A Healthy Chocolate Peanut-Butter Breakfast

Following my last post about the importance of eating breakfast, I thought it appropriate to include a healthy breakfast recipe. I’ve been tracking my macronutrients (carbohydrates, fats, and proteins…I’ll save the long talk about the importance of balance between ALL of these for another blog post) consistently for a while and I’ve found this breakfast to be super quick and easy, plus hearty, filling, and tasty! If you’re friends with me on Facebook or Instagram you may be familiar with this breakfast already. Either way, here’s the ingredient and nutrition breakdown for this gen[you]ine health beat:

  
INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup rolled oats, cooked in water
  • 1 tablespoon all-natural peanut-butter*
  • 1 tablespoon semi-sweet chocolate-chips**

*I like to use all-natural because it’s less processed and tends to truly be just peanuts: not peanuts and a bunch of corn-syrup or what-have-you.

**1 tablespoon chocolate-chips may not seem like very much, but I’ve found that it’s just enough to make eating breakfast feel like you’re finding buried treasure as a kid; in almost every spoonful you’ll find the precious melted gems of chocolate to appease the sometimes ravenous sweet-tooth. 

There! Three simple ingredients that you probably more than likely have laying about in your cupboard or pantry somewhere. I like to cook four cups-worth of oatmeal (that’s two cups dry with a ratio of 1 part oatmeal to 2 parts water) and then eat it for breakfast over the next four days. If that sounds like not enough variety, cook just one cup and eat it for two days instead.

NUTRITION BREAKDOWN:

  • 330 calories
  • 41 grams of carbohydrates
  • 15 grams of fat
  • 10 grams of protein

Now, if you’re at all like me and enjoy oatmeal like cereal (with milk on top) keep in mind that depending on what kind of milk you use the nutrition breakdown will be a little different. Pay attention to the nutrition labels on what you choose whether it’s 2% cows milk, vanilla almond milk, (insert you milk of choice here), or my favorite–raw goat’s milk!

If you try the recipe please comment below and let me know how you like! 

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Importance of Breakfast: Not What You’re Used to Hearing

BREAKFAST. It SHOULD be the most important meal of the day, but many times our poor friend gets the short end of the stick by those us who accidentally overlook, blatantly ignore, or abusively batter it with over indulgences in excessively sweet name-brand coffees or greasy diner plates.

WHY EAT BREAKFAST? Our bodies need energy (which comes in the form of calories from food) to breath, walk, talk, etc. We need energy for the most basic physical activities and especially the most strenuous like biking, running, wrestling, etc. Whatever it is that you do, your body needs energy to sustain life. When we skip breakfast, or go longer than a few hours without food during our wake cycle, our bodies go into a kind of starvation mode meaning that it begins to break down important things in our bodies, like muscle, just so it can get the calories it needs to do what YOU are asking it to. This will probably not only leave you feeling ravenous later in the day, leading to excessive caloric intake, but will also slow your metabolism…yikes! Take heed with this gen[you]ine health beat.

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Exercise Can Be Fun?

Sore muscles.

Not enough time.

Too hard.

I don’t need to.

Not enough energy.

It’s not for everyone.

The excuse list goes on and on. Exercise is important. Period. But when people don’t find it enjoyable or rewarding the chances of people doing it seem less and less. But did you know working out can be fun?

In one of my last posts I gave a few different stress-management techniques. I mentioned a few examples because no one is exactly the same and I realize that we all have varying tastes and abilities. The same thing applies to  exercise preferences.

My classmates in the Exercise & Movement Science program are amazing, but they are all different. And even though we’ve made exercise and physical activity priorities in our lives, we don’t all like the same things. Some of my classmates love stationary cycling while others prefer yoga. Some of my classmates adore strength training and power lifting, but others crave dance and aerobics.

