4min readSelf 06 January 2020
I vividly remember a team meeting at the start of a new year with one of my very first managers.
"Let's share our New Year's Resolutions!"
It intended to be a team bonding moment. But for me, sent my brain scrambling. As everyone else seemed to have preprogrammed, pre-crafted, perfect answers. I sat toward the end of the table pondering what I could quickly make up. Because I had no resolutions.
Is this the time to proclaim that I would email less? That I would do more 'walking meetings'? Is this the time to proclaim that I would drink less Diet Dr. Pepper? That I would say 'no' more often to projects I was randomly assigned? Probably not the best timing for that last one.
"Eat better, more vegetables… maybe baby carrots?" I mumbled when it was my turn. My manager nodded. She seemed to be sufficiently satisfied and moved on.
I always wondered. Why do we even have New Year's Resolutions? Who started this anxiety provoking tradition?
According to my go to source Wikipedia, Babylonians made promises to their gods at the start of each year that they would return borrowed objects and pay their debts. The Romans began each year by making promises to Janus, after whom the month of January is named. And finally, in the medieval era, the knights took the "peacock vow" at the end of the Christmas season each year to re-affirm their commitment to chivalry.
So I had the Babylonians, the Romans, and the Knights to thank for this tradition of failed attempts at New Year's Resolutions.
One year. A roommate told me to use eye cream. That lasted a month until I lost the tube she gave me.
Another year, a manager gifted us Swell bottles to drink more water. My bottle was a bright zebra pattern; everyone else had more muted colors. I wasn't too sad when I lost that bottle.
The following year, I bought a beautiful journal to be more organized at work. But I couldn't up end reading half of my writing. Went back to taking notes on the laptop.
Just about every year I vow to get back on the treadmill. Needless to say, I now have a rich history of mixed results on that resolution.
Last year, my friend Christy and I each chose a power word to represent the New Year both at work and at home. Her word: determined. My word: focused. Christy became determined about everything and lived the word. And in the end, I seemed unfocused, unclear on almost everything.
Maybe I should just try again this year. A start of the new decade could do the trick. I started to peruse list after list online of "achievable" New Year's Resolutions for living a happier, healthier, Instagram-able life.
And none of them seemed to quite work for me:
- Explore new hobbies.
I have a 4-year-old and a 7-year-old. Therefore, I have no hobbies.
- Keep clutter out of the kitchen.
Again. I have children. Their hobbies include creating clutter. Lots of clutter.
- Read More Books. This one might work. Do BOB books count? Books for Developing Readers?
- Delegate More Chores. To who? To me? Or my 4-year-old who still needs help in the potty?
- Drink Less Alcohol. Actually, this might be my only hobby. So maybe this won't work after all.
Why do we seem to wait until January to reset, restart, redo? Maybe because we are constantly being sold that the beginning of the new year is the start of something new. When new chapters and new beginnings can happen any day, any time throughout the course of the year.
Back in February, I decided I wanted to join a board. And my friend Cate Luzio asked me to join Luminary's Advisory Board. Back in April, I decided I wanted to start writing again. Luminary introduced me to both SWAAY and FairyGodBoss and I have been fortunate to be a contributing writer for both.
Back in June, I decided it was time to start running again to improve my mental health. And I have been consistently running ever since. Back in September, I decided we needed more of a sense of community. And we have been with intention connecting with more families in Jersey City.
More to do in the next decade, but this is a good start.
And then the longer list of vices, bad habits, self-improvement urges start to creep in. All the things I should just really stop. All of the things that should become 'New Year's Resolutions'.
Why do I drink so much Starbucks. Why do I keep going back to watching Keeping Up with the Kardashians. Why do I keep saying yes to projects I don't have the band with for. Why do I eat so many Ruffles Cheddar & Sour Cream Chips. Why do I say I'll give my kids a timeout and never do. Because on some days, I am just too tired to do it and can't get off the couch.
If I flip my perspective, some of these vices, aren't vices at all. I am grateful for the caffeine treat from time to time on my super early mornings. I am grateful for a momentary break from the news cycle, to eat a bowl of chips and to watch if Kourtney will come back to film next season. I am grateful for my comfy couch - and for my kids to resolve their own fights and not be forced to sit in the corner. And I am grateful to be inspired by my work, and have the opportunity to work on a lot of great things. Sounds like the makings of a gratitude list - something that I am currently thinking about doing more consistently.
So please don't ask me about my New Year's Resolutions. Because I have none. And if I find myself watching the Kardashians again, it's okay. I'll just watch this one last episode…
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3 Min Read
With a lack of certainty surrounding the future, being and feeling healthy may help bring the security that you need during these unpredictable times.
When it comes to your health, there is a direct relationship between nutrition and physical activity that play an enormous part in physical, mental, and social well-being. As COVID-19 continues to impact almost every aspect of our lives, the uncertainty of the future may seem looming. Sometimes improvisation is necessary, and understanding how to stay healthy and fit can significantly help you manage your well-being during these times.
