The Small Changes Challenge #5…Get Focused

small changes cover2014 is just days away and the goals are starting to form in your head…I can see those wheels turning.  😉

What CAN you accomplish this 2014 year?  What is realistic?  What can your body really transform into in 365 days?  How much weight can you lose? Do those weightloss products really work?

The last few weeks I’ve been sharing some of the small changes that I have been working on in order to get to a healthier lifestyle that I can function and live with…because I live in America and am surrounded by all the good foods/bad foods and crazy schedules just like you. 

Several people that follow The Journey are going right along with this free challenge…and some are even in the running for a prize at the end!  We just finished up a week of doing planks…some people did these for the first time!

Did you miss a week?  You can find the links to what we have covered so far in this challenge right here:  Week 1   Week 2   Week 3  Week 4

focusSmall Changes Challenge Week 5:

We’ve talked about the mental stuff (week1), we have touched on the aspect of sugar (week 2) and last week we mentioned how water is an important part of this journey (week 3).  Last week we added in some exercise…the plank.  Keep working on all these weeks…but now we are adding on another new change.  This week…it is all about focusing and being real while we zoom in on what we are expecting of ourselves.

What is the FOCUS?

This year I am picking the word “focus” rather than “goal” because…it is really just more of a better picture tool for me.  Example…a goal for me is something that I have placed out there in the universe for me to accomplish but it is usually set too high for me to even reach.  The term “focus” describes more of what my last year was actually like and works better for those who are actually living in life.  I had a pretty good idea of what I was going for last year and had my eyes set straight ahead towards that focus but I also had some issues that I had to adjust my perspective and re-focus just a bit as life changed.

My journey last year had three new curves…

  1. 20130717-222458.jpgI became a certified fitness instructor.  I was now getting paid to workout and yell encourage people 😉 to push themselves a bit more.  This also meant that my intensity level in class changed because I had to talk and exercise at the same time.  That is a huge change!  I also did not have the luxury of saying that I didn’t want to go to the gym and getting up early was now a necessity rather than a choice.  For 9 months of the year I was also working 50 hours a week on top of teaching classes, taking care of my family and working here with The Journey.  My focus of my workouts shifted from time to time though and sometimes I had time for my own workouts…sometimes I didn’t.
  2. Injuries.  I had two pretty big injuries last year and am still at a recovery point with those…one a bit more than the other still.  About halfway through the year I somehow pulled my shoulder in a way that just messed me up for a good 2 months.  My shoulder/neck and head were a mess.  I couldn’t lift much and what I could do were not my favorite things.  Legs and the bike were pretty much my go-to things for a bit and I couldn’t lift the heavy stuff.  Not only was that a physical setback but also an emotional one…see, I had just hit a personal best on my deadlift (230 lbs) and push press (80 lbs) and I was on top of the world when I hit those.  I couldn’t wait to do more!  When I had to take a back seat to the heavy lifting it took an emotional toll on me.  That was what I did…and I couldn’t do it for a bit and I didn’t know when I would be back.  I knew that as each day passed I would have that much more to build back up to as well.  Slow and steady I will get back to those numbers and it is a work in progress again…but I know I can do it now that my shoulder is pretty much back to normal.  My second injury though is plantar fasciitis and still today I have good days and bad.  Today is a bad day.  The worst part was that this started about a week before the Warrior Dash.  My feet hurt the entire race and the night of the race I could barely walk.  Running isn’t going to happen anytime soon and I just need to let my feet recover fully and be ok with the fact that running races aren’t going to be a strongpoint in my journey.  It just isn’t realistic for me.
  3. Family matters.  Life tends to throw us some curves every now and then and this past year we have had a curve in our little family.  I’ve written about my little guy before and how we had a year of adjustment because of his anxiety.  I can’t say that life is all 100% fabulous and each day is a “blessing” because honestly…I never really know what the day is going to be like.  The attitude though that I see and hear can be very negative and I can either let the negative stuff continue and have him go through life this way or work my hardest to help him realize that life is awesome and to focus on the positive stuff that is here for us to enjoy.  Some days it brings me down too…but I claw my way back up…I get to the gym and burn some of my frustration off by lifting something off the floor…and then pull on my big girl panties and get ready for whatever attitude I am graced with the rest of my day.  This past year though I’ve learned that the moments I have with my little ones don’t have to be rushed and stressed.  If the house isn’t spotless (which it never is), it is ok.  I don’t have to volunteer everywhere…my kids need me more right now.  If the yard doesn’t look perfect…life is going to go on.  My focus is to get a smile on my kids’ faces…because for a few months this past year we were missing one of those smiles.  When it came back on his little face it really was an amazing thing to see…and the laughter that went with the face was music to my ears.  There are no clean floors, no clean windows or spotless bathrooms, no pile of laundry and no activity that I need to be at or to-do list that is more important than keeping that smile on his face.

The challenge:  What is your focus?

