Here at Mixbook, we’re a creative bunch. But we also like to get off our butts once in a while and do something active. And if we can add a little creativity to the getting-in-shape process, we’re naturally that much more motivated to track exercise progress and weight loss benchmarks.
A year ago, I decided to see what kind of transformation I could undertake in twelve months if I did it right. For me, that meant eating well and challenging myself to get active—really active—every single day. To make sure the process was as enjoyable as possible, I created a Mixbook in collaboration with my sister, who lives a few states away, to track my exercise and weight-loss goals. Now that we’re at the end of our journey (as of yesterday—hooray ), we have proof of all that we went through. The book tracks our increased fitness with photos, organizes the recipes that kept our eating on track, and displays all the fun and folly that happened along the way. Here’s how we did it—and how you can too.
1. Find A Friend (or Go It Alone) One of the most amazing things about creating a Mixbook photo book is that you can invite one or more people to collaborate. Whether you’re goal setting with a friend, a group, or by yourself, start with a concrete objective. You might be working toward weight loss, but we think it’s way more fun to choose a fun event to participate in, then set yourself up for shedding some lbs along the way. With a race or other event to work toward, you have a specific date that’s not going anywhere. Look for local races (try here and here) or find a destination event that benefits a great cause like finding a cure for cancer (try Team in Training). Consider participating in the Susan G. Komen walk for the cure or AIDS ride.
2. Start Your Mixbook
Once you choose a theme for your book, roughly layout the pages. If your goal is one year off, for example, you’ll want to have about 12 spreads dedicated to the pictures that will track your progress each month. In between those pages, add plenty of additional pages where you can track exercise, log fitness, and collect photos and recipes.
3. Put Your Goal in Writing Write a statement of intent on the very first page of your Mixbook photo book. You can make it as funny or as serious as you want it to be, but be specific so your end goal is measurable. Use affirmative language by beginning your goal statements with “I will” rather than “I won’t.” Above all, make your goal reasonable and healthy. Take a “before” picture to include at the beginning of the book. Whether you’re working out alone or with friends, mark dates in your calendar every two to four weeks as reminders to snap a picture and upload it to your book. Every time you upload pics, you’ll also want to add to your funnier, more lighthearted pages to strike a nice balance in tone (and to keep you smiling throughout the process!).
4. Intersperse Silly Pages
Throughout your serious monthly update pages, sprinkle some lighthearted pages that you can add to on a whim throughout your project. Ideas for page themes include
- Things We Gave Up (and Didn’t Miss)Your entries on this page might be things like: Playing Angry Birds, wasting time on Facebook, etc.
- Kick-Butt Recipes That Kept Us On Track Upload favorite recipes for meals, smoothies, and healthy desserts. Bookmark dedicated runner Mark Bittman's cooking blog for advice and find great daily recipe inspiration.
- Our Daily Mantras & Inspiration This page can feature a collection of favorite quotes or affirmations. You can also create a collage page of all the pictures that acted as motivation—pictures torn from magazines, pre-baby photos of yourself, or just pictures of yourself when you were a little leaner. In addition, you can pay homage to the blogs that kept you going. Some of my favorites include Well, Runner's World Daily, Jillian Michaels' Blog, and Women's Health's Gotta Run.
- We Mixed It Up! Photos of crazy workouts that kept it interesting: a mud run, ropes course, boot camp, CrossFit, Zumba, Wii, playing soccer, or climbing on the jungle gym with your kids, a night out dancing
- We Did It for ______! If the event you’re working toward benefiting an organization, include photos of the person or people you’re honoring.
- We Couldn’t Have Done It Without You! If you’re raising money on behalf of an organization, consider having the people who support you submit a few words of encouragement to include in your book.
5. Print Your Mixbook! At the end of your challenge, your book—like mine—will have come together little by little along the way. Take your “after” photo, then comb through the book to make a few tweaks to ensure your layout remained consistent. You’ll have tactile evidence of a goal achieved, including “before” and “after” photos of your own. There’s nothing more motivating than seeing your incredible progress over time! Your Mixbook will become a treasure, forever reminding you of what you can accomplish if you set your mind (and body) to it. Our year ended yesterday, so we’re about to order copies of our own Mixbook. I can’t wait to have my year of transformation printed in book form.