We all know a gal or two who is annoyingly positive, energetic, optimistic, and all around overly motivated. Said woman can be dubbed as a super mom who not only works, raises kids, has a seemingly perfect marriage, and still finds time to make homemade play dough and Pinterest-worthy meals on the regular. I have had several friends like this throughout my adult life and I used to silently judge them and compare myself to them, which made me feel like shit to tell you the truth.
I would compare their strong areas to the areas that I lacked. I would justify the differences in motivation between us because at the time, I was going through some pretty rough shit (postpartum depression, anxiety, grief, and marital struggles). I clung to my perceived shortcomings as if it justified my laziness and lack of motivation. I was going to school at the time and excelling in that area, but that was pretty much it. I was what they would call ‘stuck in a rut’ and was doing the bare minimum as a mom and wife. I wasn’t taking care of my body or my mental health, and was just simply going through the motions in life on auto-pilot (disclaimer, I was also on anti-depressant medication which had a lot to do with that auto-pilot behavior).
One day I literally had a revelation. I had so many goals for myself but was doing absolutely nothing to get myself closer to those goals. I was sabotaging my own success at literally every opportunity and almost got a high from making excuses to weasel my way out of doing things that I knew I needed to do. Sure, I was going to school at the time and one of my goals was to finish my degree, but I had many other goals, too! Goals such as taking back control of my mental health and getting off medication, goals of getting in the best shape of my life post pregnancy, and goals of being a happier and more energetic mother, wife, and friend. I wanted to break free of negative behavior patterns and my self-sabotaging tendencies, but literally had no clue how to or where to start.
This may sound so simple and almost juvenile, but I discovered a one very effective strategy that I began using that kept me accountable, motivated, and in alignment with my goals. I bought a planner! Yes, I said a planner. I used a small one for my homework assignments but on this particular day, I went to Target and splurged on a big, beautiful planner. I knew that I had to start somewhere, and for me- I like to write things down if I am to remain on top of them. I got my pen and got to work. I made a list of ‘where I am’ and ‘where I want to be’. I wrote three sentences for each and let my ‘where I want to be’ column become my goals for the year. I made a list of bad habits that I wanted to break, as well as aspects of my behavior that I wanted to eliminate or change.
Now that I had an outline of my primary goals, I knew it was going to take a lot of small steps to reach those goals. How did I start this? By making weekly goals! Each week I would write down several things that were going to help me reach those goals. When it comes to eating better and getting in better physical shape, I would pick 3-4 days that week and schedule it my planner that I was going to workout. On days that I wasn’t going to make it to the gym, I wrote that would be the day I would go on a 2-3 mile walk in with my toddler in the stroller as a form of exercise. In addition to a workout commitment for each week, I would make a weekly meal plan where each day I would write out what I was going to make for dinner. Not only did this allow me to stay on track with healthy eating, I also started saving a lot of money in the grocery store because I wasn’t buying everything in sight; I would stick to my grocery list for the dinner ingredients that I needed and eliminated a lot of grocery waste too!
In addition to writing out what my week was going to look like, I would also write my chores in as well. This may seem dumb, but I found this strategy very effective for keeping a decently tidy home. Instead of letting chores pile up and have to take an entire day to catch up, I would pick 2-3 chores to do each day to help me stay on top of the chores. I would pick 2 larger chores and tackle one of those every other week such as organizing the garage or cleaning the fridge, etc. For my mental health improvement goals, I was lucky enough to have awesome insurance that covered therapist visits, so I saw my therapist every single week for a very long time. When my insurance-paid visits were up, I implemented a lot of what I was working on in therapy into my life. I also would go to Barnes & Noble every other month and pick up a new self-help book that was relevant to my struggles. I would make it a point to read a chapter of each book three times a week. This proved extremely beneficial and wasn’t that difficult to add to my weekly list. Additionally, I wanted to make sure that I was taking at least 3 days a week to spend quality time with my daughter. Even if it was as simple as taking her to the library, the park, or even having her help me bake cookies or coloring together. I knew I needed to start being more present with my child so I began writing it in my planner to hold myself accountable. My weeks now consisted of meal planning, working out, homework, cleaning, active rest days, being present with my kid, and mental health improvement. After a few months of this, I didn’t even need to write this in my planner anymore because it became a routine, but chose to still do so because I get immense satisfaction when I cross things off of a list.
When you are staring at your goal list, it may seem like you are never going to reach them. One thing we forget that big goals are reached by making and reaching smaller goals consistently. Think of these smaller goals as steps you have to climb to reach the top; it is a far less daunting task to think of your goals in this way. Creating goals, weekly goals, and creating routines are so effective when it comes to combating stress and anxiety- I can’t even begin to tell you! Routines have literally changed my life! For example, my daughter is very moody and lazy when she wakes up in the mornings. Not very convenient when you have to be out of the door at a certain time. Before I developed an evening and morning routine, I was usually frazzled by 7:00am every morning just trying to get out of the door; not a great way to start the day! To prevent this and get us on a path to less stressful mornings, I created more time efficient night and morning routines. This entailed my daughter picking our her outfit to wear to school the night before which eliminated a potential argument because if I picked out her outfit, she wanted nothing to do with it. I would get her lunch prepared as much as I could the night before to save time in the morning. I set out clothes, shoes, and all things that would be necessary to get out the door in a timely fashion the next day. I even started doing this for myself! I would pick out my outfit the night before and hang it in the bathroom. All homework was to be done before any computer time which prevented episodes of scrambling to finish homework before leaving each morning. Our high-volume, frazzled mornings were now a thing of the past and we (usually) have smooth mornings now all thanks to creating time efficient night and morning routines. This is incredibly important because having a shitty morning literally sets the tone for the rest of the day, am I right mommas?
This is not rocket science. It may seem silly or un-effective at first, but I promise that you will begin to get into a routine of it. If you are just starting a weight loss journey, please be patient and kind to yourself. Eventually, your weekly accountability list will become routine and you will start to see real progress. You only have one life ladies, make the most of it. If you met me in person today, you would never believe that at one point on my journey as a mother, I was lazy, unhealthy, and did the bare minimum in every area. Now I don’t even know who that person is and I am thankful for my newfound perspective on life and want you to discover this for yourself. Turn off the TV and get your butt in gear! There is no reason that you cannot be that annoyingly happy and confident mom; we all have it in us but it is up to you to pull her out. Think of who benefits when you are on your A game and living up to your true potential? Your kids, duh! When your children see their mother kicking ass in all of her roles, they will emulate that behavior; maybe not right away, but your kids will remember that as they grow older. Take back control of your life you beautiful, strong, and amazing woman! Stop making excuses and breathing life into your problems by telling the same old story about yourself. Tell a new story about yourself and believe it! Make your mental and physical health a priority, cut out relationships and obligations that no longer serve you, and start being selfish with your time. Organize your life and start chipping away at your goals each week. I promise you, you are worth it! Now while you have a legitimate excuse, run to Target and pick up that planner, and don’t forget a new outfit, a facial mask, and a bottle of wine to kick-start your new goal-hitting, organized, and motivated journey!