Just like my classmates, you and your preferences are unique too. I’m listing some workout ideas for you to try; only you know your body and it’s limitations, but you’re also probably the best at knowing what you like–so be cautious, but be open. I encourage you to use this post as an opportunity to step outside of your comfort zone and try some of the gen[you]ine health beats I’ve listed below. You may have never tried any of them before, or you may have tried a different variation. Whatever the case, make sure you are getting or working towards achieving 30 minutes moderate activity 5 days per week, OR 20 minutes vigorous activity 3 days per week, OR a combination of the two. Own your exercise, because it is yours! It is your time, so make it what you want; make it rewarding!


Idea #1: Card Game

This workout can be done alone, or in a group.

  • Take a deck of cards and decide whether you want to focus on repetitions or time.
  • For each suit (clubs, diamonds, hearts, and spades) assign either a number of repetitions or time. Example: clubs = 30 seconds, diamonds = 1 minute, hearts = 1 minute 30 seconds, spades = 2 minutes.
  • For each card assign an exercise. Example: 2 = push-ups, 5 = burpees, 10 = lunges, etc.
  • Shuffle the deck and begin!
  • Draw a card one at a time and do what you’ve assigned.
  • Try and go as long as you can; maybe even the entire deck!

Idea #2: Buddy Up!

A few weeks ago after I got home I was determined to exercise. I hadn’t exercised in a while and I just felt like I needed to. My boyfriend Ruben also happened to be coming over. We have a habit when we’re at my house to just sit and talk or watch videos together; but not that day! I was determined. So I invited him to join me, and it was super fun! We went outside and did cardio intervals around my driveway; I kept track of the time and would holler at him when to sprint or jog. Ruben is a lot faster than me so we weren’t really together or talking during the cardio portion, but just having him there made exercising more enjoyable that day.

So think of a person you normally would do something sedentary with, or just think about someone you love. They could be a friend, family member, coworker, etc. and invite them to exercise with you. You’re only limited to your imagination here, so find something you both like and have fun! 🙂


Idea #3: Spontaneous Group Exercise Class

From my education, I’ve REALLY come to appreciate the services gyms can offer. Group exercise classes can be great places for community development and stress relief. Find a group exercise class at a gym of interest for you, look into the available classes, and go for it! The price of classes can sometimes be intimidating, but gyms often do a lot of promotional services, like letting an existing member bring a friend for free once a month. Do your research and be a little spontaneous. Just decide to commit and then do it; don’t feel like you have to wait for an excuse! You may end up loving a class you never would have tried in the first place.

Book Report: Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

One of my core classes for the Exercise & Movement Science program is called Foundations of Fitness Management where we take a look at the fitness industry from a business perspective. The class is awesome, to say the least; all of us students get to pick our own due-dates for projects, and we even get to choose what we do for homework. It’s super cool.

Anyways, one of the assignments we all had to do together was a book report. Out of a long list of about 20, our teacher gave us the wiggle-room to choose one or two books that sounded good to us, read them, and then come back to the class to discuss as a group what we had all read. I chose Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell and I love it! I like the book so much I’ve recommended quite a few times to a number of friends. If you’re looking for an interesting book to check out, I highly recommend this to you as well. I’ve included the class book report I turned in if anyone is interested in getting an idea about what the book is like. If you decide to read it, let me know what you think in the comments section below. Enjoy my gen[you]ine health beat!

Outliers: The Story of Success was the “#1 National Bestseller” during it’s time of publication in 2008. The author, Malcolm Gladwell, printed the book in the United States of America (U.S.A.) and published it at Bay Back Books and Little, Brown and Company of Hachette Book Group, Inc. Outliers was understandably the number one national bestseller of 2008; with the wonderful insight and remarkable connections from Gladwell, readers experience his ideas of success and his opinions towards the modern perception of how successful people become successful. His goal in writing this book is not only to deconstruct this modern perception and show how “outliers” truly become successful, but also to encourage everyone to become more aware of their history, or cultural legacies, and opportunities so they themselves may lead more meaningful and successful lives.

