What I Learned By Exercising Every Day for a Year

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

I exercised every day for 365 days. And now I shall rest.

"10! 9! 8! 7! 6! 5! 4! 3! 2! 1!"

With that Jillian Michaels counted down the last ten seconds of level 2 of her 6-Week Six-Pack DVD and counted down the seconds to me completing a fantastic feat.

At the start of this year I announced that I planned to exercise every single day in 2014. I even made the declaration on WBHM 90.3 FM and all across social media. And guess what...


I exercised for at least 30 minutes every day for 365 days!

As I've stated before, I wasn't challenging myself to do this so I could lose weight. 2014 was also about me learning to see my body as, to borrow the words of Caroline Heldman, an amazing vehicle for moving through the world, not a project to be constantly improved.

Thus, I didn't care about my weight this year. Numbers I did care about, however, were my cholesterol, blood pressure, and waist-to-height ratio -- all of which I was told were perfect at my physical last month.

But achieving this fitness goal also taught me a lot about writing, blogging, and business.

To achieve your writing and business goals you need support at home. My biggest supporter this year as I worked to exercise daily was been my husband Edward. Because of my crazy schedule hubster's biggest fear was that I would one day simply forget to exercise. So he made sure to remind me every day. One night he forgot to ask me if I'd exercised that day and the next morning he panicked and sent me frantic text message to see if I had. Fortunately, I had indeed exercised that day before he got home from work. But this anecdote shows just how supportive he was of this quest.  He was as committed to this goal as I was. And just as he's always waiting for me at the finish line when I run half-marathons, he stood by listening to Jillian's countdown and ran into the living room to congratulate me when my final workout of the year was complete.

Each time a run a half-marathon my hubs is waiting for me at the finish line -- with flowers!

My husband is just as supportive of my writing, blogging and career goals. At most See Jane Write events you'll see him right there helping me carry in refreshments, taking pictures, and tweeting out highlights of the event.  It's important for any woman in a relationship to have the support of her partner -- even if this simply means your significant other is willing to pick up more household chores so you have more time to work on your writing.

To achieve your writing and business goals you need a community of like-minded gal pals. Along with the support I had at home, I also had the support of faithful friends. Going for walks, running road races, and attending group exercise classes with friends was a great way to stay on track. Accountability is important, too. I've had attempted 365 days of fitness in the past and failed. But making the declaration to so many people motivated me to stick with it.

Fitness is more fun with friends...
...and when covered in brightly colored paint! 

It's important for female writers, bloggers, and entrepreneurs to have community, too. You need someone who understands why you bother blogging in the first place, someone who doesn't think you're crazy for quitting your day job to try out your small business idea, and someone who will encourage you to write that novel or send that pitch.

To achieve your writing and business goals you need to keep things interesting. If I working out daily only meant spending 30 minutes on a elliptical 7 days a week I probably wouldn't have made it through January. But I made fitness fun! My workouts included: running, spinning, walking with friends, dance classes, the fitness mode of the Wii game Just Dance, Pure Barre, yoga, boxing, Jillian Michaels DVDs, Shaun T DVDs, weight lifting, and more.

Likewise, you have to make sure you keep things interesting as you work on your craft as a writer. If you're bored with your blog, your readers probably are too. So keep things fresh! Try a new topic, introduce a new feature, or revamp the look of your site.

To achieve your writing and business goals you must challenge yourself. Another way I warded off boredom throughout the year was by occasionally giving myself a more specific fitness challenge. For example, in June I challenged myself to walk/run 100 miles and I did! Inspired by that feat, I've decided that my fitness goal for 2015 is to walk/run 1200 miles -- that's 100 miles a month for 12 months.

100 miles in June!

Don't be afraid to challenge yourself in your writing career or business either. Perhaps you'll strive to publish a new blog post every day for a month, self-publish your first book, see your byline in your favorite national magazine or earn $100,000 in your business.

To achieve your writing and business goals you must stop telling yourself that you don't have the time to go after your dreams. The biggest lesson I learned from my year of everyday fitness is that I do have the time to exercise. Always. And if I have the time to exercise every day I also have the time to blog, write, pitch, network, plan, market and do whatever else I need to do to achieve my writing and business goals.

