Every heard of the butterfly effect? The idea that small causes can have large effects. It’s been said that the flapping of the wings of a butterfly on one side of the planet can cause a hurricane on the other. The month of January brings with it the hope of grand resolutions. Not always easy to maintain. The team at Fiftiness has come up with a plan to help. Our own Butterfly Effect, the Just One Thing Challenge!
At Fiftiness, we believe wholeheartedly that small changes can make enormous differences in the long term and the short. That is how we are approaching this New Year and the collective gesture of setting grand resolutions. Rather than marking January 1 with sweeping changes of how much we will exercise, how little we will eat, how non-judgmental we will be, we are setting up small daily challenges, twenty-four hours in which to rehabilitate (or annihilate) those habits that need tweaking or drastic change.
Each day in January, on this post, we will challenge you to do Just One Thing. The idea is to make one small change for the day to feel better about yourself, your life, your health, your relationships, or all of the above.By just doing one thing you’ll see that the change you need is only a day away. Of course, you can take the change you start on Monday and see it through the whole week. That’s just what our founder, Erica Jamieson, did when she revamped her thrice (if not four or five times) daily Starbucks order from Grande Latte with a half shot of hazelnut to a twice only Tall Cappuccino. That one change started a summer’s unintentional weight loss of ten pounds that inspired her to hire a nutritionist and lose the remaining seventy pounds that was hiding her fit and healthy way of life. And that was over a decade ago. One small change. The Butterfly Effect. Read her story here.
Mark your calendars each day with a checkmark or a giant “W” for Win! Who couldn’t use a month full of “W’s” to get 2017 started off right?
Be sure to check back here each day for the new challenge. Tell us in the comments below how you did on the challenge the previous day.We’ll start a conversation from which we can learn and inspire each other.
The first month of 2017 has come and gone quickly! And it’s been a doozy! It can be difficult to remember to take care of ourselves when the events of our lives or the events of the world take center stage as they have in the United States this month with the start of a new administration in Washington. So, please take a minute and congratulate yourself for all that you have accomplished – if it were going to the gym more frequently, or increasing water and/or sleep, trying a new fitness class or taking a walk. Perhaps you reached out to old friends or took time away from the 24/7 news and constant stream of info on all of our screens. Whatever you did this month to begin the journey of your desired change, you deserve kudos. The Butterfly Effect is not instant gratification. It’s a hint of what you may be capable of achieving. Do one thing, just one thing, every day if you can, and see how good it feels! Remember also, as important as small steps are in achieving goals and/or change, forgive yourself those moments you fall back on old habits or simply don’t want to do just one thing! Congratulations!
Decrease your caffeine in-take today! For the Editors of Fiftiness this might prove to be some challenge, but we’re game to go with water, sparkling and flat, and veggie juices! There’s much written about the benefits of coffee vs. the evils of coffee. We side on the benefit but too much of a good thing can be just as toxic as too little. Space out your caffeine today so you don’t get jittery or a headache, but just try to decrease by a cup or two and see if you feel any benefits. More sleep, more focus, less jittery. The best judge of what’s right and wrong for your body is your own insight, but to get to that insight, you need to experiment, and change one thing here or there, to see how your body reacts. Caffeine is a good place to start. Our guess is that you don’t need as much as you think!
Make a date with a friend, couple or family. We all have that person or couple in our lives that we run into at other people’s houses, or at the grocery store or at our kid’s school that after hellos and how-are-yous, we part by saying, Wow, we should really get together! Well, today’s the day! Call that person or send email to the couple and make a plan. Pick a date, this weekend or in the future, set a place and a time. Get it on your calendar! In the same way a change in scenery can make a huge difference in your attitude, changing up who you spend time with can be inspiring in ways you an’t even imagine!
Take a break from your screens today. Whether it’s TV, or your smartphone, an ipad or an iMac, keep it dark! Okay, not for the whole day! Try instead keeping it off during a time you rely on it for companionship or comfort or simply to look busy. Like eating lunch alone. Or while you wait in line for your cappuccino at your favorite coffee shop. Instead of reviewing the news or catching up on FB, keep it dark and enjoy the live action around you. Think about using your break time for a walk around your office or to step outside rather than trolling the internet or shopping online. Another idea, if you are a family that eats with it’s phones in hands (just to google fascinating questions & facts that come up at dinner, I’m sure) make a new rule for today: No Phones at the table. My son taught me a great game when out at a restaurant for dinner. His friends pile their phones in the center of the table for the duration of the meal – from sit down to the bill arriving- the first person to reach for their phone pays the tab! Remember, it’s not about giving it up completely, it’s just about asking yourself if there’s something else, more active or interactive, you might do instead! A small change in your routine that might have big consequences!
