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10 Small Steps to Help You Achieve Big Goals

Professional runner and Hive Platinum athlete Jared Ward shares 10 small steps you can implement into your every day life to help you stay on track and achieve the big goals you've set for yourself: Greg McKeown (in his book Essentialism) talks about how failure is sometimes a truer gateway to success than success is. He speaks about how success can lead to the undisciplined pursuit of more, especially if we chase all the doors that open to us. But by contrast failure sometimes leaves no doors open. And with no distracting paths to lead us away from our goals, I think a driven mind can find opportunity. I don’t know that most of us look at COVID-19 as “failure,” but it certainly has closed some doors for many of us. I have found myself wondering if this could be a good time to refocus, and realign, my efforts towards what I really want.
Photo: Rich Vintage Photography
If an active lifestyle is something you are aiming at, I’m going to offer 10 tips. Things we can do now, amid this pandemic, to realign ourselves towards fitness we want. If you’re reading this because you want to lose 10 lbs, or look better for an upcoming photo shoot, I encourage you to aim higher. This advice is for you if you want to change your life, if you’re looking to regain some of that freedom that you used to feel. When we’re talking about life changes we need a gradual (read sustainable) approach. So this isn’t KETO, or some 30-day drastic program. These are 10 baby steps to point you in the right direction. I’d recommend choosing 3. Then add more when you’re ready. What we want is just enough change to be motivating, but not so much to be intimidating.
1. Drink 16 oz of water, first thing in the morning.
In 8th grade, my health teacher advised this. If I remember correctly, there is some sort of metabolic effect. But I’m listing this antidotally-- because I feel better when I drink water in the morning. This is an easy way to get a WIN right after getting up. It’s a good track to be on.
2. Set a screen time cutoff at night.
This is something we didn’t have to deal with 15 years ago. This is also backed by science, but I’m coming again from experience. If you want better sleep, put your phone away.
3. Eat 3 servings of vegetables a day.
I haven’t yet found a diet that recommends against this.
4. Set an active goal.
For some of us this might be to qualify for Boston. For others this might be hiking to the top of a nearby peak or getting to the point of jogging 20 mins 3x/week. I don’t think the goal matters nearly as much as how it makes you feel. A goal should get you out of bed in the morning, but not make you feel anxious. You’re the best gauge of the right goal for you.
5. Help someone else with their fitness goal.
Serving pricks me deep inside. I think service helps us feel better. Feeling better raises confidence with cascading effects. And it might just motivate us to do what we’re helping someone else to do.
6. Stand up and sit up tall.
Confidence again, but these physical queues raise confidence. Try it right now. I’m still surprised how this makes me feel--instantly.
7. Experiment in the kitchen.
I love cooking and baking. And eating. And I think about things economically. Spending time in the kitchen has helped me learn substitutions that are satisfactory and ones that aren’t. For example, I love Shalane Flanagan’s Superhero Muffins in her Run Fast Eat Slow cookbook. I rarely make traditional muffins anymore because these are so good, and they are way more nutrient dense. Brownies are different. If I’m going to make brownies, I’m using butter and refined sugar. But by being in the kitchen I’ve learned a lot of ways I can eat healthier and still love what I’m eating.
8. Set a goal to find an exercise you love.
I think some of us just haven't found exercises we are passionate about--yet. Set a weekly or monthly goal to find a new exercise you love. I love squats, hate pull-ups, and love some core exercises and really dislike others. Find some things you love and sprinkle them into your routine.
9. Keep a healthy snack nearby.
Honey Stinger waffles and cracker bars taste like a treat, but I feel way better after eating them than a candy bar. If I have these nearby, I’m never grabbing the Reeses, because the Almond Butter Cracker Bar tastes so good, and feels so much better. When my kids have carrot sticks and peanut butter balls easily accessible they eat them, and I’ve found I’m the same. Focus Quality here over (lack of) quantity. Think “get the good”, as opposed to “avoid the bad”.
10. Exercise in the morning.
I have found that even if I’m working out in the afternoon, doing something in the morning sets my mind right for the day. Make a routine with a win part of your morning. Happy Quarantine!
Photo: Ashley Batz