…And I need y’all to cheer me on.

For the past few years, each year on my birthday (tomorrow!) I set an ambitious personal goal. The first year, I challenged myself to complete 41 sewing projects before I turned 42. (I finished 47!!! That’s about seven times my normal annual output.) Last year, it was about writing: I would write at least 420 words, every single day. I didn’t keep track of my total word count, but I hit that daily goal—and more, most days—and wound up with almost a whole new novel! The point of the challenge is to choose something so wildly ambitious that it seems impossible—so that even in the pursuit of the goal, I’m guaranteed some measure of success.

(By the way, I got this idea from a needlewoman on “Quilting Arts,” who had challenged herself to completing a tiny work of hand embroidery every day, and I recently read about a quilter who took an annual block-a-day calendar literally! And here’s an article about an artist who made 50 self-portraits the year she turned 50. As you can see, this is a great tradition, and I encourage everyone to give it a try, too. I’ve gotten so much out of it, I’m embarking on my third one!)

This year, I’m focusing on fitness and health. The last couple years of caring for ill and elderly family members has taken its toll on my own health, and as that stage of our lives is coming to an end (HOPEFULLY!  You hear that, older relatives? STAY HEALTHY!!!), it’s time to regain my own well-being.

To that end, I’m committing to DAILY WORKOUTS. Yes, every single day. To some of you, this might seem senselessly easy, but although I’ve been a fitness enthusiast all my adult life, I haven’t always managed to hit those daily workouts (and even when doing very strict rotations, there are usually built-in rest days). I am really curious to see how I feel after focusing on daily movement. (Since, y’know, I have one of those Deadly Sedentary Sitting Jobs!) I’d like to feel like I’m 43—not old and cranky and stiff.

The goal, like the writing goal, is a small one to start: Just 20 minutes. Many days I expect to exceed this (a run takes about 45; a walk is usually over an hour), but I also know that some days it’ll be a struggle to find even that much time. I’ve actually been testing the feasibility of this goal for the last month or so: in June I missed 5 days. So it should be possible, if I make it my priority, just as I’ve done with writing the last year. Although I’ll be focusing on some favorites (RUNNING!), I hope to try out some new things, too (yoga? Maybe?).

I’m giving myself some exceptions: If I am totally incapacitated by injury or illness, or if I’m travelling (you know, 14 hours in a car or airports). I’ve learned, however, over the past two challenges, how to Embrace Imperfect Conditions. Can’t find your cardio shoes? Do it barefoot. Internet connection on the fritz? Find an old DVD. Bad weather? Run in the rain. Just get it done.

But here’s where YOU come in: I’m going to be posting my daily workouts on Facebook (which also kind of makes this a daily Facebook challenge!), and I’d appreciate it if you’d cheer me on. I didn’t share my writing goal publicly, because I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to make it. Now I feel bolstered by the last two years’ successes, and am less embarrassed to say, “Hey—I’m going for this, and it might not work out, but I’d love it if you’d encourage me along the way!”

So I’m stocked up on reward stickers for my calendar, a new fitness journal, new running shoes (thanks to my inlaws’ generous birthday gift!!), and a whole library of streaming workouts. Today I am taking this fitness assessment from the Mayo Clinic, and plan to revisit that quarterly. Tomorrow I’ll time my run. And all this will hopefully culminate next July 4 with a local 10k race!

If I don’t check in, y’all will pester me about this, right?

Thanks, friends! See you tomorrow, bright and early, with my run times.