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New Year, Better You!

Hello, 2020! 

With the start of each year comes new hopes, dreams, goals, inspirations, and increased motivation to get after it and start the year off on the right foot. While many people create New Year resolutions, very few actually follow through on them. As the months go by we lose our motivation, focus, and energy that we had at the start of the year and we fall back into old habits. 

According to the U.S. and News report, 80% of people in the country fail to meet their New Year Resolutions, with many giving up around mid-February. 

Why does this seem to happen year after year to so many? I believe that one of the reasons is because we tend to set too big of goals for our New Year Resolutions that end up setting us up for failure. We have such high hopes to make the new year better than the last that we feel that we need to completely change who we are rather than embracing ourselves and instead focus on improving who we already are. 

Think about it… If at the start of the New Year you want to completely reinvent yourself then it’s going to require A LOT of work. It might start off well though. Maybe you established a new morning routine where you get up early, enjoy your cup of joe slowly, watch the news, and then hit the gym well before most people are even awake. You have plenty of time to enjoy your morning and get ready for your job. On top of this, you also start eating healthier and more mindfully. You meal prep for the week and are mindful of portion control. You feel unstoppable and on top of the world. 

That is until something you didn’t expect occurs. 

Whether you endure an injury in a workout or have a workweek that is filled with extra paperwork and meetings where you are working way over your normal hours that you start to snooze your alarm, skip your workouts, and then hit the drive-through for lunch because you forgot to prep yours. After so many weeks of success, you feel like you have now failed. You did not live up to your expectations and are now behind on where you wanted to be. 

So you give up. 

You throw in the towel and say that next year instead will be the year that you continue the positive habits you were doing for a while. Then you fall back into old patterns. You sleep in, have rushed and stressful mornings, and lay on the couch watching TV eating McDonald’s outside of work. 

What happened here?

Below are 5 tips for how to increase your game for 2020 in an effective and manageable way!

  • Focus on what you ARE doing well instead of what ISN’T going well.

Rather than focusing on all the things that didn’t go well, give yourself credit for what did go well. If your goal is to work out 3x a week but you only went once focus on all the times that you did go 3 times instead of the one time that you didn’t. Or you can take that one workout that you were able to squeeze in and make that workout worth it! Tell yourself that you kicked your own butt with that one workout. Or maybe you ate well that week or got quality sleep despite not getting in your workout goals. These are still benefitting you! Focus on the good and let that outweigh the bad. 

  • PROGRESS over PERFECTION. 

Were you not able to get to the gym this week? So what, go an extra day next week. Did life become hectic and stressful to the point where you made unhealthy eating choices? That’s ok! Realize this and make a promise to yourself that next week will be different. Black and white thinking is where you think that just because you missed “one thing” or didn’t manage what you wanted “one time” that it’s a hopeless cause. You either succeeded or failed. You either met your goals or you didn’t. Provide yourself some wiggle room and use the gray area to move away from this all or nothing mentality. It hurts you more than you think. As long as you are progressing from where you once were, you are succeeding. 

  • Accept that there will be setbacks. 

There are 365 days in the year (unless it’s a leap year) and there will be days that we fall down. It may just be a stumble, a step backward, or we may fall flat on our face. HOW you failed isn’t important. What matters is what you do about it afterward. If the summer doesn’t go well for your goals, work harder at it in the fall. Things will not go perfectly. Expect setbacks to occur and instead establish a plan for how to keep moving forward despite the obstacle. If you fall, get back up. Dust yourself off and take what you learned from that experience into the next day. If you do this then by the end of the year in 2020 you will know that you worked your butt off and learned a lot along the way. 

  • Give yourself a break. 

It is also important to give yourself some days, weeks, or a season to relax, unwind, and enjoy yourself rather than going towards your goals with guns a-blazing. If we are going full-speed all the time we will get burnt out and run out of gas. This is what happens often at the beginning of a New Year. We think we need to tackle our goals and resolutions as soon as possible. Recharge and refuel instead throughout the year. Think of the year as a marathon, not a sprint.

  • Take one thing at a time. 

Lastly, start the year off with only 1-2 goals for the year and once you complete those you can build off of them and add more goals. This will seem more manageable throughout the year rather than feeling like you have to accomplish them all at once. Prioritize your goals and work on achieving one thing at a time to avoid over-extending ourselves. We often expect too much from ourselves. Give yourself time and give yourself a chance to breathe by taking it one at a time. Remember: Quality is more important than Quantity. How well you meet your goals will beat out how many goals you achieved. 

