I don’t know about you, but I can get in the headspace – especially this time of year – where I start collecting a laundry list of things that I can do to better my health, and my life in general. And I will start every one of them…after January 1.
Maybe it’s my Type-A tendencies, but it just sounds better to start with a clean slate. It’s easy to romanticize this better version of myself, doing everything in an ideal way after the new year (or after that deadline, or vacation, or…fill in the blank). I’ll meditate every morning, practice deep breathing with every stressful e-mail or while managing a whiny pre-schooler, and after yoga, I’ll press my Farmer’s Market haul into a fresh, delicious glass of vegetable juice.
Do you find yourself taking an all-or-nothing stance with your intentions? Where if you’re doing all of the above every day, you’re in a good place, but if you’re not doing it all, why do any of it?
This is what really hit me last week when I decided I HAD to start working out more.
Exercise is great for many reasons, but for me in particular, I need exercise because it addresses my energy and hormonal issues. (We’ll dive into that later, but for now let’s just say that completing and launching my first book while wrangling two small and very “spirited” little people did a number on me this year). I also had back surgery 2.5 years ago and while it was very successful, its critical I keep my supporting muscle groups strong (namely my core and glutes) and that I keep my nerves from getting constricted by not allowing myself to sit for extended periods of time (again, writing a book was not helpful here).
I’ve been interested in starting HIIT training (high-intensity interval training) because of its hormonal benefits. Research shows it also burns fat more efficiently and spares muscle break-down in comparison to long cardio workouts (which I despise). Even better, the recommendation is that HIIT training sessions last 20-30 minutes, and are done just three times per week. The key is fully recovering between the high-intensity intervals, which means I don’t have to re-live the militaristic workouts I put myself through in the past. Sign me up.
So, I started doing some research – my goal was to find some good online workouts (my schedule is tight, so I don’t want to waste time driving to the gym), and to compare opinions and research on the optimal intervals of intensity and rest.
Then, I made my plan to start the workouts…after the holidays.
Here’s what my all-or-nothing mindset told me: Why start doing something good for me now when I’m eating too much sugar (primarily in the form of dairy-free hot cocoa and gluten-free gingerbread cookies), drinking more alcohol than usual, and letting stress from the holidays and work get to me more than it should?
I also caught myself feeling like if I didn’t fully indulge in the holiday gluttony – I was somehow missing out on the season.
If I can bank some energy with a workout that I might actually enjoy in just 20 minutes, 3 days a week – basically in the time it takes to bake the aforementioned cookies – how is that going to take away from the holiday glee?
Luckily, I was able to call myself out on my own backwards mindset.
I started the workouts last week, on a Saturday morning. And guess what? Immediately following, I had more energy than I have had in a long time. I was cleaning up after my small, messy roommates like it was my job (well, that kind of is my job). And I plan to be gliding like a gazelle through the mall this week picking up last-minute gifts. I’ve also been sleeping really well.
I’m still eating too much sugar and drinking more wine than usual with all of the holiday celebrations. But I’m with okay with that. Our options are not limited to sinking into sedentary holiday gluttony or being an Instagram-ready health ideal.
So if there is something you know you should be doing now, I encourage you to DO IT NOW. Don’t save it for the new year and add to your long, idealistic list. It doesn’t have to be a massive shift in order to have a significant impact. And it’s okay if you’re lax in other areas.
Little things count. And they could just be the key to starting your new year feeling better than you could’ve imagined.
p.s. If you need some ideas for small steps to try now, check out this list. And if you’re ready for a more comprehensive guide, get my book: INFLAMED: Discover the root cause of inflammation and personalize a step-by-step guide to create a healthy, vibrant life.