Don't Let Your New Year's Resolutions Get Away From You
Ah, it is that time of year again. The air is full of resolutions; intentions, plans, hope and promises to our future selves.
I honestly love this time of year, even with all the hype around it.
Change. New month, new day, new YEAR. It is baffling how fast time seems to go by when you are working, sweating, laughing, crying, thinking, and dancing your way through life.
And I think that is the exciting part about making resolutions for yourself at the beginning of the year. It is a completely NEW year, so why not make a huge change for ourselves, with everyone else??
When the last piece of confetti is picked out of your hair and the glitter washes off your skin though, resolutions look a lot like.. To-do lists. Not fun anymore. It's a CHORE. Ugh. Boring, right? Because you realize a lot of things need to change. It becomes overwhelming, the light at the end of the tunnel does not even seem to be in your sights anymore, and the bedroom heater is struggling to keep you from turning into an icicle as February cold fronts move in.
Change is exciting. And it can be hard. Because changing habits and routines takes a lot of energy. Growing and evolving into a better version of you is a process.
A unique puzzle. Or more like a one-of-a-kind algorithm.
What motivates you? Why do you say you will go to the gym but don't? Why will you only meal prep for a week, only to be eating out every night again? Why does shopping make you happy when you know it shouldn't? Instead of studying and learning about a subject, you are face to face with yourself. That is a tough code to crack sometimes, especially when it involves analyzing your own mind and self.
Me: Katie, why did you spend so much at Target?? You're broke!
Me: I don't know, it just happened.
Me: What do you mean it just happened?! That doesn't make any sense.
Me: I knowwww.
One of many conversations I had with myself.
Me and my life changes are a whole other story, but - I hope that prior experience with changing my own mindset and lifestyle can help you in your journey to fulfilling resolutions and dreams and everything your mind can imagine.
*cue confetti, a golden aura, jock jams*
The whole realm of nutrition & health is a crazy, complex, heap of information.
Eat this. Do not eat that. This is good for you. Too much of this is bad. Strength training is important. Cardio, cardio, cardio.
As an exercise science major, it felt as if I was swimming in a never ending pool of numbers;
calories fiber content
VO2 max fatty acids
Following graduation and my own research into health & wellness, I have come up with three things to keep in mind:
1) There is not a perfect diet.
On that note, the first definition of diet is,
the kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats.
Diet should not hold a bad connotation, or you feeling restricted. Your diet is what you habitually eat; whatever you consume that nourishes and provides for the body.
2) Running is not for everyone.
After being one of those high-schooler's that played sports year round, earning a degree in health & human performance, and competing as a division one track & field athlete - exercise is more than a cookie-cutter plan for improved cardiovascular health and bone strength. More on this in a future post.
3) Take one step at a time.
I am going to mention steps a lot in this post. But it is the foundation of changing your lifestyle, and specifically, your diet. Do not get frustrated with yourself for not sticking to resolutions. It simply takes time and many steps to get where you want to be.
I think we can all agree that plans for a lot of people in 2018 revolve around a healthy lifestyle, so - my substitutions and thoughts on two popular resolutions:
One usual suspect...
"Exercise more/Go To The Gym"
Be more active.
That does not mean you need to join a five am crossfit class or buy a gym membership. Depending on where you live, your environment can make a big difference in how you can give yourself a more active lifestyle. I am going to list a few ways that can help include more activity in your life.
Pick one activity. After three to four weeks, include another one. If there is too much change, too many new things to do that you are not accustomed to, there will most likely be a mental breakdown followed by not doing any of the things you set out to do. Maybe the mental breakdown is just me. Anyway.
- Take the stairs into work every morning.
- Take your dog(s) for a walk everyday.
- Workout with a friend that goes to Planet Fitness (so they can bring a guest, aka you!) My best friend in Louisville had a membership at Planet Fitness and we both needed a workout buddy - this made for a perfect solution. More importantly though, we always texted each other about when each of us were working out, what we were going to do at the gym, did plyometric circuits together, all that jazz.
- Make a specific day of the week exclusively for walking at the park and playing with your dog or kids.
Pretty cold in January?