Today’s task is to review the small changes you’ve made through the month and rededicate yourself to doing one thing for the entire week. Something you accomplished for 24 hours made you feel great, stirred you to the possibilities of sustained change. Whether it was no sugar, healthy soups for lunch, taking a walk, going to bed or waking 30 minute, take a moment today to reflect and to plan the rest of the week so this one thing is manageable and easy to maintain.
Get outside (if weather permits) and take a super fast walk, or run. Or go to the gym for 30 minutes and get your sweat on! Look, it’s been a emotionally packed weekend and it’s not over yet! What better way to calm the chaos then to burn some extra calories. Amp up your regular workout today – do an extra hill, add five sun salutations to your usual Vinyasa yoga practice- do something to get your breath moving, to burn off some energy. You’ll sleep better tonight, wake fresher tomorrow! You might find that this becomes a needed regular add-on to your week’s workout routine. One workout a week where you just kick it up, challenge your stamina. GO!
January 21 – Stretch!
Today, take time to stretch. Again – there are dozens of videos on Youtube, but if you took my advice on Jan. 17 and subscribed to Yogaglo, then pick a video on there.
Here is are a couple good articles on stretching and a video from one of my favorite fitnes professionals.
Inauguration Day! It’s big. It’s news. It’s going to be overwhelming. Perhaps you are celebrating today, or perhaps you are protesting or maybe you are taking a step back with a wait-n-see attitude. Either way, we all know someone who is looking at the events of the last few months, and those of today, with a different attitude than our own. Sometimes it’s worth a conversation or just a gesture to let each of us know that the world will keep spinning, and that in the end, we are all on the same side, the side I like to call the Human Side! So take a moment today and buy someone a cup of coffee. Ask them how they’re day is going. Tell them about yours. It’s the best way to bridge a divide, one cup of coffee at a time!
You can find them anywhere, online, in your music, even in the paper if you skew your eyes a bit at the headlines. Why start your day with a poem? It’s sort of like taking a deep yoga breath, standing still for a moment, and breaking from the usual nonstop chatter of your own life. Maybe for you it might be spiritual. For me, I sometimes find a useful, possibly daily, inspiration. Take Noah Eli Gordon’s poem, Cake, you’ll find the link to Poets.org below. It’s a poem about wanting a piece of cake only to find maybe it wasn’t the cake you actually wanted. After you read it, you’ll see why the word Cake has become a word I whisper to myself when I need to focus on my goals, and stay on task.
Cake, by Noah Eli Gordon
If you find reading poetry a good way to start your day, you’re in luck. This is an easy Do One Thing you can do all year long. Poets.org offers a poem-a-day program, poetry direct to your email.
Since You’re getting up 30 minutes earlier, why not go to bed 30 minutes earlier as well! There’s nothing like a good night’s sleep to improve productivity, energy and even health. Sometimes the best thing we can do to reset our internal clocks, including our motivation to stay on track of promises we’ve made ourselves, is to give in and get in – give in to the end of the day, and get into bed! Some reading on the subject:
How To Go To Bed Early – this one comes with illustrations of what to do and what not to do!
Get up 30 minutes early and use the extra time to do an online yoga class. I highly recommend a trial subscription to Yogaglo — they have thousands of classes to choose from and you can pick your level, preferred style and duration. But there are dozens of videos on Youtube as well.
We’re all for good music, but sometimes we miss things when we’re constantly distracted. Try taking a walk today without your playlist. Notice the things around you. Or use the time to think deeply about a problem or a roadblock that is in the way of you starting a new healthy habit.
It’s time to bust out of your comfort zone. Scour the Internet and find an exercise class near you that you’ve never tried — Yoga, Hot Yoga, Orange Theory, Step Aerobics, Kick Boxing, Pilates, Boot Camp, PiYo, Insanity – – the list goes on and on. Most gyms will let you take your first class for free or for a small fee. Grab a friend and take her with you. Then you’ll be killing two Fiftiness birds — fitness and relationships.
One of the best things I did for myself last year was to spend $50 at a local Yoga studio for a “new member unlimited one-month pass.” I’m a runner (a slow runner, but a runner) and I love the “high” that comes with an intense cardio workout, so I never liked Yoga. It was too “slow” for me. But as I approach 50, I came to realize that while my heart is in great shape and my resting heart rate is rock solid, my ability to touch my toes was GONE and my balance was non-existent. When I paid the $50 for those unlimited Yoga classes, I made myself go almost everyday because I wanted to try all the the different styles of Yoga. I found the ones I love (Hatha and Ashtanga) and now I do Yoga as often as I run — I’m a convert. And I can touch my toes again.
