Springing forward into healthy habits is a yearly ritual in our family. Winter always sees us getting relaxed, less disciplined, falling into frumpery a bit. So we look forward to renewing our once-healthy habits around this time of year.
Dramatic changes can be enticing. There's something exciting about the idea of changing EVERYTHING....NOW! Intense diets, master cleanses, fitness challenges-- these methods have their place, they may act as a catalyst for long-term changes. But in general, dramatic changes are not sustainable.
What we need here are baby steps.
With the little one around, I can speak from some authority on baby steps. Baby steps are not just small steps. They are halting, they are unsure but persistent. Baby steps frequently end in falls, but you pick right back up again. They may not always go in a straight line, but they get there. They don't give up.
Baby steps are learning how to carry forward in the new way you want to move. And once you learn to walk, then you can learn to run.
So this is how I recommend approaching getting into healthy habits. Rather than jump on board with some dramatic weight loss routine or big fasting cleanse, start small. Make a sustainable change.
Is there something that has worked for you in the past? That's the best place to start. Picking up an old healthy habit is much easier than adopting a new one. If not, just pick one or two changes you'd like to make in your daily life, and stick with these changes for a couple of weeks.
I'm picking up a few of my old healthy habits that have fallen into disuse. Maybe some of my recommitments will inspire some ideas for you.
1) Meal-planning and preparation.
Sometimes we are utterly exhausted once the baby is in bed, and it can be hard to motivate myself to cook. But it's non-negotiable. Taking the time to plan ahead and know what I'm going to cook is helpful. Then I make dinners and lunches in the same evening, or on an easier day I may prepare multiple meals ahead of time. But the key is just doing it, and not leaving it to the last minute.
2) Yoga or stretching and meditation before bed.
Sleep is incredibly important to me, and it doesn't happen in a full uninterrupted night with the baby around, so it's hard to convince myself to stay awake any later in order to do some yoga. But it is SUCH a wonderful habit. Evening yoga stretches ease daily stresses away, leaving the body so relaxed. It increases circulation and smooths out muscles for an ache-free night of sleep. And a few minutes of quiet meditation before bed lead to a peaceful and easier falling-in to sleep. This is a habit Jason and I have returned to many times, and are always so thankful for how well we feel after doing it.
3) Outside time.
As the days begin lengthening, it is easier to spend a little time outdoors every day again. This is a habit I began with my son, because it was something I wanted to provide for him. No surprise I found it was also nice for me. It is remarkably easy to find myself living a whole day without intentionally spending any time outdoors. (Going from car to building doesn't count, people!) Even if it's only a quick 10-minute walk, some small time breathing the fresh air with my feet on the ground is a healthy and restorative habit I am looking forward to renewing.
That's it! Three simple and small things that I am recommitting to this week. In the coming weeks, there will be bigger changes. There will be healthier dietary habits, new fitness routines, cleansey-detoxy things.....but this is not the way to start.
My healthy habits are sustainable habits. They have been regular habits in the past, and this is why they are so easy to pick back up. Here we go, baby-stepping back in to what has worked before and will continue to work for many months to come.