Gladwell uses each chapter to show us his reasoning behind his ideas. And while each chapter is different in content, most all of them have a similar structure. He starts off by showing peculiar similarities behind certain events, people, etc. He then shows why peculiar similarities happen. He proceeds to bust the myth of the modern view of perception towards success by explaining how we sometimes, as societies, create unfair advantages for some by giving them more opportunities than others, and how our cultural legacies influence our reactions towards those opportunities. He finishes off some chapters by proposing changes to make things fairer for everyone. For instance, in chapter one he diagrams how most professional hockey players have similar grouped birth months in January, February, and March. He believes the reason for this peculiarity is because of the January 1st cutoff birthdate for young boys interested in playing in a certain hockey league. Finally, he helps us notice that a difference in age by only a few months at this crucial time in development for children makes a whole lot of difference in coordination and size when recruiters come around to choose which boys to invest money and time in so that the “best” (really the oldest) have the opportunities to become better and possibly professional. He proposes to level things out by having multiple cut-off dates so more boys will have the opportunity to grow in and potentially excel in hockey.

Gladwell’s main purpose for writing this way is to logically support his thesis through facts and a linear thought progression. He uses an analogy, used by many biologists to explain ecology, of the tallest oak tree in a forest; he writes that the oak seed could only have grown to be such a great and massive tree if the other trees hadn’t blocked out it’s sun, it’s roots hadn’t rotted, no horrible frosts came and killed it, no rabbits or deer chewed on its sapling leaves, and no loggers came to cut it down (19). He acknowledges that the modern day perception towards successful people is that they become successful all by themselves with incredible willpower and talent, and that anyone with the same attributes (especially talent) can become successful if they try hard enough. Gladwell argues that while those attributes are important and a lot successful people have them, a person’s level of success is most dependent on his or her opportunities intricately set up through the environment (people, history, education, etc.) and cultural legacies, not their “luck” or innate abilities.

In fact, while he never suggests that natural talents aren’t real or valid, he does devote an entire chapter to 10,000 hours (35-68). He writes about successful and highly influential computer programmers like Bill Gates and Bill Joy. These two men had unusual opportunities to dink around on the newest computers and total at least 10,000 hours-worth of computer programming in a time when most other computer users had to laboriously write out long codes onto stacks of cards and wait their turns to use the computer because only one program could run at a time. He also mentions the success of The Beatles and how they happened to be in the vicinity of someone who was looking for bands to play in a bar in Hamburg. This opportunity gave them the chance for “meaningful” work, meaning they played seven days a week for eight hours straight. About ten years, and 10,000 hours-worth of practice since the band first got together, they produced some of their “greatest artistic achievements”, including, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and The Beatles [White Album] (48).

One of my favorite parts of the book is when he relates the meaningful work done by Asian rice-paddy farmers to the stereotype that Asians are naturally better at math than most people. He informs his readers that tending to a rice-paddy is very time-consuming and exacting, and that many Asians’ cultural ancestry come from this type of life-style: being hard-working and dedicated. In the same part of the book he asks readers to memorize a seven-number sequence in 20 seconds without looking back at the number. According to Gladwell, Asians statistically have an easier time remembering numbers like these because their language allows them to say the numbers at a fraction of the time it takes to say them in English. They also name their numbers in a way that Gladwell suggests makes more sense than the way number names are structured in English. For example, Gladwell argues that the number 35 sort of sounds like a three and a five in English, but in traditional Asian language they literally say “three tens five.” Asking an elementary school student with English background to add 35 and 22 is sometimes difficult for them to do, not because it’s math, but because English numbering doesn’t really follow an understandable pattern yet. Because it poses such a difficulty for these students, it takes longer to accomplish, and Gladwell argues that math might not be that fun for them to learn, therefore, they spend less time doing it. However, students who learn math through a traditional Asian language generally have an easier time adding 35 and 22 together because they’ve been taught to add the five and two together and then the three tens and two tens. He continues to argue in this case that if it is easier for these students to do math, unhindered and even helped by the fact that they go to school a lot longer than American students do (length of days as well as number), than it’s possible that they really are better at math as they get older because of their cultural legacies and opportunities.

The book is filled with tons of examples like that one to prove the accuracy of Gladwell’s points. He talks about test subjects called “termites,” unnoticed geniuses whose IQs exceed Albert Einstein’s, Korean Air pilots and crash statistics, southern men and their cortisol levels. He even references his own family line. But with each example he brings draws the readers back to his underlying points: that an outlier’s success depends on their opportunities and cultural legacies.

