NEW YEAR, NEW YOU! Am I right? Not exactly…
I’m not a big advocator of big, unreachable resolutions. I think that New Year’s resolutions can be a bit overwhelming and stressful. This is why each year, I make “life goals” and “health/wellness/fitness goals.” The former are goals I hope to reach in my career and relationships. Those can span over a few years (or a lifetime). And the latter goals are ones that can be worked on daily and achieved weekly/monthly.
This is a peak into some of the wellness goals I set out to achieve last year (2016):
- Reduce processed sugar in my diet
- I am always mindful of how much sugar I’m consuming, but this past year I’ve become more aware of how my body feels from different foods. Generally, when I eat a lot of sugar I feel unfocused, irritable, and frantic. Additionally, I don’t sleep well. This goal requires a lot of mindfulness and persistence. There is sugar in almost all processed foods and it’s easy to forget that when eating something like peanut butter or bread.
- Yoga 2-3x a week
- I haven’t been so good at this goal this past year. There was a year after high school that I was doing yoga every day. Since then, I’ve realized that my body prefers variety in my weekly workouts, but ideally I should have been doing yoga (at least) once a week as a form of rest and recovery for my muscles.
- Mentally, yoga has helped me tremendously. Yoga was the first form of exercise that I actually enjoyed. More so, I experienced improvement in my practice. I realized that I was strong. This is a lesson that I’ve taken into my everyday life – determination, practice, focus, and the subsequent confidence can lead to improvements in my job and growth in my personal relationships.
- Start a new activity (rock climbing, boxing, jump roping…)
- I have (sort of) accomplished this one. Jump roping became part of my workout for a little while, but I’ve had trouble finding a rope that I love enough to improve my jumping skills. Any recommendations for a speed rope?
- Try meditation.
- I haven’t. As a native New Yorker, I think I have difficulty quieting the outside noise that I’ve become to accustomed to. I think meditation, when I do try it this year, will be extremely difficult for me because my mind is constantly thinking about a million things and I can’t remember the last time I sat and did nothing. (Expect a 2017 post on my first meditation.)
Looking back, I can see why I didn’t complete some of these goals. I made them and then I forgot about them. I think little daily reminders to yourself are important. I DON’T think they should stress you out, but remembering the reason behind the goal can be beneficial in actually accomplishing it.
This past year, I did achieve (or at least worked on) fitness and health goals that I didn’t even set out to accomplish. I think every year I get closer and closer to finding out what makes my body and mind the happiest. This is what I’ve learned this year:
- HIIT is my kind of workout
- I know, I know, this has been the fitness-buzz-word of the year, but not without good reason. If workouts are too-slow or easy, I find that my mind wanders. Fitness experts all agree that mindful workouts (focusing on the task you are performing) are crucial to seeing results. I have a hard time thinking, looking, or doing anything besides what the instructor is saying. I don’t even look at the instructor – it’s eyes ahead at my form or down at what I’m doing. I find this workout more therapeutic than running, because it’s actually fun! It pushes me to exceed what I think I’m capable of. I end EVERY class feeling like I just accomplished big time. Even better, most classes are 30-45 minutes. Mentally, it’s been amazing for me. Body wise, my cardio has improved (I can observe this during those rare occasions I do go for a run). Additionally, I think doing 100+ burpees and mountain climbers have toned my abs and arms in a way that lifting weights or crunches could never do.
- EAT FOOD, not too much, mostly plants.
- You can thank Michael Pollan for the catchy way to remember how to eat for good health. Every year, I feel as if I’m exploring new foods and new ways to eat that suit my energy needs and lifestyle. About six years ago, I started eating oatmeal every morning with superfoods like chia seeds and goji berries. Five years ago, I wasn’t drinking any alcohol. Then in college, sugar, alcohol, and canola oil-heavy meals were reintroduced into my diet and I became puffy, irritable, and unhappy. Paired with my daily 6-8 mile runs, I gained about 10 pounds. Clearly, this way of nourishing myself was not ideal. Near the end of college, I started doing HIIT, walking, and eating more salads, fats (avocados and nuts), and clean protein. Generally, I became more aware of the quality and types of foods I was ingesting and how my body was responding as a result. When Pollan says “eat food,” he means real, whole, naturally occurring foods, not the stuff that comes in a box or plastic.
- SLEEP is still very important to me.
- This year, I have read more studies saying that sleep requirements vary depending upon age and the individual. But I think everyone should be getting 6-9 hours of sleep a night. I know many people that “get by” with less, but I’m sticking by this one. I think that most people are walking around in sleep-dep. This article elucidates some ways you can tell if you’re not getting enough sleep. I understand that some people’s schedules don’t allow for the amount of sleep. I have realized that I do more quality work and am more productive when I am not tired.
- BALANCE is always a work in progress.
- Finding a balance between staying fit and healthy, while at the same time not stressing out about being perfect, is tricky. The approach I’ve taken this year is to listen to my body. Generally, your body will let you know when you need to take a rest day, eat more greens, or reduce your alcohol intake. I drink tequila, eat cake and pasta, stay up till 3 am, but not all the time. In fact, not most of the time. My point being that when I want a martini, I’ll have one, but lately a HIIT workout has been more satisfying.
I’ve begun to think about this years wellness goals, and so far I have:
- Do more yoga. So, I’ve signed up for one month unlimited Y7 classes to jumpstart my new year. Hot yoga to The Weeknd in a dark room? Yes. Please.
- Cook more. The best way to ensure that I’m eating “real,” whole food.
- Boxing. Because I just graduated college. And in the “real world,” I’m learning that sometimes it helps to hit things/bags. I’ve done cardio kickboxing, but adding a bag increases your resistance training.
- Meditation. This year is the year.
- Continue to be mindful of processed sugar intake. Because more and more studies are claiming that it is more addictive than heroine. Like, seriously.
- Try new restaurants. I eat simple foods and the same types of food a lot, so every now and then it’s nice to go out and experience new cuisine. It definitely feels more special to eat out when you are not doing it all the time. When I try new restaurants, I like to order what I don’t eat on a regular basis, like pasta, red meat, and dessert!
I never set my resolutions in stone, but thinking about them, discussing them with someone else, or even writing them down can be a helpful reminder of things you’d like to do in the New Year. Happy (almost) 2017!