You’ve been here before.
A new year, a new you! Excited by the thought of a clean slate, you’re going to finally lose those 20 lbs you’ve spent twenty years gaining. And this time? FOR GOOD! You’re going to purge your home of all the old clothes, pictures, and books you haven’t worn or looked through since the ninth grade. Then, you’re going to take up guitar because it’s been on your bucket list for ages along with learning Spanish fluently, which of course will lead you to take that dream trip to Costa Rica to practice your newly-acquired Spanish skills while zip-lining through the jungle.
Then, after a few weeks, you already feel like your old self. Maybe you gave up on your Keto diet because y0u couldn’t resist that piece of buttercream cake at your cousin’s wedding. You justified to yourself that since by being so good for two weeks, you earned a little bit of sugar. Or maybe you gave up on cleaning out the basement because it just felt like a bottomless rabbit hole of mess and grief. “Next year,” you think to yourself as you switch off the light and slam the door shut. Or here’s one I can certainly relate to: You stop planning something you’ve always wanted to do or see because you started to realize how much it would cost. Saving for it seems impossible in such a small amount of time!
Mama, cut yourself some slack. First of all, you probably set yourself up with expectations that are just too high. Your looming deadline immediately stole the joy out of goal setting. Second, everyday — not just January 1st — offers a great day to start again. And you have more time to work out these goals than you think! I know it seems crazy to believe “this year WILL be the year I (insert your dream resolution).” But I have a few tips that I believe can help this year really be yours — and I’m sharing them with you because they have worked for me.
Clear your space/Clear your mind.
It’s REALLY hard to move on to something new when all your old “to-dos” are staring you in the face. I mean, why add one more thing to an already overwhelming list? Amirite?! You don’t need all that extra stress! SO. This year, I decided my only resolution was to use the whole year to get all old projects done and out of my way. Some projects felt like little gremlins following me around constantly nagging, “when will you make me a priority??” (e.g. Throwing away boxes of old boyfriend love letters, high school pictures, and trinkets no one would want around for the grandkids to deal with someday.) I kept some important mementos like my varsity letters, yearbooks, and school dance pictures because I will want to share those with my child when she’s older. I’m proud of those things. The aftermath of doing this? I felt motivated enough to clean out a carload amount of old tax documents from my office (another gremlin). I had them professionally shredded, and (drumroll!!!!!!) I cleaned out the garage! Now there is space in my head to think about what’s next on the list. There’s space in my office to work and space in my garage to park my car! Simon Cowell once said, “I hate clutter. It really bothers me because I can’t think properly. If you’ve got distractions in front of you, your mind goes nuts.” #truth
Humans are creatures of habit, and some habits? Well, put simply, they suck. Let’s just be honest here. Eating right —that’s hard. Exercising daily — who has time? Getting enough sleep — UMMM. HELLO, WE ARE TALKING TO PARENTS HERE, RIGHT? We all have major distractions that kick us off the right track and make things feel impossible. But I know that deep down you really want to change. It’s so conflicting, but it’s not as difficult or lonely when you have an accountability partner. Start by making a list of who has been a big part of your past successes or people you admire — and simply tell them so. Then, tell them why you need their support now and how they can provide that. Maybe you will ask a neighbor who is an avid runner to text you inspirational tips and tricks every week to keep you motivated on your road to running your first 5K. Or perhaps reach out to your spouse with a meal prep list and ask them to not bring any junk food or trigger foods into the house while you try out a new meal plan. I always text my best friend with prayer requests because she is so disciplined with prayer and I’m not. I also have a friend who started an on-line accountability group for friends going through major body and health changes so we can post about our accomplishments and get advice from one another daily. Accountability breeds responsibility. So go ahead and ask someone to support you.
Become the expert — or ask one.
“The expert at anything was once a beginner” -Helen Hayes. This was a BIG life lesson for me. Last year, my other gremlin was losing weight. It took a BIG change for me to accomplish it. I was able to lose 28.6 lbs thanks in large part to the Whole 30 diet. Now, I’ve never done a diet in all my 36 years, and I had already considered myself a clean eater. But something just had to give — mainly, my stubbornness with the idea of “dieting.” The inflammation in my body was toxic, and I didn’t have any discipline with portion control or alcohol. So my friend with the same body type recommended W30 because “it’s a lot of eating.” I liked how that sounded. Long story short, I am STILL obsessed with this particular diet — so much so that we eat mostly W30 meals everyday. I have finally stopped overeating, and I found limits with treats like wine and dark chocolate. But the discipline of this lifestyle change came after I immersed myself in their community. Between reading every W30 book I could find, joining all the Facebook groups, copying all the Pinterest ideas, and double checking every meal with a nutritionist I met at the gym? I have proudly been W30 for a year and have influenced several people to join me. Maybe it’s not a diet change you’re working toward. Whatever it is, you’re more likely to execute and succeed by learning as much as you can and seeking out professional help or advice from someone who knows a thing or two about it.
Remind yourself that you actually don’t have a deadline of January 31st.
Time is on your side — if you use it wisely. The very idea that you can lose 20 lbs or learn Spanish in a month is not only unrealistic, but traumatizing. The pressure! The let down! Seriously. Anything worth doing is worth doing right. Have patience with yourself — especially if trying to turn those sucky habits into ones you love. If my deadline to lose my goal weight was only a month after getting started, I wouldn’t be able to say I lost almost 30 lbs. If my deadline this year was only a month, I will not have my whole house cleaned out (garage and attic included). I can tell you that much for sure. If your deadline is only a month long, you probably won’t be as proud of yourself as you could be. So extend your deadline. After all, gorgeous, it’s a New YEAR resolution.
Give yourself some leverage.
This is one of my top mommy guidelines for everything! I said before that you need to cut yourself some slack. I did this by making a list of all the ways I could fail and what could get in my way. Seriously — kids, job, lack of sleep, cravings? These are real resolution-busters! So, accept them and preemptively decide what you’re going to do when they come up. Because they will come up, and there will be bad days. Does one bad day mean you’re done for? NOPE. The only person who can make you feel that way is you. So you must also decide how you’re going to recover from a setback. I told myself that starting all over sounded harder and more dreadful, so I should just keep going. Also, any progress is better than no progress. So you hurt your ankle and have to walk for a few days instead of running. At least you’re out doing that! Maybe you slipped up and ate a bite of your kids’ mac and cheese — which you’re pretty sure isn’t W30 compliant. Does that mean you’re a failure when you’ve just lost 6 lbs? NOPE. Call your accountability partner and rant on and on about it until it’s out of your system. Then keep going! Not to sound cliche, but Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will the new you. Be patient with yourself, mama. Maximize your outcomes by anticipating all of them and how you will handle them like the true #momboss you really are.