COMING CLEAN: First for Everything

Courtney Lewis Opdahl makes the most of Mondays.

I love the first of the month about as much as the first of the year. I also love Mondays. Why? Because it feels like a fresh start.

There’s something very human about wanting a fresh start. Everyone makes mistakes, and many of us would rather not. We’re perfectionists, or perceived perfectionists, and some of us prefer to seem infallible. I’ve had several moments in my life where a mistake has devastated me, where I feel almost paralyzed from moving forward in fear of making it worse or repeating the error. But we’re human. We’re children growing up and learning new lessons. And forgiveness — for others, and especially for yourself — is a beautiful gift.

I still struggle with appreciating my mistakes, but I’ve been better at dusting myself off and taking the next steps forward.

Case in point: New Year’s Resolutions.

I try to avoid making them altogether because I feel like it’s too much pressure. And usually I quit my program by late February or early March, which is longer than most: one-third don’t make it past January. But I love, love, love goal-setting and self-improvement, so I make them every year. Of course, I don’t always have the best plan in place, which is usually how I fall off-track so quickly. And sometimes, I’m not truly at the place where I’m ready to change, even though I insist I am. This year, after speaking with life coach Lauren, I really thought of my resolutions as promises to myself. I could adjust as needed, but the steps I was taking to accomplish my goals were nonnegotiable. If I slipped, as I did, I wouldn’t let it stop me from making progress.

Here are my health-and-fitness resolutions I committed to during my recent Dream Body teleseminar:

  1. Participate in Life Time Fitness T.E.A.M. Boot Camp three times per week.
  2. Take a yoga class at least once per week.
  3. Attend a weekly dance class.
  4. Eat “clean” and avoid: gluten, dairy, soda and processed foods.
  5. Communicate about my health goals via my life coach/personal trainer/family or friends/blogging so I feel a sense of accountability.

I’ve missed a few boot camps, once due to a conflicting family event, once when I had a migraine, and once when I just didn’t want to go. (I made a date with the couch instead, but felt a sense of guilt all night long.) I’ve been eating well, but broken the gluten rule one night on a bread binge — the next day I could barely think straight and felt tired, even with a nap. And I’ve been chatting up my friends and family about my health goals, usually coming away with more positivity and motivation.

BUT I didn’t go to yoga or dance in January, so the classes moved to my February list. Last Wednesday, I attended a yoga class at Life Time Fitness. About 10 minutes in, I thought, Man, it’s hot in here! I had made a plan to take the class with one of my fellow boot campers, suggesting that the relaxing Vinyasa 1 class would help us feel more flexible for the following day’s boot camp. After 20 minutes, my body was pouring sweat — this definitely didn’t feel like a Vinyasa 1 class, as I thought I read on the schedule. It was much more vigorous. By the time our instructor, Aleeah, had the yogis move into shoulder stand (Salamba Sarvangasana), I was preeeetty sure I was in a more advanced class. And I was: hot yoga. It’s a class I always wanted to take, and, even though I ended up there by accident, I felt capable and completely calm when the class concluded. Maybe it wasn’t an accident after all.

It’s often our mistakes, whether small or large, that turn out to be the greatest lessons. Don’t fret the stumbling, the gaffes, the blunders along the path to change. I’m using them to guide me in each new day, in each new moment. Yes, there’s always next month, next Monday, but today seems like the best time to make it happen.

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