Hello! I know, I know, it’s almost February, isn’t a New Year’s post a bit late? Nope! Not this kind of post. If this were a New Year’s resolution post then I’d be about 6 weeks behind … but it’s a reset post. Completely different, which is why I waited until now.
Be honest with yourself, how’s that New Year’s resolution going? Still on track? Faltering? Given up entirely? Unless you’re one of the few who firmly believe in (and stick to) New Year’s resolutions, this post is for you. I don’t like resolutions, don’t believe in them, and gave them up long ago. Why? Because there’s too much pressure, too much commercialization, and no accountability. Notice how no one’s talking about New Year’s resolutions anymore? A few weeks ago, the market was saturated with advertisements for healthy food, sales on athletic clothes and equipment, and the trendiest supplements, all aimed at selling you something you needed in order to succeed. Now? Crickets. They got you to buy the goods, now they left you hanging. They’re on to the next thing — Valentine’s Day! How odd, I thought they were trying to help you succeed with your health resolution, now they’re trying to sell you bags of chocolates … hmmm, that’s odd 🙂
Perhaps this is why, according to Forbes, 55% of respondents kept their New Year’s resolution for less than a year, with 11% lasting at least six months, 14% lasting at least three months, 19% lasting at least one month and just 11% lasting less than a month. Less than inspiring, no?
So, aside from the obvious lack of support and accountability, why do people keep failing? From my own personal observation, I find people’s goals are too lofty and nowhere near specific enough. Lose 20 pounds sounds specific, but when you get right down to it, it’s really not. The key is to define how you’re going to do that, with a series of mini-goals. Enter my 7 anti-resolution resets! Now, I admit, these are mostly health related — but they’re comprehensive, to include not only physical but mental, emotional, and spiritual health as well. If your goals are not health-oriented, I still encourage you to incorporate these resets into your routine. Why? Because no matter your goals for the upcoming year, you have a far better chance of achieving them if you make your health and well-being a top priority.
Ok, lets dive in!
Drink More Water
Did you know that over 40% of Americans don’t drink the recommended 8 glasses of water per day? I know, you think, it’s just water, what’s the worst that could happen? Well, if your goal is optimal health, a lot! Chronic dehydration can cause all sorts of problems, from interfering with joint lubrication, to digestion, to temperature regulation. Plus, it can make you feel sluggish and fatigued. The good news is most people fail to drink the recommended 8 glasses per day simply because they lose track or are too busy to notice.
- Drink a full glass immediately upon waking in the morning, and a full glass before each meal. This takes care of half your daily needs!
- Make it a habit to carry a 16 oz (at least) water bottle with you wherever you go. Set an alarm for noon and 6 pm. Drink one full bottle before your noon alarm, and a second bottle before your 6 pm alarm. If your alarm goes off and there’s still water in the bottle, chug that baby!
- If you’re not a fan of plain water, try adding some lemon, lime, or orange slices to the mix. I also love these Nuun electrolyte tablets. They come in a variety of flavors and have only 1 gram of sugar. Lemon-lime are my favorite. When I’m feeling dehydrated, I also add a splash of aloe vera juice and fresh lemon juice for a tart, lemony, hydrating cocktail.
Eat More Fruits & Vegetables
If you thought dehydration is a big issue in Americans’ diets, lack of fruit and vegetables is a Grand Canyon size problem. According to the CDC, only 1 in 10 Americans eats the recommended amount of fruit and vegetables each day! That one threw me for a loop — I knew it would be low, but not THAT low! Since fruits and vegetables are so rich in essential vitamins and minerals, this deficit obviously has significant health implications. In our hyper-busy society, we tend to grab easy, quick (read: highly processed carbohydrate-laden) foods. The good news? A few tweaks can make a big difference.
- Drink more smoothies! There are so many great options out there — the trick is to go green. Opt for smoothies that are full of kale, spinach, or other greens. One of my favorites is spinach, kale, frozen mango, banana, a splash of pineapple juice, water, and ice cubes. I sometimes throw in an avocado and chia seeds too for a dose of healthy fats!
