No one has wanted to claim 2021 as “my year.” In fact, this might be the first time I didn’t see any “new year, new me!” posts online. I was fully prepared to be annoyed by it all and it never happened. Don’t get me wrong, I really love the idea of using the new year to jump into new plans. That isn’t what annoys me. It’s that normally the people who are posting that caption with their party hat and chugging a bottle of champagne don’t actually ever change.
To me, change is healthy. Routines are what kill the soul. It’s not that everyone needs to flip over a new leaf come January 1st, but I do think everyone should use it as an opportunity to shake up something in their life. Whether it’s a lifestyle upgrade, work goal, or just introducing a new challenge to something you already do, the only way you will get there is with change. It’s important. It’s also hard for a lot of people. There is a science behind that which basically just comes down to physics, sort of. If you want to change the direction of a moving (or even a stationary) object you need to apply force that is stronger than the opposing direction.
This is the hardest reality to grasp when people want to make lifestyle changes. The thought is, “well I WANT to do this, so I will.” And that is a great start… but in the end it’s all about the application of your want.
So who else had the idea that their 2021 was going to be healthier than their 2020? I’m not even talking about goals of getting a six pack, I just mean living an overall healthier life. We are about a week into the New Year and you might be wondering how you’re going to do this.
Pretty much my intention each year is to be healthier than the last and I’m proud to say, I’ve been doing well with this for several years in a row now. I want you to reach that goal too, so I’m going to share my trade secrets with you.
My number one piece of advice that everyone would be better off if they did is, start each day in a healthy way. The way you wake up is a huge indicator of how the rest of your day goes. The biggest mistake people make is using that snooze alarm. It’s such a trick that actually harms your sleep cycle and is not proven to increase your performance in the day. No more snoozing. Set the alarm for when you intend to get up, and then do it.
But that means you need to get up. In recent years, phones have really taken over our life. People wake up for the day and then spend 15 or 20 minutes in their phone in bed. This is not a healthy way to start your day, not only for your mental health but your physical health for the day will suffer too. Get out of bed immediately and drink some water. Walk around and get your day started. You will naturally start making healthier choices from there out. It just got a little easier for you than for Joe Shmo who laid in bed reading political comments on Facebook for 25 minutes.
From there, I think your healthy start is up to you! Maybe it’s about actually eating a good breakfast, starting a skincare routine, actually getting to work on time etc. It’s going to be different for everyone depending on your goals for this year.
How do I start my days? I get up between 4a and 5a and the first thing I do is get ready to work out. I really do recommend a morning workout vs. any other time of the day. You can always get up earlier, but you can’t get back hours in a day you already wasted. Plus, it makes me feel awake and my brain is ready to get to work by the time I’m done. Even 33 weeks pregnant, I’m still doing this. Normally while my TV is turning on and loading up my BeachBody app, I do a little house cleaning, make my husband’s lunch for work, start coffee and chug a glass of water. I consider this part of my healthy start too. I think a clean house is a huge reflection on how your life is going. I’m most comfortable and productive when my house looks nice so I do about 30 minutes of house work a day and it pretty much ensures I never have to spend a weekend cleaning it up for guests.
After you figure out how what your healthy start is, do it and do it again until it’s habit.
Okay, do you have that down now? Time to find a way to end each day in a healthy way too! Let’s say your healthy start is getting up earlier. That’s great. But you’re not doing yourself any favors if you are getting up earlier and not going to bed at a decent time. Don’t ruin your healthy start with a bad evening. Same with diet goals, skincare goals, really anything you can think of. If you want to be on social media less, don’t end the night with your phone in bed. Trying to watch less TV? Don’t start your favorite show at 9pm.
Find a healthy habit that compliments your morning commitments. It’s going to make your week run so much more seamlessly.
So again, I’ll tell you what that looks like for me. Since my mornings start early and involve physical activity, I wind down my day around 8:30pm. No, I don’t go to sleep then, but I do set my phone aside, I don’t have the TV on, and I begin doing things that soothe my body.
I spend probably 10 minutes doing a skincare routine. Nothing special. I wash my face, moisturize it, brush my teeth, lotion up my entire body since Arizona sucks the softness away everyday and then I often check to see if any other selfcare things need to be done. Not very glamorous but things like tweezing my eyebrows, clipping toenails and what have you. I always chug a bunch of water before bed too or else I’ll wake up with cotton mouth and stinky breath. Finally I do some little stretches. Nothing that really amounts to any time but it helps keep me from feeling sore in the morning since I tend to end up in some pretty weird sleeping positions.
Find some things that you can do in the evening to set you up for success the next day. Once you have yourself starting the day right and ending it that way too, the rest is just a bunch of middle. You’ll be amazed how much easier it is to fill your day with additonal healthy habits once you have these habits.
So let’s talk about filling what’s left of your day. This is what is going to look most different for each person. We all have different goals so our daytime shouldn’t look the same! Here are just some general ideas to get you motivated and feeling great to carry on your new-found (or reignited) health adventure.
A healthy brain is the start to a healthy life! It’s pretty much impossible to make these decisions if your brain is poop. The easiest way to get some endorphins going is by finding something that gets you creatively thinking. The beauty of this is how free-reign that is. We all have different things that get us excited. For some it’s building something for others it can be art or a million other different things in between.
This year, find more ways to stimulate that part of the brain! Do a puzzle or two when you’re feeling in the dumps. Get some scrap wood and see if you can make something with it. Start journaling and doodling. Go on a walk but take a whole new path this time. I can’t even begin to list all the ways to get creative juices flowing. Find what makes you tick and then… find more ways to do it!
