Ugh, I know. Everyone makes this resolution EVERY YEAR. I’m going to exercise everyday! I’m going to eat whole foods only! No more fast food! No more fad diets! I’m going to stop drinking/smoking/<insert your unhealthy habit here>! As I said before, I do not even like to make resolutions, and I know myself well enough that trying to attain one of these diet or lifestyle goals is not going to happen. I’m in my thirties now, and I’m more honest with myself. Setting unrealistic goals will only make me feel like garbage when I skip the gym, devour some birthday cake, or swing through a drive-through because I just cannot stand the thought of cooking dinner. And the older I get, the more I want to stay alive and healthy for as long as I can. I know your thirties are a little early to be panicking about aging but what can I say? I’m an overachiever.
Instead, I chose to alter my thinking and my habits. How is this different? I pictured taking my everyday life and changing it but in subtle, manageable ways. I decided that if I could take the time to learn about food and our bodies, it might be easier to adopt some better habits. I have been thinking about this long before December 31. I am tired of feeling unsatisfied with my body, mind, and habits. My husband likes to say that there are different mirrors in this house – the ones I look in, and the ones everyone else looks in. I am never satisfied with my body, my looks, my appearance, etc. when in reality, there is not one thing wrong with me. I am neither thin nor heavy, and this body has produced and birthed FOUR children. That’s amazing, and I need to take care of it! I am neither inactive nor training for the Olympics, but this body gets me through everyday and whatever life throws at me. I vacillate between happiness and anxiety in my thoughts and mind, but I have a creative, talented mind that could be used for so much goodness. I was in yoga a few weeks ago, and the instructor told us to thank our minds and bodies for everything we put them through and everything we ask of them; that statement was profound to me.
The first thing I did was to notice the produce and food products in this area – I like shopping local and affordable. What foods are cheaper here, and can I add them to our kitchen and meals? Can we find farmer’s markets and co-ops in the area? We are still working on this, but this is part of the fun. This weekend, the girls and I are going to a local co-op farm to volunteer for a few hours. They are very excited to see what is grown there and what we can get from the farm. I have found the nicest people and the best coconut mochi ever at a random market we passed one day. One of my friends ran a small co-op in Germany, and I wish I could find something like that here (maybe I will!).
Second, I started learning. Yes, learning – this meant reading about proteins and healthy fats, learning to better balance our meals, and avoiding that dreaded “c” word – calories. I will not become instantly obese if I eat an Oreo, but I will feel like crap if I do not eat breakfast. I am eating less meat (my choice, for many reasons) but am eating more nuts, seeds, and beans. I started worrying less about eating a set amount of meals or at certain times, choosing to listen to my body signals. It’s not as hard as I imagined, except for the diet soda and sugar cravings, but they are getting better. I also let myself indulge here and there because I know that when I try to completely eliminate something, I end up binging on it.
A woman I went to school with is a registered dietician and operates her business/website/vast social media presence called The Nutrition Addiction. I’ve been following her Instagram for awhile but honestly, I never really read anything. I finally did, and I was impressed. She has a no-BS approach and hates calories! She strongly advocates PHFF (protein, healthy fats, and fiber) at every meal, as well as watching your blood sugar and metabolism. This is very helpful to me, as I have hypoglycemia, so I started cutting out the non-fat and working with a little more fat. She also posted a blog entry about New Year’s detox tips that I loved – http://thenutritionaddiction.com/anti-detox/ – and I started incorporating this into my diet as well. I admit that kombucha and apple cider vinegar are not my favorite things, but I’m coming around to it. Also, adding turmeric into your diet is easy and great for your liver, I eat plants at every meal, and I look at labels a lot closer. It’s a slow process, but small measures are easier to adapt!
*I don’t plug many things, but go check our her website! She is funny and honest, which I think we all need when talking about food, diets, and lifestyles!*
Third, I exercise. I have always exercised, and I hate it. You know that high that everyone talks about from running or other physical activity? I never get that. The satisfaction people find when they watch the number drop on the scale or see the swell of new muscles? It is only temporary for me. So, I decided to stop thinking of exercise as required. I still do it, but I’ve been trying to find ways where it feels less like work and more voluntary. For example, I have started taking yoga regularly again. I have always loved yoga for the peace, balance, and benefits, and there is one class at my YMCA that I have fallen in love with. So, I make it a priority to go every week. It is one hour a week that I feel every nerve and worry disappear, and I’m actually exercising and managing my anxiety at the same time. I also have started to hike, since this is exercising with a nice view and scenery. I still hate the bugs, but I’m learning. I know that for a healthy body, I need to be physically active, but I am tired of dragging my feet on treadmills and forcing myself into gyms everyday. If I miss a day or two, it will be okay. If I need to cut my time short, that is okay, too. I find that if I am exercising because I want to and am happy doing it, I am much more productive.
Finally, I am working on self-worth. I have terrible body image issues, which I have known for a long time. I really do not want to pass this on to my kids because it’s a terrible feeling to look in the mirror and to only see imperfections. Andy once told me that he felt like no matter how many times he told me I’m beautiful, I wouldn’t believe him anyways. And he is right (I hope he reads this so he can see that I wrote those words). Self-worth is challenging – how do you wake up one day and just start to love your appearance? I don’t know. The first part I am attempting is to stop comparing myself to others and to focus on what I do like. I love my freckles. I love my thick hair, even when I complain about how unmanageable it can be. I love the shoulder bone that sticks out from separating it during cheerleading. I love my green eyes and how they shift colors. I’m starting small and working up to the bigger things. So far, it is working.
I’ve learned that there is no magical fix for changing your health, and what works for one person does not work for the next. Am I going to stick to all this? Yes, because this is bigger than a diet or a new exercise goal. This is a lifestyle change. It is work, it is frustrating, it is intriguing, and yet, I’ve never felt more committed about a health change before. If you resolved to change your health this year, I hope you can find a system that works for you. If you have any tips you would like to share with me, I would appreciate them!