How I Will Better Myself in 2018

In a fashion that can only be described as “true to form,” I am obscenely late in posting my New Year’s Resolution blog. (And, therefore, woefully fudging one of my resolutions already.)

But, I’m still a huge believer in the tradition and cannot let a January pass without setting incredibly lofty goals for myself. Before I jump into what I’m planning for 2018, though, let’s take a look at how I fared with my 2017 resolutions.

  1. Better myself financially. I did manage to reduce my credit card utilization and keep it below 30 percent for about 6 months, and in so doing raised my credit score about a hundred points. However, I’m still working toward my savings goal of three months’ salary. (Though I have managed to not tap into my savings at all, even for a new pair of shoes.)
  2. Better myself intellectually. Umm. Let’s say 50/50 on this one. I fell out of my Duolingo training regimen after about two weeks (again and again), but I did read a lot more this year. I joined Book of the Month, and have read at least one book a month (usually two) for the last year.
  3. Better myself nutritionally. Ooof. Whole 30 is hard, y’all. While I did manage to maintain a pretty Paleo diet in 2017, I stayed at my two-year plateau because of the small indulgences I give myself.
  4. Better myself friendshipally. This one, I did do pretty well on, though I didn’t use Meetup as I’d planned. In 2017, I managed to make some great new friends and rid myself of some pretty toxic relationships. Getting rid of toxic people is always a huge win.
  5. Better myself fitnessally. I joined Equinox last January and that really helped me establish a routine. That routine helped me lower my blood pressure by 20 points and my resting heart rate by 10. I had to cancel my membership when my job situation changed and, admittedly, I’ve had trouble with routine since.

Overall, I’d give myself a 50 percent on achieving last year’s resolutions. An F. I don’t do F’s. This year, let’s set me up to succeed, shall we?

2018 New Year’s Resolutions

  1. Take a health journey. I’ve mentioned a few times that I’ve decided to do another triathlon. I’ve signed up for a sprint triathlon (this means it’s a short triathlon – swim 300 m, bike 12.5 miles, run 3 miles) at the end of March. Training for this triathlon is the beginning of my Journey to Health, and only one component of it. I’ll also be focusing on feeding my body better, and continuing my training after race day. I’m hoping I’ll be able to do another triathlon towards the end of the year. While I’m hoping to lose weight this year, my biggest goal is improving my health. Follow my fitness journey on Instagram.
  2. Write more. Writing is my absolute passion, but, unfortunately, when it’s what I do day in and day out at work, I tend to get a little burned out and don’t want to write when I get home. Now, though, I’m in a wonderful new job that isn’t writing-heavy, and I’m hoping to write for myself more. Yes, this is supposed to include being better about blogging, but as I mentioned, I’m not exactly off to a banner start in that regard.
  3. Step back. I have a terrible tendency to not see the forest through the trees. When projects, deadlines, errands and chores start piling up, I easily get overwhelmed. But, when I take a step back, make a list, put things on my calendar and get some “me time,” I realize everything is do-able. This year, I’m resolving to try and not get bogged down, and to remember to meditate and treat myself to massages, pedicures and facials. (This is definitely a resolution that should be easy to achieve!)

I’m hoping that my second resolution will help me be better about documenting my progress on here, but, if not, we’ll see how they went next year.

What about you? What are your New Year’s Resolutions?

My Experience with a Cult

I wasn’t entirely sure what I was getting myself into. I’d been thinking about it for months; hearing other people’s experiences and enlightenments tempted me, but still, I was hesitant.

I was confident I wouldn’t fit in. I would be an overweight, lumbering CrossFitter and weightlifter, wading into a sea of skinny white basics.

But, if I ever wanted to try SoulCycle, now was my opportunity.

Picture totally downloaded from soulcycle.com

I’ve been a member of an online workout support group-of-sorts for about a year. I join in the online discussions, “like” the other members’ photos and videos on Facebook and Instagram, and offer encouragement if someone seems to need it. But, whenever the topic of the monthly meet-up/workout is broached, I fall silent.

These women had become my sisters, my confidantes and my support group, but I was terrified to workout with them. What if I’m the biggest one there? What if I can’t keep up? What if, once again, I feel like the fat one out?

But I knew SoulCycle was dark and arranged in lines, so people were predisposed to not see you. The leader of the online group had managed to swing a free class for us, which rounded up the utter annihilation of my excuses.