If you're thinking you don't have the time to exercise or chase your dreams, I ask you to consider signing up for my time management e-course, How To Write and Have a Life, which will launch tomorrow. Sign up for my new newsletter for more details.

What great thing did you accomplish this year?

My Writeous Year: 14 Highlights of 2014

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

I can't believe the end of 2014 is here and we're on the brink of a new year. I am so excited about 2015 and I'm determined to make it my best year yet. But first, let's take a look back at 2014. Here are 14 things that made 2014 unforgettable:

1. For my 33rd birthday I received one of the best birthday presents ever -- this poster-sized, girl power-themed, handmade birthday card from a group of female students.

2. For the first time See Jane Write hosted a workshop at the Birmingham Public Library's Authors Expo.

3. I landed a number of speaking gigs including speaking at Food Blog South and the Alabama Media Professionals fall conference.

4. I attended TEDxBirmingham as an educator fellow.

5. Inspired by TEDxBirmingham, I hosted ASFA Ed Talks at my school -- a day of TED-inspired presentations meant to energize my fellow teachers for the school year.

6. I went to Beyonce's On the Run concert in Atlanta and basically had a religious experience.

I felt flawless the morning after the show -- even with frizzy hair!

7.  I attended BlogHer '14 and this happened:

8. See Jane Write hosted its first conference and the Bloganista Mini-Con was a huge success!

We had full house at the Bloganista Mini-Con!

9. Inspired by Megan LaRussa Chenoweth's keynote address at the Bloganista Mini-Con, I decided to really strive to take See Jane Write LLC to the next level and start treating it like the business that it is. My first step was to revamp the See Jane Write website.

10. Also, this year I started working with business coach Stephanie Donegan, which was truly a game changer for me.

11. I was hired to manage social media for the Alabama School of Fine Arts.

12. My Women and Media class has become one of the most fulfilling things in my career, with students telling me that the class has completely changed their lives and producing creative projects like this:

Nothing will keep you warm like a feminist quilt! 

13. I joined Women Business Leaders -- a networking group for professional women of faith.

14. And the highlight of my writing career this year was landing my own column in a monthly magazine! My column Write Like a Girl explores feminism and women's issues and appears each month in B-Metro magazine! You can also read my essays online.

What were the highlights of your year?

14 Things That Made Me a Happy Feminist in 2014

Monday, December 29, 2014

1. I went to Beyonce's On the Run tour and had a religious experience when I saw Queen Bey standing before the word FEMINIST emblazoned on a gigantic screen. Yonce would later wave her feminist banner in the same way at the MTV VMAs. Flawless.

2. Laverne Cox graced the cover of Time magazine and continues to open doors for transgender men and women. The Orange Is the New Black actress is also an alum of the Alabama School of Fine Arts, my alma mater and the school where I currently teach.

3. Lupita Nyong'o became the fifth black woman to receive a best supporting actress Academy award for her role in 12 Years a Slave. She also received honors from Glamour and Essence magazines. In the speech she gave while accepting the Black Women in Hollywood Breakthrough Performance award from Essence, Nyong'o spoke openly and honestly about body image and blackness and got the world talking about the role that skin color plays in how we define beauty.

4. Mo'ne Davis redefined the meaning of the phrase "throw like a girl" when the 13-year-old led her team to the Little League World Series. She was recently named Sports Illustrated Kid's "SportsKid of the Year" and she was the first Little Leaguer to land the cover of Sports Illustrated.

5. HelloFlo gave me a new excuse to talk about my period. I've always believed that women should openly discuss their periods without shame because there is nothing weird or gross about our bodies. And the hilarious commercials produced by the sanitary product company HelloFlo serve as great conversation starters.

6. Taylor Swift finally saw the light! Two years ago I blogged about comments Swift made about feminism in an interview with The Daily Beast. When asked whether she was a feminist in a 2012 interview with The Daily Beast, she replied:
I don’t really think about things as guys versus girls. I never have. I was raised by parents who brought me up to think if you work as hard as guys, you can go far in life.
But this year Swift had a feminist awakening.  In an August interview with The Guardian Swift said: 

As a teenager, I didn’t understand that saying you’re a feminist is just saying that you hope women and men will have equal rights and equal opportunities. What it seemed to me, the way it was phrased in culture, society, was that you hate men. And now, I think a lot of girls have had a feminist awakening because they understand what the word means

7. Students at my alma mater the University of Alabama launched the UA Feminist Caucus, a feminist club seeking to address those who believe there's no need for feminism and to tackle misconceptions about feminism.