- Give your vegetables some life! Look, if all you eat is steamed, plain vegetables each day, boredom alone will be your undoing. Sauté them with flavored olive oil and add a sprinkle of flaky sea salt (Maldon is my favorite), toss with a lovely vinaigrette, or dip them in hummus. You can get individual serving hummus cups at most stores — toss it in a baggie with some carrots, broccoli, sliced bell peppers, sugar snap peas, etc.
- Get sneaky! Have a favorite comfort food? My kiddo’s love spaghetti and homemade soup, and they don’t like spinach. Guess what gets put in my spaghetti sauce and my soup? You guessed it, spinach! The great thing about spinach, kale, and other greens is they really do wilt down when mixed into hot dishes — the nutrients remain, but the greens are almost unnoticeable. My kids are very discerning, if I can fool them and still have it taste good, you can fool yourself too 🙂
Keep a Gratitude Journal
Yes, it’s true!
Numerous studies confirm there are a host of health benefits associated with expressing gratitude.
These include improved mood, better physical health, better sleep, lower levels of fatigue and cellular inflammation, and the development of patience, humility, and wisdom.
All from taking a few minutes a day to simply reflect on what you have to be thankful for?
- Take 5-10 minutes a day to write down 2-3 things for which you are grateful. There are no rules for this … you don’t need to identify anything extraordinary or grandiose. It could be as simple as your cup of morning coffee!
- If you find it easier to follow prompts, here are some beautiful gratitude journals that take out all the guesswork:
Think of it as a complement to your gratitude practice that will help you increase self-awareness and presence, reduce stress, lower your blood pressure, reduce negative emotions, and even increase imagination and creativity!
- Set aside 10-15 minutes each day for meditating — check out classes available on Alo Moves (subscription includes meditation and a host of amazing fitness classes — the barre classes are my favorite!), Asana Rebel (subscription includes mediation and yoga classes), or the Calm app.
- If you’re not ready to invest in a subscription program, just try setting aside a few minutes each day to quiet your mind, focus on your breathing, and practice being present. If your mind wanders (to events of the past or worries about the future), focus on bringing your mind back to your breath.
Read More, Starting with the Bible
The average time Americans spend reading declined from 23 minutes per day in 2004, to just 16 minutes in 2019. People aged 75 years and older are the most likely to read for pleasure, reading for an average of 44 minutes per day.
Clearly, reading for pleasure is on the downswing, no doubt pushed aside by time spent on social media or other electronic devices. To say this is a tragedy is an understatement.
Nothing imparts wisdom, understanding, empathy, and gratitude more so than reading stories about our fellow human beings. It’s certainly not lost on me that as we’ve replaced books with character-limited social media platforms we’ve become far more polarized, less understanding of — and more willing to demonize — those with alternative viewpoints, unwilling to consider or examine nuance, and are far too willing to subordinate reason and logic to our ever-changing emotions. Books and stories are layered with complexity and teach us invaluable lessons about human nature and our capacity to do unthinkable evil on one hand and extraordinary good on the other. Through stories we get to witness first-hand the breadth of the human experience. There is no greater education on life than that to be found in books. I urge you to get lost in one, as often as possible. There are few things with the capacity to change your life that are also as easily accessible as a book.
And there is no book on earth more capable of changing your eternity than the Bible. Reading it from start to finish may sound daunting, but I can promise you it’s life changing. I suggest following a Bible study book — I’ve used this one and thoroughly enjoyed it — to help you set a manageable pace as well as identify and meditate on the significance of the readings.
- Create a book list with a variety of titles you’ve been wanting to read.
- Draft a reading schedule, for example: 1 chapter/day or 3 chapters/week. Be ambitious but realistic, you want to be able to stick to the schedule.
- Stick to the schedule! Like so many things in life, when viewed as a whole, a goal can be so overwhelming that you avoid it like the plague and endlessly procrastinate. When divided up into a series of discrete, small tasks (1 chapter/day for example), your goal (read the book) becomes much easier to manage.
