Happy New Year! Here we go again! It's that time of year when we collectively resolve to change all our bad habits to live perfect, healthy and stress-free lives. That usually works out, doesn't it? (crickets)
December was a crazy month, right? If it was anything like mine, I know it was full of time with family, friends, parties and gifts. It also means it was probably full of baked good, decadent foods, holiday treats and adult beverages.
As we look forward into the new year, we may be ready to make some changes. The holidays were fun, but it's time to move on. There's nothing wrong with enjoying yourself, especially when it involves spending time with the people you love, because locking yourself at home to eat carrot sticks while your loved ones celebrate is not healthy either. It's all about finding balance.
If there is one thing I have learned in having experienced a few decades of new year resolutions, it's that the change-your-whole-life-in-one-day method is rarely (if ever) effective. It's just not how we humans work.
HOW TO START OVER WHEN YOU'RE TIRED OF STARTING OVER.
It's January 1st. A lot of people are starting over today. So how do you start over when frankly, you are sick and tired of starting over?
FIRST CHANGE YOUR MINDSET
You never have to start over ever again because starting over is a direct result of all-or-nothing thinking. If you're on your diet, you feel like you're doing great. If you slip up and cheat, then you feel bad about yourself and have to start over (again).
If you're human (like the rest of us) this happens a lot. It can be frustrating to feel like you failed every time you didn't live up to the unrealistic expectations that you set for yourself. You may feel like you failed, but in reality you simply have a too strict definition of success.
CHANGE YOUR DEFINITION OF SUCCESS
If success means you will never eat a "bad" carb ever again, then I have news for you. You will either be "successful" and miserable or you will fail at this unrealistic goal and feel bad about yourself for it. You see how this is no-win scenario?
A better definition of success is to always do the best you can with what is reasonable in the moment. If that means you can't eat the perfect macro ratio of protein, carbs and fats because you're at a casual dining restaurant with your family, then what can you eat? What is the best choice you can make, even if that choice isn't the perfect choice?
It means that you can eat the birthday cake when celebrating with someone important to you (if you want to). It also means that you probably don't buy a cake every Friday night to eat over the weekend. You enjoy and celebrate when it is meaningful, but the rest of the time you make the best choice possible. It's not about being perfect. If you don't even try to be perfect, you never have to start over. You always do the best you can, and some days that will be better than other days.
FIT HEALTHY LIVING INTO YOUR CURRENT LIFESTYLE, DON'T TRY TO CRAM YOUR LIFESTYLE INTO HEALTHY LIVING.
The problem with diets and meal plans and most new year resolutions is that they are structured to work best when life is perfect. Raise your hand if your life is always perfect. (Looks around. No hands are raised.)
You can pencil in your workout schedule into your shiny new 2018 planner, but your planner can't predict when your boss will ask you to stay late at work. Your planner doesn't know your kid is going to come from from school and tell you he needs 100 cupcakes for tomorrow(!) and oh yeah, a book report. Your planner doesn't know your dog pooped in the kitchen overnight (my dog? never! perfect angel) and you have to miss your gym time because you're cleaning up the mess. It's not your planner's fault the alarm clock didn't go off because you set it for PM instead of AM (what? just me?). Or that you woke up and it is pouring down rain when you were planning to run. Get it? Life happens. It's not failure, it's just the way life works. It's unpredictable.
What is it that they say about best-laid plans? Yeah, they go awry.
Instead of feeling like a failure because you didn't get in 60 minutes of structured exercise at an official gym, how about doing the best you can with what you have? Live stream a workout at home (I was going to say do a workout video, but I realized that made me sound really old, I might as well say dance along to your favorite cassette tape.)
Do a body weight strength or Yoga routine in your living room. Call your neighbor and go for a walk after dinner. Success means you tried. Success means you did the best you could with what was reasonably available. You can try for the gym again tomorrow, and if it doesn't work out? Go to plan B again. A bunch of days strung together with a plan B at home is always better than five perfectly structured workouts in your planner that you never did.
You pack your lunch for five days, but the boss calls a mandatory meeting and orders lunch delivery for the team from a sandwich shop complete with chips and cookies...two days in a row. Do the best you can. Eat only half the sandwich, take the top piece of bread off, politely pass on the cookie. Not perfection, just a little bit better.
It's the true secret to a healthy lifestyle. Do the best you can. It's always enough. Forget perfect, strive for just a little bit better. Build healthy habits when life is calm (I swear it happens occasionally) so when life inevitability get crazy, you can fall back on habits and routine.
Give yourself a break. If you lose the food rules, strict restrictions and unrealistic expectations you will never have to start over again.
Ready to finally make changes in 2018 the sane and sustainable way by building healthy habits from the ground up? I still have a couple of openings in my nutrition habits program. Try the first month at 75% off to see if you like it. It is a year long curriculum but there is no long term payment commitment required, just a commitment to yourself that you will give it your best effort. If you're tired of starting over, learn how to fit healthy living into your current lifestyle so you never have to start over again.
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