Fitness

2022 Goal Series: Fitness

December 29, 2021

The above is straight out of my Todoist app.

Fitness

Most years I set some kind of fitness goal. In 2020, I wanted to complete the 80 Day Obsession (I did, and I have never been stronger than I was then). In 2021, I planned on doing the Another Mother Runner program — turned out not to be a perfect fit for me, but it’s a lovely program (and excellent value) for someone who wants to feel like part of a community and enjoys low-key training plans throughout the year.

2021 ended up not being a banner fitness year for me. I worked out fairly consistently, but kept changing my goals and starting/stopping various programs. I think I did Beachbody (LIIFT4), Peloton Strength, Sydney Cummings, AND Caroline Girvan for various portions of the year! I spent some parts of the year running up to 20-ish miles/week and other periods doing zero running. I attended zero in person fitness classes (thanks COVID) and overall just felt sort of . . . all over the place, both with my exercise and my eating habits.

On the plus side . . . I did not get injured 🙂 That is always good news!

Part of me is content with treating fitness more like a habit and less like a project or hobby.

Part of me is rather bored/unsatisfied with that approach.


So! Here’s my tentative plan for fitness in 2022:

Jan – May:

Work on increasing running endurance/speed!

Build to Daniels Red Plan (~4-5 runs/week, up to 25 miles/week)

~6 week 5K training plan

Race 5K in April / May (we have a neighborhood Mother’s Day 5K that is sort of a tradition – would like to do better than last year’s 9 minute pace)

Continue strength training minimum 2x/week – Sydney/Caroline vs Peloton Strength, might just use the latter because there are multiple strength workouts geared towards runners specifically

May – Aug:

Dial down running to 2-3x week + do more strength work (3-4x) in the gross summer weather

Consider doing a ~8-10 week strength program (Caroline, Sydney, etc)

Sept – Dec:

Start ramping up mileage again

Consider training for half marathon (Hollywood Half, Ft Lauderdale A1A, etc)


Nutrition:

This cannot be ignored because overall level fitness (ie, ability to run fast + do hard physical things) depends on both exercise patterns + nutrition (and it is impossible for the former to compensate for the latter, especially when you are a female over 40. Which I am.).

I don’t know what my actual aims here are, though. I considered doing Whole 30 for a hot minute. But that just seems so . . . harsh, and honestly would probably push my carb intake pretty low and not necessarily make running very much fun. I also do not want to constantly be eating meat (for earth/climate change reasons), though I am not even close to a vegetarian.

I just want to eat with intention. I want to eat more fresh food, do better meal prep so that my lunches don’t suck when I’m working (literally ate a bag of sour cream + onion chips + chocolate the other day because the healthy salad I picked up at the cafeteria smelled rotten when I opened it – ugh).

Honestly, this goal is not about weight loss. Of course I’d love to drop some body fat (who wouldn’t?) but I’m essentially the same weight I was in high school (though being real here, despite being at a very normal weight I wasn’t thrilled with my body then, either). At 41, that is really not terrible. But I would like to not feel like garbage for eating like a teenager.

So. Here we are. 2022’s incredibly vague nutrition goal: eat like a responsible adult, at least 95% of the time.

There you go!

Despite being old, I actually think now is a pretty good time to work on these fitness goals. I have no more babies (bittersweet!) and our home rhythms are more predictable.

I will not be doing a full post for each of the 22 goals I listed in Todoist this year, but will highlight the ‘big’ ones and then compile the others into a group post.

PS: One of my goals today is to figure out how/where to do more planner giveaways because I am CLEARING OUT for the new year (and our move)! Anyone know if there is an easy (free) app for that rather than using the blog comments? Let me know . . .

34 Comments

  • Reply Gillian December 29, 2021 at 11:16 am

    I hear you on the nutrition. I feel crappy when I eat crappy food. And yet as soon as we are out of our regular routine (like this week) I start drinking diet sodas, eating cookies for breakfast and drinking more wine. I think my nutritional goals for 2022 would be to cut out the soda, and most simple sugar (some desserts are worth feeling bad). Limiting wine to Fridays and Saturdays.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger December 29, 2021 at 12:57 pm

      I did drink VERY little in 2021 — just really not into drinking at home anymore, and we go out so rarely that it’s like 2 drinks per month, if that for me these days. I guess that is one good health/nutrition related aspect.

