Finding and giving value in 2017

The first post of the year.

For a fitness blogger, the topics are fairly predictable; how to get back to exercise after the holidays, tips for reducing added sugar, finding new motivation in a new year, tricks for creating attainable goals and making new habits stick, strategies for dealing with the January gym rush etc.

Not that these posts aren’t helpful. Heck, I’ve written many of them myself, and if that’s what you’re looking for, just click on the links above and get inspired.

This year’s first post is more personal.

Twenty-sixteen was a challenging year for me.

The plans that I’d made for family, fitness, business and personal development didn’t all pan out. Some of that was on me and some of it was completely beyond my control.

I didn’t get to the gym as much as usual. I indulged in alcohol more frequently than I typically do. I cancelled an online program due to lack of interest. I took things personally way more often than is typical of me.

There were periods of stillness, punctuated by tentative steps forward.

I joined a new gym. I took on new fitness coaching clients. I attended a midlife bloggers conference. I went to a health and wellness spa. I revitalized my newsletter. I blogged regularly. I travelled a fair bit and spent lots of time hanging with my family and friends.

In retrospect, I think I did pretty damn well, all things considered.

For the first time in fourteen months I find myself looking forward with hope and possibility. And the realization that 2017 can only be an improvement on 2016 if I’m clear on what I want from it.

It’s been years since I’ve made a New Year’s resolution. Not doing so has worked well for me, so I’m inclined to continue the lack of tradition 🙂

Setting ‘goals’ isn’t quite right either, as what I’m seeking isn’t material or measurable. (Don’t get me wrong, I have goals, they’re just not associated with the start of a new year…).

While vision boards work for many, I’m just not motivated by looking at pictures or motivational phrases.

What I’m after is a feeling. And that feeling is ‘value’.

  • I want to feel valuable to others. That what I give to my family, friends, clients and online community is of value. I want to know that when I write a blog post or share a personal story or help someone make a positive change in their life that my contribution is valued.
  • I want to value myself and my time more. Enough to put my own needs at least on par with the needs of others and spend less time on activities that aren’t adding value to my life or my business.
  • I want to make others feel valued. Letting people know I appreciate the time and energy they share with me. And that their actions have impacted me as an individual or an online community that they’re a part of.
Creating this feeling of ‘value’ is going to require change.

Some of those changes will be related to this blog and my activity on social media.

I’ve already implemented the first one. Every day in January, I’ll be sharing a ‘workout-let’ on my Instagram and Facebook fan pages; a short workout designed to help you get back to exercise after the holidays in a safe, sane and enjoyable fashion. (Make sure you’ve ‘liked’ my Facebook page and are ‘following’ me on Instagram to ensure you see them all and if you value the content I’ve shared, please pay it forward by sharing with your own friends and followers.)

Newsletter recipients will see a change in the frequency of emails from me. While I’ve enjoyed communicating twice-weekly in this less ‘formal’ fashion with my followers, the low rate of responses and overall engagement on this platform has led me to question whether it’s a valuable use of my time (and whether the recipients who do engage are receiving much value from my musings..).

I’ll be phasing out a program that’s helped many beginners to fitness and working on creating something new that will be considerably more valuable to my ‘ideal reader’ (midlife women with the goal of becoming the strongest, healthiest and happiest version of themselves possible).

While blogging will remain on my list of ‘valued’ activities, I’d like to tailor my posts to the topics of most value to my midlife female readers rather than those most ‘valued’ by search engines 🙂

Take a minute and help a girl out? 

Of the information I’m already sharing here, what types are most valuable to you? (e.g., workouts, how-to posts, fitness and nutrition information, motivational kicks in the butt etc).

Are there other types of posts that would be even more valuable to you? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Thanks to all of you who regularly (or semi-regularly 😉 ) read, comment on and share my online offerings. You make me feel valued. I hope that I do the same for you.

