Like clockwork, the New Year rolls around and with it the popular resolutions to lose weight, exercise more and eat better. If you’re anything like me, I’m guessing you’ve made similar resolutions or goals and failed miserably before the end of January.
Whilst those are all worthwhile intentions, they don’t actually set you up to be healthier and happier in the long run. January is a cold, dark, wet month in the UK, getting up at 6am to go to the gym is much harder than doing so in the summer months. Likewise, that juice cleanse you’re so tempted by will probably leave you feeling depleted and cold at this time of year.
All of those things can be extra challenging to stick to, and when you inevitably fall off the wagon you’re left with a big dose of guilt. Not the feel good vibes we should all be aiming for!
But yet, you still want and maybe even feel like you need to make some changes in the new year. Thankfully there’s much better things to focus on that will leave you feeling healthier and happier guilt free.
Why not consider adopting one of these more creative intentions – much better word than resolutions in my humble opinion – and see what they do for you?
Ditch the good and bad labels on food
In my work I’ve seen how thinking about food in these black and white terms is way more damaging that occasionally eating a slice of cake without the guilt. Ditching those kind of labels on food can be hard, most women who have dieted have this deeply ingrained in them. Just remember that no food is inherently good or bad. It’s actually your relationship with the food that dictates that.
Flex your self love muscle
The value you place on yourself and your own worth is the foundation for building a healthier happier life. Without that foundation in place other things you do are more likely to make you wobble! Self love can feel like a bit of an abstract concept if you’re not familiar with it, so start with some clear actions like stopping yourself when you are getting into negative self talk, focusing on all the things you’re good at and maybe having a social media detox of all the people you follow who make you feel ‘less than’. Don’t forget to replace them with more people who inspire you!
See your health and wellbeing as a form of self care
When you start seeing everything you do for a healthier body and happier life through the window of self care it changes everything. Dragging yourself out to that spin class when you’ve been fighting off a cold is different when you see it via self care v losing weight no matter what. Working towards better health, even weight loss, is so much more effective when you look at your actions as a form of self care. Forcing yourself to eat or exercise in a certain way is likely to backfire when your willpower runs out, but when you’re doing things because it’s self care, they shouldn’t use up as much of your willpower juice, after all they should feel good!
Focus on what brings you joy
This might seem a bit separate from what we traditionally think of as healthy living, but your mental wellbeing is just as important as your physical well being. Just as self love is your foundation, when you aren’t taking care of your mental wellbeing all the kale and green juice isn’t going to make that much of a difference!
For me, a great way to nurture my mental health is by focusing on what brings me joy and making an effort to do something every day. You might not think that doing something you enjoy should take effort, but in this day and age women aren’t wired to actually do this – often our own joy is deprioritised to that of others so it’s going to take a focused effort to actually make joy a habit!
It doesn’t have to be something grand, just spending 5 minutes a day doing something that brings you pure joy counts. For me it’s things like drinking a really good cup of coffee in peace, playing with my son without distractions and having a scroll through Pinterest!
I hope this gives you some different, and perhaps much more enjoyable ways to improve your health and wellbeing in 2017!
Laura Agar Wilson