Remember, you are amazing the way you are! You do not need to completely change who you are throughout the year. Remind yourself all the good that also happened in 2019. 

  • What went well? 
  • What did you learn? 
  • What did you achieve? 

Take all of that positivity and those experiences with you into 2020! 

I wish you all a happy and healthy 2020.

Attitude for Gratitude

WOW – can you believe it’s already December, the last month in the year? I don’t know about you, but the last few months have flown by for me.

This past week for Thanksgiving, as I decorated my home with Turkey day and Christmas feels, I started to feel overwhelmed with gratitude. The thing is although I often feel grateful, I have a more difficult time expressing it. 

Anyone with me?

Expressing gratitude has a variety of benefits, but it can make many people often feel uncomfortable expressing it. The more we engage in doing it though the more comfortable it will be. 

This is the same as any other activity or skill that we are working towards or learning. 

Rather than waiting to express gratitude when you feel like you “ought” or “should,” take this week to shower those around you with random acts of kindness and words of affirmations. 

One simple activity or challenge that I like to do is to take out your phone and select three people who are you grateful for. Text them your gratitude. It can be short and sweet or long and thoughtful. This random kind text is a great way to express how you appreciate those in your life. 

Who would you text?

I recently completed this activity today and I chose: 

  1. My mother-in-law
  2. My boss/Coworker
  3. A Friend 

I tried to challenge myself out of my comfort zone and chose people who are not the super “easy” choices such as my mom, dad, and husband. Although they all deserve daily gratitude as well. 

Instead of just thinking about how grateful we are for people and things around us, we need to express it. People are not mind readers. You can easily make someone’s day and make uplift yourself after having an attitude of gratitude.

5 Ways to Effectively Coach Female Athletes.

It’s no secret that female-athletes are different in male-athletes. I’m not saying they are less talented or capable – absolutely not! But the way they should be coached should be different because we are not wired the same. I wanted to share tips on coaching female-athletes so that together we can continue to encourage them to be strong, resilient, and empowered through sport.

  1. Watch what you say:

Be careful what you say regarding their bodies, making mistakes, and providing criticism. Praise in public, criticize in private to avoid embarrassing and humiliating your athletes. Also, do not degrade them with terms such as, “You run like a girl.” Are they a girl? Yes. Are they running? Yes, and they probably are running faster than you! Their gender does not matter in regards to how they perform. 

2) Get to know them outside of their sport:

Your athletes are more than athletes. They might also be a sister, a musician, an artist, or a damn good euchre player. Learn about who they are outside of the sport. Females seek out connection and it will do wonders to your coach-athlete relationship if you take the time to connect with them.  

3) Practice how you want them to play:

Sometimes female-athletes need to be challenged and expected to practice as they would compete. Especially with younger females, do not think that you need to go “easy” on them. Obviously, don’t run them into the ground but you can make practices fun AND competitive. 

4) Allow them to be social:

Girls like to talk and be social. I guarantee you they are going to talk, so instead of fighting against it, let it happen. Allow a chunk of time before practice to chat, or tell them that their warm-up run is their social time. Or allow them to socialize between drills and during water breaks. They’re going to socialize, so you might as well build it into the practice. Just make sure they understand that there is a time and place for it. 

5) Females wear their emotions on their sleeve:

Females can be emotional and sensitive creatures and there’s nothing wrong with that! Understand this and accept it. Instead of becoming upset and yelling at them to “suck it up,” take an empathic approach. Being able to understand and express your emotions is a strength, not a weakness. Also, teach them how to best handle emotions through emotional regulation techniques such as deep breathing, self-talk, and mistake routine rituals. You are their coach and you are teaching them more about the sport, you are teaching them about life. 

The courage, strength, and character gained through sports participation are the very tools girls need to become the confident leaders of tomorrow. Keep fighting to make sure all women and girls have the opportunity to play!

The Power of Community

Two years ago I moved to a small Wisconsin town, which is my husband’s hometown. I did not know many people, other than my husband’s friends and family. 

Before moving here I attended a Female Athlete Empowerment Symposium in another small town near Mankato, MN. While I was in graduate school I had the opportunity to be a break out speaker at this event. It was for all High School Female Athletes in the area and had an amazing line-up of keynote speakers, break out sessions, and female college athlete panelists. Ever since I had the opportunity to be a part of this event I knew that someday I would love to host one myself. 

With this goal in the back of my mind, I started to make this new town my new hometown. I got involved in a gym, yoga studio, and started to market my sport psychology services to the local high school and sports organizations. I knew that in order to get this event going I would need to get to know the town more so I put the idea on the back burner. 

