My LIFTING WOMEN community has been on a month-long December to Remember challenge - each day accomplishing one simple task toward better wellness, with the intention of arriving in 2023 feeling healthier and more balanced (as opposed to many folks, who kick off the year hungover, heavier, and harried from the rush of the end-of-year season).
I don’t think of any of our daily challenges (for example, complete 10 solid push-ups) would count as full-blown “lifestyle changes” or “system reboots", but I do think that throughout our lives, we should seek out challenges, big and small. What doesn't challenge you doesn't change you, the saying goes - and I'm a believer.
With that (overly noble) idea in mind, here are my three gentle guidelines for whatever you call your next phase of goal-chasing (new year's resolutions, Q1 targets, lifestyle shifts, etc.):
(1) “Forcing” workouts is almost a guarantee of not getting them done. Sure, I exercise near-daily, and I love exercising, so it’s not really a chore for me. But trying to "quantify" worevery workout (exactly 90 minutes of yoga, precisely 60 minutes of Crossfit twice per week, no fewer than 10 miles of running...) can be more stressful than helpful. Sure, my job is about prescribing workouts to clients, but if you've ever worked with me as a coach, you know that Adaptability is my middle name. Can't hit yoga today? Bump it to tomorrow and take a walk today, or even move it to next week and double up your strength workouts for the week. Can't finish four supersets in the prescribed workout due to time? Complete three at your best effort, and move along. When you lock yourself to your exercise routine and don't allow any room for flexibility, you create an unsustainable system that will never reflect "real life."
(For the record, there are six exercise "blocks" I try to plug into every week - three slow n' steady strength workouts, one manic (ha) Crossfit/HIIT, one hot yoga, and one short run - but no stress if I can't hit them perfectly - and the HIIT is the first to go in a busy week, for me).
(2) Positive self-talk works. And guys, I go overboard (again, if you've ever been my client, you know I am SO OVER THE TOP about celebrating even the smallest victories!). I go for a run and tell myself I'm fierce. I take selfies that I never post just to give myself a high five for putting on nice makeup on a given day. I put on dresses that hug the curves of my body and I admire a glimpse of my muscular back in the gym mirrors. I have been giving myself mental high-fives on a way more regular basis as I get older, and I will tell you – I feel better each passing day when I do it. As they say – fake it till you make it. If you feel "weird" complimenting yourself - gal, that's when you know you need to work your self-talk more!
(3) Nutrition is always the solution. Well, what do you know – when my clients start putting primarily protein and produce on their plates - they feel better. Across the board. "I feel really great on a vegetable-deprived, high-carb diet!" said no one ever. Increasing lean protein intake (100g per day is the BARE A*S minimum, ladies!), getting 7-9 servings of high-fibre fruit and vegetables, and drinking at least 2.2 litres (75 ounces) of water (ideally 3L, 100 ounces) daily will improve your gut health, better your digestion, and help you feel light, energetic, satiated, and powerful. To quote an Ayurvedic proverb, "when diet is wrong, medicine is of no use. When diet is correct, medicine is of no need." Let your diet reflect your commitment to wellness, and where it needs significant improvement, hire a nutrition coach to help you figure out exactly how to get back on track.
If you're planning big things for 2023 (and I hope you all are!) - get your mind right for the end of the year, close out strong, and arrive in the new year ready to rock n' roll. You deserve it.