Happy, HAPPY 2019, everybody! I hope your 2018 was fulfilling, now it’s into the next. In the spirit of the new year, I’ve written about 4 New Year’s resolutions that kick last year’s ass - Let’s make 2019 all about improving yourself for YOU and no one else!
Every year’s end I find myself wishing that I had taken more advantage of the opportunities each year brings. Every new year provides a chance to set goals and crush them, to improve yourself in ways you didn’t think possible, and to do things you’ve never done before. But the truth is I DID crush goals and grew as a person and I’m certain you did too, probably more than you realize!
This year, I’m doing something different. Instead of getting down on myself for not doing more, I’m going to reflect on all of my accomplishments and failures from the previous year and set new goals where I can. Trust me, I’m the last person to reflect on past behaviors, and I definitely don’t make New Year’s resolutions, but it truly is a great way to avoid feeling like you aren’t enough and didn’t try your hardest.
After about 20 minutes of reflection (yup, that’s really all it took), here are my resolutions for 2019:
1. Find new ways to stay motivated: What motivates you? Is it earning more money, impressing others, or maybe even the fear of failure? All of those motivating factors are extrinsically motivated, meaning you are driven by some sort of reward instead of the actual value of what you are doing. Exercise is a great example. If you’re only exercising to lose a certain amount of pounds or trying to reach a goal weight, what happens after you accomplish it? Chances are you’ll probably lose interest in exercising and fall off the wagon all together.
Instead of focusing on those external motivators, what if you tried exercising because it makes you feel powerful, helps you sleep better, or keeps your anxiety at bay? These types of benefits can’t be measured on a scale, but they satisfy you on a deeper, more personal level. It is these motivators that will probably make you more likely to continue exercising after you’ve achieved an aesthetic goal. Adding onto that, research suggests that people who are more aware of their intrinsic motivations (motivations that come from within) are more likely to include physical activity into their week consistently. This idea works for any goal you may have for yourself, not just fitness! I encourage all of you to set goals that are bigger than your physical appearance and start doing things because they make you FEEL good!
2. Eat for pleasure: When you’re eating, what do you consider most, the food’s nutritional value or how that food makes you feel physically or emotionally? For me, when I eat I have thoughts like, “Woah, this tastes AMAZING and makes me feel good too!” or “I really love eating this meal because it reminds me of my mom’s cooking”, and the occasional “Thank god I packed a pb&j this morning or else I would’ve starved!”.
While I always strive to eat more nutritious foods than treat foods, enjoying the experience of eating by slowing down is just as important as the nutritional value. What’s the point of holding out all week long to have a slice of cake with ice cream only to guilt yourself afterward for over-indulging or wolfing it down in 1-second flat?! This all too familiar thought process is a reminder that food is meant to be enjoyed, but do so mindfully!
Here are some tips for eating more mindfully:
Take an extra second to look at your food before diving in. What does it look like, does it look appealing?
Next, smell your food, what does it smell like? Does it remind you of something you’ve eaten before or maybe it brings up a happy childhood memory?
Okay, now go in for your first bite! While you eat, keep assessing your feelings about the meal and try to slow down, around 20-30 chews per bite. Slowing down allows you to enjoy the experience of eating while also keeping you in the moment to avoid mindless overeating.
Once you’ve had enough, consider how that food makes you feel afterward; are you satisfied, still hungry for more, or maybe you realize it left you bloated with a stomachache. Each time you check in with yourself before, during, and after a meal it takes you one step closer toward developing a healthier relationship with food, and ultimately yourself!
3. Create less waste: Reducing your environmental impact on the world by making less trash is the best way that you as a consumer can directly influence climate change, and it’s a lot easier than you think!
Try buying or using 1 less single-use item each month. That may look like using cloth rags instead of paper towels to clean around the house for January, using stainless steel straws instead of plastic during February, or maybe you start composting your food scraps in March. Small changes each month are what make up a sustainable lifestyle. Nobody expects you to be perfect when you’re first starting out, what matters is that you try!
There’s tons of resources online that make sustainable living easy to manage. A cool site I found called carbonfootprint.com, focuses on offsetting your carbon footprint by calculating your carbon emissions during travel by car or plane and then giving you the option to donate money to environmental charities that prevent deforestation, provide clean water to those in need, etc. For example, I travel to Phoenix often from Chicago to visit my family and friends back home. After using the carbon footprint calculator, I found out that my flight’s total footprint is 0.65 metric tons of CO2, which can be offset by donating at least $5.08 to an environmental charity of my choice. It’s as easy as that!
4. Spend more time outside of your comfort zone: It’s so easy to get sucked into a monotonous routine. Go to work, come home, eat dinner, lay on the couch, Netflix, sleep, repeat. Raise your hand if this sounds like your week. It’s okay, I’m 100% guilty of falling into this trap, especially after a demanding day at work. While it’s easy to fall into, living in your comfort zone can leave you feeling uninspired, drained, and even worthless at times.
When you feel yourself getting too comfortable, try researching new activities in your area. For example, I really enjoy cooking and love learning new recipes and techniques. To satisfy my cooking cravings, I found a weekly cooking class in my area that teaches students how to make authentic Indian cuisine. This is a perfect activity for me to learn sometime new, be around like-minded people, and get creative. Plus, we get to eat everything we made! Other ideas could be signing up for a yoga membership, taking a pottery class, learning a new instrument, exploring a new part of town, the possibilities are endless! Similar to my previous resolution, try a new activity each month. Maybe January you start a cooking class, February pottery class, and March learning a new language. These ideas will help keep your brain active and definitely keep you outside of your comfort zone. You may even make a few friends along the way, which as an adult, can be difficult especially if you’re new to the area.
I hope my resolutions have inspired you to make positive changes for yourself in the new year. As I said before, significant changes to your lifestyle don’t happen overnight, and it’s best to take it one step at a time. Try something new each month, see how you feel about it, maybe you’ll continue it or perhaps you won’t. The key is to keep trying until something sticks. As 2020 approaches, I hope you’ll look back on 2019 as the year you became re-inspired and tried things you never thought you would. Have a great year, you can do it!
Share your thoughts, goals and awesome ideas in the comments below, I am inspired by YOU!
Landry, J.B., & Solomon, M.A. (2004). African American women’s self-determination across the stages of change fir exercise. Journal of sport and Exercise Psychology, 26, 257-469.