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Comments

  1. Everything has been helpful. I love that you keep it personal, so it doesn’t feel like I’m just reading random information on an Internet site. It’s nice to know you are a “real” person… One who also has real struggles. I really like all the information, but I especially enjoy reading tips on health benefits, workouts, how-to posts, etc. Motivation is nice , too, but it seems to be the mainstream everywhere. I love your posts / newsletters and hope you don’t stop. I look forward to receiving them in my email. Thank you. -R

    • Rae, I too prefer personal. There’s so much ‘factual’ info on the web that it becomes very bland and uninspiring to read. Thanks so much for taking the time to respond. I don’t intend to stop writing or sharing, just re-evaluating the best frequency and path forward 🙂

  2. Hi Tamara, I found your blog quite by accident last spring. I was feeling out of shape (not that I have ever been truly fit) and was looking for some inspiration. I think I Googled “midlife women exercise” or something along those lines… Reading some of your posts gave me the will to find an exercise program I could stick with. I am 52 and have a congenital heart issue, but I have always known that being more fit would be good for my heart health. I ended up enrolling in a “boot camp” type program in June–and I am proud to say I am still doing it! It’s called FitTribe and they have 35 min group sessions with 1 or 2 trainers. While I had NEVER tried something like this, the high intensity interval training has clicked for me. The sessions alternate between strength training & cardio. I can motivate to go to a half-hour session, and the trainers are supportive of the fact that I was a complete newbie and didn’t know what a “plank” was and had never successfully completed a push-up. They counseled me on nutrition, too, and now I eat mostly carb/dairy/sugar-free, with lots & lots of veggies & protein. I have lost 10 pounds (though weight loss was not really my goal) but more importantly, at mid-life, I feel stronger and more clear-headed than I have in a long, long time. While I am not enrolled in any of your programs, I wanted you to know that in a virtual way (I live in Pennsylvania) you have played an active role in getting me to where I am today. I’ll also say that reading about your Clara and your ability to find a positive path forward after such a devastating loss moved me in a very personal way. I am a Tetralogy of Fallot survivor, having had open heart surgery in 1972. I know how fortunate I am to both be a survivor, and to have had the added blessing of being a mother to two (now) teenage boys. Mother to mother, I am so very very sorry for your loss. Thank you for your blog & newsletter. While this is the first time I have posted, I do read everything. I love the mini-workouts (I have tried many when I can’t get to the gym). Thank you, too, for your honesty and your passion for helping others. You have surely impacted more lives that you realize. Take care & I hope 2017 brings you greater peace and many happy days.

    • Betsy, I’m so thankful for your response. I love hearing success stories like yours; not weight loss stories, but stories of finding fitness and all that it brings to your life. Thank you for sharing your own heart story with me. I can’t imagine what it would have been like for your parents, given how early 1972 was in the heart surgery arena.

      Wishing you all the best in 2017 as well xo

  3. Jessica Martin says:

    I am grateful for you. Though I am not very active in responding to posts typically, I read them all and truly appreciate your knowledge and passion for what you do. 2016 was a tough year for many, myself included, not sure why the universe deemed it necessary, but I do know that our intentions in our hearts will guide us to better things. Change is inevitable and makes us stronger if we let it. Thank you for all you do. Keep on keeping on!

    • Oh Jessica, I totally agree about 2016. What was going on???
      I think we’re both in store for a better 2017. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment today 🙂

  4. Everyone can always use a good motivational kick on occasion.
    Your courage and value are immeasurable. 🙂

  5. DeePatree says:

    This was a really good post that indeed had value. As a middle age woman with a considerable way to go to get healthy, I think post about workouts, mindset, and motivation are of particular value for me. For example, if you have spent your life putting others in front of you how do you begin and consistently put yourself forward. Keeping in mind the value of consistency is also a good topic when one may not see the change. Thanks for all that you do.

    • DeePatree, you’re so right. It’s tough to make that change towards putting yourself first. And I think a lot of us don’t have to think about that until we hit midlife and our children need us less. All of a sudden we have all of this extra time and need to do something with it. Self-care is a great option 🙂

      Thank you so much for taking the time to respond. I truly appreciate it!

  6. Thanks for sharing. It feels like it gives other women the “permission”, if you will, to honor the ebbs and flows and step back a little. I’m definitely re-evaluating some things as well and getting more focused in certain areas of my life right now. I appreciate this post.

    • You’re so right. It really does help to know that other people feel the same way as we do. It’s so easy to feel isolated in such a big world. I love using the new year to evaluate and re-focus. Can’t wait to hear what you come up with! xo

  7. What I like in other fitness blogs I follow: 1. Opinions on different things that are currently being discussed by others in the fitness world. 2. Answers to readers’ questions. I’m sure you get a lot of email from people asking about specific things. Sharing a Q&A in a blog post and inviting others to chime in is something I love reading, although I rarely post a reply.

    Now, I need to get an instagram account!