Make a commitment to eat healthy for the entire day, even though it’s the start of the weekend. Doing so will prove to yourself that you can eat and drink healthy and in moderation EVEN though it’s Friday.
I know a lot of people, myself included, who do pretty good Monday through Thursday or Friday afternoon, but if you indulge Friday night, Saturday and Sunday, you are indulging at least 35 percent of the time — 130 out of 365 days a year. If you’re eating high sugar, high fat foods 130 out of 365 days a year, you are not exercising good nutrition. A better rule of thumb is the 80/20 rule: Eat vegetables, fruits and lean meats 80 percent of the time, and allow yourself a little bit of indulgence 20 percent of the time. Focus on “little bit of indulgence.”
Today we want you to feel a sense of accomplishment by cleaning out one place in your home and throwing some stuff away. Pick a closet, drawer or cabinet and get to work, throwing out or donating stuff you don’t need and organizing what remains so that space is more functional. This way, the closet, drawer or cabinet will serve you, versus you serving it. Post before and after pictures of what you cleaned out on our Facebook page, and don’t miss our article today by Susan Stewart of PerfectlyPlaced on STUFF and how Less is M.O.RE.
“The single greatest thing you can do to change your life today would be to start being grateful for what you have right now. And the more grateful you are, the more you get. — Oprah Winfrey.
The idea of gratitude has gotten a lot of play over recent years. From Oprah and Maya Angelo to all the meme’s on social media. My own brother sent me a text the other day that said, “What if you woke up today with only the things for which you thanked God yesterday.” Regardless of your faith or religious affiliation, that’s a sobering thought. Really — what if we only had the things today for which we were grateful yesterday?
However, I try not to do anything out of guilt (I fail at that endeavor, by the way, but I try). Even before I got my brother’s text, I had been keeping a gratitude journal for a couple of months, writing down two things each night for which I am grateful. Sometimes my entries are very simple — two words. Coffee. Bed. Other times, my entries are longer, filled with deep appreciation for a kind gesture from a friend or acknowledgement of my husband’s giving and even-tempered nature.
I recently had dinner with a friend who was starting her own gratitude journal in the New Year, and she expressed a concern that she’d obsess over whether she was doing ti right. I reminded her that the journal is for her eyes only, and there is no right or wrong. The only “wrong” would be to neglect to do it for such a unfounded fear.
So, tonight, before you go to sleep, write down two things for which you are grateful. You can do it in a note-app on your phone (like that Notability app I mentioned in the Jan. 9 entry) or in a simple spiral-bound notebook you keep beside your bed.
Make a great playlist for your walk, run or work-out. Do a mix of up-beat songs, some slower than others. You’ll find that your energy level (both emotional and physical) will correspond to the tempo and what better way to sneak in some easy interval training! Ask four friends (or co-workers or your kids) for their favorite song on their exercise playlist and add to yours.
This is one of those Do One Things that will motivate in unexpected ways. Like looking forward to watching the next episode of your favorite show on your flatscreen, music spirits you away. Take the time to intentionally curate a list of music YOU love. Listening to your favorite tunes may become something you look forward to everyday, maybe even twice a day! It’s also a truly “Me” moment. Taking care of yourself. Elevating exercise to something that’s not just necessary but deliberate, worth taking the time to prepare for, and fun!
Note from Erica: I use both iTunes and Napster for my playlists, and recently started using YouTube for music. In the past, I kept a number of different playlists named for moods: Sunny Morning Run, or Rainy Day Walk. Now I just have one very long playlist to which I keep adding to and deleting from called Walk. I use this playlist outside for walking and hiking, and at the gym for weight training and on the elliptical. I like the surprise of shuffle! It keeps me on my feet. I like to work out to songs that let me sing, loudly and badly! So not much for club music. Give me a mix of jazz, singer-songwriter tunes, and traditional rock n’roll with a little bit of alternative music and I’ll get moving!. I also like songs with stories for the long haul over flat stretches! The General by Dispatch; Hurricane by Bob Dylan, When the Tequila Runs Out by Dawes.
Three tunes from my list that keep my heart rate up:
Mambocito Mio by Illinois Jacquet
Tell Me About It by Joss Stone
Work it Out by Iration
And if you’re an Elton John Fan, there’s nothing like Burn Down the Mission – starts slow but just try and keep pace as the choruses build!
Would love to hear what you’re listening to – put it in the comments! Maybe we can curate a Fiftiness playlist from our community.
