20 Ways to Rock Your Year, Part I (including resolution homicide, a little lung love, and sweat-soaked bliss)

So, you probably already know this, but the “New Year, New You” craze is absolutely, positively huge in my industry.  If there’s a month for fitness, January is it.

This is the time to find specials on gyms, discounts on health-related services, advertisements for super-cleansing detox diets.  Everybody wants to lose the holiday pounds, and start a new chapter with a pretty, clean, smooth slate.  Time automatically hand-delivers that fresh start at midnight… but then what?

How, exactly, do you kick off 2011 in a kick-ass way?

If you feel even 0.001% overwhelmed, unsure, or frozen in the face of the big, BIG possibility of the new year, don’t even sweat it — you’re about to get 20 easy, practical, to-do ideas that will turn 2011 from a year of potential into one of promise.

Now, I know 20 new things to do might be a bit overwhelming — especially with that standard January resolution push — so you’re only getting 10 to try on this month.  And this first one’ll lift the pressure right off your shoulders:

#1   |   SKIP THE RESOLUTIONS. Yeah, I said it.  Generally speaking, I don’t like resolutions, never have, and here’s why:  they’re always too short-term, too grand, too demanding. Inevitably I break them, and then feel the phenomenal weight of failure.  That’s supremely unfortunate because  feeling like a loser actually leads to perceiving the world as a loss.

Once I figured out that resolution pattern, I knew with 110%-magic-crystal clarity that the Failure Feeling had to be tied up, boxed in, burned and buried.  So I killed it.  I stopped listening to the subtle, sneaky message behind most resolutions that says: “You’re not good enough.  You need to be different, new and improved in order to be okay.”  And I started creating intentions instead.

Here’s how you swap a resolution for an intention:

  • Instead of starting with what’s wrong, start with what is.
  • Instead of change rooted in what you don’t like, change based on awareness + acceptance + gratitude + patience + practice.
  • Work to improve, but stop cracking the emotional whip that beats you into thinking you suck if you don’t.
  • Drop the pressure to make a miraculous change as soon as possible, and check in regularly to see if you’re living in accordance with your intentions.
  • Continue evolving from a place of kindness and curiosity, noting that it’s all a glorious work in progress.
  • Take a deep breath and celebrate who you already are, as you are.  Give yourself a big, juicy break.

There, doesn’t that feel better?

#2   |   PUT YOUR INTENTIONS INTO PRACTICE WITH SMALL, ACTIONABLE STEPS. There’s this awesome story about a guy named Allan Bacon, a 9-to-5, cubicle resident who basically woke up one day and said “hey, I want to change my life dramatically.”  Instead of making a 180-degree turn that day, though, he went methodical.  Smart.  Slow.  Calculated.  Careful.  He started by changing his daily lunch routine — literally, that small shift — and still got a borderline mindblowingly genius outcome that involved creating a dream job and moving his family across the pond to Paris. Sometimes you leap into the next big thing, but often you support that jump by first building a foundation from completing small, actionable steps.

#3   |   BREATHE DEEPLY.  AT LEAST ONCE A DAY. It not only physiologically calms your body and mind, it also stretches, strengthens, improves respiratory efficiency, and maximizes the air capacity of your lungs.

#4   |   EAT WHOLE FOODS. Not necessarily from Whole Foods.  We’re talking real, fresh food found on the outside perimeter of the grocery  — fruit + veg, [organic] meat and fish, whole grains — as well as nuts and other unprocessed foods.  Stuff you can recognize, pronounce, recreate at home.  Go vegetarian for a week or more.  Let go of the artificial sweetener and that fat-free stuff.  For guidance, I love Michael Pollan’s book “Food Rules” easy, everyone-can-do-at-least-one tips.  His mantra:  “Eat food.  Not too much.  Mostly plants.” Good stuff.

#5   |   DRINK WATER AND NO (OR AT LEAST LESS) SODA, REGULAR OR DIET. Buy at least 2 reusable water bottles: work and home.  Keep extras in the car or fridge.  Add lemon wedges to your glass if you get bored, or get spa-licious and slice pears into a water pitcher.  Staying hydrated helps you look younger, gets your skin glowing, and makes your body move more smoothly — it’s  lubrication for joints and the digestive system.  If you’re really committed, try an antioxidant water booster (whether they work is up for grabs, but I love the concept).  Soda, on the other hand, is bad for you and everybody knows it.  Empty calories and chemicals just aren’t helpful.

#6   |   MOVE YOUR BODY. SQUEEZE, STRETCH, SWEAT AND SCHEDULE IT DAILY. If you’re reading this, I’ll assume that yoga’s a viable option for you.  If not, there are a trillion others.  Walk, jog, run, bike, swim, Zumba, P90X, kickboxing, basketball, football, baseball, soccer, marathoning, triathaloning, martial arts, ballet, weight lifting, Pilates, horseback riding, playing with kids, trampoline jumping, vigorous housecleaning.  Master the art of movement, and make sure it’s in your calendar.

#7   |   EAT MEALS WITH YOUR FAMILY + FRIENDS EACH WEEK. Imagine this: when you share a good meal with someone, your body actually produces a hormone called oxytocin that encourages intimate and fond feelings toward him or her.  Take advantage of the chemical reaction, and connect with those closest to you.  Prioritize your people.

#8   |   MAKE A LIST OF GREAT, HEALTHFUL GO-TO SNACKS. KEEP THE LIST ON YOUR FRIDGE. KEEP THE SNACKS HANDY (CAR, PURSE, OFFICE DRAWER, ETC.). A great way to keep metabolism high and prevent binge behavior. Some of my favorites are all-natural Larabars and Kind bars, individually bagged almonds and/or mixed nuts, hummus whole wheat wrap, honeycrisp apples, individual 2% Greek yogurt cups, Nut-thin crackers, roasted chickpeas and coconut water.

#9   |  WHEN YOU’RE FEELING SICK, ALTERNATE WITH ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE. You can still go to the doctor, but pretty, pretty please, just consider getting acupuncture.  Or cupping, or herbal remedies, or any one of the many alternative medicine techniques that are now arguably maintstream.  There’s a reason they’ve been working effectively for thousands of years in the rest of the world:  they actually do work.

#10   |   PRACTICE MEDITATION DAILY. I saved the best for last.  If there is one thing — one thing — you chance this year’s changes on, let it be meditating.  Find a quiet space, sit comfortably, place your hands on your knees, close the eyes gently, observe your thoughts, and begin to notice your breathing.  Keep it up for 2-5 minutes to begin, then gradually go deeper.   If the mind is bouncing, that’s normal… but after enough bouncing, it’s bound to get tired.  Stay.  Breathe.  Practice.

Now go create an incredibly cool, mindful, marvelous start to your year!

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2 Responses to 20 Ways to Rock Your Year, Part I (including resolution homicide, a little lung love, and sweat-soaked bliss)

  1. Sunny says:

    SOOO helpful to those of us who know a change is needed and aren’t sure where to start! Best advice: to create intentions instead of making resolutions!! There is enough pressure in our lives to keep the door to failure wide open; we shouldn’t add to it with resolutions that are ambitious but lack the foundation for success. This is good stuff, Kelly!!

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