Choosing Health for Outdoorsy Moms: Over 25 Ways to Choose Health this Year
Ah yes, the start of every new year usually comes with proclamations of “resolutions” and big changes. Statements like “I want to get in shape!” or “I want to save money!” are great but tend to fall by the wayside within a month or two. Why does this happen?
It likely has something to do with the fact that these statements set expectations extremely high. In addition, resolutions tend to be broad with no set criteria to determine if you’re making progress. With no parameters set, slow progress can be extremely discouraging, and it sets you up for failure in the long run!
Instead of making resolutions this year, why not make some achievable goals to work towards? Here we list some tips for setting and tracking your goals this year, and some fun and motivating ways to help you get moving and stay on track. We also include some gear we love to help make working towards your goals that much more comfortable.
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- Choosing Health for Outdoorsy Moms: Over 25 Ways to Choose Health this Year
- Start by Knowing Yourself and Your Tendencies
- Choose Health and Get Moving This New Year
- Choose Quality Gear that Lasts
- Choose Health This Year
- Choosing Health for Outdoorsy Moms: Over 25 Ways to Choose Health this Year
Start by Knowing Yourself and Your Tendencies
Before you try to set goals or make changes, it’s helpful to figure out what motivates you. For example, do you prefer having an accountability partner to make sure you show up, or are you self-motivated enough to do it alone? Do you resist expectations from others, or do you prefer to follow a set plan laid out by another?
There is no “wrong” tendency to have but attempting to create goals that don’t fit your personality may make it tough (or impossible) to meet those goals. The author, Gretchen Rubin, lays out four main personality tendencies in her book, “The Four Tendencies”. According to Rubin, these tendencies shape our behavior and give insight into how we react to both inner and outer expectations.
Here are the four tendencies:
- Upholder – Meets both outer and inner expectations
- Obliger – Meets outer expectations, but has difficulty with inner expectations
- Questioner – Resists/questions outer expectations, but meets inner expectations
- Rebel – Resists both outer and inner expectations
I fall into the “Obliger” tendency. I can meet deadlines and outer expectations, but I have a difficult time meeting my own needs and expectations. I have discovered that in order to meet goals, I need some form of outer accountability. For example, I prefer to work towards a virtual fitness challenge with my husband as a “team”. I don’t want to let him down, and I am also working toward my personal expectations.
When I decided I wanted to eat better, I told myself that I needed to be a role model for my kids. On my own, I’m a sucker for sweets, but seeing it as promoting healthy habits for my kids helped me work towards that goal. You can discover your own tendency along with tips for succeeding based on the four tendencies using this online quiz (Take Quiz Here).
Choose Health and Get Moving This New Year
Once you discover your personal motivation for working on goals, you can start setting those goals. Check out these tips to get you moving and choosing health this year.
Set and Track Your Goals
We know that it’s important to have goals in life. but making those goals achievable is easier said than done. Here are some tips for not only making the right goals but also tracking those goals along the way to promote their success.
Focus on SMART Goals
You may have heard of the term “S.M.A.R.T.” goals, but what exactly is a SMART goal? This acronym is a tool to help guide your goal setting and make your goals both clear and reachable. The letters stand for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. Here is what each portion entails:
Rather than generalizing your goal, such as “I want to get in shape” or “I want to get healthy”, narrowing your focus and setting precise terms is much more effective for keeping you motivated. For example, setting a goal to train for a race (such as a 5k or ½ marathon) still works towards those general goals, but gives you something specific to work towards.
Choose specific criteria that you will measure to track your goal progress. Examples include:
- Checking your body weight or BMI each month for a weight-loss goal.
- Using an app to track mileage times or distance for a running/biking goal.
- Choosing a set number of books read or hours spent outside each month.
While goals should be challenging, they also need to be realistic. If a goal is too far out of reach, you are much more likely to give up early on. For example, if you are new to running, running a marathon in 3 months is likely not attainable. Instead, work towards a 5 or 10k race and then increase as each new goal is met.
Why is this goal important to you? It should be personal and meaningful to you rather than popular in society. For example, for an active goal, instead of saying you want to “get healthy”, maybe for you it’s more relevant to say “reduce my risk of heart disease and diabetes, which run in my family”. For my family, a goal to spend 1000 hours outside is relevant because we all show an increase in mental health when we get plenty of time in nature.
