What’s your biggest remaining challenge?

What works

Works: Outrageous distance-based goal with deadline (Lazy Man’s Triathlon, first 5K race, first 5K continuous run, marathon, open water swim, triathlon… what else to come?)

Doesn’t work: Exercising for X minutes Y days a week. Yawn. Zzzzzzzzzz…….. Good for about 3 days.

Works: Focusing on adding healthy stuff (fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, water, etc.)

Doesn’t work: Focusing on eliminating “bad” stuff (hello, deprivation and resentment and future binge).

Works: Exercise. I’ve noticed the tag cloud shows the exercise and weight loss tags growing larger proportionally. I just naturally eat healthier and less when I exercise doing something I enjoy.

Doesn’t work: Diet without exercise. I obsess. I fail.

Works: Non-scale victories. (Resting heart rate down to the 50s from the 70s, swimming a mile at a time, etc.)

Doesn’t work: The number on the scale as a sole measure of success (and worth).

Works: No excuses. Momentum.

Doesn’t work: Excuses. Inertia.

Works: Finding non-food ways to relief stress and nurture myself.

Doesn’t work: Controlling my moods, etc., with food. Acting like I am too tough to need nurturing.

Works: Simple automated visual diary to track food and exercise. Visual representation of goals. (And plan B of jotting notes in planner when I can’t do visual version.)

Doesn’t work: Complicated or inconvenient tracking systems, lack of awareness, not seeing where I am or where I want to go.

Works: Simple intuitive eating. Moderation. Periodic indulgence. Overall whole/”real” food approach.

Doesn’t work: Rigid rules. Extremes. Good food. Bad food. All carbs. No carbs.

Works: Being flexible. Having a plan B. And a plan C. (See no excuses.) Keeping on keepin’ on. Simplicity.

Doesn’t work: Being perfect. And failing. And making resolutions. And starting “fresh” on a magic date or day of week. Over and over.

Works: Humor. Perspective. Will [whatever is stressing me out] really matter in 5 years?

Doesn’t work: Being too serious. Obsessing.

Works: Sleep. I think. I don’t get enough of it. This is still a theory, but my doctor told me again at my annual physical that it was more important than exercise. Must sleep.

Doesn’t work: Too much caffeine. Too much stress. Too little rest.

Works: A bit of structure to start the weekend. A few doable concrete items on a checklist to get things going.

Doesn’t work: Going from full speed to complete stop on weekend with no plan, no direction, no structure.

Works: Paying attention to physical, emotional, and spiritual needs.

Doesn’t work: Getting those needs out of balance or not addressing them at all.

Works: Reading or watching motivational stuff daily — fitblogs (see blogroll), books (right now on ultramarathon runners), videos (recent Ironman Hawaii telecast).

Doesn’t work: Not cultivating, nurturing, guarding, and otherwise maintaining my motivation. Every day.

Works: Getting support. Sharing my experiences, good and bad, with friends who share the interest in getting fit. Blogging. Supporting and getting support from other bloggers.

Doesn’t work: Doing it all on my own. Or trying to explain it to people who don’t understand this particular struggle.