Happy New Year, friends! I have a love/hate relationship with this time of year. I love the hope and promise that a new year brings. I feel motivated to set some goals and get sh*t done — mostly in my professional life (and this is heightened this year with a new side business!), but also with projects around the house that I’ve been ignoring for months. I love the sense of calm after the holidays when we have fewer plans, commitments, and running around to do. It’s nice to get back to my normal eating and exercise routine. But as I alluded to on Instagram yesterday, I also hate a lot of the messaging around this time of year suggesting that the only way to be happy or healthy is to lose weight, get fit, or remove XX food from your diet. I hate the pressure that people feel to commit to unrealistic changes, only setting themselves up for failure and disappointment. I hate that diet culture is so loud.
That said, there is a quieter message that has been sneaking its way into conversations thanks to many dietitians and other health professionals speaking up about the importance of taking care of ourselves, not giving into diet culture, and disentangling a number on the scale from the definition of health.
Eating well and moving your body are a part of the health equation. But so is getting enough sleep, managing your stress (it’s not going away, so figure out a way to tackle it), and doing things that make you happy. All of these things are intertwined, and in many cases, it’s difficult to make changes to what we eat without addressing other areas areas like stress and sleep.
So this year, instead of thinking about what you need to change about yourself, ask yourself this:
What can I do to better take care of myself?
Choose something small and simple, but that also feels significant. Maybe it’s getting out for a lunchtime walk to clear your head so you are more productive in the afternoon or taking a rest day from exercise to let your body recover. It could be getting in bed at the same time every night and creating a bedtime routine to help you sleep better or leaving your phone in the other room so email (or Instagram) isn’t the first thing you check when you wake up. It could be making breakfast the night before so that you know you have something nourishing ready to go when mornings are too busy to think about it. Whatever you choose, remember that behavior change doesn’t happen overnight, so commit to it for the month of January and then assess your progress at the end of the month.
Health is a work in progress for all of us, myself included. So, in case your curious, here are the three things I’m committing to this January:
- Drinking a glass of water before I have any coffee. I’ve noticed that I may go hours in the morning before having any water outside of a few sips when I get back from a run or at the gym. It’s no surprise that around 11am the feelings of dehydration start to set in. Right now, drinking more water means hot water with a bit of citrus (lemon or orange) because cold water is just plain unappealing when the thermometer is below 0.
- Get back to weekend meal planning. This eliminates the daily stress of figuring out “what’s for dinner” and last minute trips to the grocery store (the worst at 6pm when you’re hungry and tired). When I meal plan I pick out 4-5 dinners for the week and then decide each day what I feel like and/or what I have time to make. It feels less rigid than deciding what I will have for dinner Thursday on a Sunday. I know this will also help reign in our grocery bill, which has gotten out of control mostly because I have no plan when I shop (also see last minute trips to the expensive market that is closest to our house).
- Take one weekend day off from social media. This is going to be the hardest one for me, but I know it will be good. It’s so easy to get caught up in what everyone else is doing and not be present in real life. I also find myself wasting so much time scrolling through instagram or facebook, so I’m looking forward to seeing what I might get done without this distraction!
What are you committing to this month or year?