Fitness woman runner athlete running at road, working out cardio

By Molly Butler

There are six stages of change: Precontemplation, Contemplation, Preparation, Action, Maintenance, and Relapse.

Kendra Cherry has already written a very helpful article about this so I won’t dive too deep. New Year’s Resolutions often serve as a launching pad for change. We are one month into the new year and we’ve had one month to pursue our New Year’s Goals. Is change happening?

I am going to talk about my personal fitness goals, because that is the easiest example for me to share. I want to preface by saying I believe the diet industry and our culture’s unhealthy obsession with food, beauty, and bodies has made personal change an absolute minefield. The messages are not just confusing; they are straight up contradictory. All fad-diets will see some users who fail, some who succeed, and most who succeed for a while, but ultimately do not achieve long-term results. This is why many will yo-yo diet unsuccessfully for years, or others give up altogether and turn on healthier living as a source of misery, or, perhaps worst of all, find a practice that gives them the physical results they want, and find absolutely no joy in the process. If it makes us miserable, it’s not really truly healthy.

If it makes us miserable, it’s not really truly healthy.

The point is, you’re going to have to set your own unique goals, find what works for you, and before you start advocating for one form of exercise or diet or lack thereof, know that everyone truly is different.

I broke down my goals into monthly chunks to make the year easier. In January I wanted to improve my running overall, so both in endurance and speed, and I achieved that. I beat my own mile time twice, I beat my 5k time, and hit my highest mileage. All of that was very exciting, and, more importantly, fun.

I think I owe that to all the time I spent in the Preparation stage. Because I have continued researching running, I found simple ways to improve my form, and practiced enough to know what makes me happy. I also constantly reminded myself that numbers are numbers, whether they’re time, mileage, or on the scale. I detached from ideas of “good” or “bad” and recognized that I am just a chick having fun. My real goals weren’t measurable; more energy, more activity, more confidence.

I know that speed is not something that really brings me joy, and I would rather spend more time taking long easy runs with the dog, enjoying the view. I got exactly what I wanted: a form of exercise that actually brings me joy. And the beauty of it is, I have a better understanding of the stages of change, so when the day inevitably comes that I don’t want to run, or running no longer makes me happy, I know how to change and find something new.

I have also learned that even change for the better has unintended consequences. The more I ran, the healthier I felt, and the more I neglected other areas of my wellness. Running boosts my mood during the day, and initially the increased activity helped me sleep better too, but soon I was having trouble sleeping, even feeling more anxious. I realized I was neglecting mindfulness and meditation. We are eternally trying to find balance. So, for February I’ll be setting more peace-of-mind focused goals.

The more I believe in myself, the more I believe in you. I know it’s cheesy, but it’s true. We’re all changing, whether we like it or not. My advice would be to find which stage you’re at and take the wheel. Change is a skill. You can do it.


The North Mankato Taylor Library is offering fun activities as usual! Lil’ Chefs can pick up their January Food Club kit from the library with no registration required. January’s theme is Goldilocks and the Three Bears. From 6-6:30 pm the library will share Stories with Miss Michelle. Head to their Facebook page to listen along.

We have some great offerings for artists this weekend! This Friday is opening night for My Bicycle, an exhibition by Joel Iverson at the 410 Project. This is your last weekend to check out Brittney Wegener’s work, available at the Fillin’ Station in Mankato. Artists, craftspeople, and anyone looking for a fun new hobby; join Vagabond Village for Rainbow Goddess Art Fridays from noon to 2pm. Each week Mrs. Iris Nelson, aka The Rainbow Goddess will have instructions, materials and take-home projects for participants. Classes are $15 each, or $60 for all five classes.

This Friday will have games of all kinds! MSU Men’s Hockey will take on Alabama Huntsville at the Mayo Clinic Health System Event Center of Mankato at 3:07pm. Then MSU Women’s Hockey will face Bemidji at 7:37pm. Atlantis Hobby will host a three rounds Magic the Gathering for only $6 with a booster pack for every win. Games will start at 6:30pm. The Dork Den with have $5 entry for Friday Night Commander starting at 7pm.


Brit Bennett, award-winning author, will host a workshop as part of the Good Thunder Reading Series. This interactive, virtual event will be held on Zoom and will be open from 10-11am.

Join Atlantis Hobby from 12-4pm for their $6 Flesh & Blood: Blitz Format with a pack per win, or their FREE Pokémon event. Their helpful staff is also around to help out with a Digimon Learn to Play, also beginning at noon. Then, at 2pm, The Dork Den will host a Yu-Gi-Oh! Remote Duel with registration available online as well as a Pokémon Team Tournament, also available online. Finish off game night with Saturday Night Magic Fights at 4pm hosted by Pulp Comics and Games on Front Street in Mankato. Entry is $15 per event.


Atlantis Hobby is hosting another Yu-Gi-Oh! event with a $6 entry and prizes and giveaways based on wins and losses. Then Arts Center of St. Peter will host their Annual Meeting from 4-5pm this Sunday. Those wishing to participate must fill out a premeeting survey.

Last chance! The winner of North Mankato Taylor Library’s Snowman Contest will be picked on February 1st, so get those last-minute entries uploaded to their event page.

Bonus: Company > Comparison

Comparison is the thief of joy. When I started running, I saw mile times and “easy” runs that made my best efforts look like warmups. Rather than feeling the need to compare our achievements to others, it’s better to focus on building community and connections. I don’t need to be as good as the best; I need to be the best me.

I don’t need to be as good as the best; I need to be the best me.

If you’re pursuing a goal, find ways to have company in your journey. I know we are still living in a very virtual time, but joining Facebook groups, following Instagram pages, or joining a board on Reddit can help keep you connected to your new community. Some people create a new, separate social media account dedicated to their new hobbies (sparing friends and family from constant updates). People are incredibly generous and helpful, and almost always happy to give free advice to the new kid.

Don’t go it alone. Have some company.