New year’s resolutions and how to keep them

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Riding on new year’s day, I asked the bunch what their new year’s resolutions were. Answers ranged from “I don’t do resolutions” to “my resolution is to stick to my resolutions”.

The new year is a funny thing. The clock strikes midnight and a little part in all of us expects a change simply because the date is now 2017. But it’s misguided and not at all that simple. And while setting, and aiming for, goals is a good exercise, sticking to them can be tough.

I asked our Ella ambassadors to share what their cycling resolutions are and how they intend to stick to them, hoping you might find inspiration and usefulness in them.

But first, let’s talk about effective goal setting.

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“Fail to plan and you plan to fail”

In order to be successful at anything in life, you must plan for it. “Fake it till you make it” can only get you so far, and when it comes to sticking to your new year’s resolutions, there are ways to set yourself up for success instead of failure.

Step 1: Write them down, then break them down
“You must set realistic yet challenging goals to keep you motivated and on track,” said coach and former professional cyclist, Alison Powers. “But be specific.”

Powers explained that once written down, you have to break the goal down in actionable and measurable steps.

An example of a goal would be: “My goal is to eat healthy.”

This a great goal, but how do you eat healthy? What are the steps to eating healthy and how do you know if you are doing it?

“If your goal can be broken down, you are not finished making it,” Powers said.

In order to eat healthy, you need to know what eating healthy means. A better set of goals would be:

– “I will buy more fruits and vegetables to have on hand at home for snacking and adding to meals.” And
– “I will stay away from highly processed (packaged, sugar filled) foods and buy more natural and whole foods that have not been processed or preserved.” And
– “After every hard training ride, I will make and drink a recovery drink followed by a healthy snack/meal to help me recover for tomorrow’s workout.”

“This same goal setting goes for racing and training. Do you know what you’re training for, and why you’re doing what you’re doing? Is it specific to accomplishing your goal?,” said Powers. “You should know exactly what you’re training for (your goal), and, from there, you should break it down into smaller pieces and train for each piece.”

This also means knowing when you’re going to ride each day or week, how far, where, with whom, etc.

Step 2: Share them with friends and family (or the whole Ella community!)

Going public with your goal(s) can help you stay on track. A little bit of accountability in the form of riding buddies or people to simply ask you  “hey, how’s your training going?”, can serve as a great motivational tool.

Step 3: Measure progress, and celebrate it!

Where do you want to be in three months? How about six, eight, ten? Mark benchmarks on your calendar and measure your progress a long the way. And then, celebrate the successes – no matter how small!

Our new year’s resolutions and how we’re going to stick to them

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Sophie Ballo, Bay Area, US:
I want to:
1) Get into the best shape I’ve ever been in cycling wise
2) 8000 miles for the year
3) Do one Point to Point adventure ride a month of 100 miles

Here is how I’m going to stick with them:

1) Start Early – I’ve already finished a 5 day juice cleanse to kickstart some healthier eating and cooking and to get back in touch with what truly nourishes and helps my body. I’m a sugar addict, which means if I’m not careful, it can start to take over my entire diet without my realizing it; chocolate had become it’s own food group. And not just that! I was eating an alarming amount of foods with added sugar, like granola, clif bars, and yogurt.

2) Get a trainer – you don’t have to race to treat yourself like a professional. And though it might seem a bit silly to get a trainer if you aren’t going to race, I don’t think it’s too different from any other sort of trainer, even if you don’t compete, like horseback riding or skiing. If I want to be in the best shape of my life, why not invest in someone who can help make it happen? I’m really investing in myself!

3) Vary my ride types more – I live someplace extremely hilly, so sometimes elevation takes the place of mileage; that said, there are some really nice flat options that I just don’t use as much, so I’m going to vary my riding to get just as much time and even more distance this year.

Top of ventoux

Monika Sattler, Melbourne, Australia:

My resolution for 2017 is to do a core workout four times a week. A strong back and abs is crucial for my exciting 2017 racing calendar focusing on the toughest cycling challenges in Europe. How I stick to it? To establish a routine it is key to make it as easy as possible for myself, something that is little effort to include in my daily life. So I made a 15 minute high-power routine for at home. I know it makes me feel good as well.”

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Emily Alexander, Seattle, US:

My goal is to feel healthy. Not necessarily lose weight, but just feeling better on and off the bike. Last year, I started off working with a nutritionist for about two months, where we would go over the different things I could change in my diet and lifestyle to help get a bit healthier. Whether it was swapping out the fruit flavored yogurt for plain greek with some fresh berries (to help cut out unnecessary added sugar), or something like paying closer attention to the type of workouts I was doing and changing what I was eating to better support my fitness needs. I want to continue that trend, but I want to graduate to really owning those habits and and continually making the right choices. I still keep up with the nutritionist, but much less frequently, and I’ve started meal planning (between just recipes and as far as picking the night of the week that works best for larger cooking endeavors) more to help me control the food I’m consuming.

Another big cycling trip/explore more by bike: this past year I went to Bellagio, Italy, and stayed in a cycling oriented hotel and rode bikes and just experienced the local community for a week. It was an amazing experience, and one I wouldn’t have initially thought of for a vacation adventure. I tend to associate vacations with whirlwind adventures going from place to place and taking in as much as possible. But with last year’s trip I realized, there is something to be said for just staying in one place and making the trip work around you from there. I’d love to do that again, or to plan a similar type of stay in another location. Exploring one area or region by bike was a great way to really get to experience the area. The biggest hurdle (beyond money and time) is just picking somewhere, there are so many great places to choose from!

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Chloe Leighton, Melbourne, Australia:

As I am pregnant and due with my first child in June, my goal is to pedal through and out the other side of pregnancy as much as I can!
I think for me the first step is accepting that things feel different! I need to take it easy and remember that something is better than nothing. Setting small goals along the way will keep my motivation levels higher.

I think breaking a big goal down into smaller parts makes you feel like you have achieved something, when the bigger picture might seem daunting. I think for me post pregnancy if I can ride 3 x 15 minutes on the Kickr per week in the first month that seems far more achievable than saying to myself ‘I want to be able to ride 2.5 hours straight by December.

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Caitlin Ryan, Bay Area, US:

My overall resolution is to refocus on things I love for 2017, and this applies to cycling as well. 2016 was a hard year for me- I did a terrible job creating a work-life balance. This year I am making doing things that I love (cycling) and making time for those I love (friends and family) a priority.

Logging my workouts (and meals) is a huge motivator and helps me keep on track for my goals. Having like-minded friends to push you is a huge help, too. Refocusing workouts not as a chore, but as quality bonding time with your buddies helps the trainer sessions pass by faster too!

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Al Toole, Melbourne, Australia:

I’m planning to return to study this year, which will restrict my time on the bike a bit. So cycling will be more of a break and part of keeping some balance. However, I believe in trying something new every year, so this year I’m going to have a go at my first cyclocross races.

How do I make sure I do things? I tell as many people as I can. Support can emerge from unexpected quarters and there’s accountability everywhere I turn, as it’s way more satisfying to be able to tell people ‘I’ve done it, I loved it, you should try it!’ than mumble a reason it hasn’t happened yet.

What are your new year’s resolutions? Share them in the comments below.

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