Improve Yourself!

Here we are entering the sixth week of this 8-week challenge, and I am proud of you for reading this.  I am particularly proud if you are an original member of the Improve Yourself! group, and you have not given up on yourself or your goals.

Don’t Quit!

Do you know what 26/64 represents?  For one, it represents about 40%.  It also represents that only 26 people checked in with their results in Week 5 even though 64 folks originally signed on and committed themselves for the 8-week challenge.

I am not at all surprised by this ratio, but I am disappointed.  Those 38 “drop-outs” had awesome goals and a lot of energy.  Unfortunately, for many of them, the end of 2010 will look a lot like the end of 2009 with unfilled promises to themselves and some repetitive New Year’s resolutions.

Want A Happier Marriage?

Great! Grab our 7 simple steps to improve communication in your marriage (in less than 15 minutes):

Take a few minutes and give some thought to the SMART Goals you declared in Week 1.  Are those goals worthy?  Do you still want to accomplish them?  Are you still willing to put in the work and sacrifice needed to make it happen NOW?

Here’s a bit of a confession. I’m writing this post as much for my own benefit as you 25 other warriors who are sticking it out with me.  I have struggled to make my fitness a priority the last two weeks.  Predictably, my progress has been stymied by my lack of focus and commitment.

That sucks.  But, more importantly, I have NOT quit on myself or my commitment to finish this challenge.  I may end up short of my 16-pound weight loss goal between now and March 1st.  But I  remain committed to my goals and committed to you as part of this challenge.  Are you with me?

Don’t forget that in addition to the great weekly prizes the grand prize winner will take home $100 at the end of the challenge.  Frankly, I hope your odds don’t continue to improve with each passing week. 🙂

This Week’s Awesome Prize

Men are from Mars, Women are from VenusThis week’s giveaway is a classic book that explores the differences between the way men and women communicate and provides advice on how to improve our interaction. I have not personally read Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus: The Classic Guide to Understanding the Opposite Sex by John Gray.  However, it is a New York Times Bestseller, and I can’t think of a more commonly referenced book on vital topic of communication between the sexes.

Just enter your weekly update in the comments below, and you’ll be eligible to win your own copy of Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus. Click the link above to read more about this best-selling book and pick up a copy if you don’t win the weekly drawing.

Just a short perfunctory reminder: if you are a participant, you must leave a comment below giving an update on your personal progress. Please do so by Tuesday, February 9th at 11:59 p.m. central time to be eligible for this week’s giveaway. If you are not signed up, feel free to leave a comment anyhow and give your thoughts on this week’s post or your own progress…you just won’t be winning any prizes.

And please don’t forget that you must subscribe to Engaged Marriage via either RSS or Email to be eligible for prizes. There is a secret code at the bottom of the post (just above “Related Posts”) that is only visible if you read this post via an RSS reader or in your email. If you are selected but aren’t subscribed (you don’t know the code when I email you), the prize will instead to go the next person drawn.

Last Week’s Lucky Winner

Congratulations to our lucky winner of the Week 5 drawing:

Kathryn who won The Big Moo: Stop Trying to Be Perfect and Start Being Remarkable

Thanks to This Week’s Awesome Sponsors!

The great prizes being given away throughout the challenge are only possible through the generous support of our sponsors. Please take a few minutes to visit this week’s sponsors and check out what they have to offer.

Make Mine Happen “Stop Dreaming and Start Doing” by putting the motivational and informational posts at this site to work in your life!

Make Mine Happen

Budgets are Sexy is simply awesome. J. Money provides a site that is packed with really useful info about the world of personal finance, and he does it in his own (pimpin’) way. Entertaining and informative.

Budgets are Sexy

MomStart is a fantastic resource created by a mother of two who provides an incredible amount of reviews, giveaways and writings related to all of the new things going on in the world of parenting.


Enemy of Debt is the place to be if you want to get out of debt or simply celebrate the goodness that your debt-freedom has brought to your life. Brad is a passionate and informative resource offering a unique perspective on the personal finance scene.

That’s it from me for Week 6 of the challenge! Look for the Week 7 post next Sunday. Get your progress stated below, visit our sponsors and Don’t QUIT on Me!

