I know very few appropriate Italian words but, I do know that Ciao is both Hello and Good-bye. We are together saying "Good-bye" to 2016 and "Hello" to 2017. I will admit, this past year has been both a challenge and a joy. This year I rediscovered my voice, embraced my passions and pursued my long-term career dreams. I am still practicing and have a long way to grow (and go) but, that is what makes me excited for the New Year ahead. I will happily shed the cloak of 2016 and will dance into the spotlight of 2017. I expect great things. I always do. Don't you?
Do You Have Big Plans for 2017?
Most words of wisdom and talk on social media at this time of year revolves around change.
Everyone is gearing up for the best year ever! Planning their exercise routine, joining a group, giving up desserts or gluten, starting a long overdue project, reconnecting with old friends or finding new ones. It's a wonderful time full of hope, motivation and enthusiasm. I am right there with you!! I refuse to be a "Negative Nancy" crushing on anyone's dreams. I have dreams too!
I like to take this final week of the year to do some soul searching and reflection. I learned early in my life that I am not a great New Years "resolutionist". Grand promises to myself do not last very long. Like most people, I have made promises to myself to start a new exercise routine, make a balanced lunch everyday or cook dinner from scratch every night. I have great intentions but then real life pops right up and slaps me straight. Don't get me wrong, I am always working towards a better me.
A few years ago, I discovered my own way of thinking about change. One that I could live with, achieve my goals and feel successful. My personal recipe for positive change.
This new practice actually started with Lent. I am Catholic. Let me rephrase, I am a happy, practicing Catholic. For those that do not know, Lent is the 40 days before Easter Sunday at which time many Christians choose to "give up something" or make some sort of sacrifice. I was inspired to do something different by a homily and some education that was circulating around our church small groups. The teaching was, "Don't give up chocolate again for Lent". Instead of giving up same ol' thing, why not choose a new and meaningful sacrifice each week or each day? And that was something I could really get excited about! It was an opportunity to try several things and set shorter, more achievable goals.
This new-to-me school of thought also emphasized focusing on something meaningful. Giving up chocolate seemed to be what everyone gave up at Lent. It would be a sacrifice at first, until we started to substitute other desserts and treats. It starts to become not-so-much of a sacrifice after a few years. It loses it's meaning.
An unintended side-effect of making the same promise to yourself each Lent or New Year is you become an expert at it. People around you naturally adjust knowing full-well that this is a temporary change. They might be rooting for you and you might even be rooting for yourself but, you know your stats - they ain't pretty.
From then on, I used the concept of short-term and meaningful goals to approach all changes.
Change is supposed to be challenging. Not all change is supposed to be the equivalent of a Lenten sacrifice but, all change does involve some measure of sacrifice. Even really good changes like drinking more water has an element of sacrifice. If you promise yourself to drink 8 glasses of water each day that means that other beverages might not fit into your day or that you now have to take a bathroom break every 2-3 hours (which is healthy) instead of working all day without peeing even once (not so healthy).
At first, drinking more water and now stopping to take a restroom break doesn't seem to be a sacrifice but, let's think about it a little deeper. If you previously worked all day barely moving from your work area, you developed a rhythm and could predict most of your day's events. With your new healthy habit in mind, you get to settled into work with your full jug of water nearby happily sipping when you realize you have to pee. You stop what your doing, save your work, get up to walk past other people saying "hi" and making small talk, find the restroom, make your way back to your work area again saying "hi" and possibly engaging in a longer-than-expected conversation until you finally reorient yourself to where you left off in your work. Suddenly you realize that a quick 5 minute pee turned into a 45 minute time suck. The next day you try again. On day #3 you forget your jug and by day #5 you leave the thing at home intentionally. You simply could not adjust :(
If we apply the concept of setting short-term and meaningful goals to reach the overall goal of getting 8 cups of water per day, you might not end up in such a dilemma. My first step is to determine how much water you are currently drinking. Let's pretend we learn that you are already drinking 4 cups of water on most days. The next step is to simply add 2 ounce to each current cup of water, that adds 1 more cup daily. Then, add one cup before each of your 3 meals. Viola! 8 cups of water is now in sight. You have a real plan with short-term achievable goals. In no time, these cups of water will be part of your regular daily habit. You can now move on to another goal while keeping a new healthy habit.
I tend to set new goals or update an old commitment to myself every few weeks all year-round. Each New Year, I try not to reinvent myself or set "pie in the sky" goals. I reflect on where I am and where I want to be. I think about the next best choice.
Do You Know Your Recipe for Change?
There are areas of our lives that we can compartmentalize like family, health, work and social life. It's overwhelming to try to fix everything at once so, think about all the big changes you want to make and work on one at a time. I often break these down further into realistic and small changes until they eventually become habits. Occasionally, tackling big scary goals is essential and there are few opportunities for taking small steps.
Most people can recall a time in their life when they achieved a goal successfully. How did you achieve that goal? Did you have a buddy? A crisis or abrupt life change? Was there internal motivation or external force? Did setting a deadline help? Did you track the steps to get there? When you can answer these questions or similar questions, you will have your own personal recipe for successful change. You will understand what ingredients are required for your success.
Sometimes, taking small steps feels like I am not getting close to obtaining a big goal. When I take the time to think back on where I was a year ago though, I can fully appreciate the miles I have traveled to improve my health, my family, my finances and my career. Don't forget to do the same for yourself.
I suspect most people begin a new year ready to tackle their goals and conquer their challenges once and for all. I know I do! My recipe for change is making a series of small changes to achieve the greater goal. Some people are really good at taking on big goals all at once. They jump right in with both feet. I am more of a stick-your-toe-in-first kind of girl most days. Either way, everyone can be successful. The key is in understanding your best path towards change. My advice for this New Year is to reflect on your health goals and create your personal recipe for success!!
It's your life, your kitchen, your path because you know what is best for your body!
From Your RD,
If you are having trouble figuring out your personal health recipe, if you are frustrated, if you are burning down your own kitchen, if you know you work best with an accountability partner, Let's Meet Up! I can help with your nutrition, diet and lifestyle goals. I take virtual appointments using a private and secure video chat. Click here to schedule. Don't worry if you don't see a time that works for you, we can adjust it at anytime! Contact me with your questions and see if we would make a good team.
HAPPY NEW YEAR! WELCOME 2017!