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What IS Romjul?

Later this week the Running Life podcast will start preparing us for Romjul with an in-depth discussion of WTF Romjul is and why I, Coach MK, made it up. That podcast will be accompanied with an infographic, then later we will share downloadable worksheets to help you convert your resolutions into ROARS. I wanted to go a step further and talk through my own worksheets in hopes of making this eccentric idea of mine make as much sense as possible.

Please save the date for Sunday, Dec 29th. Instead of #AskAway, Dalia Kinsey and Jummy Olawale will join me for a livestream on the Fitness Protection Facebook page, where we will convert your resolutions into roars that will last longer than any resolution ever has. Click here so you don't miss it!

Romjul, #RomjulRoar

Question: Coach MK, what are you talking about when you talk about Romjul?

Short Answer: The Week Between Christmas and New Year.

Long Answer: A Norwegian word that describes the week between Christmas and New Year; for someone who has never lived anywhere near Scandinavia this period is described on the internets as a period of reflection, a time of looking back on the year that is ending.

Coach MK-Sized Answer: I appropriated the hell out of a Norwegian phrase to prove the power of hindsight in hopes of making Romjul the new Hygge (at least, for my clients). Here’s why:

Hindsight is always 20/20. When I look back now, I can recognize how broken I actually was in December 2018, how I felt like my world was falling apart, how I thought I was failing; what I didn’t truly see at the time was how badly this had impacted my self-esteem. When people rely on you as a source of strength, seeing you work through moments of weakness can either humanize you and put their own battles into perspective...or they wonder how they ever looked up to you in the first place.

And you know what guys? That’s fair. Broadly and generally speaking, the fitness and running industries are aspirational; they’re selling a lifestyle. I was a run coach who couldn’t run, a fitness professional who was in constant pain and couldn’t lose the baby weight. Even if I had helped you in the past, in my current state who could have trusted me with their journey? I was 11 months into a physical battle with no end in sight. People were open about losing faith in me, and how could they not? I was losing faith in myself. I tell you that to tell you this: if this was you, no shade, no shame, no hard feelings whatsoever.

In hindsight, when I made this video: I realize how talking openly about my fears had made things worse. The only thing worse than the people in your life pretending a problem isn’t real is to pretend you haven’t done EVERYTHING to solve it already. I had tried everything and nothing had helped for very long. I was depressed. I was scared. I felt like my life was spinning out of my control, and I was acutely aware that the people around me were frustrated with me and increasingly disappointed in me.

In hindsight, no one needed a new framework for Year-End reflections more than I did. I’ve said before that Coach MK is a persona, the manifestation of the voice I’ve cultivated in my own brain to cheer me on and keep me going. I needed her now in a big way. Luckily, I was no longer working so I had her all to myself.

I made lists. Lots of lists. The things I’d wanted for 2018; the things I’d wanted for 2019; the things that were falling apart; the things I was afraid of; the work I hadn’t gotten credit for; the perceptions, both real and imagined, I was fighting; the things I was really proud of; the things I wasn’t at all proud of.

In hindsight, what came next is very on-brand for me: I stopped looking at the distance between where I was and where I wanted to be, and started giving myself credit for the work I had done. Bear in mind, I was doing this at the end of a year where I had done EVERYTHING right but frankly hadn’t gotten the results that I had earned.

My first attempts at Roars were attempts to flip the script in my brain around key events that were taking up WAY too much brain space. Others sought to find the good in the garbage fire of a year. In the end, I printed 7 roar worksheets, filled them out by hand, and taped them to my front door where I would see them every day. I came up with three MOARs (Roar + More) that I intended to pursue whenever possible, and wrote those at the top of my whiteboard, too high for my kids to erase.

My 7 Roars were all things I had been explicitly told or advised to stop doing; things I needed to “work on”.

  • Speak my mind more

  • Follow my gut instinct more

  • Be more vulnerable

  • Set more boundaries

  • Help more people

  • Ask, “What CAN I do” more

  • Share any message I think is worth sharing

Imagine an MK without strong opinions, who gives safe, generic answers to heartfelt questions, who gives up. Does that sound ‘new and improved’ to you? Me neither.

You see, I didn’t need to change. I needed my confidence back. My world wasn’t falling apart. Running isn’t who I am, it’s what I do in my spare time. An MK who can’t run anymore is still MK. An MK who doesn’t speak her mind anymore, isn’t. I wasn’t broken or failing. These parts of my personality aren’t liabilities, they’re what brought you to me. Why would I want less of that??

Now, those roars are pretty esoteric. Meaning, you can’t necessarily build them into your Google calendar. I needed a small list of MOARs, little things that made me happy, things I COULD stick in my Google calendar and make attempts to do all year long.

The 3 MOARS were:

  1. Make time to blow-dry my hair

  2. More sleepovers with my kids

  3. Wear more bright colors

Why these things? They are empowering.

  • When my hair is blow-dried, I feel more pulled together than I actually am. I can roll anywhere in my Yeti and be like HEY!!!!!!!

  • Sleepovers are FUN and my kids won’t want to do them forever.

  • If people can’t take me seriously in a bright red coat, the issue probably isn’t my bright red coat.

I tell you ALL THAT to tell you this: Romjul is about celebrating you, especially the messy parts. You don’t need fixing. You deserve credit and celebration. You don’t need to be better, you need to see what’s GOOD about you right now and say YAY MORE OF THAT!

No New Year’s resolutions have ever made me feel as good, as empowered, as confident as my Roars and MOARS have. Though none of my ROARs could be put in a Google calendar, as I look back with 20/20 hindsight, I can see clearly that I’ve nailed every single one on the list. Has that ever happened with your resolutions? Do you still feel good about, say, your 2013 resolutions today? Do you feel empowered while you fulfill those resolutions….or punished?

I’m not here to tell you what to feel or how to deal. I just want to point out that there IS a better way and that you deserve it. When I look back with hindsight, I see clearly how every day of 2019 brought me here, right here with you, right now, to have this conversation. THIS is the message I am supposed to share, that you’re awesome and there is no part of you that needs to change.

Until you believe it, too, I will believe enough for both of us. Believing starts with seeing what you REALLY did in 2018, and loving the parts of you that made it possible. If you can’t see it yet, that’s ok. I’ll show you. Underestimate YOU? That’ll be fun. :)

For the second installment in our Romjul Series, click HERE.

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