Don’t miss the other Improve Yourself posts…here is a running list:

  1. Improve Yourself! 2010 Announcement. This is the place to start and sign-up by leaving a comment with your area of focus.
  2. The Prize List. This is where you’ll get the details about the awesome prizes and learn about our generous sponsors.
  3. Week 1: Set SMART Goals. Learn about smart goal-setting and leave your specific goals for the challenge in the comments.
  4. Week 2: Baby Step Your Way to Success. Learn how you can achieve any goal by breaking it down into small, easier-to-handle tasks.
  5. Week 3: Prioritize Your Time for Progress. Learn the importance of focusing on important, but not urgent, tasks to improve your life and achieve long-term effectiveness.
  6. Week 4: YOU are Responsible for Your Progress. Quit making excuses, take ownership for your results and do the work necessary to make your goals a reality.
  7. Week 5: Don’t Be Perfect, Be Remarkable! You do not need to be perfect, you simply need to be remarkable in what you do. Don’t you think you can be remarkable in the way your handle your finances? In your approach to fitness? In your marriage?
  8. Week 6: Stick With It! I applaud you for sticking with your commitment to yourself and your fellow challenge participants. You are now in the minority as we close in on the finish line. Don’t Quit!
  9. Week 7: Communicate for Success Communication is a certain key to success in nearly all aspects of life.
  10. Week 8: Don’t Accept Mediocrity! Always get better even if it’s only in small increments.  Life is just too short to do otherwise.


About the author 


Dustin Riechmann created Engaged Marriage to help other married couples live a life they love (especially) when they feel too busy to make it happen. He has many passions, including sharing ways to enjoy an awesome marriage in 15 minutes a day, but his heart belongs with his wife Bethany and their three young kids.

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  1. Well… I didn’t quit. I just haven’t checked in. Though that is half the battle. I already know I won’t make my goal of losing 5% body weight. Life took a crazy turn when I decided to quit my job and go on vacation. BUT my motto is to Start Doing, so I’ll be pressing on with the goal despite the fact that it’ll take me a little longer to get there.

    For the record, national average for compliance in employee-sponsored wellness programs (where employers or their affiliates can “nag” people to stay compliant) is 50%. The one I managed had 60% compliance after a year. You’re doing okay overall considering you rely solely on RSS and social media! Keep your chin up.

  2. I’ve been checking in, but I haven’t been doing as well as I’d like 🙂 and it’s not from lack of motivation, or trying, but pain and exhaustion. The doc tells me he expects I’m going to have a “larger than average baby” making a huge belly that’s only getting bigger. 🙂
    I did get a large portion of To Do list accomplished last week. I’m also noticing (with a giant smile on my face) that the more I keep up with ongoing tasks on my list, the less time I actually have to devote to them each week. I know- it’s a simple concept but I tend to procrastinate a lot, so it’s nice to actually see some pay off with the work I’ve been putting in!
    My last big item for the week will be completed today, and my husband and I will have 4 bags of clothes for donation by the end of the day – it feels nice to purge 🙂
    Next week is going to be a big one, as I have lots of family and friends coming up to visit, and many will be house guests, so I can’t put off any of my list until the weekend. I need to be focused!

  3. This has been a challenging week. I’m in the process of switching jobs right now so work has been really crazy and as a result my head has been everywhere. It’s been difficult to focus on anything.

    We’ve had some unexpected expenses since the beginning of the year, so our savings has taken a small hit. We’ll get it built back up in a couple months. Some additional debt was paid down this week. But due to my lack of focus, I don’t have the exact numbers. We just filed our taxes and as soon as our return is deposited to my bank account, one of our cars will be paid off!! Can’t wait to get the title!

    I’m trying to stay more focused this week. My head was everywhere and nowhere last week. I was very distracted by multiple things, yet accomplished very little.

  4. I can finally say there were a couple of times this week I stoped to think about what I was saying before I said it. I thought about why I love my husband rather than what was irritating me at that moment and responded much differently than my initial response would have have been before I started this. Still working on the spiritaul quality that I have been working on for 2 weeks now. My husband has become interested in my goal and what I’m doing to reach it and has started reading The 5 Love Languages himself, so that is great!

  5. I’m doing really well, especially compared to what I would normally expect from myself!

    I’ve lost about 8lbs. My blood sugar is down.

