Project 365 – A New Beginning

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It was early April, the Spring of 2014.

The winter was finally saying its last goodbye and I was more than ready to let it go. We had just experienced one of the worst winters on record with below average temperatures and above average snow fall. It had been months since I went for a walk. I was eager to step outside and enjoy a nice long walk with the family.

Unfortunately I discovered that a long walk was out of the question. Even a short walk would have been nice, but there wasn’t a chance of that happening anytime soon.

With each step that I took, my back seized up again and again.

Seriously? I was 49-years-old and I couldn’t walk 1/2 a mile? Make that 1/4 mile.

I couldn’t help but notice other families walking by, including a senior couple who looked to be in their 70s.

I had a long list of excuses, and believe me–I used them. My dad died, my medication is weight gaining, I’m tired all the time, and I’m too busy to exercise…

I can’t even begin to tell you how ashamed I am that I had let myself get to this point. Only five years earlier I was exercising about an hour/day. I was in great shape. In fact I had built a stone patio in our front yard all by myself.

But that was then, this was now, and something had to be done…

Enter Project 365.

I started Project 365 on my birthday (April 14th) hoping to get fit before 50.

It’s not a 21-day diet or a 31-day exercise regimen–it’s a challenge to change the things you can one day at a time.

With whatever it is that you’re hoping to change, challenge yourself for 365 days.

Think of each day as one point. The goal is to reach 365 points in total–keeping track of your progress. Every day that you choose well or complete the task that you’ve assigned for yourself, you earn one point.

The idea is to measure your effort, not your results. Results can be discouraging. Anyone who has stood on a scale after a week of eating well can attest to this. If you don’t see the number you were hoping for, a sense of failure sets in.

And what about those weeks when you’re doing so well and you let yourself slip? First thing that comes to mind is, “Well, since I’ve eaten too much today, I might as well finish the night off with as much food as I can.”

The next day you wake up feeling bad because you spoiled everything. You fell off of your diet and you start to question whether you can ever possibly eat like a normal person again.

Project 365 is different. If you have a bad day, don’t count it. Start the next day fresh, and add your points once again.

What if your goal is to eat well and exercise right? You can always give yourself one point for each and finish up in 183 days. Have fun with the challenge–be flexible.

My personal journey… 

I started walking with my son in April. My goal was to exercise 20 minutes/day. For the first three to five days the pain was bad. Real bad. I had to stop and rest every few minutes or so. My lower back was in excruciating pain. I was so embarrassed. We walked slow, and some days I had to turn back before we got very far, but after a week the pain lessened and I started to walk a little further. After a while we started exploring and walking was fun.

I was keeping track of my effort, and before long, I accumulated 85 points. I couldn’t wait until I reached my first goal of 100 points.

Sometime in late May, my daughter got her beginner’s drivers license. She was so excited about driving that every night she asked if we could go out for another ride. It was a great summer. But while most of our nights were spent driving, I stopped exercising again.

Project 365 sat on the shelf–until Fall.

I picked it up again last October, but this time I fine-tuned my goal. I figured that if I could walk, I could certainly run. Couldn’t I?

Yes, and no.

For the first two months, running felt nearly impossible. I couldn’t run more than 15 seconds at a time, and walking was slow. So I walked and I ran, and I walked and I walked, and I ran. But mostly I walked.

Three weeks in I sent a note to a friend of mine asking her if it ever stops hurting. The pain was unreal. 15 second intervals and my calves were killing me each and every time. You heard right–15 seconds.

But here’s the thing… I pressed on. I’m no where near to what anyone would call a good runner, but last night I was able to run for two minutes straight, and it felt incredible. I walked and I ran and I walked. It was awesome.

It’s been a slow process for me. It’s been one exhausting day at a time, but the pain has been worth the gain.

Where am I now?

I’m at 150 days and climbing. I walk effortlessly and I’m starting to build up my running time.

I’ve also started eating better and just this past week I began bench pressing.

How You Can Get Started

1. Get yourself a journal where you can start recording your progress.

2. Designate the first page to state your project. You might right something like, “Project 365: To Study the Bible Every Day.” Or, “Project 365: To Eat Well Every Day.” You choose the project.

3. Record your progress daily. It might look something like this:
365 – 1 = 364!!

4. Celebrate each small success. Did you make it five days? Why not give yourself a gold star today! Was your workout extra good? Give yourself a happy face. 🙂

5. Motivate yourself daily by finding encouraging quotes, Bible verses, or related thoughts and recording them in the journal.

6. Join the Facebook group, where you can motivate others and share your progress: Project 365 Facebook Group

7. Join us here again next week for some 365 encouragement! I’ll be posting on this topic every Monday this month.

You are loved by an almighty God,

Darlene Schacht
The Time-Warp Wife

Pick up a copy of my books:

Messy Beautiful Love: Hope and Redemption for Real-Life Marriages
The Virtuous Life of a Christ Centered Wife: 18 Powerful Lessons for Personal Growth


  • Simone

    Darlene, how admirable of YOU to share your weaknesses and vulnerability with US to inspire US to get where you are going regardless of the area. Thank you for your spirit of STRENGTH and undeniable unselfishness.

  • DD

    I could just cry and hug you right now!!! This is so perfect, so encouraging, so attainable, and I am SO grateful for your transparency, yet again!!! Thank you for sharing and for leading us!!

  • Dia

    So many thanks. I needed that now. Hope the Fb. group will be great, I really needed that! and I have no real friends around so online support is amazing.

