I’m assuming that if you spend any time at all on the internet, you’re getting flooded with “How to Help Your New Year’s Resolutions Stick” kind of info. There’s lots of talk out there about how to lose weight, exercise more regularly, etc, etc, etc……but I don’t want to go down that path. Most folks get off track in weeks or months, so let’s look at this differently.
If you want to make change, it’s about how you feel. In order to know how you feel, you have to be quiet and be present. Once you master that, change becomes much easier. Notice I’m not saying “easy” because it is never that. But it can become do-able, once you truly know how to feel how you feel. Let’s look at the issue of weight changing: dropping pounds and getting fit and trim is about the most common new years resolution. In order to do that, one needs to eat differently (more often/less often, less volume, different choices) and move more (or differently, or smarter/more efficiently). But those mechanics are just that—rules that might or might not be easy to follow long term. Let’s make it easier: think about how you feel when you eat “cleaner”. The bagel for breakfast makes you feel good for about 20 minutes, but after that you’re sluggish. The veggie omelette makes you feel great for hours, with no drop in energy. The pasta for dinner is quick and filling, but afterwards you crash, right? Now let’s think about movement: when you’ve taken that morning walk or yoga class, you feel better all day, right? When you sleep in instead, you only feel better for those extra 30 minutes, and actually less energetic the rest of the morning.
So, it’s about learning to listen to what your body is telling you. Don’t listen to the urgent calls that want to be answered in the next minute—those are usually cravings or ego or emotion yearning to be smothered in the next moment. Instead, listen to how you feel long-term. Know what keeps you feeling calm, clear-headed and present. If it’s a vegan diet and zumba, go for it. If it’s a paleo diet and walking, that’s cool. I personally don’t know anyone who actually feels better long term with mostly carbs, lots of tv, and constant noise. We all do this from time to time, but it’s not a good long-term plan!
A few suggestions:
1) Make a point of being outside and noticing nature most days. Several studies out of Japan are showing that overall health is improved with regular walks in the forest. You don’t have to make this a big deal: the other morning, I simply stood and gazed at the setting full moon as I left for an early morning yoga class. Or just hug a tree regularly. Even if it’s cold outside!
2) Slow down for at least a few minutes every day. You decide what that looks like—write in a gratitude journal every night, do Heartmath practices daily, meditate, sip your morning coffee in silence while you watch the birds. It doesn’t matter. Just focus on having the quiet be coming from inside yourself. Tapes and CD’s can be helpful, but you want to be generating the stillness from within. (see resources below)
3) If you’ve never done this, do a pantry overhaul on your next day off. Take everything out of the kitchen pantry, clean the shelves, and then be very particular about what you put back. Read labels: nothing goes back that includes hydrogenated vegetable oils or high fructose corn syrup. Cans should ideally be BPA free. Most of the pantry should be staples that actually look like food, not boxes or bags of processed stuff.
4) Also on that day off, if you’ve never done this, make a trip to WholeFoods or a similar market where you can get cleaner products for the kitchen. If you hate shopping, or feel as though you don’t have time to read all those labels, look for help. Some local nutritionists will do “market walks”, as will I—if you have a group of several friends who are looking to improve your eating, contact my office to arrange a night during the week where I show you around a local market, with specifics about what is a reasonable choice and what isn’t.
5) Come to the Healthy Living Food Group. First Tuesday of the month, 7-9pm. (In January, it’ll be the 8th, for obvious reasons).
Cool New Resources
GPS for the Soul
This new app (available for free from iTunes) was funded by Huffington Post, and is a way for you to check your level of stress or relaxation during the day. You put your finger over the camera on your phone, and it measures how you’re doing. It includes music, photos, meditations, affirmations, just about anything you can think of to help you get relaxed and stress free. It’s already on my phone and I’m loving it!
28 Days of Willpower
Here’s a link for a 28 day email session with Yoga Journal that will help you stay on track and find what and how you want to change as you move into the new year. It starts Monday, Jan 14th, so sign up right away!
Here’s to healthy and happy new year for each and every one of you!