    I started reading a couple of books: Dr. A’s Habits of Health and Living a Longer Healthier Life, both by Dr. Wayne Scott Andersen.

  6. I missed last week and I was very disappointed with myself in that standpoint. However I continued on the Diet and lost more weight. Today due the super bowl I know I got thrown off, but I am committed to sticking with my plan to accomplishing my goals in 2010!

  7. Finished!!! It’s done!!! As I type this, I’m taking a break from some editing. The query letter’s done and I’m hoping to finish editing by tomorrow so that I can email the manuscript to my friend! I feel great! (And terrified, but in a ‘good’ way) Now this week will be about literary agents. Wish me luck! Thanks for the prize – such great motivation to keep going!

  8. I baaaarely squeaked by this week. I didn’t think I’d get everything done, actually. But I took some time on Saturday to finish my writing, getting in my minimum writing quota. I kinda slacked in other areas of my week to get it done. But writing is my priority so I think it was worth it.
    .-= Kathleen Quiring´s last blog ..Let’s Talk About Sex: A Giveaway for “A Private Affair” =-.

  9. Things are going fairly well. The schedule is finally starting to run more smoothly. It still needs a bit of tweaking, but for the most part it’s work well for me.
    .-= Cassidy´s last blog ..Quick Takes #6 =-.

  10. This was a big week for us money wise. Micah finally bought a new (new to him anyway) truck! We have been planning and saving for this for over a year and we finally found one that fit the bill. This one has been in the works for a long time. I love it when a plan comes together.

    The truck doesn’t count though because it was a separate long term goal that we have been socking away Micah’s quarterly bonuses for. What I’m focusing on for this challenge is day-to-day expenses and keeping them in check. For example – we’re going to Mardi Gras Masquerade on Friday. I needed a cocktail dress and Micah needs a tuxedo. Our blow money pretty much got used up by this, which sucks, but I’d rather pinch a few pennies the remainder of the period than put my savings goal into jeopardy. Like instead of doing breakfast out after church yesterday I made french toast at home.

    Minimizing wasteful spending and staying on track with my savings goals is the whole reason that I’m doing this challenge and this week is evidence that it’s WORKING. It’s making me think twice before spending money. For me to have an excuse to buy an epic new pair of shoes and NOT buy them?? That’s huge. That being said….if anybody out there has an epic pair of shoes (size 8) that I could BORROW to go with my black fringe-y cocktail dress then please let me know.

      1. Because it’s next to a parentheses. an 8 plus a ) = the cool dude. You just have to put a space in there.
        .-= Krystal´s last blog ..Improve yourself update =-.

  11. Well we’ve basically been snowed in the last week so it has been real easy not to spend money. We pretty much have only bought food and drinks lately.
    .-= The Northerner´s last blog ..Winner! =-.

  12. I had been doing really well with the diet until our super bowl party yesterday, and I had way to many chips and dip. They are definitely my weakness. I did go run 2 miles yesterday though, so that balanced it out a little bit. I was able to get three runs in this week. Over all I’m the same weight this week.

  13. I didn’t get in any physical activity over the weekend, and we aren’t snowed in so I can’t use that as an excuse. I did try running on the treadmill last week and made it 3 minutes, instead of just walking. I’m going to try to make the 4 minutes this week. The water is going ok as are the veggies. The Bible reading is working well. I think I’ve found the right time to make it happen.

  14. I’m sticking with it! I’m also learning that this challenge is not going to end in 8 weeks or four months or, basically, ever. As my boys grow and change, I’m going to have to continually evolve the way I do things to be the best mom I can be. And I’m perfectly fine with that. These goals are SO worth keeping and working toward with all my heart and soul.

    Here is my blog post for the week!
    .-= Krystal´s last blog ..Improve yourself update =-.

  15. Well, I am falling short of my goal too but will not give up! And I will continue on past the 8 weeks because I will get my weight down. My goal was to drop 10% and I am halfway there!

    Please excuse me from the giveaway as I have the book. Also unread.;)


  16. It’s neat to read your posts–for me it helps to report here. I think it’s probably true for most of you, especially if you’re having trouble meeting your goal, like me!

    I was stuck at the in-laws for almost a week after initially planning to only be there a couple of days for work–then the big snowstorm came.