I stepped through the glass doors, from the harshly lit, hot and humid Houston into the welcoming, cheerful – and somehow also serene – foyer. I was terrified, immediately surrounded by beautiful, fit people. But, they managed to put me at ease with smiles that offered comfort and inclusion.

I signed in, received my shoes, and headed down the white hall – passing the bright yellow Big Ass balloons that indicated a party was afoot – to the co-ed locker room. (Adjacent to the separate men’s and women’s bathrooms and showers. Phew.)

Picture totally downloaded from soulcycle.com

Amid the beautiful women (no really. Like, stupid beautiful.) in the, again, all-white, locker room, my fresh comfort and confidence began to waver. The Kool-Aid offered to me by the receptionist’s smile was wearing off. But, my cup was quickly refilled by both the veterans and the newbies who helped me find my locker and showed me how to operate it.

With my belongings in stow and my feet in borrowed shoes, I clacked, water bottle and towel in hand, back down the hall to the, thankfully sparsely populated, studio. I found my bike, situated my water bottle and climbed to the seat.

Oh no. 

The seat was too high, too far back from the handlebars. I tried to get off but the foreign shoe had clipped itself into the pedal, refusing to release me from the cult’s grasp. Panicked, I looked around frantically. Again, I was greeted with a smile. “Having trouble?” asked the friendly cyclist pedaling away caddy-corner to me. I managed a nod. “Don’t worry; they’ll set you right up.”

Her hand shot in the air. “It’s happening!”

Immediately a friendly face with a yellow SOUL tee was by my side, guiding my foot out of the locked position and showing me how to adjust the bike’s three components: the seat height, the handlebar height, and the distance between the two. She helped me up and taught me how to clip in (on purpose).

“Comfortable?”

No. I don’t think I belong here. I’m not a SoulCycle kind of girl. I’ve never been to a spin class. I’m sitting on a pole. And my clipped shoes make me feel like there’s no escape.

“Mhmm.”

The class filled up quickly and soon I was surrounded and being greeted by a voice that was trying to be soothing but was clearly meant to yell.

We began, guided by our leader, Catie, calmly saying “left, right, left.” According to her, with everyone on the same foot, the energy becomes palpable. Soon, the class became one. Our feet moved in unison left, right, left faster and faster. Did I have no control over my own body? My legs spun of their own accord, matching, spin for spin, those to my right and left. Left, right, left. Before I knew it, I was tapping it back.

Picture totally downloaded from soulcycle.com

Twenty minutes into the class I felt death approach. My mouth was filled with cotton balls, my Dri-Fit tank drenched. I reached for my now half-empty water bottle, and watched it fall from my fingers to the ground in slow motion. Oh no. 

Disoriented, I went to grab my towel and it, too, slipped from my grasp. I tried to unclip my shoes to pick up my manna, and I couldn’t figure it out. I was trapped on the bike from hell with no water and no towel. I’m going to die here.

With zero regard to my dire situation, Catie persisted. Left, right, left. So, I pressed on. Again, my body matched the tempo of those around me. We pumped together, up and down. Swayed together, left and right. Spun together, faster and faster.

“How’s my back row feeling?” Catie demanded.

A voice sounding suspiciously like my own responded, “Woooo!” Was that? Noooo. Was that me? Did I just woo?

I did. I woo-ed. I was – dare I say it – having fun. Mind you, a torturous, killer-cardio-driven kind of fun, but fun nonetheless. My thighs no longer felt like they were on fire. (Truthfully, they didn’t quite feel much like anything.) And I finally felt … home.

That’s it. I was home. There was peace here. Comfort. No judgement, no side-eyes. No one was looking at me differently for being big. I didn’t even feel big here. I felt new, sure. Not as great at cardio, duh. But I didn’t feel big.

In CrossFit, my size is both an asset and a hindrance. During the strength portions, I can lift on par with much more experienced women. But, during the intense workouts, I founder. My knees give, my form suffers and I steadily lose tempo with those around me. In both portions, though, I’m constantly aware of how big I am.

Not so at SoulCycle. At SoulCycle, I almost felt like I was one of them. Not a skinny white basic, but a person who enjoyed community and health. A person who wanted to better herself physically, mentally, emotionally, and, yes, spiritually, in one workout. A person who cares about her body but not its size.

Now that someone has helped me unclip my shoes (again), the endorphins have worn off, and I’m well-hydrated, do I feel like it was the soul-changing, spiritually awakening workout of legend? Not this time. But, I did just sign up for three more classes.