At first, when I read the summaries for the book I was skeptical about his connections and material, but the more examples he gave and the further I read, the more I was impressed with his bizarre, and seemingly validated, conclusions (more like seemingly bizarre and validated conclusions). This book is a great eye-opener to reality and success. It certainly opened my eyes a little more to my surroundings and how, even though I can’t control my future, I can definitely help shape it especially when I appreciate what I’ve been given. This book and the information in it have encouraged me to become more aware of my surroundings and personal cultural legacies. They’ve also encouraged me to look for the opportunities in my own life. It has made me less afraid of failure and more excited for knowledge and the future. I already have and will continue to promote this book to friends, family, and even other students or clients. Someday I hope to notice and take hold of opportunities for myself to become God’s and my own personal definition of successful, and also to help others see their opportunities and appreciate their own cultural legacies so they can become successful too.

Tips for Success: Stress Management

Life can obviously be rough. But just because it’s abrasive and daunting at times doesn’t mean the challenges it holds can’t be overcome and even used for our own advantage.

During one of my core classes in the Exercise & Movement Science program, called Group Leadership, my teacher would routinely put quotes on the whiteboard. One day she wrote one that went something like, “Don’t let life happen to you; happen to life!” How awesome is that?! So many people live and act as if life is this python waiting to squeeze the very last breath out of them, and if we’re not careful, it could. But we have SO much influence on the outcome of our success in life and, like most everything else, it takes practice and perseverance.

I am so excited to share these different habits with you because they will truly change your life and your outlook towards it if you practice them mindfully. I will be updating this list frequently, so stay tuned for the newest tips for success!

Are you ready for the success tip number one? Here are my gen[you]ine health beats 🙂 :

Find your own stress management technique: Life can be overwhelming and stressful. We experience two different types of stress in life: positive (eustress) and negative (distress). Eustress is like the exciting feeling you get in anticipation of something fun like attending a concert, meeting up with a date, or opening gifts on a holiday. Distress is like the feeling you might get when walking to your car alone at night, when realizing a bill is past due, or when you’re running late for work. From my understanding, distress can really add up and take a toll on your body if not managed well. When we don’t manage all the impacts of distress, our bodies tend to gravitate towards a “fight or flight” mode that increases our heart rate and blood pressure, and leaves us feeling fatigued. But hope is here, and it comes in many forms! Below is a descriptive list to pull ideas from. Realize that everyone is different and a technique that works for one person may not work for another, and that’s okay. But I urge you to try at least one technique on this list, and to find one on your own 🙂