8. Actress Emma Watson delivered a speech before the U.N. on the importance of feminism and why everyone -- including men -- should care about gender equality.

Image by Mark Garten via Flickr Creative Commons

9. Malala Yousafzai became the youngest person to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. In addition to speaking out against violence and poverty, 17-year-old Malala has been a major advocate for more access to education for women and girls.

10.  The Greater Birmingham chapter of NOW (National Organization for Women) reorganized and reactivated. I'm now a card-carrying feminist!

11. While Democrats may not have fared well during the 2014 midterm election women, of both parties, certainly did. Setting a new record, 100 women will serve in the 114th Congress.

12. I wasn't a happy feminist while listening to Steve Santagati's idiotic comments about how women should consider street harassment as flattery, but Amanda Seales' response was amazing and the faces she made while this dude was talking his complete nonsense shall be my response from now on to all ridiculous mansplaining.

13. Cosmopolitan magazine is now about more than how to please your man. As editor-in-chieft Joanna Coales said, the Cosmo reader is "interested mascara and the Middle East." The magazine has decided to increase its feminist and political content, as evidenced by the decision to hire Jill Filipovic as senior political writer.

14. Shonda Rhimes always makes me happy. First of all, Scandal's Olivia Pope called herself a feminist in one of this season's episodes. But I also admire how Rhimes cooly and cleverly shut down the New York Times critic who called her an "angry black woman."


What made you a happy feminist this year? 

4 Not-So-Simple Goals for December

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

My December To-Do List is nearly five feet long and yet I'm still smiling. Read on to find out why.

Near the end of the year I often set what I call 4 Simple Goals. The brainchild of Elsie Larson of A Beautiful Mess, the idea behind 4 Simple Goals is to pick simple, activity-oriented goals that will make your life richer, happier, and healthier as you finish up the year. 

This year, though, I have four not-so-simple goals for December. These goals are all about doing what needs to be done to finish 2014 strong and to hit the ground running in 2015. 

My four goals aren't simple; they're huge! They're goals that needed to be broken down into several smaller steps -- so many steps that when I wrote them all down my to-do list for December turned out to be almost as long as I am tall! 

Believe it or not, this list doesn't intimidate me. Instead I'm excited! This list motivates me because it's a carefully crafted plan for preparing to make 2015 my best year yet. 

1. Finish fall semester. As a teacher this is my top priority for the month. The to-do list for this goal consists of tasks such as grading papers, writing exams, filling out end-of-the-semester evaluations and paperwork, and cleaning my classroom. 

2. Meet all freelance deadlines. I have four major freelance stories due this month. This to-do list is about conducting and transcribing interviews and writing and editing copy. 

3. Survive Christmas and get ready for New Year's Eve. If you know me well, you know I am not a fan of Christmas -- a holiday that I believe drives individuals into debt and families into arguments. But since everyone else in the world thinks Christmas is awesome, I try to be a good sport and buy gifts and such, which is what this to-do list covers. My reward for playing along with this whole Christmas thing is New Year's Eve -- my favorite holiday! I usually celebrate by throwing a small party at my apartment with some of my closest friends (so some to-do list items are party planning tasks). The party is always a blast and the perfect way to end the year. 

4. Launch my debut e-course. The main reason I'm not stressed about my five-foot long to-do list is because I know I'll get everything done. I always do. And I don't say that from a place of arrogance, but one of experience. I'm really good at time management, so good that I've created an e-course to help other women writers better manage their time, too. The bulk of my December to-do list is focused on polishing and promoting my e-course so I'll be ready for a successful launch on Dec. 31. If you want to stay up-to-date about the e-course and other programs I'm offering in 2015, be sure to sign up for my new newsletter

What are your four simple (or not-so-simple) goals for December?