Give your goal a deadline. This helps keep you motivated to continue working towards your goals and prevents you from skipping workouts or getting bored along the way. You could have a short-term goal, such as “I want to be able to run a 5K in time for the race in 3 months”, or “I want to spend at least one hour of quality time outdoors every day this month”. Longer term goals could include a yearlong time frame, such as reading 24 books or hiking 52 times this year.
Consider Both Personal and Family Goals
When you’re making your SMART goals, consider adding in some family goals as well. This could include traveling more, spending more time outside, trying new things, etc. We have a tradition of sitting down as a family at the end of the year to discuss what we loved about the year and things we would like to change in the new year.
This morphs into writing out some family goals together. The kiddos are more motivated to work towards goals that they help to set. Just be sure those goals fit into the SMART model to promote success. Oh, and make sure a few of your goals are personal goals too (rather than all family goals). Everyone deserves some personal development and solo success as well!
Keep a Goal Journal
Having a journal or planner that is used to plan and track your goals can be a great way to stay motivated. I started using one with a habit tracker (like this one from GoGirl) at the beginning of this year, and I was surprised at how well it pushed me to work on those habits and goals so I could check off that daily box.
There are various options on the market with pages for planning your goals in ways that make sense to you, whether you prefer lists, mind-mapping, etc. You could have one planner specifically for goals or incorporate goal tracking in your regular daily planner. Find what works best for you and get tracking!
Use a Goal Tracking App to Track All Your Goals
If you prefer to make and track your goals on your device, consider using an app that specializes in just that. There are many options on the market right now, so consider what helps keep you motivated when choosing one that works for you. For example, if you are data-driven and prefer seeing charts and graphs of your progress, the Strides app is a good bet. If you love playing games, getting rewards, and social networking consider Habatica. If you want a journaling aspect and the ability to track offline, look into GoalsonTrack.
Use a Goal-Specific App
Another app option is to use an app that is more specific to your goal. For example, if you have an active goal such as running distance or a set number of workouts per week, you can use Strava and others to get more specific stats. If you have a reading goal (like reading 20 books this year), you can use an app like Goodreads. There are even apps that track your water intake (such as WaterMinder) if your goal is to drink more water, and sleep trackers if your goal is to get better quality sleep.
Make a Chart and Keep it Visible
If you have a number-specific goal, such as the number of books read in a year, the number of hours outside each week, or the number of miles run in a month, you can make a simple visual and keep it where you can see it often. My family keeps charts on the fridge for the number of hours we spend outside and the number/location of new places we explore (both of which are family goals we set).
One of the biggest reasons that goals fail is the loss of motivation. When you’re the only one keeping yourself accountable, it can be tough to stick to the plan and work through the rough patches! Here are some ways to stay motivated and help you see your goal to completion.
Find Your Tribe
No matter what the goal, having someone around that can keep you accountable can make a world of difference! This could be a workout partner, a health/fitness group, a book club, or a significant other who is committed to helping you reach your goals.
For example, my husband and I work on virtual distance challenges together as a team, and we also compete to see who can read the most books in a year. We both benefit and we keep each other in check. I also love our homeschool nature explorers’ group, which encourages us to spend quality time outside regardless of the weather.
Get (or Borrow) a Dog
When you’re caring for a canine furbaby, you commit to taking them outside, going for walks, playing, etc. They also aid in making an active lifestyle routine. Don’t have a dog? You can volunteer at a local shelter to take their pups for walks and play with them.
Another option is to borrow a four-legged friend from a family member, friend, or neighbor. I used to take my parents’ lab for long walks a few times a week to get my miles in and hang out with my furry brother. We both returned pleasantly exhausted with smiles on our faces.
Take on a Challenge
This is my go-to when I need extra motivation. My family thrives on taking on challenges! My husband and I will take on the distance challenges from The Conquerer, which include virtual postcards along the way and a finisher medal at the end.
My kiddos will participate in reading challenges at the local library where they can receive prizes after a certain number of books are read. We also love the 1000 Hours Outside Challenge to increase our quality time in nature. A quick Google search can help you find a local or virtual challenge that fits your goals and provides motivation to reach them.
