the WHAT of tracking

You want to track. You intend to track. But, what do you track?

Don’t say everything. Unless you’re already tracking close to everything, everything might be too much.  Since tracking helps you focus your attention and energy on changing behavior and habits, consider what you want to change.  Then track that.

You could track…

individuals walking shoes

Your steps: If your goal is to get more steps, then tracking the number of steps you get each day is important.  If you don’t know how many you did yesterday, then how will you know you got more steps in today unless you track it. Check out how 100 more steps add up.

Cute parson russell terrier dog on lead on walk with his owner10 minutes of activity: If your goal is to move more, you could track your time in 10 minutes blocks of physical activity.  A walk around the block for your morning break could be one check-mark. Vacuuming the house could be another couple of marks. Walking the dog, yet another.  Soon you’ll want to mark off one more block then you did yesterday, or you’ll make the effort to get at least one in today. Change it up.


green and red healthy foodYour servings of fruits & veggies: If your goal is to eat 5 or more servings of fruits & vegetables each day, then give yourself a gold star for every serving.  Soon you might be planning your weekly menu around your veggies to ensure you get your gold stars. Increase your plant slant.


water with mint, cucumber, and limeYour water: If you’re trying to make water your go-to beverage choice, tracking the number of glasses or ounces you grab each day can help.  Celebrate and mark each time you choose water over soda.  Drink up.


use the remote control to change channels on TelevisionYour TV time:  Your tracking goal doesn’t just have to be about increasing the better choices. Sometimes tracking can help you decrease behaviors that you want to change.  With a goal of no more than two hours of recreational screen time each day, you could track your TV time to identify your baseline watching and then make changes from there.  Remember, I may have written TV, but this could include your computer, smartphone, and tablets too.  What’s in your day that shouldn’t be?


bigstock woman decision donut fruitYour emotions, feelings, level of satisfaction, or stress:  Tracking creates awareness about choices, situations, and behaviors.  If you track your emotions or stress level before you eat, you could identify a trend that when you feel bored, you reach for crunchy snacks.  After certain situations, you note that you’re feeling extremely stressed, and you go for chocolate.  If you track your satisfaction level during meals, you may find that you stop eating when you feel comfortable and not waiting until you feel full. Make each day delicious.

WHAT will you track this week?

take a break

Take a Break from…

relax on armchair in office - business woman in red dress  exercSo many times we think we can’t take a break because there is too much to do.  Well, there will always seem to be “too much to do”.  Your inbox will not stay empty, your papers will not stay sorted, your closet will not stay organized, and your teeth will not stay brushed (without ongoing effort).  So, Take a Break!

That project that you absolutely need to get done this week, will still be there if you take a ten minute stretch break from your computer.

You are more likely to accomplish all those errands and end the day with a smile if you take a break.  Even a 5 minute breathing meditation break in the car before you pull out of the parking spot on your way to the next errand will help.

Woman sitting on the beach looking away at oceanThink about taking a bigger break – a  vacation, a long weekend, or even just a day trip.  Take an afternoon to play or a day to relax.  Take a Break!

Here’s the bonus to taking a break – you gain insight, clarity and may even have a breakthrough.

An organizing client of mine has been working hard on getting her papers sorted and her mail processed.  As part of her organizing homework, she was also assigned to set aside time for a reward; something creative, fun, and indulgent.  Here’s what she shared with me about her “break time” (dancing):

Bonus was that in the middle of the routine, I came up with the solution for something that I wasn’t trying to work on during the dance, but it just popped into my head – I get those kinds of breakthroughs sometimes when doing creative stuff.

Maria J.

When is your next break?


Organizing Tip for Weight Loss (and Health)

If you tend to forget to take your breaks, you could:

  • Set your alarm on your phone for a particular time every day
  • Get a kitchen timer and take a short break every 60 minutes
  • Use your computer software to remind you to take a break

Time TimerI use Time Timer on my phone and computer when I want to make time visible.



If you never seem to find the time to take a vacation or get that massage, take your calendar/planner out now, flip ahead a month or two and set a date.  Then take the next step to call and schedule that self-care or book your hotel.

Don’t wait to find the time, you will never do it — TAKE the time.

vacations & exercise, a great mix

Vacations call for new activities: walking tours, site seeing on foot, enjoying local hiking trails, swimming, walking on the beach, or participating in a local event. Time at a resort offers great opportunities to  try new exercise bigstock-Dumbbells-with-towel-isolated--42960595classes, schedule some time with a personal trainer, golf, tennis, enjoy group hikes or bike rides, and even get on some different gym equipment.  But don’t forget the relaxing part – take time for a spa treatment or relax by the pool. My 3 Point Plan for being active at conference:

  • I rearranged my half-marathon training schedule to do the longer walks on the days before the conference starts.  I’m going early to enjoy a mini-vacation filled with resort activities.
  • Take walking breaks between sessions and invite a new acquaintance to walk with me.  A great way to connect and get my steps in.
  • Take a stroll around the grounds before turning in.  It will be a great way to decompress from a busy day.


hiking trail in PA Butler county slparker
This was taken in early spring. I can’t wait to see it now.

The second part of my vacation will be the easiest to get my steps in.  There are  numerous parks with miles of trails within a 20 minute drive of Steve’s apartment & work. Here’s my 3 Point Plan for keeping my steps high:

  • Explore every park, trail, or historic site nearby.  Use ‘easiest access to the best parks’ as a way of narrowing down where we want to buy.
  • Longer hikes on the weekends.  I’ve packed my raincoat, just in case.
  • Explore downtown on foot.  We’ll be site seeing, dining, and shopping in Pittsburgh and various small towns nearby.