  • Reply Marina December 29, 2021 at 11:32 am

    This sounds great Sarah! I did strength training in 2020 with a virtual trainer (plug for Jennifer Nagel who you had on your podcast!) and lost a lot of weight with that and better nutrition. 2021 was more about maintenance and running/walking focused, but I’d like to incorporate some strength training again. I’m going to look into the Peloton programs.

  • Reply Hannah December 29, 2021 at 1:04 pm

    I am back in the office more frequently (for now…) and miss the ability to make quick, healthy at-home lunches so much. Have found myself eating chips/leftover catering desserts/crap for lunches in the office, so having a stash of shelf-stable, substantial snacks in my desk has been really helpful – tuna pouches, jerky, RX bars, nuts, dried fruit…not as good as a salad, but much better than the alternative!

  • Reply Lisa of Lisa's Yarns December 29, 2021 at 1:14 pm

    Gosh I am impressed you are at your HS weight in your 40s after having 3 kids! I was probably 30 pounds lighter in HS. Even on my wedding day when I felt really good about how I looked, I was 20 pounds heavier than my HS weight, but I think I was underweight in HS and had very little muscle. I have been working on my eating for the last 3 months after realizing that training and running a 10 mile race did nothing for my weight/how clothes fit. I’ve lost about 10 pounds since then so feel pretty good about where I’m at and feel like it’s as lean as I’m going to get while still breastfeeding the baby. I was also recently dx’d with Hashimoto’s Disease and while talking with the endocrinologist about whether to start synthroid, I mentioned my weight/how it’s harder to lose weight and she basically said that until I’m sleeping better, even starting synthroid won’t make much of a difference. Sleep has been pretty bad since the baby has had colds, ear infections, serum sickness from an amoxicillin allergy, etc. So I’m also trying to cut myself some slack since my stage of life isn’t very conducive to being at my ideal weight.

    In that vein, I love reading others’ goals but have decided not to set goals for myself in 2022. I didn’t in 2021 either since I entered the year with a 4 week old baby! Maybe in another year I’ll feel ready to set some goals? Right now I just feel depleted and exhausted (see sickness and lack of sleep above). But – I still trained for and ran a 10 mile despite not setting that as a goal, and I lost 10 pounds. So I’m learning that I can still achieve things without setting big goals in January. I’ve done about 1/2 of the Morning Meltdown 100 program and am hoping to get through the 2nd half more quickly. I was doing it on days I wasn’t running/taking a rest day this fall, but I am running very little these days, like today when it was -7F in the morning! I think your plan for changing your fitness goals based on the quartile is smart since you know that running during the summer months is awful! I do something similar – April-October are for running, then it’s time to focus on something else since it’s often unpleasant to be outside Nov-Mar.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger December 30, 2021 at 7:52 am

      Given what you’ve had on your plate this year, 10 lb and a 10 miler is amazing!!! And it’s funny our seasonal running partners are complete opposites 🙂

  • Reply omdg December 29, 2021 at 2:26 pm

    I want to try intermittent fasting. I am finding my weight continues to creep up despite eating less and exercising more, which is annoying AF. I’m currently about 10 lbs above my HS weight, which I successfully maintained until residency. I also need to cut out sweets, and alcohol. I never used to eat sweets, but now… every day. I think if I can do this consistently for a month I should start to see a difference, but I have trouble maintaining it for more than a week. Any suggestions on how to do THAT?

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger December 29, 2021 at 3:40 pm

      I know many love this approach and it has good evidence for it! Our nanny actually had great success w this method recently. Like you I think I’d have trouble sticking to it … but I wouldn’t rule out trying it either!

      Let us know if you do end up trying it!

      • Reply omdg December 29, 2021 at 4:35 pm

        I blame my husband who hands me a glass of wine and a piece of cheese when I walk through the door (not every night, but often enough). I ask you, who could stick to it under such circumstances? (Answer = nobody)

        • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger December 29, 2021 at 4:57 pm

          Well, definitely not me 🙂

      • Reply Margot December 30, 2021 at 7:07 am

        Just want to share that I started IF in November and 1 unexpected benefit is time. I don’t eat breakfast anymore (which just sounds so counter to what I learned growing up) and now I save a bunch of time in the mornings. That makes it easier to stick to!

        • Reply Gillian December 30, 2021 at 10:18 am

          @Margot the idea that breakfast is the most important meal of the day was started by Kellogs. I like IF with a 11am-7 p.m. window.

          • Sarah Hart-Unger December 30, 2021 at 2:57 pm

            Question: you run many mornings before work, right? Is waiting until 11 extremely hard post run or do you just get used to it?

