I always look forward to the extra leap year day. The bonus February day gives me an extra opportunity to reflect on the year so far before March and the spring season arrive. With warmer weather right around the corner, now is the perfect time to look back on your goals for this year and figure out what changes you need to make to stay on track in 2016.
Pull Out Those New Year’s Resolutions
While it might be painful to think about the rosy hopes and dreams you had on January 1 that still remain woefully far from completion, it’s important to assess your progress to get yourself back on track. Statistically, a little more than one in three of you have probably abandoned your resolutions by this point. A few notes for this group first. I’m willing to bet many of you who have given up would be willing to give those goals a second try with a few modifications. Heading into a new month and new season is the perfect time to give them another go. Ask yourself what did or didn’t work. Why weren’t you able to exercise as much as you wanted? What kept you from staying on that diet? Why haven’t you paid off that credit card debt yet? Looking back at what didn’t work can help you make a better, more realistic goal that you can work towards. It’s okay to rehash your New Year’s resolutions and start over in March.
For the two out of three of you still on board and working towards those goals, nice work! But your momentum towards those goals may be starting to fade. This is a great time to remind yourself of the reasons you made these goals in the first place. What’s driving you to succeed? Who are you doing this for? What reward awaits once your goal is achieved? If you’re going to succeed, you’ll need a strong reason to stick with your resolutions. Take some time to remind yourself of that motivation.
Sign Yourself Up for Something
If you’ve been lacking motivation to kick yourself into gear this winter, signing yourself up for something is a great way to hold yourself accountable. Hoping to get back into shape? Sign yourself up for a race in the coming months. Working on that resolution to cook more? Invite your friends to a dinner made by you to show off what you’ve learned. It doesn’t matter what you decide to do, but it has to be something that will motivate you and hold you accountable. It might seem like a small step, but you’d be amazed how motivating it can be to know that the things you’re working on today will actually be tested in the near future. Why now, you might ask? Once spring and summer really kick into gear, schedules fill up, races sell out and people head out of town. Getting something on the calendar now is much easier than it will be in a month or two.
Find Local Farmers Markets
The coming of spring will also mean that fresh, locally-grown fruits and vegetables will start to hit the market. But don’t look out for them just yet since the growing season will take some time to get underway. Instead, this is a great time to learn where spring and summer farmers markets take place nearby and to see if any farms in your area offer farm shares. Buying a farm share means that farm will supply you with a certain amount of the vegetables they grow during the season. This is a great way to get vegetables at a fairly low price, support a local business and try some of the freshest, healthiest and most varied vegetables you’ve probably ever had. Don’t have a farm nearby? No problem. This is also a great time to start looking for new additions to the produce aisle at your local grocery store. Prices on some items might even start to drop in price as they come into season and can be grown more easily.
Perfect Your Exercise Plan
Many of my patients often ask me how they should stay in shape over the winter. I know the winter months can be tough in terms of exercise, but this is a great time of the year to start getting back in shape in anticipation of warmer weather. If it’s been awhile since you went for a run, get on the treadmill today. Start off with shorter distances, so that by the time spring rolls around, you can go for a longer run in the nice water. The same goes for cycling.
This is also a great time to sit down and map out in more detail what you want to be doing for physical fitness this year. If you already made resolutions, look at what’s worked and what hasn’t. Was your gym too far away? Were you aiming to exercise too many days of the week? If you’ve signed yourself up for an athletic event, research what you’re going to need to do beforehand to make sure you’re ready. This is also a great time to try out some cross-training for your sport of choice. Having a concrete plan can help keep you on track for more fun and less injury during the more active summer months.
It’s Never Too Late
You’ve probably heard the phrase “it’s never too late” a lot. In fact, I sometimes worry that these words get used so much that most people don’t even pay attention to them. But I want you to really think about the meaning of that phrase. It should give you hope that no goal you set for yourself is truly beyond your limits. When I work with patients, I find that most of the barriers standing in their way are ones they put there. You shouldn’t give up on your goals or be afraid to set new resolutions just because it’s March and things haven’t worked out so far this year. Change starts with believing you can achieve it. I hope you have a wonderful leap day and a transformative March.