Besides I need to check out this trail

duck walk PA hiking trail slparker
Duck Walk in Preston Park, PA


go for 15

What’s the value of 15 minutes?

 Would you like to live 3-years longer?  Reduce your risk of death by 14%?  Reduce your risk of dying of cancer by 10%?

… Then get 15 minutes of walking or other moderate intensity activity in every day.*

Want to live even longer and reduce your risks even more?  Add another 15 minutes to your day.

Is living longer not enough of an enticement?  After all, that’s the future.   How about improving your mood right now, improving your sleep tonight, improving your productivity and your focus tomorrow.

Tell me what your non-weight related goal is and I can find at least two ways (okay, maybe three) that getting 15 minutes of activity in your day can help. (If you want to share your goal and get my thoughts on how exercise could help you specifically, email me at

15 minutes is manageable if you aren’t active now.  15 minutes is better than nothing if you can’t get your “regular” work out in.  15 minutes can easily fit into your day.  Go for 15 and…


  • walk on your break (lunch, morning and/or afternoon);
  • dance to your favorite songs (4 songs should do it);
  • check out a yoga, cardio or strengthening YouTube video;
  • walk the perimeter of the store before you start shopping;
  • walk around the house or in-place during EVERY commercial on your favorite TV show;
  • spend 15 minutes of your next phone call or webinar walking in place;
  • wash the car (driving through the carwash doesn’t count) or vacuum the house;
  • do one of my strengthening routines each day – shoulders or legs; or
  • if walking isn’t an option go for 15 minutes of movement in your chair.  Yes, you can get your heart rate up and get stronger in a chair (or wheelchair).


What will you do for 15 minutes a day to live longer and stronger?


Check It Out

My YouTube Playlists:

Chair-Bound Exercise Workouts from [the nest]

* 15 Minutes of Exercise Every Day Reduces Risk of Death from WebMD

change it up

Doing the same thing doesn’t always work.

Change can be necessary.  Change is absolutely, positively required when you start getting bored with the same routine or you’re no longer getting the results you expect.  Just because you were successful at losing weight by eating the same breakfast every day for six months, you may now find yourself getting bored and grabbing something less healthy, or worse yet, skipping breakfast all together.

Change is also necessary when it comes to your exercise.  Take a different route on your walk, go to a different exercise class, or try a completely different activity altogether.

If doing the same thing had worked for me the first time, I wouldn’t be writing Small Steps since the journey would have been simple, straightforward and over with years ago.  But I’ve continually had to change things up.  Changing how I track my exercise (and my food) is again important for my success.  I had gotten into a rut and started skipping my walks or finding excuses (sorry I mean, reasons) I couldn’t do my stretches and weights.

I’ve found something that is helping me track AND encouraging Activity Log challenge sheetme to get my activity in.  It’s a  chart I got from HMSA as part of an employee wellness program.  It’s simple.  Cross off the boxes in 10-minute increments with the intent of getting 150 minutes of activity a week.  The first goal was to get all 150 minutes in three out of five weeks.  Then I used the chart to keep me motivated to do the 150 minutes for all five weeks.  Now my own personal goal is to see if I can cross off those 10-minute boxes TWICE in one week (300 minutes).  There are many electronic tracking tools out there and I still use my Fitbit to track my steps, but I get more out of tracking on paper and making the change.  Eventually I’ll have to change my tracking again but for now this tool is helping me get active.

Download a copy of the log sheet and see if it helps you to move more.

[download id=”1258″]

What do you need to change-up this week?

If you found this post useful, supportive, interesting or fun, please share it with a friend.

walkin’ the dog

Amazon yo yo Do you ever feel like a yo-yo exerciser?  No, I’m not asking if you take your yo-yo for a walk (though walking the dog in real life is good for you both).

Are you the type that has gone from the couch to the 5k finish line and back to the couch?  Maybe more than once?  Have you gotten into an exercise routine, enjoyed it so much you even thought about becoming a certified instructor only to be distracted by life and found yourself on the couch again?

I don’t think I’m the only one that is a yo-yo exerciser, so I’m sharing my intention for this week.  I know that I need to get moving in order to be healthy, but that isn’t motivating me.  Knowing that the extra pounds I’m carrying around will come off a bit faster if I get off the couch doesn’t change my behavior.  Even using the incentive of having that treat totally guilt free if only I got my activity together isn’t working to getting me on my feet and out the door on a routine basis.

So…what am I going to do this week?  Back to taking small steps.  The only step I’m taking this week is to track my steps each day.  I have my pedometer Amazon fitbit(Fitbit) and I actually wear it every day.  It’s a normal part of my dressing.  Wake up, get dressed, clip on Fitbit, sit down and write Small Steps.  Brush teeth, change clothes, clip on Fitbit, go to work, type on my computer.  Come home, change clothes, clip on Fitbit, lay on couch (or sit at computer).  I’m wearing it.  Now I’m going to record it.

Dug is a Catahoula Leopard Dog
Dug is a Catahoula Leopard Dog

I know that I will naturally begin to add more steps just because I want to get to the next 1000 (or 100) steps.  I’ll begin to take steps just to beat yesterday’s record.  Steve and I will race to put the shopping carts away and count those steps.  I’ll take one more lap around the driveway with Dug (walkin’ the dog!).  It will become more of a game then exercise.



What small step will you take this week to get off the couch?

energy and persistence _ ben franklinCheck It Out  

 My blog on pedometers and a link to a Consumer Reports review of pedometers.

I know I share stories and pictures of my dogs more than my husband so here is a chance to see a picture of him and read his Dug story (big dog, big dreams).