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New Year’s is a weighty holiday – no pun intended. On New Year’s Eve, you may overthink your outfit, overpay for dinner (or a “dinner” of appetizers!), or have unrealistic expectations for the evening – or all three. On New Year’s Day, you may be trying to fit all the “goodness” of your fresh start and new plans into the day, to both start the year off “right” and to absolve yourself of the poor choices you may or may not have made the night before.
Rethinking New Years Resolutions
And then there are the New Year’s resolutions. Or New Month. Or New Week. Depending on what you choose, your resolutions may or may not last long. Which is why you might want to be rethinking New Years resolutions. I’ve moved away from them, instead focusing on what is sustainable for me year-round.
Because the worst part of not following through with a resolution is that you both lose the benefit of the resolution itself (the exercise. or the healthy eating), but you also lose the confidence in yourself as a result of your “resolution fail.”
So here are three ways to consider rethinking your new year to create a better life, not a short-term promise.
1: Intermittent Fasting
You may think this is (another) fad diet, but check with your doctor. Mine not only talked me through the basics, she made it clear that it was an eating habit she personally embraced. Unlike any other “diet” or “eating plan” you may have tried, intermittent fasting is stupid-simple.
After years of trying to lose “just a few more pounds,” but not wanting to give up anything entirely, intermittent fasting has been a welcome change of pace. A lifestyle, not a “diet,” that works well for both my weight and my well-being.
You limit the hours you eat in a given day – with a goal of eating within an eight hour window. That’s it. You choose the hours. And the health bonus is that your body spends the remaining sixteen hours managing other functions, without being interrupted by digestion. My doctor did say that you can still gain benefits from intermittent fasting from eating up to 10 hours a day, if that works better for you, and doing so 6 out of 7 days a week.
You will likely find that you need some time to adjust to your plan, but it may be less time than you think. I started by pushing my breakfast later 20-30 minutes each day until I arrived at a window of about 10 am to 6 pm that works for me (my family tends to eat early, on days I have a scheduled dinner or event that starts later, I delay my first meal until noon or later).
Can you lose weight, though?
I have found that if I eat whatever I like in my 8-hour window, I can maintain my weight. If I pay even a small amount of attention to what I eat (which I do during most non-holiday periods), then I can lose weight. In fact, in my first year of intermittent fasting I lost – and kept off- more than fifteen pounds. As with all health and wellness plans, start with your doctor – your results may vary. But isn’t it worth a try?
2: Group Fitness
Several years ago, I read the Upside of Stress, by the incomparable Kelly McGonigal. While I took note on the book jacket that she was a faculty member at nearby Stanford University, I didn’t think anything of it at the time.
Fast forward a few years and I was fortunate to find myself in a group fitness class with her as the instructor. Over the past few years, I have enjoyed taking classes with her, as well as hearing about the progress of her new book, The Joy of Movement: How exercise helps us find happiness, hope, connection, and courage. The thesis? That physical activity, especially group fitness, is foundational to our well-being.
If you have a solo running or gym routine that works for you, then, by all means, keep it up. But, if you are one of the many ambitious souls who suit up for New Year’s Day 5- or 10-k runs, and then promptly “retire” for the next 364 days, you might want to rethink this part of your plan.
The easiest path to find a wide variety of group fitness options is to join a gym that offers classes as part of your membership. Depending on the size of the room, you may or may not need to sign in or reserve a spot, but the cost is usually included in your monthly payment. But if you’re picky about times, or instructors, or if a suitable gym is not near your home or work, then you can find classes other ways.
Apps like MindBody can allow you to reserve at local studios. You can check out your local recreation departments (and not just the one in your town – check neighboring towns as well). Or programs connected to high school adult school programs, community colleges, or community centers. The bonus? Because you aren’t paying for a full gym membership, the cost may actually be less, even if you choose classes 2-4 days a week.
What to Wear
Depending on which type of group fitness you choose, you may need more or less specialized attire. I prefer Zumba and other forms of cardio dance, so I choose supportive tops, a cute, full-coverage skort (from Costco), and lightweight, comfortable shoes. I recently discovered these unbelievably comfortable socks – no matter what activity you choose, they’ll be your new favorite as well.
As a student and young teacher, my chief distraction from studying and grading was planning my next vacation. A distinct advantage of a traditional American school year is that it is neatly parceled into terms of school, punctuated by long weekends, short breaks, and longer vacations. We often started planning the next trip while we were still on the current one.
Of course, having kids slowed the pace, but we still did a lot – young B traveled to both Alaska and Hawaii, as well several other US states before he became an older brother at the age of three.
Having our second child, Mr. Diggy, slowed us further. But still we forged ahead. Chicago. Louisville. Most beach towns on the California coast.
It was autism that really put the brakes on our travel plans. Like not-getting-on-a-plane-in-four-years kind of brakes.
Resuming travel has been essential to regaining a sense of well-being.
So plan a trip this year. The planning, the travel itself, and the lasting memories are all positive components, despite the work, disruption of routine, and challenges of re-entry.
And when you aren’t away on vacation, live like you are. Create a permanent state of staycation in your home. Brew a cup of coffee that will transport you. Make a recipe that will make you feel like you left home. Or just wrap yourself up in a fluffy spa robe (or towel!) and listen to a great playlist.
You’re worth it. Today and everyday.
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Rethinking New Years: 5 Ideas via Refresh