- Dedicate 10-15 minutes each day exclusively to reading your Bible. Follow a study guide to help you read through the entire book at a manageable pace.
You know exercise is good for you. I don’t need to convince you! It improves your physical health, mood, quality of sleep, and confidence!
For me, it also provides an opportunity to just be, quiet my mind, and think deeply. Some of my most inspiring and creative thoughts come to me during my runs. It’s wonderful.
And there’s only one rule: do what you love. If you don’t enjoy a workout program or activity, you won’t stick with it long-term. Maybe it’s a barre class, a morning walk, spinning, Pilates … it’s up to you, just do it!
Even after having three kids, I’m in the best shape of my life — I owe my progress to Peloton (tread and tread bootcamp workouts) and Alo Moves for the barre, Pilates, and core workouts. If a full Peloton tread is not in your budget, their app package, which gives you access to all their classes without purchasing any equipment (you can run outside or on another non-Peloton treadmill) is available for a super reasonable monthly subscription fee. You can check out the options here.
- Think about what types of activities you enjoy doing. Make a short list (3-4 things).
- Examine your daily schedule and identify time blocks you have available throughout the week.
- Based on your fitness and commitment level, fill in these time blocks with the exercise(s) of your choice.
- Keep it fresh and add variety (this is why you chose 3-4 activities). You’ll get bored and/or burnt out if you do the same thing for too long.
Do More With Less
Think about your home, your closet, your car, your desk — anywhere you spend a good amount of time. Do you feel less stressed, more productive, and generally more content when these spaces are clean and organized or cluttered and messy? If you’re one of the few that can function at a high level amongst clutter, you’re a rare bird for sure! My husband can do it, and it absolutely amazes me! I, on the other hand, cannot. And most people can’t. Our minds tend to reflect our environment, and when we allow our physical spaces to become overrun, our mind follows.
So, what to do? Eliminate the excess, keep only what you either love or actually use, and use what you have to the fullest extent possible. In addition to the negative mental and emotional health impacts caused by a messy, cluttered environment, you’re also wasting time, space, and money dealing with all that clutter. How many minutes do you waste each day cleaning up the madness, or how much money have you spent on organizing systems in an effort to tame it? And how much more space would you have if you didn’t have all that unnecessary junk lying around?
While the cleaning and organizing gets to me after a while, I think the gamechanger for me was realizing the time I was wasting dealing with the clutter in our home and my life. Time is our most valuable currency. We simply cannot get it back and we cannot make more. As J.R.R. Tolkien said, “[a]ll we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.” I urge you not to spend that time worrying about, cleaning, and organizing unnecessary stuff. God didn’t create us to live a life accumulating stuff, he created us to experience things, create things, and develop relationships with the people in our lives. It’s far simpler than we’ve been led to believe. We’ve, unfortunately, been told, and many of us have been convinced, that the only way to be happy is have more. It simply isn’t true.
- Go room by room and identify items you have not used in the last six months. Unless it’s a family heirloom or sentimental item (something you love), donate or dispose of it.
- Think about what things you really love and why — celebrate them by incorporating them into your decor. I have Olivia’s very first violin (she started playing at age 4), hung up on our wall, surrounded by an antique frame. Every time I see it, I can picture her with her little pigtails, just learning how to play Tiptoes. Items like this should be seen and loved daily!
- Reuse items. When you think an item no longer has an utility, ask yourself, can I use this in another way?
- Once you’ve decluttered, make a list of all the things you’ve been wanting to do, but never had the time to do! Read a book, paint, call a friend or loved one, learn a new skill, exercise, meditate … you get my point 🙂
And there you have it! The seven annual resets I personally go through each year. I generally do a good job with most of them throughout the year, though I struggle with some. January is a great time to reinvigorate our efforts, identify what we want, and do an honest assessment of whether our day to day habits are helping or hindering our progress.
Have a great weekend!