good, better, best

Upon waking up this morning and stuffing a handful of my friend’s homemake cardamom apricot pepita granola in my mouth, I decided that I wouldn’t embark on the latest Paleo cleanse for the New Year. I’d been toying with the idea all week, as a way to provide structure, and of course, radically change my life, as all the books and websites vapidly promise. But last night, over NYE beers, my friends convinced me that I can achieve my goals with good old moderation.

Last night we marked the passing of another year, and today we wake to its blank slate. The new year offers so much it’s almost painful. And as a typical Type-A idealist (ENFJ if you must know), I love it. I love finding out my friends’ resolutions. I love coming up with ways to be a better person. I love the reminder that you can always begin again.

But as this New Yorker article on resolutions proposes, New Years is just one instance of the “notational boundaries” that are scattered throughout our lives. Whether it be a new week, a new month, or a new year, fresh starts are always at hand. The article also suggests that setting more realistic goals—and making a concrete plan for how to achieve them—is the best recipe for success. Boring, perhaps, but more so much more attractive than pipe dreams.

beach new year

Last year’s New Year’s Day beach walk.

The hope of forming new habits; being a better friend, spouse, coworker, and family member; moving the details of one’s life closer to one’s ideal. To me these things rival wilder dreams like hiking the Appalachian trail or writing a novel. Why? Because they just might happen. I can’t remember if I set resolutions last year (I wasn’t actively blogging at the time), but 2013 still brought good things. Moving. Traveling. New friends. Race PR’s. A revamped blog. My scooter. A calm in the career storm. A new feeling of home. So many things to name.

The usual New Years Resolutions don’t apply to most triathletes. Our gym memberships get used regularly. We checked the “exercise more” and “lose 10 pounds” boxes months (or years) ago. We get outside, we set goals, and we achieve them. So what’s left? Here are 10 resolutions or goals I’ll be striving for this year: five fitness/health/triathlon-related resolutions and five not. (Need resolution ideas? Check out this list of ones you might actually be able to keep, from one of my favorite magazines.)

Triathlon resolutions

1 – Strength train more consistently. Give me 20 hours a week of swimming, biking, and running, and I won’t bat an eye. But lunging, squatting, lifting, and crunching? Not so much. This year, not counting yoga, I resolve to incorporate at least one of these sessions into my weekly routine.

2 – Break 1:40 in a half marathon. I know I can do this. It’s just a matter of when, and where.

3 – Go sub-11 hours at Ironman South Africa. Barring winds, flats, or penalties, I know I can do this too.

4 – Drink (a little) less. There are a million studies about how moderate alcohol consumption isn’t so bad/is actually good for you, but I probably had an alcoholic beverage every single day in 2013. (The few days I didn’t have one were likely made up for by the days I had two.) This is what happens when you have an insatiable taste for hops and a husband who can whip together a craft cocktails on a moment’s notice. I’m not going to go crazy and rule it out completely, but, barring social engagements, I’m going to try to keep Monday though Thursday 0% ABV days (or, if it’s been a rough day, something from my newest drink bible.)

5 – Fix my GI issue. I just purchased the mySymptoms app to try and better track what foods or scenarios might be causing it. I know that solving it once and for all might be out of my control, but I want to be more intentional about fixing it at least leading up to my April Ironman (without having to pay a specialist).

Life resolutions

1 – Maintain balance with technology. I’ve recently declared our bedroom a phone-free zone, and in just a few days, it’s already been a good thing. That email from your boss at 10:30 pm can probably wait. If it can’t, get up and reply to it somewhere else. Bedrooms are not for working or stressing.

2 – Cultivate friendship. Though texting and social media have already brought me into more satisfying daily contact with a number of people, there’s no substitute for phone calls and snail mail. In November I kick-started monthly Skype dates with a dear friend in Germany, and I hope to continue that trend with others this year.

3 – “Check the box” Sundays. After my long run and swim, I’m committing to making Sundays more productive. It can be as simple as running an errand I’ve been putting off, making a batch of granola or soup for the week, or calling a friend. While I might already be doing this, this year I want to carve out time for things rather than just waiting for them to get done.

4 – Learn to cook. Sure, I can follow a recipe and throw together a mean “what’s in my fridge” concoction. But when it comes to having truly mastered a braise or knowing exactly how acid affects a dish, I’m still green. I resolve to at least practice consistently two or three of Michael Ruhlman’s 20 cooking techniques.

5 – A little more hippie. This blog’s name was inspired by the idea of balance. And while I love my lifestyle, this year I want to ease up just a wee bit to make time for other projects, as yet unnamed.

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