• Teresa Lansing

End the Year As You Wish to Begin the Next

It is possible to enjoy the remainder of this year AND be ready for a fresh start to the next.

As a coach, I tend to minimize the significance of New Year’s Resolutions (NYR). Most are destined for failure simply BECAUSE they are made for New Year’s Day. Why? Glad you asked.

1. Lack of mental preparation. Too often when we decide on a NYR, we treat the last days, or even weeks, of the current year as a massive “last hurrah”. We feel compelled to eat and drink anything and everything because come January 1st, it will all be gone, never to be enjoyed again! Unfortunately, the mind and body cannot make such a drastic switch just because the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve.

2. Lack of physical preparation. It doesn’t much matter whether one wishes to lose weight, organize their home, start daily workouts, or quit smoking. Regardless of the new habit desired, there is little chance of success without preparation. Do some research on the subject. Have the resources available to start – purchase some of the organizational tools and storage totes needed to get your home or office under control; make sure the athletic shoes or workout clothes are in your closet; stock the fridge and pantry with healthy foods; hire or make an appointment with a fitness trainer and/or health coach.

I realize most people prefer to make changes or start new lifestyles on New Year’s Day, or on the first of any month, or on a Monday. Although I have followed this practice myself, I urge you to consider this: if the change you want to make is important to your health and/or happiness, what better time to begin than on the FIRST DAY OF THE REST OF YOUR LIFE? Start now. Today. This very minute.

We are halfway through December, only a week and a half before Christmas. This is the time to change your mindset about your lifestyle without ruining your enjoyment of the holidays.

1. Do not deprive yourself of the special treats of the season. Most of the baking, candies and beverages we consume during this time are part of our family traditions. I may be able to pass by the sweets and baked goods most of the year because I have overcome a sugar addiction and I know I feel so much better when I keep away from these foods. However, every single treat I serve, and eat, during Christmas week is associated with memories of childhood, our children’s early years, past friendships, and/or loved ones, some who are no longer with us. As my daughter said the other day while we were making our sweet, cinnamon-scented prune buns: “This smells like Grandma!” Prune buns are a Christmas tradition handed on by my mother-in-law who died when my daughter was only 10 years old. These associations are an essential part of the holiday enjoyment.

This is the time to fully experience the joys of these memories. Enjoy them mindfully – take in the sight, inhale the scents, chew slowly, close your eyes and let your senses carry you back to all those happy memories…and leave the rest of those treats on the platter. It’s okay if you sample all the special foods but when the item on the tray holds no memories for you, leave it there. Make every bite count in a positive way, either emotionally or nutritionally. Start retraining your brain not to classify food as either "good" or "bad". Regardless of the season, or the food, always, always, make intentional decisions to eat, and once committed allow yourself to enjoy it without judgement or guilt!

2. Take care of yourself during the holidays. This is a time for love, joy, fun and celebration but it is also a risky time for stress/burnout. Prioritize your to-do list, mentally preparing for the possibility that some items may not get done. If the unexpected happens, the items on the tail end of the list shouldn’t be the game changers.

If possible, delegate some of the work to family (or anyone who will share the celebrations with you). Even the kids can help with decorating, baking and gift-wrapping (use gift bags). Lower your expectations – perfection does not guarantee happy memories.

As always, schedule self-care every week, even if it’s nothing more than a 20-minute bubble bath before bed. Winter weather, numerous social gatherings, less attention to nutrition, stress, and sleep deprivation create the perfect storm for colds and flu. So, make sure you get seven hours sleep each night, take the time to enjoy the activity around you, get outside (take the gang out sledding or build a snow man!), and hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!

3. Work to change your mindset toward your resolution. Any improvement in our lives should be a positive experience. If you dread it, there is no way you will truly commit to it, so why bother? If you aren’t looking forward to the change, you WILL NOT change. It’s as simple as that.

A health coach can help you understand what it is you are seeking and what your goals should be. So, enjoy your celebrating, practise self-care, and meet the New Year with happy expectations.

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

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