Sign up for a Race, Fitness Contest, or Event in Advance
Locking yourself into an event not only satisfies the time-bound portion of your SMART goal, but it also increases your motivation to stay on track with your workouts or progress towards your goals. Are you working towards a ½ marathon? Sign-up right when the window opens to lock in your spot. Looking to spend more quality solo time in nature? Sign up for an outdoor conference well in advance. This prevents the excuses from leaking through and sabotaging your motivations.
Attach Healthy Habits to Current Routines
This may be overly simple, but it can be extremely effective. If you walk your kiddos to the bus stop in the morning, take the long way there or back home. If you park on the street or in a parking lot for work, park as far away as feasible and get some extra steps in. If you are running errands, stop by a park and let your kiddos run while you walk laps around the area. Tagging these things onto activities you’re already doing makes them easy habits to incorporate into your day.
Try Something New
It can be easy to stay in your comfort zone and keep doing what you know. However, you never know when you’ll discover a new passion until you give it a shot! Step out of your normal and check out these tips for trying something new this year. Need help finding what you need? Ask around on local social media pages to see what interesting new-to-you things your area has to offer.
Take a Class or Book Some Lessons
What better way to learn a new skill or try a new activity than learning from an expert? Whether you are taking ski lessons from an instructor or taking a wilderness survival class at your local REI store, professionals can help ease some of the stress of trying something new. Great places to look for lessons and classes are local rec centers, State and regional parks, outdoor recreation stores, and even your local library (mine offers beginner guitar, photography, and novel writing classes).
You would be surprised what type of equipment you can rent. Many local state and regional parks rent out snowshoes, kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, bikes, etc. Ski resorts rent out skis and snowboards to try while on the slopes. Some companies even rent out full camping kits, so you won’t have to pack much more than clothes and food. This also works well as a “try-before-you-buy” method if you are considering purchasing equipment but want to ensure it’s a good fit for you first.
Join (or Form) a Group
Being a part of a group of people that share common interests is a powerful thing. If you’ve generally flown solo, joining a new group may be just what you need to gain the motivation to reach your goals this year. You could join a fitness group (such as FitMom), a local hiking group (such as Hike it Baby), a book club, an outdoor club (such as 4H) or local state parks clubs), and many more. Can’t find a group that fits your interests? Form one! Social media outlets make forming groups and getting people together easier than ever.
Enlist the Help of an Experienced Friend
Everyone has that friend who has some interesting passions. Whether it’s backpacking, rock climbing, volunteering at an animal shelter, axe throwing, archery, or stand-up paddleboarding, you may be surprised what your friends are into! Try asking around and seeing if they will introduce you to a new sport or activity they love. You get to try something new and they get the joy of sharing their passion with someone they care about. Just be sure to return the favor if they ask you to share your own interests with them as well.
Take a Guided Tour
If visiting new places (local or abroad) is part of your goals for the new year, consider signing up for a guided tour. You get to be active (hiking, biking, kayaking, etc.) while also learning a ton about an area. Some areas offer self-guided tours as well, which is convenient if you happen to have little ones with short attention spans. Check your local state, regional, or National Parks sites for local tours, or try a travel agency for tours abroad.
Take Time for Yourself
As a parent (especially with young children), it can be extremely difficult to take the time to focus on yourself. However, the benefits far outweigh the “guilt” you may feel from stepping away from your kids for a little while. Quality self-care can reduce stress and anxiety and provide overall better mental health. In other words, taking time for yourself can actually make you a better parent. Here are some tips and options for your next self-care session.
Find Solid Childcare Options
First of all, finding reliable, trustworthy childcare options will take some of the stress and guilt away from taking time for yourself. This could be your significant other, a trusted friend or family member, a professional childcare provider, etc. You can interview babysitters, set up a childcare swap with a good mom friend, or drop your littles at your parents’ house for some quality grandparent time. Whatever you decide, it is worth the effort to find good care for your kids so you can focus on your child-free mental health outing.
Head Out on a Solo Outing
There is something incredibly freeing about hitting the trail by yourself or heading to a coffee shop for some quality reading time. It doesn’t have to be an epic adventure, just taking the time to be with yourself and set your other obligations aside for a bit can greatly increase your mental health. You get to recharge and fill your self-love tank so you can better deal with whatever mini-disasters may await you when you return home (and with little kids, life is full of mini-disasters!).
