Around this time of year, many of us are preparing ourselves mentally for all the things we want to “give up” in order to get the body we want: dessert, alcohol, carbs, late night snacking, etc. How many of us have considered finding spiritual and behavioral solutions, instead, to achieve fulfillment, rather than drastic diet changes to achieve the perfect body? Plus, hey, that fulfillment may just lead to wiser choices in the kitchen and indirectly affect that waistline!
Here are some resolutions that I consider to be very reasonable, enjoyable even (not scary like giving up chocolate!). In fact, how about we add more of something instead of less?
1. Read more.
Now, while reading tons of articles and blurbs online can keep you well informed, I’m talking about a more therapeutic version of reading — real books (or readers)! It could be an informational book, a memoir, or, better yet, a novel — don't underestimate the benefits of tapping into your imagination and getting lost in a made up story. The idea is to connect to one subject or text rather than a sea of clicking on links. This is more calming and focused than surfing the web. Even as little as five pages each day will give you some fundamental brainpower!
2. Give more.
Volunteering your time is a great way to do this, especially if you’re tight on money. Think about who and what you enjoy being around — animals, children, elderly, special events — and combine that with your strengths or availability. If you’re available during afternoons, you could tutor at an elementary school. If you never know when you’ll have some spare time, become a volunteer to socialize animals at the local shelter, where you can likely drop in. The time commitment may seem overwhelming at first so treat it like a real part of your schedule. The rewarding feeling is unmatchable.
3. Cook at home more.
I truly love to wine and dine, but I appreciate it more if I've worked hard all week to feed myself healthily, budgeting my funds and avoiding add-ons to every meal like drinks and dessert! Buying and cooking large batches of everything and having leftovers available is a good way to avoid the urge or need to dine out or stop on the way home to get food. You also won’t want all your groceries to go to waste!
4. Sympathize more.
This will help you to get angry less. Technically, you allow anger to arise, but you choose to not react. Of course there will always be frustrating and unfair people or situations, but how you react is your choice. Think of one reason, in every situation, why that may have understandably happened. This always helps me leave the situation peacefully. For example, what if that driver who cut you off is someone’s grandma? You wouldn’t want someone to flip off your grandma if she made a mistake! Sure, it could have been a jerk who always drives like a maniac, but you don’t know that. Give people the benefit of the doubt, assume they’re trying their best even if it doesn’t show. For your own sanity if nothing else!
5. Call friends and family more.
Yes, on the phone, not just a text message! Where would you be without those people? Relationships feel more meaningful when you're up to date on others lives. My Bluetooth is my best friend; I make use of driving time while maintaining my relationships with the people I care about. Going for a walk while talking is a double whammy (see #9).
6. Forgive yourself more.
Have you ever eaten two slices of cake and told yourself you'll definitely start a juice cleanse on Monday morning, only to realize you're hungry for breakfast Monday morning? Stop making drastic promises! You're setting yourself up for failure and habitually doing this is a vicious cycle. Sometimes I’ll dwell on what seemed like an awkward social interaction I had with someone. Look, its all said and done, just bounce back and move on!
7. Separate from your phone more.
I am so guilty of checking email as I’m walking down the street, as if walking were just too simple a task. Take in the fresh air and your surroundings instead of looking down at that little screen all the time. Leave your phone away from you when you are involved in a task such as dinner at a restaurant, in a meeting, in class, or — god forbid — sleeping!
8. Be early more.
Being habitually late is not a good quality to have. It reflects several other unbecoming qualities: lack of self-discipline, organization, and even common sense. Resolve to set your alarm eight minutes earlier, or set your clocks ahead. Think about how good it will feel to arrive places with enough time to settle in.
9. Go outside more.
Last winter, while feeling a bit restless, I went to a psychic and, while she may have been mostly bogus, she told me that it was my assignment for the next three days to walk on the beach with my bare feet in the sand for an hour. The chilly weather had me holing up inside and thinking lots of negative thoughts. So I bundled up and realized I could get warm if I just got moving! The fresh ocean air and gentle exercise was just what I needed. Maybe she could see the future.
10. Waste less!
Doing your part for the environment can give you great purpose when you commit to it. Always keep reusable bags in the car in case you decide to stop at the store on your way home, turn off the water while you brush your teeth, and hey, the less processed foods you eat, the less in your trash!
Sometimes the only thing standing between you and your best health is your priorities. Resolve to take care of your emotional and spiritual self. Happy people tend to have no battles in their diet. They listen to what their bodies tell them about what and how much they need. Maybe you'll drop some pounds, or maybe you'll realize that you’re beautiful just the way you are. Start from within.
Andy Jacobs is a full time yoga instructor, currently based in LA. She spent several years fulfilling her dream of traveling the world, while teaching English and yoga along the way, visiting over 70 studios worldwide and teaching on four continents. Meeting so many healthy and progressive people along the way, she has great resources in developing a balanced and sustainable lifestyle. Learn how she did it on her blog, Andy Pandy Living.