  • Mindful Breathing- Find private or quiet place and find a comfortable position (standing, sitting, or lying) to spend a few minutes in. Close your eyes and begin to imagine that your body is a part of wherever you are, like you’re melting into your surroundings. Breathe in through your nose letting your chest rise and then your belly; slowly let your belly lift as far as comfortable with your breath, before breathing out. As you breathe out through your nose let your belly lower first and then your chest. Repeat this for a few breaths. Continue this breathing pattern with the slow lifting and falling of your torso as you draw attention towards specific spots on the body. Begin with your forehead; imagine that someone is gently pulling their fingertips from the center of your forehead to the sides of your temples and down your ears. Then imagine the corners of your eyes being drawn towards your ears and then to the floor. Picture the area around your nose slowly melting into the floor and the corners of your mouth being drawn down as well. Continue on down your body in this fashion, paying close attention to as many parts as you can. Once you’ve finished with your toes or heels, focus on your entire body before slowly opening your eyes to finish the process.
  • Physical Activity!- Physical activity has so many proven benefits for your body. According to ACSM‘s [(American College of Sports Medicine)] Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription, physical activity can decrease all sorts of ailments and diseases like, “CVD… [(Cardiovascular Disease)], hypertension, stroke, osteoporosis, Type 2 diabetes mellitus, metabolic syndrome, obesity, colon cancer, breast cancer, depression, functional health, falls…” (9). Regular physical activity can also boost health and skill-related components including cardiorespiratory endurance, body composition, muscular strength, muscular endurance, flexibility, agility, coordination, balance, power, reaction time, and speed. Now, physical activity or exercise may seem intimidating for a number of reasons. Maybe you’ve never really done much before, or maybe you’ve concocted this idea in your mind that they are bad because of seemingly negative connections to things like time, soreness, or exhaustion. But believe me, when done appropriately and carefully, physical activity and exercise can do wonders when it comes to reducing stress. Don’t let any stereotypes you see come in your way of trying this stress reduction technique; exercise doesn’t and shouldn’t always end with a puddle of sweat and a body that couldn’t move another inch if it tried; that type of exercise might be for some people, but isn’t for everyone and should probably not be attempted by beginners without a physician’s consent or supervision. But look into something you’re interested in. Go for a hike on a nature trail, do a stretch routine, go swimming. Try a group exercise class like indoor-cycling or sign up for dance lessons. Learn how to ride a horse or play a game of catch. Try something new or stick with what you like, but whatever you do, have fun with it and play it safe by getting your physician’s approval before attempting a new routine. If you want to learn more about physical activity and exercise click here to visit ACSM‘s website.
  • To-Do List- Whether it’s on your phone, a piece of paper, or whatever, figure out your priorities and write them down. Consistently check this list so that your priorities and goals stay at the forefront of your mind. Keeping a to-do list may help you stay on top of all those things that are easy to forget. I know from my own personal experience that when I keep a to-do list and check and revise it consistently that I’m a lot more productive and efficient in following through. I’m actually currently committed to Chalene Johnson’s 30-Day Push Challenge. According to her website chalenejohnson.com, Johnson is “[a] Motivational speaker, New York Times Best Selling author, and fitness celebrity.” I. LOVE. THIS. CHALLENGE. As of yet I have finished seven days of the challenge and each one has been incredibly inspiring and motivating. If you want or need better productivity or efficiency, if you want to stay on top of all those little things while making huge strides towards your “crazy cool” goals, as Johnson calls them, then I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS CHALLENGE. Aside from you name and e-mail, the program is free! How better can it get than that?! If you are interested in learning more about the challenge or starting it yourself, you can click here or any of the highlighted words in this paragraph. 

You are capable! Use these tips for success and make them your own.

Check  back weekly to see more updates on Tips for Success!

Happen to life 🙂

Circular Resistance Band Routine Designed to Strengthen Lower Body

I was SO excited to get accepted into the Exercise & Movement Science (EXMS) program at Lane Community College for many reasons. One of the reasons was because I got to put what I learned straight into practice THE VERY FIRST DAY of school in my internship! I got hands-on experience working in a gym environment, the Fitness Education Center (FEC), before my second class of the first Monday!

I had recently spent the last two years of my life taking classes primarily focused in anatomy and physiology, but didn’t really get the chance to apply my education to real life situations; in the FEC I was administering fitness assessments, creating exercise prescriptions for personal training sessions, and designing 20 minute-long routines called Fit Expresses (FEs) for extremely diverse populations within the first few weeks of school.

I liked to vary my FEs each day that I interned to gain different teaching experiences and to keep people interested in my newest routines. One day, as I was on my way to the bus, I was stopped by a young man named Jerry who complemented me on a circular resistance band routine I had made. He told me he had especially liked it’s effectiveness and how he had felt the muscles he was using during the workout.

So, per Jerry’s request, here is a revised and updated version of the circular resistance band routine! Enjoy this gen[you]ine health beat!


FORMAT: Each exercise is to be done 20 times per side unless otherwise stated. During the FE in the FEC we went through all the exercises one time before repeating them all a second time; you can go through as many rounds as you like 🙂 Be mindful of your body and focus on the quality of the repetitions rather than the speed.

***WARNING***

  • It is important seek your physician’s approval before implementing new exercises into your routine.
  • Be mindful of your resistance band. Check it regularly for any tears or defects to prevent possible injury.

