5 Tips to Make This Year Your Healthiest (and Happiest) Year Yet

Happy New Year, dear friends!

I hope your 2014 is off to a good start. As the first full week of the year winds down and we’re back into the swing of our regular routines, I can’t help but wonder how everyone is feeling. I know the beginning of the year brings with it much excitement as we set out new goals and intentions for the year ahead, but, as the mundane of everyday life creeps back in, or we “slip up” with said intentions, that excitement we were feeling just a short while back can fade pretty quickly.

So if that sounds like you at all then check out my 5 Tips to Make This Year Your Healthiest (and Happiest) Year Yet.

1. Be kind to yourself. Did you make a list of resolutions or punishments? I know sometimes after what feels like an eternity of celebratory eating in the later part of the year our goals can have a tendency to reflect some of the judgment and guilt we feel about getting off track with ourselves, or for not having accomplished what we had set out to do in the year prior. When it comes to health-oriented goals things like lose weight, give up sugar, and exercise more are among the top contenders. Just remember you’re not perfect so please don’t set yourself up for failure by making your goals unrealistic or unobtainable (i.e. all or nothing).

2. Make your goals actionable and achievable. It’s nice to have big picture goals for the year but it’s important that you also have clear action steps that allow you to follow through and make things happen. For example, “improve digestion” or “lose weight” may be worthwhile goals to have but they’re both pretty general. What specific steps will you take to make them a reality? If one of your goals is to take your “dream vacation”, are you putting aside money from each pay cheque into a special account? Checking action items off can be helpful especially in the beginning when you’re trying to make a new habit stick. Once it’s become ingrained it will become as much a part of you as removing your makeup before bedtime. Revisit your goals regularly and make adjustments if necessary. Nothing is carved in stone in January. As our life circumstances change, so too will our goals and desires.

Here’s a quick example of a big picture goal along with actionable steps one might include:

Goal: Improve digestion

Action steps:

  • Include fermented foods at least 3 x a week with meals
  • Drink water with lemon upon rising each morning (before coffee)
  • Practice food combining during the week (at least at breakfast and lunch)
  • Pack lunch from home 4 x week  (1 day out with co-workers)
  • Eliminate __________ (suspected food trigger) for 4 weeks to see if my symptoms improve (it might be helpful to break this down into 1 or 2 week chunks if that feels more achievable for you)

3. Let go of rigid belief systems. We are all individuals and there is no one diet that is perfect for everyone. You may be drawn towards one particular way of eating which is fine, but please use it as a template (not the law) and adjust according to your unique circumstance, health, diet history, etc. Collect the golden nuggets from various food philosophies that serve you best, and leave the rest. Don’t cling to any one paradigm too tightly and always be open to other points of view, even if they go against “the rules”.

4. Go beyond food. When we’re looking to get healthier it’s not uncommon to place all efforts on perfecting our diet but then pay very little attention to other areas of our life that might need improving. Two areas that often get overlooked are stress-management and getting enough sleep. It’s disheartening when I see a client eating perfectly, exercising regularly and supplementing wisely, but then unable to overcome health challenges often as a result of a stressful lifestyle and/or sleep deprivation that has left them hormonally imbalanced. If you take the focus off of food and put more attention on getting more sleep, relaxation, fun and pleasure in your life, you may be surprised to see your health challenges and stubborn belly fat “mysteriously” disappear.

5. Practice presence. Most people live between the past and the future and spend very little time in the present moment. I know living presently is easier said than done but set an intention each day to at least try and be more mindful of your thoughts. Are you constantly reliving out past interactions, or are you fantasizing about some future point in time when everything will be perfect and you can “really start living life”? Having a dedicated meditation practice can help bring more awareness into your day, even if it’s just 5-10 minutes each morning and/or before you go to bed. I always liked this quote from the movie Fight Club (although I’ve been told it’s a bit morbid):

“This is your life and it’s ending one minute at a time.”

Stop wasting your life away on stuff that doesn’t matter (i.e. petty dramas, grudges, blame, self-deprecating thoughts, chasing perfection). The quality of your life is based on the quality of your thoughts. Life is precious, enjoy every moment as if it were your last.

I think Helen Keller puts it best here:

“Use your eyes as if tomorrow you would be stricken blind….Hear the music of voices, the song of the bird, the mighty strains of an orchestra, as if you would be stricken deaf tomorrow. Touch each object as if tomorrow your tactile sense would fail. Smell the perfume of the flowers, taste with relish each morsel, as if tomorrow you could never smell and taste again. Make the most of every sense; glory in all the facets of pleasure and beauty which the world reveals to you”.

I don’t know about you, but this how I want to be living out and each and every one of my precious days left here on earth.

Wishing you your healthiest and happiest year yet!

All my love,

Elaine

p.s. For more New Year inspiration, check out this post I wrote last year.

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