    • Julia, thanks so much for the feedback. And you’re right; I do get lots of questions from newsletter subscribers and FB followers. I think the reason I’ve hesitated to do Q&A posts before is the questions are always the same, and I’ve often written about them several times previous. Of course, we all need a little repetition before things stick :-).

      I think I’ll plan a few for the first quarter of 2017.

  8. I love this post as it fits right in with my midlife brain. The older I get the more streamlined I get.
    i have been struggling with my ADD/menopause brain as of late and I feel that you have given me a name for the place I am searching to land in…Value. Thank you for that.
    I feel as though the little boxes in my brain are suddenly slipping into the slots and I feel better. Amazing how a simple word put forth by a person with value can resonate so quickly and deeply. 🙂

    • Denise, I think that midlife brain may be a part of if for me too. I turn 50 this year and it feels like not only a big number, but a good time to stop and really think about the second half of my life!

      Thank you so much for the very valuable reply 🙂

  9. I think what I value the most in your blogs (and programs) is the understanding that things have changed at 40 plus years. Joining your community has changed a lot for me. I used to feel frustrated and unsuccessful. Now I feel empowered and successful. I like the idea of AMA posts!

  10. Hi Tamara,

    I definitely think you provide value! You certainly have helped me change my perspective and mindset about fitness! I love that you focus on the middle-age women, and that you “get” us, because you are experiencing the same things. I also love your sensible, realistic approach! I had my annual check-up today, and although I’m 50, I’m in the best shape of my life. Your program was a big contributor to that! Thanks!

  11. I love your posts, much as I might not like to admit it at 43 I am creeping into middle age and what I have always does no longer always works. That being said over the past 2-1/2 years every part of my life has changed, the changes have finally settled into a new life and I am establishing new habits, routines, and likes to go with this new life. I like that your blog addresses the issues relevant to someone closer to my stage in life not someone younger with less responsibilities and more time, energy and headspace to devote solely to their body and fitness.

    • Lori, it makes me happy to know that my posts feel relevant to you. Our 40’s can be a real game changer, and like it or not, they play a big role in how well we continue to age! Thanks so much for chiming in 🙂

  12. Hi Tamara! I love this blog posts! Finding and giving value is my aim for this year too.

    As we grow we evolve to learn exactly what we need to do to reach others.

    I believe there is beauty in sharing your story and your truth. Much success in 2017!!!

  13. Can you address in a future post the topic of aging and building muscle? I’ve been working out with free weights for about 6 months now (occasional visits with a Personal Trainer) and feel that I still have no biceps. I have triceps developing, but it seems that regardless of what I do, nothing helps. I can’t even “progress” with my biceps, whereas I can with my triceps.

    From scouring the web, I’ve learned:

    1. It’s all but hopeless – we lose 2% muscle mass as we age (I’m 50) and if we work out, we lose 1% instead.
    2. I’m not getting enough protein.
    3. I’m overtraining.
    4. I don’t get enough sleep.
    etc
    etc

    Personally, I was a slug for decades, so I had no muscle until about a year ago. I’m primal-ish, so protein and better overall nutrition is not an issue. I sleep more, having placed a higher priority on it over time.

    I did find that I was overtraining, so I dropped from 3x/week full body to 2x. Or even 1x if the week is rough. And no more Pilates (reformer and other Pil machines) and weights on same day! As an aside, I noticed that if I don’t take at least a 30 min Pilates mat class, doing a 30 minute or 45 minute Pilates machine class is almost impossible. And I’ve been doing it for what will be 2 years in Feb.

    (I also shoot for 150 min of moderate cardio a week, sometimes do more.)

    What SHOULD our expectation be for gaining muscle? Does it just take a lot longer as we get older?

    This is more for an AMA, since I can’t be the only one this happens to!

    • Julia, GREAT QUESTION!

      There’s a long answer (and post here…), but the short of it is that ‘yes’, it’s harder and takes longer to build muscle now than it did when we were younger. We don’t have as much estrogen or testosterone working for us as we used to. Combine that with (commonly) low protein intake and (commonly) too much cardio and we just don’t see the mass building as quickly or as firmly as it once did.

      There are things one can do (and you’ve listed a few of the possible solutions in your response above), but I also believe that it’s really important to understand and be OK with the changes in our body that come with aging.

      I think this is a great topic for a future post. Thanks for suggesting it!

      • I’m on HRT, but I’m sure I have low T due to long term medical conditions. I never thought about that aspect of it.

