It all starts with Thanksgiving. “I’ll eat a salad tomorrow,” you whisper to yourself, as you put another dollop of whipped cream on your second piece of pie or sneak to the fridge for a midnight turkey sandwich. But then you wake up the next morning and realize that just like that, the holiday season is in full swing, and every time you RSVP to another cookie exchange or cocktail party, you resign yourself a little more to being in a stretchy-pants-and-sugar haze for the rest of the year.
Then January rolls around, and without the forgiving glow of Christmas lights and the extra endorphins of holiday cheer to soften things, you realize that you feel a lot like that huge pile of garbage you took out after your New Year’s Eve party.
Not to worry, though! GET HEALTHY is already written in bold on your list of resolutions for the upcoming year, so that’s basically taken care of, right? Maybe, if you’re some kind of superhuman goal-crusher with enough willpower to consistently ditch your flannel sheets for a cold morning run or to pass up the grocery store Starbucks kiosk, but most of us won’t succeed unless we break that really big resolution into a bunch of smaller, more manageable ones.
…but if you fall, land softly.
When the holiday hangover (literal or figurative) fades, our motivation tends to fade with it, and while coming out of the gate strong isn’t a bad thing, you have to balance strength with sustainability. If you resolve to make it to the gym every single day or live on green smoothies and kale salads indefinitely, you may not even make it to February before you crash (probably right into one of those giant heart-shaped boxes of chocolates that show up in the seasonal aisle about five minutes after Christmas is over).
If you want/need to jumpstart your good habits, it can be helpful to try an established program like Whole30 or one of the many others out there instead of trying to do it all on your own. Think of it as a reset, though, not a “quick-fix.” Be honest with yourself when deciding what approach to take…if a month of strict dietary guidelines will motivate you, go for it. If it will overwhelm you, take a different route.
The problem with many health-conscious New Year’s resolutions is that, in our enthusiasm, we seem to temporarily forget that we’ll still have to go to work, do laundry, pack school lunches, stick to a household budget, spend quality time with our families, maintain a social life, and occasionally sleep. We forget that we can only reallocate time and energy…not make more of them. Then when we’re finally reminded of these truths, and things don’t go the way we planned, we get discouraged and give up. We want it all, but we settle for nothing.
You can do hard things…
…but don’t be too hard on yourself in the process.
Taking down one calendar and hanging up a new one doesn’t do anything magical…the magic happens when you start creating goals that fit into the space that’s available in your life. It happens when optimism and realism sit down across from each other and sort out their differences.
This means that if you miss that 6am yoga class you signed up for, you learn to be ok with throwing your mat down in the living room and getting in a few Sun Salutations while the coffee is brewing.
It means that if you get stuck at work late and don’t make it to the grocery store, you learn to be ok with ordering takeout and saving that new quinoa burger recipe for another night.
It also means not talking yourself out of doing things that you know are good for you. Skipping the gym because it’s your best friend’s birthday or you have a rare opportunity for a date night probably isn’t going to get between you and your goals, but skipping the gym every single time you get an invitation to a work happy hour or every time you’re tired or every time you’re cold, definitely will.
Positive change isn’t linear…
If you’re a mom, the most frequent threat to your diet and fitness aspirations might be guilt about spending time on yourself when you could be spending it with your kids. Try to look at it this way, though: being healthy isn’t just a gift you give yourself. It’s a gift you give everyone who cares about you and counts on you.
The time you spend on the treadmill will help you chase your energetic toddler around the park or cross the finish line with your daughter when she runs her first 5K.
The Saturday morning Pilates class you take instead of sleeping in or making waffles will help you be strong enough to carry little humans on your shoulders when they want a better view.
The healthy meal you spend hours preparing, even though they may not be excited about it now, will set a better example for your children that any time-saving drive-thru trips and frozen pizzas ever could.
Life insurance is like that, too. Sure, the sense of security that comes with having it is great for you. But the actual security it offers your family is what’s really amazing. The best resolutions are the ones with a ripple effect, so whether it means finding time to exercise more or overcoming fear and getting a life insurance quote, make your intentions for this New Year really count. Not just for you, but for everyone you love.
Wishing you a bright and beautiful 2018 from all of us at Our Life Covered℠!