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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Just do one thing

Make one change. Not a dozen, not three, not an integration of your perfect plan. Just make one change today that will change your life for the better, and when it is second nature, make another change.

Also, no making a list of changes of choosing one and then another then another in a long line that stretches before you to infinity. Just one thing that matters right now.

Chose one thing, big or little, that is easy or a priority right now, and make that change today. And then, when you realize that you are ready for another change, think of another something in that moment and do it.

2012 was characterized by little changes that added up to a huge difference when I look back. I didn't have the energy or time for big changes or lots of changes, but because of those little changes, my life is now very different and I'm a different person.


Here's some of the little changes I made, one at a time, in 2012 that made a huge difference.


I started logging my food and activity into a program called my fittness pal - and lost 12 pounds and motivated many of my family members to join me. Its been a great group experience. At the end of the summer i was back to my "old weight" and over the holidays i only gained back five pounds - a number that was typical for me to gain over the winter and then lose ( until a few years ago when i only gained and didn't lose).I'm healthier, happier about my image, and dont feel helpless in the face of a scale that either won't budge or seems to be's simple cause and effect and it's very comforting to know that, even if I chose to splurge and undergo a "fattening" once in a while!

Do interval training - I ditched my tried and true running plan and did something radical. I based my running in high intensity intervals. As a result I did a ride and tie without dying, improved my mile time (which is a good indicator of overall health and my risk of dying of some heart or metabolic thingy in the near future) stayed injury free, and stayed motivated to run.

Sit less - my posture improved, back pain and foot pain is no more, and I just feel stronger and more balanced. The difference during my kinda- annual backpacking trip to Ohlone showed the difference of making an effort to stand and move slowly most of the day, rather than mold my butt and thighs to the shape of the chair.

Get rid of the todo list. I am one of those people that can't remember anything unless I write it down, but I realized that by keeping myself accountable to a todo list, it was creating stress and inflexibility in my life. So, inspite of spending actual money on a subscription to a todo list recently, I stopped cold turkey. No more lists. If it was important enough to remember, I remember it. If it was important to me right now, but I thought I might forget I did it right away. And if I did forget something, I either remembered it later when it was more urgent, or a I didn't - it got lost among more important things. Yep, I've missed some appointments, didn't follow through on some of my intentions, and overall feel more satisfied at the end of the day of what I have accomplished. I do utilize a priority matrix for big projects that are longer term so I can keep track of due dates, and things my mentor or boss have asked me to do, but they dont function like todo lists. Things that are reoccurring go on the calendar.

No more gifts at Christmas. Instead i give gifts throughout the year to friends and family and call them "birthday presents" even though they may be months early or late. Spreading the shopping throughout the year reduces my stress around the holidays and gives me the freedom to enjoy the process of finding that special something for someone. This last holiday season was the first one I truly enjoyed in a long time. And I feel more charitable throughout the year, constantly keeping in mind whether I just saw the perfect gift for someone that hasn't gotten a "2012" or "2013" gift instead of focusing on my wish list. I think that regularly buying or giving to others helps me from becoming too selfish with my money or needs. It just makes me feel like a better person, which increases my overall sense of happiness and well being.


What changes have I made in 2013 so far (counting one that I started the end of December here)?


Replace my banana a day with an apple - I love bananas and usually eat at least one a day. I read in readers digest that people who ate an apple a day lowered their cholesterol. I have high cholesterol, although none of the other risk factors that would cause me to reach for a pill bottle yet. I don't like apples as well as bananas, but it's a simple change that isn't too painful so I'll try it. I'm not swearing off bananas - ill just make sure I've had my apple for the day first, before reaching for that banana if I feel like another piece of fruit.

Give myself an allowance - its difficult for me to wrap my head around my money because I'm living off loan money and the generousity of my boyfriend. Should I be saving every cent because everything that I pay for that isn't an essential has to be paid back with interest? Theres going to be some descresionary spending - its not realistic that I'll be able to hold off buying treats or dog toys, or birdie stuff or horse stuff, or ride and tie events or endurance for four years. What I needed was a system that allowed me to feel like I had some freedom and control with money that didn't require me to exercise so much will power that I periodically just blew it and then felt guilty and/or tried to justify it. Matt suggested I give myself a weekly allowance. Ive always worked on a monthly budget but then it's a long time between pay checks so in a world where my "income" and "pay days" are irrelevant anyways, I've decided that sounded like an excellent idea. I have a weekly amount set, and a day that I pay myself. I can either save up for something or blow it on fast food. All together, per month, my allowance equals less than I was spending on discretionary stuff over a month before, but magically it feels so decadent to have this cash in my hand, I find myself using more self control knowing that if I wait until I get home to eat, I'll have five more dollars to spend on Connor, or Tess, or Farley, or the new backpacking gear I'm coveting.


In my spirit of "one thing at a time", I have no future goals or lists of what I'll decide to add to the changes this year. We will just have to see what comes up!



  1. Overall, really an execellent post.

    The only thing I question is the todo list. Still, you are right. You have to rule the list and not let the list rule you.


  2. The priority matrix seems to allow me to organize future tasks that must be done or not forgotten about, but is difficult to treat as a traditional today list, so that seems to be ok for me now.

  3. It's now March and I thought I would share 2 more things that have made the list of "just one thing" since writing this post. I have given up wheat (major offender in triggering hypoglycemia episodes and making my gut feel "not good"), and bought a $5 pedometer to see if I could reach a goal of 10K steps a day. As I reread this post, all those small changes seem like they have been part of my life forever and I don't even think of them any more, so I think this is working!!!!!!! One small change at a time :)


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