Attend (or Plan) an Adult-Only Activity
One of my favorite activities is hosting “Moms Hike Out” events where I invite other moms to join me for an adult-only hike followed by conversation at a local coffee shop or brewery. It is such a rejuvenating experience, and I love getting to know these moms for who they are as an individual rather than who they are as a parent.
Not sure where to start to find an adult-only event? Think about some of the activities that may not be necessarily “kid-friendly” or something you wish you could do for yourself. This could be a book club meet-up, a paint and sip at a local art shop, indoor rock climbing with a pal, a weekend camping trip with friends, or a pub tour. The options are endless, and you may be surprised by what your area has to offer!
Schedule an Active Date
Once kids enter the picture, many parents find themselves in a constant state of “survival mode”, putting their relationship with their partner on the back burner. This can lead to relationship strain and stress. Planning active dates with activities you both enjoy (such as hiking or rock climbing) or a completely new experience for you both is a great way to increase your connection.
Connect with Nature
Spending meaningful time in nature is a powerful method for increasing your overall health. The mental and physical health benefits are evident, from the youngest newborn to the most seasoned explorer (Check out this article for more information on those benefits). Here are some techniques and activities you can try to further connect with the nature around you.
Numerous studies highlight the benefits of both meditation/mindfulness and time spent exploring nature. Research suggests that when these two practices are combined, the positive impacts become even greater. This makes sense since various meditation apps utilize nature sounds to facilitate mindfulness practice. Nature-based meditation could be as simple as adding a meditation practice to your daily walk or turning your hike into a sound meditation. Check out this article for more information on practicing mindfulness in nature.
Give Grounding a Go
Grounding, also referred to as “earthing”, is a simple practice that may yield some surprising benefits. The Earth’s surface is covered with a vast supply of electrons. Walking barefoot or laying on the ground outside provides direct physical contact with these electrons and may provide positive effects on your body.
This may sound like something out of a science fiction novel, but more and more research studies are providing scientific evidence to back up these claims. Benefits may include improved sleep, lower stress levels, better mood and mental health, a reduction in inflammation, increased heart rate variability, and improved cell and tissue repair.
If you want to truly connect with nature, try taking the time to sit and BE in nature. Notice everything around you, from the flight of a robin to the fluttering of the leaves. You can take this a step further and document your observations in a nature journal. The beauty of a nature journal is that there isn’t a wrong way to do it, and it doesn’t require any special tools other than what you likely have on hand.
Once you get the hang of it, using field guides to learn more about what you see can really bring it all together. The best part? When your kiddos see you journaling in nature, they will be more willing to give it a shot themselves. Check out this post on Nature Journaling with Kids, which is full of ideas that will help your own nature journaling practice as well.
Move Your Favorite Activities Outside
Connecting with nature could be as easy as moving some of your favorite activities outside. I love practicing yoga outside because I get to also feel the benefits of grounding and mindfulness while I do what I love. You could also read, paint/draw, listen/ play music, and eat some of your meals outside.
Why not do some work outside? In fact, I am currently writing this on my laptop as I sit on the grass in my backyard. My kiddos prefer doing their homeschool lessons outside. The opportunities are vast, and the benefits are great when you get outside as much as possible.
Volunteer in an Outdoor Setting
When you donate your time to a cause you care about, you are not only aiding your cause, you’re also benefiting yourself. When this volunteer work happens in nature, you also get to reap the benefits of spending time outdoors. There is a myriad of outdoor volunteer opportunities available.
Some opportunities my family has enjoyed include participating in local trail projects (such as cleaning up trails or building new ones), helping to run a chapter of an outdoor organization (such as 4H Nature Explorers or a Hike it Baby branch), and volunteering to help with the animals at a local farm/shelter.
As a family, we have made some incredible memories while volunteering, but I have also made some lifelong friends while volunteering solo. Ask around at your local state and regional parks or on social media to see what outdoor volunteer opportunities are available near you.
Choose Quality Gear that Lasts
Not all fitness and outdoor gear are created equal, and you usually get what you pay for. While quality gear can get pricey, it tends to last much longer, paying for itself in the long run. We love the long-lasting quality and diversity in the sizing of lululemon gear.
