep. Not exactly beneficial for recovery, performance or longevity! It took a long time for me to find a more regular rhythm and to improve the situation through a few organizational steps. Today, I sleep better, though I am still on my way. My positive changes: start resting half an hour earlier, mediate, resolve to clear the head and not take troubling topics to bed, leave the phone out of the bedroom. Before falling asleep I am reading a book that is good for the soul. Lights off.
Why are changes so difficult for us?
We feel comfortable in the familiar. We need reliable processes. Well-known things give us a feeling of security and comfort. But positive changes can bring a new sense of life, naturally at times uncertainty. Eventually, insecurity—as well as fear and skepticism—can be eliminated thanks to the new experiences. Have the courage to opt for change, stay positive.
I wish you a happy New Year. May all your projects and running endeavors be successful!
Adapted from my column “Fitness & Ernährung ̶ So starten Sie gut ins neue Jahr” in “DIE WELT” with permission.
*Uta Pippig, 52, is one of the most successful female marathon runners of the ’90s, a three-time champion of the marathons in Boston and Berlin and winner of the NYC Marathon. She is currently a writer and public speaker for “Take The Magic Step®” and “Running to Freedom™” and is also a columnist for the German daily newspaper “DIE WELT.”
Uta lives in Berlin, Germany, and in Boulder, Colorado, and with her organization “Take The Magic Step®” she commits herself to increasing people’s awareness in the areas of fitness, nutrition and health.