Greetings, from 2019

“Another year over, a new one just begun.” I’ve always loved that line from the song “So this is Christmas.” Although it brings me some sort of sadness hearing that another year is over already, makes me a little anxious ya know? It brings up thoughts like: “Did I really do everything I wanted to this year? Did I make the best of it, using my abilities to their full potential? Am I just straight up slacking?“ All of the questions flood my head.

The second part of these lyrics what invigorates me, though. A new one just begun; what a way to make you stop in your tracks and reflect, because you have a new year that’s just beginning. As. I . Type. WHEW! With great power comes great responsibilities. I am responsible for how this year goes for me, I can’t leave it all to the sun and the moon. Okay, deep breaths, there are a lot of hopes and aspirations but you’ve got to put some intention to them all. Actions, Sarah, ACTIONS! With great responsibilities, comes great plans.

Anyway, the above likely brings up similar thoughts for most of us. New year’s resolutions are flying everywhere at present. It’s a great thing, the hope, the intention, the drive, but what makes it short lived? Why do a majority fail? (I read somewhere only 7% succeed). I assure you it’s not because you or I are lazy, hopeless, and/or lack drive.

New year’s resolutions fail because we are just plain mean to ourselves. Many of the resolutions that are set are health related, centering around fitness and perhaps body weight related. “I want to lose 30 pounds.” “I am going to workout every day for the year.” “I’m not eating bread, cutting out carbs as much as possible.” The list is endless. We punish ourselves and we don’t often reward ourselves in meaningful ways.

I really don’t jive with the term “resolution,” probably because it’s more of a problem-solving word to me. Problem. That’s not an uplifting word. We should be setting goals throughout the year, setting intention in every way possible each day.

I shared on instagram recently a glimpse into my eating disorder history. I don’t find it necessary to go into detail, but I used exercise as punishment, and food was to be earned only by ways of exercise. I think a common mindset for “resolutions” is similar to an eating disorder, if I’m being honest. Exercise should not be punishment. Food is not currency to align with your self-worth.

Instead, reward yourself with movement. Physical activity and exercise are a true reward of physical health and well being; and the multifaceted benefits are abundant. Set your intentions this year to reward yourself for being alive on this earth another day by moving. It is incredible what the human body can do, despite nearly anything. We’ve all heard the near-death accident stories, mom lifting a car off her kids, heck, I recently watched a video of a guy who didn’t properly get strapped into his hang-glider continually hold on for dear life, despite tearing the major tendons in his arm. Challenge yourself every day to see just how impressive you are. Not compared to anyone else.. Just you. Nearly every time I go on a hike, I thank my body for taking me to such incredible views; tears are often shed I am so thankful.

Goals need to be S.M.A.R.T.; that is, specific, measurable, action oriented, realistic, time sensitive. So, if weight loss is something you have in mind, let’s dissect this a bit more:

  1. Identify a specific number. 30 lbs by June may be your goal, and that’s specific, but not specific enough. Identify how much weight you’ll lose each week. That’d be 1.4 lbs per week. That’s a healthy amount to lose, and is definitely reasonable.

  2. You can measure your progress by weighing in each week. Not every day, don’t stress yourself out. But don’t weigh in less often than each week, because you need to be able to adjust your plan if things are progressing too slowly or too quickly.

  3. Make a plan. Meet with a health coach or a personal trainer to develop an appropriate physical activity plan. If you’re not active now, don’t let anyone tell you to start being active 5 days a week right away. Ease into it.

  4. Being realistic ties into several things here. Again, you can’t go from zero to gym hero in a week or two, so don’t be wasting your energy trying to. Also, if you hate running, it’s incredibly unrealistic to say that you will lose weight by running. Find an activity you enjoy. Physical activity is just like people; if you don’t like a person, you won’t keep them in your life. Find an activity you enjoy.

  5. Hold yourself accountable by putting a timeline to your goal. It’s great to have an overarching goal, but check in with yourself regularly to monitor your progress.

Weight loss is not necessary for everyone, but it is particularly important for individuals who are overweight or obese. Especially for someone going through or recovering from treatment for cancer. Being at a healthy weight can increase your chance for survival through cancer, and reduces the risk of cancer recurrence.

Goals don’t have to be as intimidating as new year’s resolutions make them out to be. My boyfriend and I spent our last Sunday of 2018 creating vision boards. So much fun, and so powerful to see the finished product. We have a little hallway that connects our room to our bathroom and we’ve created a “vision hallway.” My next step is to journal about what everything means on my board and what my SMART goal is that’s connected to each quadrant.

Anyway, please be kind to yourself as 2019 gets started. Nobody likes to start the day in a panic or being punished, so don’t do that to yourself in starting the new year. Do more of what makes you happy, and what supports a longer, healthier life on this beautiful planet - yes, yes even in the winter!