  14. Your 3 values describes what I want for myself to the T… but first I have to work on me to make progress on everything which has pretty much held me up my whole life – another story for another time. xoxo

  15. I don’t usually comment, but I enjoy reading your posts and e-mails otherwise I would have unsubscribed. I am not much on Facebook, so I will continue to rely on the blog. I enjoy reading articles about the changes our bodies go through with the “second puberty” and about ways to deal with life and fitness. To me reading about your change of gym and about making time to go walking are encouraging to make shifts in my own life to get more fitness in.

    • Hi Karin, thanks so much for taking the tine to respond. I’m glad that you’re finding some value on this page and hope that you continue to read my blog posts into the future!
      I’m also happy that you’ve been able to make some changes in your own fitness life.

  16. I enjoy your posts and follow you on Facebook. I’ve learned a lot from you. 2016 was a bad year for me as well. I’m 47 and I was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer a few weeks before my 47th birthday. I’ve been a slacker on working out….. Surgery, open wound, chemo might be the cause. I like your new work-let posts. I’m back to working out not it’s a progress; I’m so out of shape. Your posts and how they relate to our age group are great. Every time I read your posts or your blog, I learn something. You have had a big impact on me. Thank you

    • Wendy, thanks so much for sharing your story with me. I can’t imagine how difficult this experience must have been for you, not only physically, but emotionally as well. I wouldn’t call where you are right now ‘slacking’; give yourself permission to heal and return slowly to fitness. Best wishes for a healthier 2017!

  17. Thanks for sharing. I’d love to hear more of your nutrition strategies and tips for staying motivated to eat well.

  18. Tamara, thanks for your posts! I’d love to continue seeing more for exercise and health for age 40+ women. I don’t use FB or Instagram because of my “minimalist” approach to social media, though I appreciate links to Pinterest for other helpful tidbits. I constantly am seeking advice (and revalidation) on weight training vs cardio or finding that balance, i.e. Is total body X times per week better than splits. I especially like home workouts and dvds like Cathe, due to my budget. Recommendations for dvds + equipment (especially small spaces in the city). If running is truly worse than walking, or is “runners face” or other saggy impacts REAL at this age? 😳

    • I LOVE your minimalist approach. If I didn’t need social media for my business, I would happily step away 🙂
      I need to google ‘runner’s face’. I will admit to not knowing that this is a thing!

  19. I just found you. I’m also a Canadian group exercise instructor in my mid forties. I have been gaining weight, especially around the middle and I was googling “women, forties, hormones, weight gain” when I found you and I really liked what I found! Personally, I’m not looking for any exercises, I’ve got that part covered. I’m looking for information (real FACTS and TRUTH!) about my aging body and hormones and how my diet and exercise can affect my health. I like that you have an education and experience and can explain things simply.
    I let myself eat all the chocolates I wanted over Christmas! I found I was very irritable, so I’d reach for more chocolate…. For the last 10 days I’ve been strictly avoiding sugar and processed foods. I’ve been trying to get lots of protein and vegetables. I’ve even been avoiding fruit for now because of the sugar. I feel so much better already.
    I’m realizing that I just can’t indulge like I used to. I used to think, “I just burned 700 calories teaching that class, I can have a little chocolate and it won’t affect me.” I’m realizing now that sugar affects my hormones and hormones play a huge role in my mood and health. Please write more about how hormones relate to our health and what we can do with our diet to balance our hormones. Thank you!

  20. I found your website a couple of weeks ago and it is exactly what I have been looking for! I have been working out for years now. Training for that “killer body” we all want (you talked about this in one of your articles). It is burning me out. I am not enjoying working out as much, my body can’t keep up like it used to, and it is hard at my age (43) to compete with the young fitness goers that post on instagram/ Facebook/twitter. Trying to do the workouts and exercises they do doesn’t make my body happy, but yet I still try for some reason. I really feel like I need to take a step back. Like you said train for fitness, to be healthy, not for a six pack (which I would really love of course)! I need to switch it up so that working out isn’t a “chore”. Finding your blog/website has encouraged me to do this. I am trying your approach of the total body workout (instead of doing individual body parts). It’s hard to change and a bit scary. I worry I will lose ground. I’ve been doing it so long the same way it’s hard to take a step back but I really feel like my body will be thankful. I love that you speak directly about mid-life and being healthy. Please keep posting. I love information and facts that help me keep going and know I am doing the right things.

    • Thank you so much for your email. I know how scary it is to try something different. Even if what we’re currently doing is no longer working for us! 🙂