Six years ago, after way too many Thanksgiving turkeys in one holiday weekend (from mutliple holiday meals with different friends), I decided to try being vegetarian for just the month of December and then January came and went and I was still vegetarian.  Now several years later I’m still happy to be a herbivore (and carbivore, but I’ll get to that).

I’ve learned from experience that I can’t give myself open-ended or extremely long-term lifestyle goals.  I need a foreseeable mile-marker to keep in mind otherwise I will quickly lose interest.

So with that said, I am giving myself two January resolutions – as opposed to 2012 resolutions.

1. Drastically reduce sugar intake

I have gotten lazy about eating well. Mark teases me about being a vegetarian who doesn’t eat many vegetables.  This must change. Not only do I need more veggies, but I also need more grains and legumes for proteins. More about my tracking tool below.

2. Work out at least 4 times a week

Fortunately I have a good start on this one since we got a treadmill at home this past Fall.  Another thing I know about myself – I don’t go to gyms, no matter how convenient or nearby they might be.  Having a treadmill at home has been wonderful! I’ve already gone from being able to run 30 seconds at a time to 3 minutes, plus lots and lots of walking.

The Tools

1. Home Equipment

As I said, the treadmill has been a boon in getting me started.  The only other equipment I’m using so far are dumbbells, an aerobic step to act as a bench for certain exercises, and a yoga mat.

I wanted a treadmill rather than an elliptical or nordic track because I knew I would need to multi-task to get interested in exercising at first.  The treadmill we have, combined with a bathtub shelf and the iPad, is the walking desk I’ve been wanting. When I’m doing a C25K routine, I simply remove the shelf and I have lots of room for the running segments.

2. Websites / Apps

C25K – Couch to 5K

There are C25K websites and C25K apps galore (even for treadmills!). It’s a nine-week program that alternates walking with running, building you up to run a 5K. If you need extra time, you can do each week multiple times until you’re ready for the next one.   I highly recommend using an app – you start up your playlist, then start your C25K app and a voice will tell you when to walk and when to run.  Usually your music will fade a bit for a moment so you can hear the instructions.  I like this Ease Into 5K app because I can choose a pleasant chipper British voice to tell me when to run, when I’m halfway done, and when to cool down.  She makes it sound so easy, of course.

200×2 – Abs and Arms

I got the idea for this from the 100 Push Ups and 200 Sit Ups programs – similar to C25K in that they build you up to a goal over several weeks.  Instead of just focusing on these specific exercises, I’m making a more general Abs and Arms program using the sets and reps of these programs (so I have some sort of target each day), and mixing up the exercises so I get some variety.  I put the numbers together into a weekly plan. This way, I can alternate days of the week between C25K and 200×2 – hopefully working out 6 times a week and easily meeting my resolution goal. 

Fitocracy is still in beta with some beta quirks, but so far I’m loving it.  Basically, you get points for working out – anything from traditional squats and bench presses to dancing, fencing, or drumming. They have quests you can do for even more points, and these are what I find really valuable.  The quests give me ideas (or at least motivation) to try exercises that I would not have done otherwise. The list of possible exercises is fairly long with (hit or miss) descriptions – very helpful for giving me variety in my 200×2 routines.  I think it really helps to be in a group with people you know.  I’m in a small group with Mark, his son, daughter, son-in-law, and brother-in-law.  It’s nice for encouragement and competition.  However, I haven’t found a way to export exercise history or data, or back it up elsewhere.  That worries me a bit, but I am tracking some of my workouts in other places, too.

My Fitness Pal

For food, I’m using My Fitness Pal – a free website and app I heard about thanks to fellow librarians on Twitter.  It has a huge database of ingredients and meals, but the thing that really sold me was the barcode scan search for the iPhone/iPad app.  I scan the code on my soymilk, for example, and immediately have all the information per serving size filled in.  All I have to do then is fill in how many servings I’ve had.  This has been *wonderful* for curbing post-holiday snacking, and also to get a picture of where I’m falling short in my diet.  After the first few days, I can already see that I need way more vitamin A and iron in my foods.

Looking Ahead

Like I said at the beginning, these goals are just for January.  I’m having fun with both Fitocracy and My Fitness Pal now, but I don’t think I could keep it up for a whole year.  At the end of January, I plan on enjoying a dark chocolate sea salt bar from Trader Joe’s while I evaluate how well I’ve done on my goals, and how well these tools have worked for me.  From there, I will decide what the goals or projects for February should be.  Stay tuned.