As we approach the end of 2017 and a new year is upon us, you may be thinking about starting new, healthy habits and swearing off the old undesirable habits in your life. Maybe you're even making new year's resolutions that you will begin on that magical day...January 2nd (because January 1st, you'll still be too hung over from New Year's Eve).
Each year so many people set their resolutions in January and each year in February or March they fail at whatever they set out to do and resume old habits then start again next year with the same resolutions. Just some food for thought... Maybe it's not you that has failed. Maybe it is the system you are using that is failing you.
I like to think about health from a seasonal view. If we think about health and life in relation to the seasons, who is setting out to do big things in January in the mid-west? Are the animals out moving around and doing big things at this time of year? Are the farmers planting their fields? NO! They live according to the seasons and January is not a time to do big things. While we cannot all hibernate like mother nature and the animals, we can think of winter as a time for planning and thinking ahead to spring when things are more alive and start to grow.
Aside from being the beginning of a new calendar year, I think January 1st is kind of an ambiguous date. Being in the darkness of winter, it is however a good time to reflect on the previous year and set intentions for the upcoming year. Without a time to quiet our minds and reflect upon the previous year, how can we move forward with thoughtful intention for the new year to come?
Just because January 1st comes, it doesn't necessarily mean that you need to take off those 10 lbs stat right after the new year, or start a new diet or be at the gym every day of the week. You can do whatever you desire, but this year maybe put some thought into your plan for being well and stop grabbing for a quick fix that will not serve you throughout the year. Here are 5 points that came to mind as I thought about setting goals for the new year.
1) Trust in yourself enough to be in it for the long haul.
Let love guide you and ask fear to step down from it's throne this year. Many times we feel like everything needs to happen right now. Like, oh shit, I ate a dozen cookies each day of Christmas vacation and my pants aren't fitting right, so I need to exercise 3 hours a day in order to take the weight off right now. Slow down...Yup, that happened and with a little clean up (like not continuing to eat a dozen cookies each day), the weight will come off.
Our bodies take time to adjust to change and feel safe. With some trust in yourself that you can follow a plan for a healthy lifestyle, your body will readjust and you will likely find that you do lose weight, sleep better, have more energy and are a better version of yourself. Don't panic because all your plans to lose 20 lbs by Feb 1st didn't come true or you figure out that you cannot exercise 3 hours a day every day. Trust in yourself that you can do whatever you set out to do. Healthy changes are like a marathon not a sprint, so take a deep breath and say hello to the feelings you are facing and ask that fear, anxiety, worry step down because you're on a different mission this year.
2) Rest and stress relief are as important as what you eat and if you exercise.
Let me repeat that. Rest and stress relief are JUST AS IMPORTANT as what you eat and how much you exercise. Together, they are all like a package deal and work best when there's a mix of all these things happening. Are you making friends or enemies with your body? "Hi self, it's me, can we be friends this year?" Our hormones get all sorts of messed up with excess stress and lack of rest and will make it nearly impossible for the body to heal, lose weight or move towards health at all. All the cortisol that gets dumped into your body when you are stressed out creates more inflammation (the root of all sickness) and will wreak havoc on the body, so if you are feeling like you are tired, sick or are super stressed, don't beat yourself up. Listen to your body! Like really listen to your body. Do you need to go to bed at 7 pm and sleep 10 hours occasionally? Not feeling the gym tonight because you want to take a day of rest? Do it! You know yourself the best and when you have a little more energy, get back up and do your thing. There is time to rest and time to play.
3) Who you were, who you are and who you will be are 3 different people.
Mindset is a big deal when setting goals and becoming the person you want to be. I used to hang onto the person I used to be and I would ask myself, "how can I be that unhealthy person and become this healthy person?" It was like my shadow was following me around and wouldn't back off. It was really frustrating and I would feel stuck in some of my old habits. I used to party a lot, eat a lot of junk food and not exercise at all. True story. I am not the girl with dreadlocks who used to drink a lot of beer and eat ice cream for dinner. I loved those times, but today I am working on a healthier version of myself. I find that if I can let the past be and stay present, I do better at moving toward what I want.
Life is a long time and we don't stay the same over all the years nor should we aim for that. You can create the life you want even if your track record with follow through hasn't been the best. Set your goals based on what you want not what you failed to accomplish in the past.
4) It's not a game of all or nothing. It doesn't have to be perfect, but don't stay stuck.
Sometimes the goals or resolutions we set are an all or nothing kind of thing. You want to start a new exercise plan which you think has to mean that you go to the gym every day it is open. You want to eat healthy and you think this has to mean that 7 days a week you eat all healthy meals, no snacking and no alcohol. You want to get more sleep and maybe you think this has to mean that you sleep 8 hours a night, 7 days a week.
Then life happens and you only made it to the gym 4 days and ate pretty healthy foods 5 days this week and slept 8 hours a night for 4 days. Fail? Nope, not at all. Give yourself credit for what you accomplished and move on. It all goes towards creating that healthy lifestyle and is bringing you closer to your goals. Remember, it's a marathon not a sprint and little by little as you chip away at your goals, your efforts start to add up.
You might also reconsider what your 100% is. What if giving 100% isn't 6 days at the gym, 100% healthy eating and a perfect sleep schedule? What if 100% could mean 3 days at the gym along with some stretching, walking and a few days to rest? It might mean that you cook a healthy meal for dinner or that you eat more vegetables than you were before. It might mean that you take some time to just unplug and wind down before bed a few times a week and get better quality sleep. Giving 100% means whatever you set it up to mean. Not what someone else decides and not because the calendar tells you there is 7 days in the week, so 100% = 7 days.
Don't even start making the excuse that you couldn't do it perfect, so then you quit. There is nothing less "perfect" than quitting. Quitting is the only way you 100% fail. You may change your plan, but don't just quit working towards whatever goals you have. Nothing is ever perfect, so pick yourself up and dust off and find your 100% that makes sense for you right now.
5) It's in the journey, not the end game because the end is either never good enough (or...umm...you're dead).
The destination is the journey, so stop hurrying through everything. Where are you going so fast and when you get there, then what? Maybe this year you stop setting the goal to lose 10 lbs and go for something a little more extravagant like having more energy or being able to hike the Superior Hiking Trail next summer. Whatever it is, pick something that focuses more on all the great things you gain from making healthy changes and doesn't hold the scale number as your end game. If you succeed in losing the 10 lbs, then what? And what about when you gain 5 of those back in a weekend because you went out to eat and had too much salt and got your period? It will never be good enough. With goals that focus on a scale weight, you'll likely be so disheartened when it doesn't work out how you wanted then you'll feel bad about yourself and discount the whole journey you've been on to learn new healthy habits. That weight is going to come back off once you shed water weight from the added salt you ate and move through your cycle.
Appreciate the journey each day. Laugh at your struggles even when you want to throw a tantrum because things aren't working out how you wanted. Thank your body for all that it does for you and be a friend to it. I have heard that the body will heal itself by itself when it is given half a chance. You are the person to give your body that chance to heal, but first you're going to have to make peace and befriend it.
May 2018 bring health and happiness to you and to those you love. Happy New Year!