The holidays are in full-swing and the new year is fast approaching. If you’ve spent too much of the recent weeks counting bites of treats the way you used to count reps during your workout, now just may be a good time to inject a little sanity.
I’ve found a common human trait is an all or nothing approach to healthy lifestyle habits. The typical “Resolutioners” trend I see every January in the gym is a great example. After the over-indulgence that often accompanies the holiday season, people are looking to get a fresh start and turn over a new leaf. They dive head first into that new gym membership, new way of eating and are determined to work so hard that all holiday damage will be undone and physique goals reached in a few short weeks.
You know how this story ends…the realities of your busy daily life settles in, you’re tired, hungry, and frustrated that the scale hasn’t budged. You throw in the towel and declare that nothing works.
What if we paint an entirely different picture this New Year? What is we honor that our lives really are full and busy, but place value in knowing that caring for ourselves will allow us to bring our best selves to the varying roles we play in life? What if we set ourselves up for success with a little planning and realistic goal setting?
Imagine that one year from now you have successfully adapted 12 new habits. Visualize how much better your quality of life could be if you narrowed your focus to one specific goal until it became a part of who you are. Instead of trying to tackle 12 new habits at once and giving up when the inevitable days of feeling overwhelmed arrive, how successful and motivating would it be to tackle your goals in stages?
Visualize January as the month you honor the value of being well-rested. You make a plan for what time you’ll be in bed each night. As the days go by and your rest becomes more consistent, you notice you’re waking up with a good attitude and a sense of vibrant energy. Every part of the rest of your day improves because your body as energy. The real, pure energy that comes from allowing your body the time it needs to recover from the rigors of day-to-day life.
February arrives and you’re eager for the next step, now that you are no longer feeling the need for a caffeine fix to get through the afternoon because you wake up feeling rested on more days than not. You know exercise is important and you set action goals to incorporate more activity in your life. You set a goal for 12 workouts this month. You pack your gym bag before bed each night. As the days go by you find yourself look forward to your new routine. You’re noticing your sleep quality and energy continue to improve with regular physical activity.
As March approaches, you know nutrition is the missing catalyst to boost your results and support your new-found energy. Rather than embark on a diet you pick one habit to embrace, such as eating 1/2 C of vegetables with breakfast. You discover it only takes you two weeks to adhere to this new habit. Excited to accelerate your success you set your next specific nutritional goal of adding 1/2 C of veggies to lunch as well. The positive cycle is in motion and it’ll be hard to slow you down now!
Life is a series of choices. Ideally, we learn and adjust as we go, in an effort to better ourselves and lead the life we truly desire. It’s not a matter of perfection, but of dedication to the process of learning and loving ourselves along the way. When we set measurable, specific goals and focus on the action steps necessary to reach those goals we drastically increase our odds of success. However, most of us default to the frenzy of diving in head first with no real direction and a vague sense of what we are trying to achieve.
Ask yourself what your new year will look like. Set aside a little time to create a realistic plan and don’t be afraid to adjust as you go. The days and weeks will pass either way, so why not be good to yourself and let this be the year you embrace the journey of change?
To Your Best Health,