It’s “New year, new me!” time. I don’t know about you, but my social media ads are coming at me with all the biohacking products–which I am interested in–but the shear volume of ads is overwhelming! From weightloss trackers to lattes with superfood ingredients like tumeric and mushrooms, social media is pushing THE AGENDA of the New Year, which is:
You can do better.
They’re not wrong, are they?
As busy moms, we are constantly trying to fit “self care” into a hierarchy of needs pyramid where our family’s needs and wants are prioritized over our own. There’s only so many hours in the day and we have a finite amount of energy and motivation, which gets usurped by everyone and everything else. So we just give up on ourselves because it’s just Too. Damn. Complicated.
But…what if we can simplify things?
Would that help?
Being better does not require being perfect. Every little bit of effort adds up to make progress toward your health and fitness goals. Furthermore, making small changes incrementally is more manageable and more enjoyable, so you’re more likely to be consistent and maintain your progress.
Here are some examples of how to break down your goals into manageble steps.
Lets say you have a 6 cup per day coffee habit that you want to kick. Coffee is not helping your energy levels because it’s dehydrating you and possibly depleting you of nutrients. Also, you use a lot of flavored creamer that contains sugar, and you know it’s not good for you. Your goal is to cut back to one cup of coffee per day, using half ‘n half instead of flavored creamer and stevia or monk fruit to sweeten it. Dropping caffeine and sugar are both going to cause some discomfort for you, but will pay dividends by improving your health and energy levels.
Here is how you might work it:
1. Start by eliminating 2 cups of coffee, reducing from 6 cups to 4 cups. Replace the 2 cups of coffee with herbal tea or water. Maintain this for 2-4 weeks.
2. Replace flavored creamer with half ‘n half and stevia or monk fruit–one cup per week–over 4 weeks. So week one, you’d have half ‘n half in 1 cup, then 2, then 3, then finally all 4 cups would have half ‘n half and sweetener, eliminating flavored creamer. Maintain this for 2-4 weeks.
**Other options you can consider are using sugarfree syrups for coffee flavor (ex: Starbucks carries sugarfree vanilla) or an even healthier option is to use flavored coffee**
3. Start replacing your caffeinated coffee with decaf coffee. Begin by making every other cup decaf, so 4 cups would be caffeinated/decaf/caffeinated/decaf. You could also replace decaf coffee with herbal teas. Maintain this for 2-4 weeks.
4. Drop the 2nd cup of caffeinated coffee, replacing it with decaf, herbal tea, or water.
Now you have reached your goals! You are only drinking one cup of caffeinated coffee per day and you have eliminated the sugary flavored creamer! You probably don’t even miss the flavored creamer because you enjoy flavored coffee with half n half and stevia now! It just took some time to adjust. You have more energy and you have even dropped a few pounds, so you are definitely going to stick with your new routine.
Lets say you want to add fitness to your routine. You currently don’t have a fitness routine, you just go for occassional walks or other periodic activities. Your goal is to work out for 30 minutes, 3x per week. You want your workouts to be aerobic for heart health, and also include stretching.
Here is how you might work it:
1. Think about what you like to do! Do you like taking classes? Do you prefer the convenience of working out at home? Do you have the self discipline to work out at home or will you skip workouts? Do you prefer being outside? If you’re not sure what you like then it’s a good idea to try new things! Many gyms and boutique fitness studios (Barre3, Burn Bootcamp, etc.) offer free introductory classes and/or discounted packages so people can try before committing.
2. Lets say you do not have the time, money, or motivation to join a gym. You need workouts you can do from home, and you need to do them before work/before your kids wake up because evenings after work are too hectic. You decide to get a subscription to Les Mills (a personal favorite of mine). You buy a yoga mat and some resistance bands.
3. Start by setting your alarm to wake up an hour early 3 days per week (preferibly every-other-day so you can rest in between). BUT you only need to work out one day per week for now. The other two days you can sip your coffee or whatever you please.
4. Choose a class! It could be yoga or zumba, etc. Experiment until you find ones you like. Do your one class per week for 1-4 weeks.
5. Add a day, and start working out 2 days per week. Maintain this for 4-8 weeks.
6. Add a third day to your routine. Now you have achieved your goal! Do not despair if you miss a day or even a week (things come up, kids get sick, etc.) Just pick up where you left off *or* if you need to start over again, begin with one day per week and add on as you are able.
7. Some weeks/months are better than others, but think about it this way–if you were to workout consistently 3x per week for a year that is 156 workouts per year. When you started you were doing ZERO workouts. So even if you managed 100 workouts in a year, how GREAT is that?!
Every. Little. Bit. Counts.
Every time you replace a processed sugar-laden, nutrient-deficient snack (ex: a donut) with a better choice (I love KIND bars), you are doing yourself a favor. Every time you wake up late but manage to jump on your stationary bike for 15 minutes, you are making progress that you can feel good about. Every time you go to the Chick fil a drive thru and just order a grilled chicken sandwich–not a meal with fries and drink–you are moving in the right direction.
It has taken me my ENTIRE adult life to embrace the fact that “moderation is the key”. I suck at moderation. I am seduced by extremes. I have been obese and I have been a fitness model. I have been living on caffeine and sugar and eaten strict bodybuilding diets of nothing but protein shakes, eggs, chicken, brocolli and sweet potatoes for months at a time. But finally, FINALLY, I stopped beating myself up for not being perfect all the time. In fact, “perfect” for me means taking off days when I’m sore because I now realize that I do more harm than good by not listening to my body. I will never quit coffee, but I can drink it strategically. And yes, some days I have 6 cups. But I drink it black with stevia now–progress!