So, I got two more flats on my ride and a stranger hugged me.

Last Saturday I was supposed to go on a *really* long bike ride (76 miles!!) and I was really, really nervous. So, of course, about 30 miles into my epic quest I got a flat tire. Normally a flat tire wouldn’t bum me out but this one made me particularly upset because last weekend I kept getting flats. I had to fix 5 or 6 before I thought I had solved the problem by digging out a small chunk of glass from my tire and installing some brand new tubes

The problem was clearly not fixed and I was on a group ride with people who were much faster than me (I can barely keep up). So, when we got to the nearest rest stop I fixed the flat, examined my tires inch by inch for glass and left as quick as I could to catch back up with my group.

Uphill

Things were going well and after pedaling really hard I actually caught up with my group. Then, at mile 41, I got ANOTHER flat and realized the problem (whatever it was) was not solved. It was at that point I decided I needed to just call home for a ride so that I could get my bike straightened out properly. I was really sad.

I told the group I was riding with to leave me and that I was going to use my phone to call a ride. They left, I pulled out my phone, and it was dead.

Dead.

The second I realized I called out to my group but they were long gone (I assured them I was fine and didn’t need them to wait), and I was in the middle of NO WHERE with only two houses in sight.

I had a little, tiny panic moment before I walked down the first long country driveway with tears on my cheeks worried that some monster lived there. I knocked and no one was home (more panic, more tears).

Next, I knocked on the door of the second house and asked the woman who answered if I could use her phone. I tried my best to ask without crying. She could clearly tell I was upset because she said something like, “Of course you can use my phone! My GOD what happened?!”

And then she hugged me…

I erupted into tears again.

Now, I am not a fan of stranger hugs by any means, but that hug was desperately needed. It was the best hug ever. It was strong and firm and real.

By answering her door that kind lady was able to do more for me than just let me use her phone. She didn’t even have to use words.

I hope she knows the value of what she gave me. I think I needed that hug more than I needed the phone call (or at least as much as I needed it).

Step 12: Trick yourself into changing your choices

For some reason we humans tend to look at things in terms of dichotomies:

  • black/white
  • less/more 
  • right/wrong
  • go to the gym/stay home
  • etc.

If you’re going to do something why not do it all the way, right? ;)

Last week I turned 30 and I have to admit I spent the whole week celebrating. My reasoning: well, I started the week eating unhealthy stuff and have so many parties and social things to do I might as well just keep eating bad the whole week….

So I presented myself with choices like:

  • Write another blog post or relax.
  • Eat a brownie or have no dessert at all.
  • Go to Starbucks or having nothing for breakfast.

I know, I know. Not the smartest decisions, but I know I’m not the only one who is guilty of all or nothing thinking. When I was learning to be a teacher at the University of Montana a professor told me something I’ll never forget: Many student teachers make the mistake of giving their students ultimatums. For example, “Do your work or go to the Principal’s office.” Obviously, the student teacher immediately laments their decision to give the student a choice when students dig in their heels and chooses the Principal.

My professor suggested that we avoid this by never giving students a choice we don’t want them to make. All or nothing decisions can end badly (students in the Principal’s office aren’t studying) and they are ultimately unnecessary. Instead, a smart teacher will do what quizzes, polls and surveys often do. Present you with a few unappealing choices (all of which will result in something good) and let you pick the path that sucks the least for you. For example, “Read a chapter from the book or write in your journal for 15 minutes.” Neither is appealing to a stubborn student, but given the choice, they may prefer one more than another.

I’m not going to go into WHY I think people tend to think in dichotomies, but this morning I propose using a brilliant mental ‘trick’ to help yourself avoid all or nothing thinking.

The Step:

Trick yourself into changing your choices.

Change Your Choices copy

Here’s How to Do It:

  1. Consider the “bad” and/or extreme decisions you make often that you’d like to change.
  2. Think about alternatives you can give yourself.
  3. The next time you need to make a decision, pay attention to your thoughts.
  4. If you’re giving yourself a “good vs bad” type choice, change the decision from “good vs. bad” and give yourself a few choices you dislike. For example, instead of: Eat ice cream or have nothing for dessert; make the choice: Have fruit or yogurt for dessert.
  5. Stick with your decision. You’ve picked something you don’t want to do the hardest part is to dig in your heels and really commit to your decision.
  6. Pat yourself on the back if you go through with it. If you don’t go through with it think about why this might be and try again.
  7. Practice! The best way to get better at good decision making is by doing it over and over again. Keep at it.

Don’t forget to let me know how it goes too!

If you’re just joining us,  you can get caught up on all the steps here and If you’d like to your weekly step in your inbox sign up for a subscription to my blog in the sidebar!

Step 11: Make yourself proud

Today I read a great blog post by And Then We Saved called, “17 Things To Do Today That Will Make You Proud of Yourself In A Year” and just loved the idea. In her post, Anna says,

“In just one year, watch how making small investments or spending habit adjustments will implement lasting benefits in your lifestyle.”

It struck me that the same is clearly true for our health: Making small, healthy changes to one’s life can pay massive dividends in the future. So, since I’m not a fan of making goals for other people, I thought I’d set down this step as a challenge.

The Step:

Write a list of things of 10 actions that you can finish (soon) that will make you proud in one year’s time and do them.

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How:

  1. Commit to writing your list this week.
  2. Set a reminder so you don’t forget!
  3. Write items that will have a lasting effect (For example, I wrote “Clean my office,” but, let’s face it, it will be dirty before the month is out, and I won’t have a lasting sense of pride).
  4. When you are finished with your list, re-examine each item. Ask yourself, “will I be proud of this accomplishment in a year?
  5. Print your list and/or post it where you can see it.
  6. Make a plan for completing each item before 12/31/2013.
  7. GO!

Bonus: Here’s my list!

    1. Train for, and complete, the Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic.
    2. Read I Will Teach You To Be Rich by Ramit Sethi.
    3. Start reading more about personal finance and revisit my budgeting system.
    4. Create a tradition with my best friend: Schedule an annual girl’s trip.
    5. Actually plant something in our garden.
    6. Clean out my closets (again) and donate the unwanted clothes to charity.
    7. Get my blogs on a proper host.
    8. Set-up automatic savings for my retirement.
    9. Take a vacation with hubs this summer.
    10. Start making all my lunches (no pre-made meals because I’m in a hurry).

As you can see, not all my list items are “health” items per se…. (Although, one could argue that mental and financial health go a long way towards physical health as well). ;) After you’re finished with your list SHARE IT WITH ME by leaving a comment. I’d love to see what you guys are working on.

P.S. If you’re just joining us, read all about 52 weeks, 52 steps here.