- Utilize the space/walls you have for a few minutes of stretching before you head off to work. Set the timer on your phone for five minutes. Even better, make a playlist with a two or three of your favorite songs. After a few stretches you'll realize that five minutes or the playlist is already done. And after a week later you are going to feel less bleh and more ahh in the mornings.
Another familiar phrase...
- Be grateful and mindful.
If you only take one thing from this post, I hope it is this. Be mindful and grateful as you eat and cook. Cherish the spaghetti. Relish in the peanut butter, raspberry jelly, and multi-grain bread. You are nourishing your body! It should not be so textbook when we are talking about fueling our bodies.
You do not have to say grace if you are not religious. Being grateful for the lunch you are eating, enjoying dinner with good company, prepping your meals with love and a happy heart though- that makes the difference between eating and nourishing.
Many of us are concerned about health and search for ways to prevent disease through diet and supplements, yet we often overlook the importance of an ingredient consumed at each meal - attitude. If you eat something "bad" for you with an attitude of guilt and self-punishment, the experience of the food will certainly be unnourishing - any toxins in the meal are made doubly potent simply by adding fear. Yet the same food eaten with an attitude of celebration may have a very different reaction in the body. Likewise, the healthiest foods may prove unhealthy if the motivation for eating them is based on a fear of disease rather than a love of life.
Nourishing Wisdom: A Mind-Body Approach to Nutrition and Well-Being, Marc David, pg 42-43
As you are grocery shopping, look for...
- Foods with little to no sugar and no hydrogenated oil.
Sugar is not the devil. But moderation with everything is a good way to live.
Example: Shopping for peanut butter - look for labels with ingredients as solely roasted peanuts, or peanuts and sea salt. Or if you are like me and do not have the patience to stir the peanut butter every time you want a sandwich; some brands also include cane sugar. Watch out for hydrogenated oil though.
Hydrogenated oil is not even natural. Ew. Like, do you want to eat something all the time that is not even made in nature? Yes, there are ingredients created to preserve shelf-life, etc like hydrogenated oil is, but worse - hydrogenated oil is a trans fat. Those fats increase your bad cholesterol and decrease the good cholesterol. No bueno.
- Canned fruit in its own juice or water and vegetables with no added salt.
I have not looked too deep into the difference in sugars in the various ways canned fruit is stored and sold. Similar to shopping for foods without hydrogenated oil, thinking about eating fruit that is as close to its natural state as possible is the best way I like to grocery shop. Especially being busy throughout college, canned fruit was a quick way for me to eat healthier snacks.
I am a firm believe in seasoning my own food. Salt (the iodine in it) is necessary for the body, but it is added to a lot of pre-made, pre-seasoned, pre-everything foods in the store. I think about it in terms of a political protest;
Do not let the government tell you what to eat - YOU choose how much salt you consume! *fist in the air as you stand in aisle 7, in the other hand a can of green beans in water and no salt added, changing the world one can of veggies at a time*
Empowerment central, amirite?
As you start 2018 with hope and energy, also keep these in mind...
Taking small steps and completing simple tasks gets you closer to your big goal. It is easier to do one task every day than attempting to juggle a list of to-do's that are not specific so you have no idea what you are even expecting of yourself.
Shrink your social circle and stay strong.
It is totally ok to ghost out for awhile, not participate in activities you usually do, or lessen communication with people. Keep the ones around that will say, "Ok, we can go to the park tomorrow" when you tell them you do not want to go out that weekend. When you are strong and believe in your plans, people are going to recognize that. And when more people have your back, it makes it easier as you progress and grow.
Tell those people about your goals, your plans. If you don't, then when you keep saying yes to people and activities that are not building you up, you can not blame them - because they do not even know! If you have ever used My Fitness Pal, other health apps, Facebook groups; they encourage you to add friends and talk about your accomplishments and struggles because it is not just you anymore. You are apart of a group that wants to change, too. Whether it is calling your best friend every day, joining a fitness class, or going to AA - get yourself that accountability tribe, and keep 'em close. If you are struggling to gather that tribe - recruit me! I would be more than happy to receive emails or messages from you every day about your progress.
Keep it simple.
May your steps be small and your dreams extraordinary.