  • Debra H

    Love this idea. I have struggled as you have in the area of healthy choices. The effect that “failure” has on us is overwhelming and I really appreciate your understanding of putting our efforts on what we did accomplish instead of what we didn’t. I lost 110 pounds 2 years ago and have gradually gained over 40 of it back. Talk about feeling like a failure….the enemy has had a hayday with my self esteem. This past 2 months I have gone pretty much crazy with my bad choices…..eating way too much sugar and fat. My heart and body are hurting and I’m asking the Lord to show me what is right for me in this season to get healthy again. I love the idea of journaling with the Project 365. I look forward to walking this new season with you and others as we break the hold the enemy has on us.
    Happy and Blessed New Year, Debra

    • Darlene Schacht

      Wow! That’s a lot of weight to lose. It’s so much easier to stick to things when you’re in the groove. Once we change things up a bit it can be tough to get back into that mindset.

  • Trisha Goddard


    I really appreciate this Project 365 idea and your FB group for support, tips, etc.

    My goal this year is to run, but I am so not a runner. In fact, as I was reading right before the New Year, I knew this was a year to focus on taking care of me and “run” continually came up, because it is something that I have wanted to do, but have never disciplined myself to doing. Your story here has encouraged me to press on. Day.by.day. 365 days.

    Thank you for your ministry and encouragement to women like me, who are wives, moms, and homemakers!

    God bless and greetings from Paraguay,

  • Kristina

    What an inspiring post! There are days that I don’t feel like getting up off the couch. Your words are encouraging and I’m going to find a pretty new journal and start my own Project 365! I look forward to your update posts!! Great job!!

  • Missy Robinson

    I call myself a jog-walker! I began running just over five years ago (well into midlife and post three children) and started with small goals and lots of grace. Now, I can’t imagine life without the time outdoors, the physical activity and time alone with the Lord. I’ll never run long distances, and I walk about a quarter of every mile, but it’s a well-ingrained habit. Way to go!

  • Lisa Maria

    Darlene God bless you! I am certain that there are many women who would greatly benefit from this wonderful idea of yours…I am one of them! Thank you for sharing your heart here and for your desire to help others.

    By the way you share a birthday with a favourite aunt of mine…she turns 90 this year and is still going strong! I hope to be just like her.

  • Dianna Marie

    I love your posts! Congratulations on your progress with walking and running. I started running 7 years ago to ward off stress from my divorce of a marriage of 15 years. Within a year…my Brother convinced me to join a running team and we completed our first marathon together in 2009. It took time to build up to a comfortable mile, then a 5k and on but it can be done and I wish you well on your journey. I met my Husband on that same running team. I opened my heart to God’s Will for me during those difficult years after the divorce and am now so blessed and happy…ever thankful.

  • Rosalind

    Thank you for allowing God to use you to help all of us. I so wanted something like this but did not truly know where to begin. I’m truly thankful!

  • vojka

    thank you for sharing your heart and thanks to Rosalind through which posts i come to know about you.
    this is something that really speaks to my heart and something i need to hear.
    you are brave and awesome daughter of the Most High who is blessing to body of Christ.

  • Cathy Gray

    Darlene, thank you so much for sharing this with us. I love how you are willing to tell us your weaknesses and believe me, I had the same thing too when I tried to just walk. LOL! I am super excited to give this a try!

    Now I don’t know if you use vitamins or not but I was told if our bodies seize up and cause pain, it could very well be a vitamin deficiency. Potassium, Vit. C, Calcium, B12 or even D but ask your doctor and look it up on some heath sites. Just a thought.

    Thanks again for such a new way to look at taking on exercising and get well! God bless.

  • Laura McFall

    LOVE! My husband and I were just discussing how to keep “score” last night. I always get on the scale and if it’s going down, I’m doing it right and if it’s not or going up, I’m doing it wrong. Easy, right? Well, as you so eloquently stated, it’s not that easy. We seem to be on a similar journey, but you are not only April-December ahead of me in age, but also eons in thought processes. Project 365 is just what I need to “keep score”! 🙂 I will turn 50 on Dec 11, 2015 and have also started walk/running. There’s a t-shirt ad that keeps popping up on my computer screen: “I am a runner. I run slower than a turtle in peanut butter, but I am a runner.” That’s how I feel – my hubby WALKS as fast as I run. But I’m doing it! or at least some days. This is where your method will come in. See, I must train more and get outside more often! I need the sunshine, but also – I have committed myself in front of a multitude of friends and family that I will complete at least ten 5k events this year, before I turn 50. I’m calling it 50/50 2015. I also started a blog – Running Towards Fifty, but I am still getting into the hang of keeping up with it. More things to count towards points! So – as you can see, I’m a mess. But so glad to know I’m not the only one! And I mean that in the most loving way possible. THANK YOU! for your blog and your posts and I, for one, will definitely be keeping up with you throughout the year.

  • vasavihima

    Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus chirst. I am from a small village in India. weak in english. Hope you understand the love language between us by the grace our Lord.very much encouraged by project 365. WIll follow through the days by Gods grace. Eager to see God s plan through you for this year. thankyou. i will be thankfull to you if you hide this comment.

  • Heather @ My Overflowing Cup

    I love this: “The idea is to measure your effort, not your results.” This is such a great way to look at it, Darlene.

    I also love the idea of tracking your points.

    Thanks so much for sharing your heart with us in this encouraging post. What a wonderful thought to know that there are many of us doing the same thing this year.

    Blessings to you and yours!

  • Davonne Parks

    Darlene, I would have never guessed that from our time together walking around together. You’ve made beautiful progress, my friend!

    I sent you a short email last night.

  • Alicia

    Oh, how to choose just one 365 focus?! There is much I would like to change or strengthen in my life right now….