    I swear my mother-in-law knows I’m trying to lose weight. She went shopping after she knew I was going to be there a few more days and my husband joined me. She came home and said she “bought all kinds of junk!” She was so excited. I managed to eat some healthy food–but quite a bit of unhealthy food. It’s hard when you only have access to unhealthy food and you need to be polite and eat what is made for dinner.

    I’m home now and doing much better. I’ll be home primarily for these last few weeks of the challenge and will be able to stick to my healthier eating habits and walking. I weighed myself this morning and had gained a couple of pounds.

    Good luck to you all these as we come closer to the end of the eight weeks–I’m going to be much more focused and try hard to reach my 8 lb. weight loss goal.

    1. Back to where I was!! Weighed myself this morning, and I am maintaining at 5 pounds lost. I am aware that a woman’s weight can fluctuate from day to day quite a bit, so I try to weigh myself only once a week. But, I’m back on track:)

      An exciting announcement–we are official farmers now. We have 17 meat chickens that we will butcher and put in the deep freezer in about 5 weeks. We have a nice coop for them. They seem happy and healthy. We are trying to eat healthier and be more sustainable. And, yes, we do plan to butcher them ourselves! My husband has already assisted some friends in this process, so we knew what we were getting into.

  17. Well I personally have been disappointed with my effort these last two weeks. It’s really no surprise to me as I have been down this road plenty of times. I hope the difference is that I continue to get back up. Usually I cave to any plan and go back to eating horribly.Somebody please smack me around a bit and remind me of why it is so important hat I do this because I seem to have forgotten.

    Come on next week! 🙂
    .-= Brad´s last blog ..The March 2010 “Manage Your Money” Challenge: Featuring Pocketsmith – Are You In Or Out? =-.

  18. OK, OK! You got me. I missed last week’s check-in and I don’t have a really good excuse. Well, I might, but I can’t think of one right now – I’m going to chalk that one up to momnesia. =)

    Weight Goal – I’m sorry to admit that I’ve completely given up here. I’m just not motivated. So much has been going on in my life that it’s been necessary to have a large bowl of ice cream every night (better than liquor, right?).

    Marriage – This is going great! I’ve almost finished reading 5 Love Languages. My hubby is definitely a “Physical Touch” and “Words of Affirmation” guy. What’s funny is that I can’t pinpoint MY love language! But things are going very well and just today Drew arranged for a babysitter for Friday night so we could celebrate Valentines Day (he has to work Sunday), all without prompting from me. I was very excited!

    Facebook Fans – My goal was 200 and I have 319 fans! The local news ran an interview on me and my business last week and a lot of good things have been happening since then – more sales and some invitations to connect with some people that could help me keep moving farther along on this path.

    So that’s it for now. My primary focus is on growing my “Clean Hands, Healthy Baby” sign business ( while juggling my “day job” and family. Lots to keep up with!
    .-= Kristin Gentry´s last blog ..Soothing Your Baby =-.

  19. Well we’ve fallen off pace. We were only able to complete 3 problem solving issues. Our goal was 4 to 5. People are still doing well, but are starting to get a little sick of working harder than normal. I might back off a little the rest of this week and hit them hard starting Monday. I’m hoping someone steps up to pull the crew through, now that I’m in the coaching phase we’ll see what happens.

    .-= Jeff´s last blog ..How to Create Sinking Funds =-.

  20. Well, I haven’t checked in over the past couple weeks, but I have been kicking it up a bit with the exercise over the past 2 weeks. It helps to have a partner in crime – and my beautiful wife is it. We’ve been daily doing the 30 Day Shred Video from Jillian Michaels. It’s kicking my butt – and its geared toward women.

    My origianl goal was 10 lbs lost by walking 3x a week. Hopefully – this will shred more lbs than what I was expecting!!
    .-= Stu@themarryblogger´s last blog ..The Love Everyday FREE E-book is Here! =-.

  21. I’m glad to see our comment numbers are back up for this week! And look at me with a late update for myself. 🙂

    As I stated in the post, I kinda sucked the last two weeks and my weight is unchanged. I’ve been doing better this week despite an insane work schedule the past several days.

    I hope you all enjoy a great Valentine’s Day weekend. Look for the next post on Sunday.

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