How I Successfully Achieved My January Goals...and new goals for February

If you recall, this year I've decided to set monthly goals versus goals for the year. I hoped that setting goals this way would help me stay more focused and committed to them, setting myself up for success. And so far, it's working.

The two goals I set for January were:

1. Don't eat refined sugar 2. Practice yoga or Pilates for 20-minutes every day

No Refined Sugar

The first couple of days were tough. I was coming off of holiday gluttony and going cold turkey sent my body into a semi state of shock.

The 3 o'clock afternoon hour was always the toughest, but instead of denying myself of anything during that time I found alternatives to satisfy my sweet tooth:

+ I drank lots of green smoothies to the point where now I crave them. + I sliced bananas, topped them with a dollop of nut butter and put them in the freezer. One or two bites were more than enough for an afternoon snack. + I ate berries, kiwi and mangoes topped with sliced almonds.

Between January 1-31 I:

+ Used MyFitnessPal to see how my daily diet was allocated between carbs, fats, protein, sugar and fiber. It helped me to make better food choices as a result of seeing the daily big picture of what I was eating. I said no to second servings and for the most part, processed foods. + Used the same scale and weighed myself at the same time every morning. I lost 6 lbs and 2% body fat.

Tracking my progress throughout the month kept me motivated to stay committed to this goal.

My breakthrough moment came over last weekend when I walked through the Ferry Building in downtown San Francisco and realized that I wasn't even tempted by any of the sweet treats.

This 30-day challenge was an eye-opening experience. I thought I ate a healthy diet before, and by no means would I categorize it as bad...but now it's healthier.

{Full disclosure: I did eat Honey Stinger Chews and Picky Bars to fuel my double-digit run and post run. I couldn't think of any other alternatives that I could conveniently carry with me on the run. Any suggestions for this would be welcomed.}

One last note: Here's a video I recently watched on the importance of watching your sugar intake.}

20-min of Yoga or Pilates Daily

This challenge started off easier than No Refined Sugar. In fact, the first two weeks of the month I was doing at least 20-minutes of both, in addition to my regular workouts. But it started to wear me out so I settled for alternating them each day.

For the most part I used video workouts found on Comcast On Demand and Hulu Plus.

The first few weeks I was so inflexible and had to use blocks and a yoga belt for the simplest of yoga poses. I was doing a lot of track workouts, using muscles that I wasn't used to. I was so sore all the time, but as I kept up with the workouts, I noticed the soreness subside. Gradually I needed less recovery time between workouts.

As for Pilates, some of the workouts were the same as the ones that my physical therapist prescribed. They primarily focus on the core and legs, which I know, helps to make me run stronger. It was more than enough motivation to stick with it.

I finished the month with 9.7 hours of Yoga and 8.40 hours of Pilates.

These two challenges definitely got me started off on the right foot for the year. And although the month is over, I intend to continue practicing both of them.

February's 30-Day Challenges

I have three challenges for February:

1. Make meals with five ingredients or less.

This was a suggestion from my nutritionist and inspired by the book "Food Rules" by Michael Pollan (review on this book coming shortly).

2. Throw out 100 things

Inspired by this post. My house is so cluttered I have been counting down the days to February so I can get started.

3. Track every dollar I spent

I use but it categorizes everything so while I have a general idea of where my money goes, I'd like to have a more granular view of it. Now I'm not a numbers person but I'm going to attempt to do this and take a good hard look at where I spend my money.

This was inspired by Cate's post, this post, and the numbers that tells me that I swear are lies...