New Year, Same Me.
The new year frequently brings about unattainable lifestyle changes and resolutions. Many of them focus on qualities about ourselves we want to do away with or resolve to change completely. And while this isn’t always a bad thing, if for example, you’d like to quit smoking, most of the time you’re probably pretty great the way you are. But enough of the cliche, statements of the obvious. I adore the new year, January specifically, because it invites an inherent perspective shift. And even if you only remember to switch up your routine for one month, at least for one month out of the year you can say you tried new things.
#1: Set your alarm for a different time.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a morning person. For all intents and purposes, I am still very much a morning person. I adore waking up when it seems like the rest of the world is still snuggled under their warm sheets, heavy breathing mimicking the pace of a metronome. So, when the other morning I missed my alarm and was subjected to postpone exercising until the days responsibilities had passed, I chose to see the positive side rather than chalk it up to laziness.
Sleepily dragging myself out of bed and into the restroom to pee, I washed my face, brushed my teeth and did a little morning stretch in our designated yoga and reading room. Wiggling my body and sipping on water while the remains of sleep were rubbed out my eyes, once my stretch routine was finished I mozied to the kitchen to get a hot pot of coffee on.
My day felt inherently different, but I welcomed the change. Rather than feel anxious about missing my workout, I focused instead on the fact that I could sit at the coffee table and eat breakfast without feeling rushed. I focused on the fact that I’d have all day to come up with a killer workout for that evening, and I focused on getting everything else on my to-do list, done prior to. By the time I made it to the gym, I felt very ready to be there and work off some of the pent up energy I had accumulated from a long day.
Routines cause us to plateau. If you’ve ever felt like you’ve been asleep during your morning commute, or simply going through the motions of your day, forcing yourself out of your comfort zone can be a brilliant way to add much needed variation to your life (duh, captain obvious). The next time you miss your alarm, smile, enjoy the extra sleep, and relish in the pre-dinner workout that makes the actual dinner taste just a little better.
#2: Put your fork down.
Eating too quickly can cause digestive sensitivity. And while I’ve known this for so many of my adult years, I still at times find myself shoveling lunch into my mouth spoonfuls at a time, forgetting to take a breath because not only am I so hungry, but I’m also pressed for time. It’s no wonder my stomach is about as sensitive as a sleeping baby.
When you don’t pause to chew your food, you’re skipping the very first step required of efficient digestion; mastication. You probably don’t remember this from seventh grade science class, but digestion actually begins in your mouth! Crazy! While I wouldn’t necessarily advocate to chew your food thirty times before swallowing (as you’ve probably read in magazines or articles and such), I do recommend putting your fork down between every other bite to make sure you’re not inhaling your dinner like an ultra runner at an aid station.
The longer you take to eat your food, chewing slowly, deliberately, and with intention, the easier you’re making it is on your digestive system to process the nutrients on your plate. An added perk from eating slower is that you’re also more inclined to eat less. Not that eating less is necessarily a good thing, but that eating slowly can allow for better reception of your actual, physical hunger and satiety cues.
#3: Set hydration goals.
I’ll never understand why it is that drinking water can feel as challenging as filing your taxes or trying to figure out how to renew your driver’s license. Yet the fact of the matter remains, nearly every new year’s resolution includes somewhere in the list to, “drink more water.” I’ll admit that I’m not great at this task either.
There are a bounty of various tricks you can implement to upgrade your hydration situation, a few of which include buying a water bottle you genuinely enjoy sipping from or adding lemon and cucumber. My tip would be to set hourly reminders on your phone, or even just in your mind to finish a bottle. At noon everyday, an ongoing goal can be to have finished two bottles of water (or at least 32oz).
I’ve found that I drink more water in the morning than I do at night. So I capitalize on this. I try my very best to drink as much water as I can while I’m “in the mood” so to speak. Once two pm hits, I’ll switch it up and drink a bubbly water, tea, or anything else just to stay hydrated. I don’t think I need to speak to the benefits of drinking water due to its very obvious necessity, but I will reiterate that the more water you drink, the better your digestion will be. Water helps keep things regular, lubricated, and working as efficiently as possible. This is a very, very good thing.
Movement is glorious. But not all movement has to be categorized and classified in terms of calories burned at the gym, or miles logged on the trail. While a workout will provide a glorious rush of endorphins, or an awesome shoulder pump it will not negate a completely sedentary lifestyle.
Since I’ve sidelined long, endurance running, I’ve found that it can actually be quite difficult for me to reach 10,000 steps in a day. A bit of an odd sentence I never thought I’d say. And while I absolutely don’t prescribe to the notion that you must hit that step count religiously, I do buy into the idea that finding ways to be a little more mindful of movement can do wonders for your energy levels and your mood throughout the day.
I’ll park further away from the supermarket or gym. I’ll stand up and stretch my arms above my head, and twist from side to side in the middle of a long lecture (after excusing myself to pee). I’ll willingly do the dishes after dinner, and even pass the broom around the kitchen just to stand up and keep the digestive process going. I’ll suggest to my boyfriend we go shoot some hoops at our local basketball court on a Sunday evening. I’ll do a few down dogs to high planks before I get into bed for the night. This little tip is what some is referred to as NEAT, or non-exercise activity thermogenesis. Essentially, the more you’re moving your body, the more calories your body is burning throughout the day and it’s a great reminder that the more active you are, the higher your metabolism will be.
There are so many ways to incorporate movement in your day outside of your workout. And a lot of the times it comes from just being a little more creative throughout the day. There is no need to be religious about it; refusing to sit down in the middle of the day or taking fifteen miniature walks an hour isn’t conducive to a healthy mindset either.
Being healthy can’t be defined in terms of implementing “tips” and “tricks.” I’ve found however that creating positive, good for you habits can be challenging and that not everyday is perfect. On my quest for digestive peace I’ve had tummy bloat more than once. More than twice actually. Actually, more times than I can count.
Living a “healthy” lifestyle, one that feels balanced, sustainable, and happy, doesn’t abide by the rules of the road being straight and narrow. Learning to let go of idealistic notions of perfection and instead embracing life’s fucked up imperfections and embracing our wrong turns makes it inherently worth living. Because all those fuck ups mean we’re human and that we’re learning and that we’re becoming better versions of ourselves.
So skip your alarm, drink more water, try doing a handstand and try to worry just a little bit less.