Want to find your SOUL? Use this link to get $10 off your first ride (and give me credit for referring you)!

How I Will Better Myself in 2017

I’ve always been a sucker for New Years.

As a child, I romanticized the notion of a kiss when the ball drops and fireworks illuminate the sky. (Frankly, I romanticized the notion of any kiss, hopeless romantic that I am.)

In college, the New Year provided me with a means to justify paying a ridiculous cover price at a bad bar for cheap champagne, dance-induced blisters and a drunken kiss with a stranger. (Sorry, mom.)

Now, though. Now, I just see so much life attached to New Years. It’s a chance to start anew, wash off the bits of the previous year you’d like to forget, and be a better version of yourself. New Years, to me, is filled with endless hope and a sense of being cleansed.

This year, I’ve decided to take that last bit quite seriously.

Cleanse and Renew

I love finding ways to better myself, even if the attempt at betterment only lasts a day. In 2017, I’m going hog-wild to cleanse myself of bad habits, bad people, bad environments and bad food. I’ve pledged to better myself financially, intellectually, nutritionally, friendshipally and fitnessally.

My New Year’s Resolutions:

Better myself financially. I’ve always had an unhealthy relationship with money. Since I first started working, as soon as I got money, I had to spend it. Try as I might to save money with savings accounts, the envelope system and whatever else, I can only set aside money until I need a new pair of shoes. Unless, of course, the money is being taken out of my paycheck before it ever hits my bank. Thank you, 401K.

This year, I’ve resolved to get my credit card utilization below 30 percent and save enough to cover three months’ living expenses. For my credit, I like to use Credit Karma, a free resource that provides your credit score, credit report, credit card utilization and a ton of other factors, as well as how they affect your credit score and personalized tips and suggestions. And, no. Getting your credit score from them doesn’t affect it. For budgeting so I can save money, I’ll use Mint, another free resource that gives you everything you need to budget successfully.

Better myself intellectually. I’ve been trying to learn a new language for more than a decade. In high school, I took both Spanish and French, and in college I took Swahili. But, with each language, I didn’t dedicate time to practice or continue learning after class. What resulted is a weird SwaFreSpanglish that only extends to “Hello, how are you?” in each language. I’ve started improving my French with Duolingo, a free app that lets you learn a multitude of languages. My goal is to be able to annoyingly order in French at a French restaurant and have boyfriend roll his eyes.

And, I’ll be making an effort to read a little every day, because, as much as I love books, I never make time for them.

Better myself nutritionally. Back to the more literal sense of “cleansing.” In all honesty, I’ve struggled with my weight my entire life. I love food, but, more than that, I love unhealthy food. That, combined with my tendency to emotionally eat have left me overweight and unhappy. While I always try to eat healthy, I find that the little allowances I give myself, the taco here or candy bar there, inevitably stunt and even reverse my progress.

I’ve resolved to get serious about my health and nutrition and am recommitting myself to the Paleo Diet. First, though, I’ll be doing The Whole 30 to reset my system, debloat, cure cravings and restore my body’s natural balance. I started today, am sincerely hoping this blog will be a little commitment to myself to follow through for the entire month.

Better myself friendshipally. I’ve lived in Houston a year and a half and I have exactly three girlfriends. Making friends as an adult is difficult, especially in a new city where you’re not really sure what to do. I’ve tried making friends on BumbleBFF, but I’ve fiercely decided that online dating … or online friendshipping, if you will … is not for me. This year, I’ll be making an effort to make friends through things that I enjoy doing, most likely through activities on Meetup.

Better myself fitnessally. I’ve been working out diligently for about six years, but I’ve always struggled to maintain a routine. While daily workouts at CrossFit gyms worked wonders, my weight gain has told my knees that’s no longer an option. This year, I’m firming a workout routine for myself to establish good habits and make sure I stay active. I like to think of that arthritis commercial to get myself moving: “A body in motion tends to stay in motion. A body at rest tends to stay at rest.” I’m resolved stay in motion in 2017.

Follow my fitness journey on Instagram: @laurencathleenfitness

A lot of these resolutions are pretty personal, and the posts to follow will be downright intimate. But, to me, that’s not only great motivation to keep going, and have that one person who reads my blog hold me accountable, but will also provide a chronology of my journey in 2017. And I’m so excited to have you on that journey with me.

What are your New Year’s Resolutions?

*It should be noted that, although I link to a lot of resources in this post, none of them are sponsored or affiliate links. I just really enjoy them and legitimately recommend their services.