Take more time to stimulate your creativity and leave the window cracked so it can more easily flow into other aspects of your life.
This next one is so important but even more so when you live in the desert… drink more water!!
Water is life. Not only do you need it to live but you need it to live healthy. Drinking more water makes you less bloated -making it easier to move around, increases brain function, makes it easier to transition into different activities, curbs appetite to keep you from overeating, eases joint pain and so much more.
My trick to drinking water is having a reusable water bottle I love. It hold 48 oz of water, has multiple tops (straw, sport, screw cap etc) I can switch around to make it convenient and is a color I like. Plus I’m someone who likes my water ice cold and my Hydroflask keeps ice overnight.
But I also love the taste of water. I hear some people say they don’t drink it because they don’t like the taste. Honestly seems crazy to me but fine! You have to find a way to like it. Get those little flavor drops and switch out a soda for those or try carbonated water to ease your transition. You know you should drink more water so maybe this year, actually do it?
This is one even I have to do more. Stretch.
It’s another one of those things our body craves but we ignore frequently, even athletes. I’m not saying become a yoga nut. You don’t need a special mat or a membership somewhere to get some stretching in everyday so there is really no excuse.
What and how you should stretch is going to be for you to figure out. Again, we all have very different needs. From occupational stresses on the body to simply how you perform daily activities around the house are all going to influence what kind of stretches will best suit you. Normally, you can feel what you need. You know what is sore or where the swelling is but it could also be helpful to look up stretches online.
Stretching it a great tool to not only feel better during the day but to help you wake up and unwind before bed. It gives you time to respect the work your body has done for you while giving your mind a couple moments to reset. Stretch more.
In 2021, be more genuine, whatever that means for you. You can’t live a healthy life is you aren’t being yourself. It is so mentally depleting to put on a facade. Just because you feel like you have to act a certain way, doesn’t mean you should if it’s not authentic to who you are. Of course a work environment requires a certain level of restraint that you don’t use when you’re at a party but can be respectful or professional without being a fake version of yourself.
Feel your feelings. If you don’t feel good one day, don’t waste your energy trying to convince people that you do feel okay. Be who you are in that moment, even if it’s someone who is feeling off. The quicker you embrace the feeling, the quicker you can move on from it. It’s healthy to feel things that aren’t happiness. The sooner you confront that, the happier you will end up being. There is a major difference between, “today is a bad day for me,” and “I’m depressed and need help.” Acknowledge that. If you do find yourself consistently lower, then address that. But for most of us, we end up in that lower place because we spent all of our mental health on putting on a happy face for too long when we should have been dealing with our feelings in the past.
Be yourself this year. All sides of you. Be the fun side! Find a time to let loose. Be the smart side and learn something new. Be the passionate side and follow your heart to somewhere unknown. BE YOU.
Being you doesn’t mean staying in your comfort zone though. To keep yourself motivated to a full year of good health, challenge yourself. Remember how I said routine kills the soul? It kills your drive too. When things get too easy, find a new and exciting way to do it. Look for the variety.
Sure, you’re working out everyday, but can you find a different way to get in your exercise a couple times a week? Go hiking, rock climbing, biking, skiing, lift weights, do cardio, try a kickboxing class etc. Maybe you’re finding your new healthy meals to be mundane. It’s time to step up your cooking game then! My favorite way to do this is with a new kitchen contraption to spice up your meals!
Another great way to challenge yourself that can translate to a lot of different aspects of your life is by getting some friends involved. Make it a little competition or at the very least just to have some accountability. You can do this at work, at the gym, through an app- however. There really isn’t a wrong way. Friends are the best cheerleaders when you’re trying something new.
With all these changes you’re trying out, it’s so important to make sure you are nourishing yourself. The obvious way is by eating correctly. Eat things that will help your body get the tasks at hand done but also make sure you’re eating enough of it. If you are exercising a lot and running around to reach new goals in the office, you have to feed your body! Don’t catch that early burn out from not feeding yourself properly.
Nourishing yourself comes in other forms too. You brain needs food but it also needs good vibes. Those good vibes come from doing things you love. You should love life- most of the time. Don’t waste it only doing things that HAVE to be done. Make time to do things you WANT to do too. It’s all about balance.
Maybe the most important thing we can do in 2021 is accept help and love. Goals don’t have to be reached alone. Someone assisting you doesn’t invalidate your work. A lot of things can’t be done on your own! “It takes a village” is so true! Not just with raising children but think of the biggest success’ in history. Walking on the moon, finding cures to disease, the internet. We’ve got names for those who “made it happen” but they didn’t do any of it without help along the way.
We impail ourselves on being “self made” but it’s such a silly concept. It’s not a handout for someone to give you an opportunity. It’s not charity to have an extra set of hands on a project. I think we get so scared of people telling us that we only somewhere because something was “given” to us that we turn down a lot of chances. Unless your dad is a millionaire and you’re an uneducated fool who has been bailed out of every mistake in life, I promise your good fortune isn’t because someone just handed it to you. Odds are, someone saw how hard you were working behind the scenes or saw your potential and decided you were worth the opportunity.
Open your heart this year to others- whether you’re accepting the help or offering it. It could jump start something that leads to 365 days of something that is putting you closer to your goals.
Finally, my last trick for kick starting this year for a healthier you is, ask yourself these questions everyday:
What is my goal for the day?
How am I connecting with someone I love today?
In what ways will I get my body moving?
What am I doing for my mental health today?
Where can I do something kind today?
There a lot of ways to find yourself this year! Dig deep and find something that works for YOU. Customize the roadmap and don’t try to fit precisely in someone else’s footsteps. Take it at your own pace that is challenging without being discouraging. Get started, then keep going. You got this!