One of our favorite hiking trails

Once again it’s arrived — the time of year when everyone makes a visible, public declaration of all the ways they’re going to overhaul their life. The social pressure to make overwhelming change at the beginning of each year is well intended, but rarely results in permanent healthy changes. Instead of beating yourself up over all the things you aren’t doing yet and trying to fix them in one fell swoop, we’re going to look at just 5 goals that can move you towards your goals right now without being overwhelmed!

  1. Spend more time with people you care about. It is so common to get caught up in work, school, social media, or even the newest episode of your favorite show and to neglect your relationships with those you care about most. Put down your phone for a while and spend some time cultivating friendships, bonding with your family, or finding your tribe. Mental and emotional health are often overlooked, but need to be a priority to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
  2. Find people to move with. Once you find your tribe, find ways to get outside and be active with them. Join a rec softball league, swim laps at a local pool, or just walk around the block together. I have a yearly membership to some of our local park/mountain areas, and when the weather cooperates we go hiking several times a week. Not only is it good for all of us to be active, but it helps my kiddos to burn off some of their excess energy, which makes homework much less of a fight and bedtime easier.
  3. You can’t outwork a bad diet. This is one of those cliché things that new health coaches like to parrot, but it’s still true. What you put in your mouth affects everything from your weight, ability to recover from workouts, mental clarity, emotional health, how you sleep, and so much more. The better your diet, the better your overall health, your body composition, and your progress towards your fitness goals.

    You don’t have to go completely crazy and weigh/measure/document everything you eat unless you’re trying to be a professional athlete. Instead, try to remember that everything you eat or drink is either moving you closer to or further from your goals. Reduce processed foods, reduce starches, increase green veggies, increase protein and healthy fats. Try to give your body a medium long stretch of time where you don’t eat anything to give your digestive system a rest and reduce your insulin levels. If you’ve been eating this way for a while, try intermittent fasting and see how you feel with it. There are so many physical benefits to eating this way, and as a bonus you’ll find your cognitive function improving too!
  4. Self care is not selfish, and it’s not optional. When we think of self care, the image of a mom leaving her kids for a spa day seems to be what comes to mind most often. Self care isn’t just a hot bath or a massage though, and it is extremely important to lowering stress levels and improving mental and emotional health. Be honest with yourself — what really helps you center yourself and relax? It could be a hot bath, a grueling workout, a pedicure, or even just locking the bathroom door so you have 90 seconds of privacy every few hours. Journaling, prayer, scriptures, crafting, listening to music, reading, singing, are just a few more examples of ways to practice self care.

    Self care is also taking care of yourself. Eating well, moving your body, and getting enough sleep are all important parts of self care. It can be hard to set aside that time when you have kids and a thousand things on your to do list, but I promise that it’ll be worth it in the long run. Self care not only makes you happier and healthier, but it can make you more productive as well.
  5. Decrease your screen time. This can be difficult, as screens are now a part of work, school, and just about every other aspect of life. The problem is that we can unintentionally burn so much time watching TV or scrolling through Facebook, and that can really stall progress on our goals. Let’s be honest, how many times have you sat down to relax after work and committed to go to the gym after just one episode of The Office and you wake up on the couch at midnight and realize you just killed the entire night (and all of Season 3)? Or you go on Facebook to wish your niece a happy birthday, and wind up watching political videos for hours without even realizing it? There’s nothing wrong with some screen time during your day, but make a commitment to evaluate how much time you’re currently spending on electronics, and reallocate some of that to actions that lead towards one of your goals. You won’t miss binge watching season 3 for the tenth time, but you’ll appreciate learning a new language, finally starting a garden, or making that needlepoint you’ve been meaning to give your sister for years.

New Year’s doesn’t have to be a time of stress and overwhelm. Instead of making resolutions you know you should make but probably won’t keep, use these basic goals to improve your life little by little. Remember, as long as you’re moving in the right direction you’re making progress, no matter how slowly you’re moving.