We all have a journey and sometimes that journey is going to feel like you are on top of the world and everything is perfect.  Other times it will feel like it is going somewhere on its own without us and we are just holding on for the road with absolutely no control.  No matter if our journey is going in a straight line at the moment or if you find that you are on a curvy road for a bit…keep that focus of what it is that you want to accomplish and just find the road that is going to take you there that will work best for you.

Here are a few things to keep in mind as you think about this idea of “focus”:

Track your journey.  You have to know where you are starting and trust me…after you go on your own journey for a bit you forget where you started.  The progress is there and others can probably see it but sometimes just looking in the mirror…it is hard to see how what all that hard work is accomplishing.  One of the best things that I have done is to track my workouts.  I have quite a few notebooks and pieces of paper where I keep my workouts and that is what I use to see what I need to do on my next workout.  Sometimes I follow a specific plan, sometimes I work on specific muscle groups or exercises. If I don’t write it down though…I forget what I did.

Look back…and do some analysis.  What worked?  What didn’t?  What do you like to do?  What things in life make you happy?  What is your body capable of doing?  Is the choice I’m making today going to help me be the person I’m wanting to be?  Lots of questions you can ask yourself as you analyze how you are going to stay focused.  How can you analyze your progress?

  • One way to see if you are making progress is by looking back at those journals.  Just last week I went my journalback to December 26th, 2012 and repeated the same workout just to see what I could do today.  A year ago I wasn’t even bench pressing with a barbell and my bicep curl was at about a 15 pound difference from what it is now.  I had no idea that I had that much progress until I looked back at my notes.
  • Write down what you like to do and keep those in mind as you try new things.  Always have something fun in your workouts.  You will want to exercise more if you are doing things that you enjoy.  Keep those foods that are healthy and that taste good to you handy.
  • Take a picture.  It may not be the most exciting thing ever but this really is a great tool in your journey.  Wear that swimsuit or some shorts and a tank top and snap a few pics of your front, back and sides.  Keep it in a spot that is safe and in a few months…after working hard…take some more pics in the same clothes and same spot and see if you can see the progress.  If you can, that means you are working hard and making great choices.  If not, well, you need need to keep making some changes to get there.

Be REAL and be honest with you.  I know that a lot of people would like the quick fix…but that really isn’t the best thing and the majority of the time those don’t even work.  In fact…studies are out there that are showing that most people actually are gaining more weight back once they are off these quick fix diets.  The pills.  The specific foods.  The surgeries.  The stupid gadgets that are out there promising a tight stomach or amazing arms…they are all just making money and providing fake promises.  They might sound awesome but the truth is…if you want results you have to do the work.  Eat real foods, move more and stay focused.  If you do the work…be proud of yourself.  If you don’t do the work…be honest with yourself.  Don’t get frustrated.  Don’t get mad at those around you who are bringing treats in to work or start blaming others for your blurry focus.  Admit that your focus was just off for a bit and that you need to get back in the zone and work at it again.  Own your journey…be real with your choices and with those around you.

  •  It is ok NOT to eat what others have brought to you.   
  • It is ok NOT to eat everything on your plate.  
  • It is ok NOT to sample all the goodies in the breakroom.  
  • And guess what…it is ok to throw food in the garbage that is bad for you.  Right now I’m ready to throw all the kids’ candy away that they just got yesterday from grandparents because they are asking me about a zillion times if they can have some.  If it is gone…they will stop asking.  The same goes for you…go through those cabinets and if you are tempted to eat it and you know it is bad for you…get it out of your house.  When you are in the store…don’t buy those foods that tempt you.


  1. Make a big circle on a piece of paper and in the middle of that circle write down what you want to focus on this year.  Include the things that you want to work on with eating, exercise, family, hobbies, activities…whatever it is that your focus will be on in 2014.  Really think about what it is that YOU want this upcoming year.  This is not for anyone else…remember that.  What do you want to focus on for YOU?  Whatever is your biggest focus…that should be smack dab in the middle.  If there are other specifics that you want to focus on in 2014 fill those in around the circle too.
  2. Pick one of those things in the circle and figure out a way to track your progress.  Example…if it is “exercise” you could start a journal or you could list 5 activities that you would like to try and figure out when you could do those activities during the year based on your schedule.

E-mail one thing that you are focusing on this 2014 year and your plan on how to track your progress.  There are no right or wrong answers.  All you need to do is be REAL with you and figure out a plan that will work best for your journey.

Keep working on getting that water in each day, watching those amounts of sugar and lifting that body up off the floor with planks at least 3 times a week!  You keep working on these small changes and stay focused on these little things…you will see results.

Thanks for being part of The Journey!  I’m excited to be part of this challenge with you!


Jessica is a mom of three kids, wife to one and has an energetic puppy.  Jessica has had her own journey of getting healthy using small changes…and you can read about her own journey here.


3 thoughts on “The Small Changes Challenge #5…Get Focused

  1. Pingback: Be a Good Consumer of Information* | The Journey

  2. Pingback: FRIDAY FUNNIES!…New Years style | The Journey

  3. Pingback: The Small Changes Challenge #6…It’s Not Easy Being Green | The Journey

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