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Well, I’m back from my European jaunt.  I had an absolutely wonderful time (it was one of the few times in life where things were actually *better* than I expected) – but I am also very happy to be home (not so happy to be back at work, but that is another story).    I’m just about finished catching up with sleep and laundry and I’m looking forward to spending some time cooking and preparing meals for the week (the fact that I’m looking forward to cooking shocks me as much as if I had suddenly spouted a pair of wings).  I missed having total control over my eating choices in Europe and I didn’t always make the best decisions when it came to food (and, erm, beer).  But I’m not going to waste time doing a post-mortem on the whole things – it was an amazing trip and now that I’m back I can refocus.  I usually feel invigorated at this time of year and it seems like a much better time to make changes than on January 1st (I think it harkens back to the “back to school” spirit on the season).  I’ve got my meal plan for the week all set (hurrah for soup season!) and I’m very much looking forward to getting back into my gym routine.  I would really like a new short-term fitness goal on which to focus -  I was hoping to find a Thanksgiving Day “Turkey Trot” near my house that I could aim for, but I can’t.  I think I respond well to these kinds of short-term goals because they keep me focused.  I’ll keep racking my brains because I’d really like to publically state the goal here – you guys will keep me honest.  In the meantime, I thought I’d share this picture of me and one of my new super-thin European friends:

(Just kidding – it is from this amazing church in the Czech Republic that is entirely decorated with human bones.)

As you may recall, back in January I wrote a post about resolutions, suggesting making small incremental changes in your life, instead of going for one big drastic goal. I’m a firm believer in the power of these small changes, and I also support making resolutions year-round. No need to wait once a year to make a difference –after all, today is the first day of the rest of your life, right? Recently, I added a small change to my daily schedule in the form of a twenty minute morning run. As it so happens, twenty minutes has turned out to be my magic number. It’s long enough to break a sweat and burn some calories, leaving me feeling refreshed, but not drained. As a result, I’ve had more energy at the office, and through some bizarre logic, has me getting to work on time!! This is the most surprising part for me, a chronic running-out-the-door-chasing-after-the-bus person my whole life. I think it’s from the combination of energy and time management that comes with prioritizing my morning.

Better yet, knowing that I’ve gotten at least a little bit of exercise relieves some stress in terms of finding time to work out later. I prefer to do some other physical activity later in the day in addition to these short runs – play tennis, do short interval training, or take a yoga class.  But if I don’t get to any of those, I know I already met my personal bottom line requirement for the day.

The biggest hurdle in morning exercise – getting out of bed – got a little easier after I invested in a few good accessories: Nike Air Pegasus + 26 shoes (rated a Best Value Buy  by Runner’s World), my new NUX cross back bra (made with some glorious moisture management material), and a teeny tiny ipod shuffle, loaded with upbeat music. All matching, of course ;) Never underestimate the power of good workout clothes and accessories to motivate!

What gets you motivated to start a new routine? Have you made any small changes that are making a big difference in your well-being?

- Jean

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