            I don’t eat before my workouts (black coffee only) but I usually end up starving 1-2 hours later even if it’s only a 30-40 min run.

        • Reply Joy December 30, 2021 at 11:29 am

          I have found IF very effective. I also skip breakfast, which made me feel guilty at first, but I needed something that wouldn’t require extra work for me like two kinds of cooking. I eat between noon and 8 PM, and I lost 36 lbs over 18 months, including 20 lbs during the COVID lockdowns in 2020. Menopause had really done a number on my metabolism and going back to work full-time had messed up my exercise schedule.

          Now I feel great and I don’t have to try to remember a special diet or forbid myself anything. I just eat healthy food between those hours and have only water/black coffee otherwise.

  • Reply Bridget December 29, 2021 at 2:37 pm

    I don’t agree with an unrealistic ideal of weighing the same as high school. A teenage body is very different than a post-partum middle age body! BMI and body composition should certainly help guide health determinants, but the vanity of chasing a #? Seems like a road for frustration. Nutrition needs also change over time and with age, so focusing on needs now with the help of an RD who specializes in your age group may be helpful.

    (

    • Reply omdg December 29, 2021 at 3:35 pm

      I have to disagree – Many adolescents very much have adult sized bodies. It doesn’t have to be a reason to feel bad about yourself, though. That I can agree with

      • Reply Bridget December 31, 2021 at 8:56 pm

        Yes, adolescent bodies and middle age adult bodies can certainly be the same size. Yet the composition and metabolic needs are vastly different-a teen js building bone density, neural circuitry, has a much higher proportion of lean muscle compared to the middle age composition who is breaking down bone, and likely higher in fat, even if they are the same height/weight. I think my point was more it’s much less about a number and more about being in tune with how needs shift and therefor fitness/nutrition ideals certainly should as well.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger December 29, 2021 at 3:44 pm

      My post mentioned that I do happen to be at my HS weight – so that is not part of my goal. I do suspect it’s kind of my set point weight and even though I prefer my body about 5 lb lighter it tends to land at the same number. For me, same number in 1998 as 2022.

      • Reply Jenna December 30, 2021 at 6:28 am

        I also happen to be the same weight (or, even a little less) as I was in HS. I was fully developed in high school, and also fairly sedentary. I now eat better and work out regularly. I also agree that my current weight is my set weight (rarely goes lower without any sort of very painful effort to eat too little) and if I’m eating right and working out, it ends up there.

        Sarah, I’m sure you have the Run Fast, Eat Slow cookbooks, but if you don’t (or don’t cook from them), I highly recommend them. Even for non-runners, they are chock-full of awesome, simple, nutritious recipes. They are not vegetarian, but perfect for someone who eats meat, but doesn’t enjoy a “meat-heavy” diet. I feel like they are nutritionally balanced and not overly complicated recipes. And I’ve never had a bad meal or a recipe fail.

        Good luck!

        • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger December 30, 2021 at 7:53 am

          I have 3 of them (just got the “morning” one) and agree, they are SUCH great cookbooks! I also have never had a fail from them. I should go back and make sure I am continuing to keep the recipes in heavy rotation b/c they are excellent.

    • Reply Katherine December 29, 2021 at 11:19 pm

      I also weigh my high school weight/size (5’7” 140 lbs, size 6-8), with two kids and at age 41. I don’t think anyone should feel bad about NOT weighing this, but I also think this is clearly a healthy adult weight.

  • Reply Julia December 29, 2021 at 2:57 pm

    I laughed at the sour cream and onion chips & chocolate lunch because I’ve 100% done the exact same thing.

  • Reply coco December 29, 2021 at 4:04 pm

    I feel the same about whether to set fitness goals or not as I like it to be part of my daily life for building/maintaining strengthen, agility and mental therapy. yet, it would be good to have a clear goal to achieve. I happened to decide to sign up for the Berlin marathon next year (after two years of being affected by covid), so I guess I do have a goal that would take up 3 months leading to it. the rest of the year I’ll focus on strength and speed.
    on nutrition, I’m conflicted between low carb (to keep blood sugar stable as I’ve discovered fluctuations using a CGM) and mainly vegan meals as I don’t feel good when eating a lot of animals, while still keeping it easy and flexible. maybe I’ll try to do a semi- vegan keto for a week or so to see how easy is it and how to adopt some of the meals into normal eating days… yet, vegan keto seems so restrictive so let’s see.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger December 29, 2021 at 5:04 pm

      Vegan Keto sounds insanely hard … coconut avocado nuts and vegetables?