You can find something for every activity in a huge variety of sizes and colors. Here are just a few of our favorites that are sure to see your goals through from start to finish.
Tops that Go the Distance
I love this lightweight long-sleeve for everything from indoor yoga to chilly trail runs. It stays fresh and inhibits the growth of odor-causing bacteria with Silverescent™ technology. The synthetic fabric wicks away moisture effectively, and the minimal seams reduce chafing, keeping you fresh and comfortable when working hard.
This ½ zip pullover is soft, warm, and breathable, and has become one of my favorite chilly-workout tops. The ½ zip allows access for nursing mothers without having to expose their torsos to the chill. The thumbholes and Cuffins™ are convenient for keeping hands warm on chilly hikes or runs. The No-Stink Zinc™ treatment helps prevent the post-workout funk by inhibiting the growth of odor-causing bacteria on the fabric.
This warm mid-layer jacket is comfortable while still allowing you to move freely. I love that the hood is warm enough to keep the chilly breeze out, and it’s long enough to cover your bum (unlike many other active mid-layers). The ribbed panels at the sides and under the arms increase mobility while the thumbholes and deep pockets keep hands warm and protected.
Bottoms for Any Activity
These tights allow you to train hard while staying cool and comfortable. The highly breathable Everlux™ fabric dries super quickly, even when your workout gets intense. I love that the drawcord at the waist ensures these pants stay in place and the side drop-in pockets keep your essentials in check no matter how vigorous your workout gets.
These Leggings are by far my favorite active bottoms that I have ever owned (I’m actually wearing them while I write this). I use them for everything from practicing yoga to hiking with my kiddos, and early morning rides on my stationary bike. The buttery soft Nulu™ fabric is lightweight, breathable, and wicks away sweat. The high waist bends with me no matter the pose, and the side panel pockets are deep enough that I don’t have to worry about losing my phone or keys.
I like that these joggers are flexible, with added Lycra® fiber for a truly four-way stretch. The pockets are deep enough to store your phone and essentials and zip closed to keep everything in place. There are also zippers at the cuffs making them easy to get on and off quickly. The material dries fast, which comes in handy if you get caught in an unexpected shower.
Let’s face it. The good old-fashioned fanny pack has made a comeback, and for good reason. They are comfortable, can be worn with a child carrier, and it’s super convenient to have everything you need right on your hip. This particular style is water-repellent, and the strap tucks away after you adjust it to your desired size.
This machine washable beanie is super warm to help keep you cozy on those cold winter outings. The outer layer blend of merino wool, organic cotton, cashmere, and synthetic materials keeps you warm and cozy while the fleece lining is soft and breathable.
This shoe offers a dual-density midsole, which provides enough spring for running while still being agile enough for training. The outsole is pressure-mapped, which provides extra traction and flexibility for your workout. They come in both low and mid heights along with a more weather-resistant winter option.
Staying hydrated is important no matter what goals you are working towards this year. In fact, drinking more water is one of my goals this year. This bottle makes that goal easier since it keeps water cold and features a leak-proof lid so I don’t have to worry about accidents in my gym bag. I also like that the outer powder coating offers grip, even when hands get sweaty.
Not all mats are created equal, and the one you choose for your sweat session or yoga practice can make a big difference in your performance and comfort. I love that this mat is reversible, giving you a choice between the grippy top layer that absorbs moisture and the natural rubber layer that provides extra cushion. The antimicrobial additive is an added bonus that helps prevent the growth of mold and mildew, keeping your mat fresh.
If you are starting a new exercise goal, I highly recommend getting a quality foam roller. They can relieve muscle soreness, tightness, and inflammation following a tough workout. I love that this set allows you to customize your experience to fit your needs, with an interior roller relieving tension in your back and an exterior roller providing relief for your legs and arms.
Choose Health This Year
Throw those resolutions out the window and choose to set some SMART goals instead. Whether you plan to try new things, better connect with nature, or finally take some time for yourself, we hope the tips and ideas in this article will help make this your best year yet. Because choosing health, whatever that may mean for you, is the best goal you can set for yourself and your family.
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Choosing Health for Outdoorsy Moms: Over 25 Ways to Choose Health this Year
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