The Allure Of A Fresh Start…
New Year’s Resolutions continue to be a popular cultural pastime. Perhaps a bit bleary and bloated after the holidays it’s natural to think, “I’ve got to make some SERIOUS lifestyle changes!” We’re bombarded with ads and articles all with the requisite Before And Afters. “It’s a new year, time for a fresh start…”
While there’s a certain appeal and glamour in the idea that we can completely start over on January 1, I think a lot of major reset efforts are doomed to fail because the rest of our life tends to go on just as before, with the same schedules, obligations and demands. We don’t live, eat or make decisions in a vacuum.
When it comes to health and lifestyle changes, I’ve found that the most effective are small, incremental adjustments that can be organically incorporated into my daily routine, and then become part of that routine. Building healthy and nurturing habits rather than making drastic changes based on aversion or deprivation is what’s worked for me long-term.
Looking Back, Looking Ahead…
I think few of us would disagree that 2016 was a tumultuous year for any number of reasons. It was a bit of a reset year for me personally, as I left my full-time administrative job after almost 40 years of working in an office, all day every Monday through Friday. (I DO NOT miss that aspect of it!!)
My re-invention is turning out to be a more gradual process than I’d anticipated. I enjoy working from home, but the newness of having my time be (mostly) my own and an unusual amount of travel have kept my schedule a bit haphazard. I’ve often felt as though I’m just keeping up rather than moving forward. While I don’t want to lock myself into another set of daily obligations, I do believe that getting into more regular routines will be a positive step for my well-being.
Lifestyle Changes: Baby Steps
So the first adjustment I’m making is to set a blog posting schedule. Trying to post almost every day doesn’t allow me enough time to respond to your comments as much as I’d like, keep up with other blogs and Instagram, answer my email in a timely manner, or tackle some other projects I’ve had on the back burner for months. So I’ll be posting on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays initially. As I’m inspired and time allows, I may post on other days too, but am only committing to and planning for the MWF schedule.
Next, I’ve set a goal of taking myself out for an “art date” at least once a month. I love visiting art exhibitions and almost always include them in our travel planning. We have so many really good museums and galleries nearby, and I no longer have the excuse of no time. Again, planning is key to making this happen, so I’m declaring the third Wednesday of each month my personal Art Appreciation Day.
Finally and on a more serious note, the untimely death of Carrie Fisher was a stark reminder that although we tend to focus on breast cancer, Alzheimer’s and other diseases, the number one cause of death among women is still heart disease. So in addition to the other steps I’ve taken to maintain and improve my health, I’m adding a bit more cardio to my routine. (I already walk at least 30 minutes per day, but don’t think it counts as “cardio” as my dogs are more interested in stopping to sniff than pushing the pace.) First step is to get my heart rate in the “target” training range 3x per week. I’m starting with 10 minutes on our stationary bike and will work up to 20 per session. (Again, small adjustments that are easy to incorporate.) I’m also hopeful that improving my cardiovascular fitness will increase my energy levels and improve my sleep.
Because I’m more successful with small, manageable steps rather than drastic overhauls, I’m not going to overload myself with too many changes at once. I think these are a good start.
Do you find you do better with incremental lifestyle changes, or does a more “complete reset” approach work more effectively for you?
Happy New Year!! Wishing you Peace, Heath and Prosperity in 2017.