      • Reply coco December 31, 2021 at 4:38 pm

        I know it sounds too restrictive thus I’ll explore and try for a week to find new food options/ideas. once I learn what oatmeal/sweet potato/other healthy carbs do to my blood sugar fluctuations, I can’t unlearn. 🙂

    • Reply Hilary December 30, 2021 at 7:01 pm

      I highly recommend following Glucose Goddess on Instagram (or I think she has a website) – really great glucose charts and findings. Turns out you probably don’t have to be low carb to keep your glucose from spiking! I’ve learned so much from her.

      • Reply coco December 31, 2021 at 4:37 pm

        will check it out. thanks!

  • Reply Anne December 29, 2021 at 9:13 pm

    You may enjoy this book for nutrition inspiration for the new year https://www.evelyntribole.com/intuitive-eating-365/

    I found it very encouraging and practical.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger December 30, 2021 at 7:53 am

      ooh thank you for the rec!

  • Reply Christa December 30, 2021 at 7:06 am

    Thanks for sharing your goals! So motivating and inspiring as I look to my own!

    Have you ever looked into the “Run Less, Run Faster” program out of Runner’s World? It has 5k and half marathon (and marathon) programs… and an app! Maybe that’s not the mileage you are looking for but it’s a good one. My D1 college coach used a variation of the Daniel’s Running Formula when I ran so maybe I just have PTSD (and maybe RED is a totally different program), but it was so. much.

    Just a thought.

    Thanks again for sharing your goals and processes to hold yourself accountable!!

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger December 30, 2021 at 7:55 am

      Haha Red is a MUCH MUCH easier program than the stuff he recommends for college/HS athletes. Like 20-25 miles/week — it’s supposed to be a ‘moderate fitness’ plan.

      I do remember using RLRF (or a version of it – I think it was called Furman Institute or FIRST?) back in the day with good results! Maybe I’ll use that for race training once I build fitness a bit with RED.

  • Reply Amanda December 30, 2021 at 8:42 am

    Two cookbook recommendations — Vegan Vegetarian Omnivore by Anna Thomas and The Weekday Vegetarians by Jenny Rosenstrach. Both titles are self-explanatory, and both cookbooks have awesome, approachable, customizable recipes. (Borrow from the library and then decide if you want to buy!)

    • Reply Gillian December 30, 2021 at 10:20 am

      I love Jenny’s cookbooks and a few WDV recipes are already in the rotation here.

  • Reply Alyce December 30, 2021 at 10:49 am

    I tried Intermittent Fasting for like a week. I thought it would be easy/good for me, as I don’t tend to be hungry first thing in the morning. In practice, however, it was pretty terrible. I was delaying food longer than was comfortable, and when I could eat, I found myself grabbing the first thing I could get my hands on, which was rarely a nutritionally dense option. I ate so many Jalapeno Kettle chip to take the initial edge off. And when I was in my eating window, I couldn’t get enough food in to cover me for the day, so I was starving again in the couple of hours before bedtime. I was basically always experiencing severe blood sugar swings and I felt bad and ate worse than I had been eating before. As far as me and my body is concerned, intermittent fasting is basically just a starvation diet, and it wasn’t for me.

    One thing I’ve been doing recently that has really been working very well for me is “Fab 4” smooties per Kelly Leveque. It’s a low sugar smoothie with specific amounts of protein, fat, and fiber, and then some sort of green. The smoothies feel deeply nutritious and they’re the right amount filling for me given my low hunger levels in the morning. They’re not low calorie smoothies – when I’ve actually logged the ingredients in an app, they’re usually in the 400-500 calorie range. But they adequately tackle my morning hunger without spiking my blood sugar, and then when it comes time for me to eat my first meal of the day, I make much better and more nutritious choices. She applies the Fab 4 approach to her recipes as well, and I was interested in learning more so I did buy her second book, which explains her approach and includes recipes. Unfortunately, it’s not a traditional cookbook with lots of pictures of the recipes, so it’s a lot harder to connect with the recipes and make quick decisions about what you want to make from the cookbook. I’ve made a couple of the recipes and have liked them, but I haven’t made enough of the recipes to wholeheartedly recommend it to others. But I can definitely say that the approach feels nutritious and satisfying and I certainly recommend checking it out.

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