A year in I was welcomed with open arms from the local high school and fitness studios in the area. Once I was offered the assistant track and field high school coaching position, I knew that this would also be my way in to get to know more coaches and the athletic director to pitch my idea for this event. 

Once I brought it up to the athletic director he was on board instantly. He offered any help he could and we solidified a date. From there on was a lot of work on my part. I had to figure out who to reach out to for sponsorships, who to invite to be speakers, and how I was going to market this event to the community for registrations. 

After months of creating forms, reaching out to potential sponsors and speakers, the event started to become real. The response from the community was absolutely amazing. I had so many people interested in joining this event as a speaker that I actually had to turn some away. This was very challenging to do, but also exciting that I was getting so much interest in the event. 

Next was figuring out how to fund this event as I did not have the expenses myself and I was passionate about making this event free for all attendees. A few sponsors trickled in right away and then after that, it went quiet. I learned that it appeared to be much more effective to call for donations rather than mailing in sponsorship forms. Even though it was time-consuming, it was more effective because I was able to connect more with the sponsors through the phone rather than through the mail. 

Within a few months of the event, I had an amazing line-up set up and very generous sponsors. All that was left was finalizing the details and getting more girls to sign up for the event. 

Looking back it was a struggle to get sign-ups early on because it was over the summer. I tried to market the event the best I could before the summer, but I had very few sign-ups. As the summer drew to an end I had more and more sign-ups each week. 

To be honest, I was getting nervous that I had this amazing event in the making and that the day of I would have very few attendees for my sponsors and speakers. I really thought getting into this endeavor that getting girls signed up wouldn’t be the issue, but rather gaining sponsors and solidifying speakers. 

With the help of the athletic director, high school coaches, my speakers, and sponsors we were able to push the word out more in the final weeks of the event. The sign-ups rolled in and we had enough numbers to make this event a success. 

I learned right away as I was finalizing the details that I needed help. I was overwhelmed, stressed out, and felt that time was escaping me. With the help of amazing friends and family, I was able to gather everything I needed for this event on time. The day of I had all hands on deck and between myself and two family members was able to set everything up for the event. 

My husband’s family and our friends were an amazing help to assist with signing in the attendees, helping answer questions, and refilling the food and drinks to make the event run smoothly. The athletic director was also very helpful since he knew the school building and was able to make sure the AV systems were all in place. 

Looking back on the event I realize how grateful I am to be in an area with a supportive and strong community. Taking on this project taught me the importance of asking for help and delegating tasks because we definitely can not do it on our own. 

Maybe you have a project or goal in mind that you want to go after. That’s awesome! Go for it, but remember to seek out guidance, support, and help along the way. 

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

College student-athlete panel

Why 110% Doesn’t Exist

 Practice begins and we are about to start drills. It’s a hot humid summer day in Minnesota and our coach explains what we are going to do for practice. Before the drills begin the coach yells out, “I know it’s hot out but I still want 110%!”

Wait, what does that even mean? 

Last I checked 100% is the most you can possibly give. I mean, math is not my strong suit, but I’m pretty sure 110% doesn’t exist. 

This is a phrase that I often hear whether it’s in the sports world, during a workout or even in the workplace. I appreciate the point and meaning behind it, but let’s face it, it is unrealistic. 

Instead of expecting 100%, or an unrealistic 110% from your team, expect them to give you 100% of what they HAVE that day.

You might think that you are motivating those around you by always saying, “Give 110%,” but you are actually saying, “Make sure you go above and beyond your actual capacity.” 

100% is a flawed mindset that does more bad than good. If we think we need to always ‘do more’ than we become fixated on overdoing things, extending ourselves too far, and overstepping onto others. 

I understand that as a coach, parent, or even boss you want to get the most out of your players, children, and employees. No one wants a slacker and someone who gives less than they can. However, even expecting 100% from everyone day in and day out isn’t possible. 

Life happens! 

For example, if one of my athletes recently had a loved one pass away, or has endured an injury, I would not expect the same output that they formerly produced. Do I still expect them to work hard though? Yes, absolutely! 

Our energy fuels are similar to that of a gas tank. Some days we have 100%, but some days we may only have around 50%. 

Instead of expecting that everyone has a full tank each day, get to know your team and understand how much they have to give. If someone is having a tough time let them know that you understand that they might not have 100% in them, but that you still expect them to give everything that they can, whether that’s 75%, 50%, or even 25%. 

Remember to give what you have. Some days you might only have half a tank, some days you might have a full tank. Use as much as you have to give! Setting realistic expectations will go far for yourself and your team.

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