Tip 1: Communicate with your current wellness providers and set a plan
Gyms, group fitness studios, trainers, and professionals can help you to lay out a plan that will either keep you on track through all of the changes and restrictions or help you to get back on the ball so that all of your health objectives are met.
Most facilities and providers are setting plans to provide for their clients and customers to accommodate the unpredictable future. The key to remaining consistent is to have solid plans in place. This means setting a plan A, plan B, and perhaps even a plan C. An enormous amount is on the table for this coming fall and winter; if your gym closes again, what is your plan? If outdoor exercising is not an option due to the weather, what is your plan? Leaving things to chance will significantly increase your chances of falling off of your regimen and will make consistency a big problem.
The key to remaining consistent is to have solid plans in place. This means setting a plan A, plan B, and perhaps even a plan C.
Tip 2: Stay active for both mental and physical health benefits
The rise of stress and anxiety as a result of the uncertainty around COVID-19 has affected everyone in some way. Staying active by exercising helps alleviate stress by releasing chemicals like serotonin and endorphins in your brain. In turn, these released chemicals can help improve your mood and even reduce risk of depression and cognitive decline. Additionally, physical activity can help boost your immune system and provide long term health benefits.
With the new work-from-home norm, it can be easy to bypass how much time you are spending sedentary. Be aware of your sitting time and balance it with activity. Struggling to find ways to stay active? Start simple with activities like going for a walk outside, doing a few reps in exchange for extra Netflix time, or even setting an alarm to move during your workday.
Tip 3: Start slow and strong
If you, like many others during the pandemic shift, have taken some time off of your normal fitness routine, don't push yourself to dive in head first, as this may lead to burnout, injury, and soreness. Plan to start at 50 percent of the volume and intensity of prior workouts when you return to the gym. Inactivity eats away at muscle mass, so rather than focusing on cardio, head to the weights or resistance bands and work on rebuilding your strength.
Be aware of your sitting time and balance it with activity.
Tip 4: If your gym is open, prepare to sanitize
In a study published earlier this year, researchers found drug-resistant bacteria, the flu virus, and other pathogens on about 25 percent of the surfaces they tested in multiple athletic training facilities. Even with heightened gym cleaning procedures in place for many facilities, if you are returning to the gym, ensuring that you disinfect any surfaces before and after using them is key.
When spraying disinfectant, wait a few minutes to kill the germs before wiping down the equipment. Also, don't forget to wash your hands frequently. In an enclosed space where many people are breathing heavier than usual, this can allow for a possible increase in virus droplets, so make sure to wear a mask and practice social distancing. Staying in the know and preparing for new gym policies will make it easy to return to these types of facilities as protocols and mutual respect can be agreed upon.
Tip 5: Have a good routine that extends outside of just your fitness
From work to working out, many routines have faltered during the COVID pandemic. If getting back into the routine seems daunting, investing in a new exercise machine, trainer, or small gadget can help to motivate you. Whether it's a larger investment such as a Peloton, a smaller device such as a Fitbit, or simply a great trainer, something new and fresh is always a great stimulus and motivator.
Make sure that when you do wake up well-rested, you are getting out of your pajamas and starting your day with a morning routine.
Just because you are working from home with a computer available 24/7 doesn't mean you have to sacrifice your entire day to work. Setting work hours, just as you would in the office, can help you to stay focused and productive.
A good night's sleep is also integral to obtaining and maintaining a healthy and effective routine. Adults need seven or more hours of sleep per night for their best health and wellbeing, so prioritizing your sleep schedule can drastically improve your day and is an important factor to staying healthy. Make sure that when you do wake up well-rested, you are getting out of your pajamas and starting your day with a morning routine. This can help the rest of your day feel normal while the uncertainty of working from home continues.
Tip 6: Focus on food and nutrition
In addition to having a well-rounded daily routine, eating at scheduled times throughout the day can help decrease poor food choices and unhealthy cravings. Understanding the nutrients that your body needs to stay healthy can help you stay more alert, but they do vary from person to person. If you are unsure of your suggested nutritional intake, check out a nutrition calculator.
If you are someone that prefers smaller meals and more snacks throughout the day, make sure you have plenty of healthy options, like fruits, vegetables and lean proteins available (an apple a day keeps the hospital away). While you may spend most of your time from home, meal prepping and planning can make your day flow easier without having to take a break to make an entire meal in the middle of your work day. Most importantly, stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
Tip 7: Don't forget about your mental health
While focusing on daily habits and routines to improve your physical health is important, it is also a great time to turn inward and check in with yourself. Perhaps your anxiety has increased and it's impacting your work or day-to-day life. Determining the cause and taking proactive steps toward mitigating these occurrences are important.
For example, with the increase in handwashing, this can also be a great time to practice mini meditation sessions by focusing on taking deep breaths. This can reduce anxiety and even lower your blood pressure. Keeping a journal and writing out your daily thoughts or worries can also help manage stress during unpredictable times, too.
While the future of COVI9-19 and our lives may be unpredictable, you can manage your personal uncertainties by focusing on improving the lifestyle factors you can control—from staying active to having a routine and focusing on your mental health—to make sure that you emerge from this pandemic as your same old self or maybe even better.