What better way to start a week than with awareness? Today, write down every single thing you put in your mouth: that bite of your husband’s doughnut, the cup of coffee with creamer, the thin layer of mayo across the top of your shaved ham sandwich, the dusting of sugar you put over your grapefruit. All of it. Don’t count the calories or the fat or the carbs — this isn’t a math exercise. It’s a word exercise and an exercise in awareness. And awareness of what we might need to change is the first step in making a change.
One of the things our founder, Erica Jamieson, did on her journey to lose and keep off 80 pounds (12 years ago) was to write down all the things she ate. No judgement. Just write it down. It’s proven method to help in weight loss, if that’s what you want/need to do, but it’s also a way to see how often we’re adding extra things to our diet that we don’t need: extra sugar, processed carbs, a late-night snack.
I personally like the app Notability for this purpose — it syncs across my phone, iPad and Mac, so I always have one of those devices with me. But it’s iOS only, so if you’re an Android person, you’ll have to look elsewhere.
Today, we challenge you to make vegetables the largest part of every single meal or snack (including breakfast. Saute some spinach and add it to an omelet, already!). If most of us look carefully at our diet, we are not getting enough vegetables. Since they are high in nutrition and low in fat and calories, making them the main course in every meal has lots of benefits.
Take the time today to make your soup. (If you’re just joining us, see Jan. 5 and 6 — catching up will be easy if that’s what you want to do.) Remember to at least double your recipe, and freeze half for another day or give some to a fried in need of a kind gesture.
Go to the grocery store today and shop for the ingredients for the soup recipe you found yesterday. And while you’re there, load up on fresh fruits and vegetables (I know, this is two things, but ONE grocery trip). In fact, free free to spend as much time as you want in the produce section.
Scour the Internet for a healthy soup recipe you’ve previously never made, print it out and make a grocery list of the ingredients, doubling the amount you need. Look for recipes that might freeze well and that are full of produce, healthy fats and protein. I’m a big fan of “Whole30” eating, so I’ve put some suggestions below. But the key here is convenience. When I plan for making soup, I but enough for at least two dinners a a lunch or two. I’ve always got some soup in my freezer for emergencies (as in, I didn’t cook and I do NOT want to wreck my healthy eating efforts by getting takeout!)
The best way to get through hump-day is to take a day off of sugar and tap that incredible true energy surge that only comes with clean eating. I do this every few months as a way to reset my sweet tooth. It’s actually easier than you think, let the clock be your friend. At noon, I take a moment and count out how many hours I’ve been awake and think, wow, six hours no sugar. I can go another six. At 6 pm, I’m feeling pretty proud of myself, and it’s dinner time! The hardest time is after dinner, so review Do One Thing Challenge for Jan 2 – get up and move! Dance around your kitchen or simply go to bed early! Mark your calendar with a W in red sharpie, and if you managed one day, you can probably manage two. Two days become three,pretty easily! You’ll notice a store of energy on the fourth morning.
There are three ways to do this:
More Reading & Resources on the Subject of Giving Up Sugar – and remember, it all starts with your very next meal! Don’t overthink it!
Being fit in your 50s means having healthy relationships and surrounding yourself with people who lift you up, who “knew you when” and love you anyway, who would be there in your time of crisis and who can make you laugh because you both know “the back story.” These are also friends we often don’t call and stay in daily contact. And that’s okay, because the relationships are strong enough that they doesn’t need that kind of nurturing. But today, pick up the phone and call one of these friends. Just because. It will improve your day and hers.
Bowl Game Day! Best way to combat a sedentary afternoon in front of the TV chomping on a bowl of chips & dip is to Get Up & Move! It doesn’t have to be an intense work-out at the gym – just move. Sit-ups in your family room, stretching on a yoga mat, dancing around the house, a few sets of stairs in your house, or a stroll through your neighborhood. Just be aware of how much sitting (& snacking) you may be doing today and challenge yourself to move in opposition to all that down time!
You can add to this challenge through the week by just being aware of all the ways in which you can steal a bit of physical activity after sitting at your desk or in your car. Park so you can steal a few extra steps, take the stairs, walk to Starbucks on your coffee break. If you are an early morning work-out warrior, add an afternoon walk. Or reverse that: if you work-out in the evening, get up thirty minutes earlier and take a morning walk. The Butterfly Effect here is just in adding physical movement to your day in ways you didn’t in 2016.
The Day after New Year’s Eve, who can’t use a dose of detoxing water! Stay away from sugary drinks, limit caffeine, opt of water instead. Drink half your body weight in water which means if you weigh 150, drink 75 ounces of water.