Clamshells

Lay on your right side. Place your right arm underneath your head so it is supporting your head and neck (without propping it up). Stack your knees and feet directly on top of each other to prevent your pelvis from leaning forwards or backwards. Bring your knees slightly in front of your body.

Level 1- Without a band, lift your top knee up as high as you can (without rotating your pelvis) while your heels are together.

Level 2- Place a circular resistance band above your knees and do the same movements as in level 1.

Level 3- Use the band and keep the top knee and foot level as you lift them up as high as you can (heels are not touching).

Image  Image


Glute Bridges

Lay on your back. Place your hands on either side of your body. Engage your abdominal muscles by exhaling as you lift your pelvis up as high as you can and push through your heels. Try to get your body in a straight line from your shoulders to your knees.

Level 1- With no band, place your feet directly under your knees and close to your glutes. Lift your pelvis up as you squeeze your glutes. Lower back down without touching the floor and then lift back up again.

Level 2- Place the band above the knees and actively push the knees out slightly to maintain tension on the resistance band. Do the same movements as in level 1.

Level 3- Instead of placing your feet on the ground, find a small step or box to rest your feet on. Make sure your feet and knees are still relatively aligned. Lift your pelvis up and then lower back down without touching the floor.

Image


Squats

Bring your feet about hip or shoulder-width apart in two parallel lines. Let your toes point forward and carry your weight towards your heels. Keep your knees slightly bowed apart to maintain tension on the resistance band, your knees and feet should be aligned. Pivot at your hips FIRST, sending your glutes back BEFORE your knees bend (this will prevent forward travel of the knee, meaning the knee comes forward over the toes). Placing your hands in front of your body, like in the picture, may help with balance. For levels 2 & 3, thrust your hips when you come up so help activate your glutes even more.

Level 1- Isometric hold: lower into a squat and hold the position for 20-30 seconds.

Level 2- Lower and lift to a count of down two, up two.

Level 3- Lower and lift to a count of down five, up two.

7. Beginning Squat  8. End Squat


Box Walks 

Place a band above your knees and squat with feet hip or shoulder-width apart, pivoting at your hips first. Try to prevent your head from bobbing up and down while you execute the steps; imagine you had a glass of water on your head and you didn’t want it to tip over and spill. When you step, focus on bringing the knee up high. Complete two full boxes (1 box = 4 steps forward + 4 steps left + 4 steps backward + 4 steps right).

 10. Box Walk Step

11. Finish Box Walk Step

 


Leg Abduction

Stand next to a stable object as needed for balance. Only lift your leg as high as you can without letting your spine or pelvis tilt.

Level 1- Without a band, bring your toes to your shin (using the leg away from the wall). Your heel should be pointing to the floor. With slightly bent knees lift and lower the outer leg to a count of up two, down two.

Level 2- Place the band above the knees and follow the same movements as in level 1.

Level 3- Place the band at your ankles and change the count to up five, down two.

13. Leg Abduction   14. Leg Abduction 2


Posterior Leg Raise

Stand facing a stable object. Bring toes towards shins and lead with your heel. Keep a neutral and unmoving spine as you extend your foot backwards.

Level 1- No band, lifting and lowering to the count of up two, down two.

Level 2- Band around ankles and same count.

Level 3- Band around ankles to the count of up five, down five.

                                                15. Posteior Leg Raise

 16. Posterior Leg Raise


Hip Flexion

Stand with your feet about hip-width apart. Step one foot out several inches. Lift the toes towards the shin so your heel is pointing to the ground. Lift knee directly up as high as possible and then place your heel down in the same spot.

Level 1- No band to the count of up two, down two.

Level 2- Band around heel of one foot and underneath arch of the opposite (displayed in picture below).

Level 3- Same band placement to the count of up five, down two.

                               19. Band Placement  17. Hip Flexion

20. Down   21. Up

 

How to Write & Use Goals

A couple of years ago while I was a camp counselor for a 5th-grade outdoor school I had the opportunity to listen to a guest speaker talk about his journey on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT).  The PCT is a two-thousand sixty-some mile-long trail that leads from Mexico all the way to Canada. During the man’s presentation he showed pictures of all the beautiful landscapes he encountered, he told us about the importance of water and the long dry-stretches he and his friends made to get the water, he played a video of golf ball-size hail that fell during his hike. It was in those moments, as I sat criss cross-applesauce with 50+ fifth-graders, that I realized I would hike the PCT myself one day.

Fast-forward to April 24th of this year (2014) when my boyfriend Ruben went to our local library to return some movies. While there, he noticed some free books sitting in piles. He asked a librarian what they were about and decided they sounded like books I would appreciate. He brought them over to my house and handed me one titled “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” by Steven Chbosky and another titled “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed with a picture of a worn-out hiking boot with red laces on its cover. He excitedly explained that “Wild” was about a young woman’s journey on the PCT and reminded me of how I’d mentioned the PCT before. I was ecstatic not only from the returning feelings I had during the initial realization, but also from the fact that I held within my hands an autobiography with detailed descriptions about the very trail I had dreamed of.

I started reading “Wild” immediately. I’ve read about half of it already. And despite all the paragraphs Strayed writes of dangerous close-encounters with animals and painful struggles, I am determined more than ever to make this spark of a desire ignite into reality. My goal is to hike the PCT.

Now, take a look at the previous statement. What do you think of it? Can you think of one word to describe it? I can: vague. It’s not bad, but it is a poorly written way to express my goal/desire and will stay a stagnante daydream unless I take action to make it come to life. The statement is not specific enough. It’s not measurable. It may be attainable, but nothing in it implies action aside from hiking? Even though it’s relevant to what I want to do, it’s not realistic. And it certainly isn’t time-bound. In essence, it’s not a S.M.A.R.T. goal.

S.M.A.R.T. is an acronym that stands for all those words mentioned above: specific, measurable, attainable/action-oriented, relevant/realistic, and time-bound. These words act as tools that help enable people to have higher chances of success and follow-through, and also as guidelines to help track progress.

S.M.A.R.T. goals are made even stronger by smaller “objectives.” I like to think of the relationship between goals and objectives like a pyramid; the base of the pyramid is made up of smaller more frequent objectives so that the tip of the pyramid, or S.M.A.R.T. goal, is ultimately attainable and within reach. Depending on the length of time designated to reaching the goal, objectives can be set annually or quarterly, but are probably more commonly monthly, weekly, and even daily.

With this framework in mind, I can more clearly express my PCT longing. I still have required research to make my S.M.A.R.T. goal realistic, but one example could be:

“Within three years I will save X amount of money to budget for a one month-long hike on the Oregon span of the PCT. During those years I will also research necessary equipment, consult with professionals, and practice an exercise routine based on hiking to better physically prepare me for the trail.”

This new statement is definitely specific; it tells me the what, when, and where. The statement is also measurable; I can make smaller objectives to track my budgeting, like dedicating 10% of each paycheck to a PCT fund. I’m giving myself ample time to save and plan for this hike so it is also attainable. Everything in my statement is relevant and realistic to my main desire. And, lastly, it is time-bound since I’ve given myself an outline of three possible years to save and prepare.

Other smaller objectives could be to hike every month and more consistently and longer the closer my deadline came; to buy a PCT guidebook within the next two weeks; or to find a good pair of hiking boots and wear them in before the time of the true trail hike begins. All these objectives help bring life to my main goal.

So what kind of desire(s) do YOU have? Would you like to increase flexibility, lose weight, or learn to swim? Do you aspire to build muscle, run a 5K, read a book, or even own your own car? Think about what you want or need. Think about what you’re passionate about and what you wouldn’t mind dedicating time towards. After you’re done thinking, express your desire(s) in the forms of S.M.A.R.T. goals and objectives and do some research! Write them out on paper and remind yourself of them; don’t let them fade away.

CREATE a strategy to tackle your daydream.

EDUCATE yourself with the realities of your desire(s).

Keep yourself INSPIRED through reminders and objectives.

And FIND the joy and realities behind your passion.

If anyone wants to share any goals or objectives, or if anyone needs help building one, feel free to comment and share! Stay tuned for the next gen[you]ine health beat!