Health: My 2018 Focus Word
Do you do the “pick a word” thing for the new year?
I find that it keeps me centered on one primary focus for the year, and it’s something I enjoyed doing for 2016 and 2017.
Because I’m inclined to Type-A tendencies and piling on a million goals, I think it’s really helpful to have only one word to focus on.
It doesn’t mean you can’t give other areas your attention too, but you have one focus as your main priority, and that means taking care to not let other things overshadow it.
Health as my main focus for 2018 popped into my head the beginning of December, and never went away.
I let it sit for a while, because part of me, my Type-A part I suspect, wanted a more ambitious word like “drive” or “passion.”
But nothing has felt more aligned as my main focus than my health, even though part of me fights it.
I want to share some of the ways where I plan to take this health focus into action, both for my own sake of clarity and accountability, but also in case it inspires you too.
To me there are four main elements to health: eating, fitness, sleep, and stress.
I have learned through experience that what we eat is the most important element of health.
Eating nutritious things does matter, hugely.
I know lots of people say this already, but actually experiencing its power for myself via the Whole30 I did in October, has been life-changing.
For a long time I thought I could out-exercise poor eating. There was a lot of, “Oh I’d really like to have this doughnut right now and I can just run it off later.”
As nice as that reasoning sounds, in practice it doesn’t work for me.
In case you don’t know what Whole30 is, it’s a 30-day commitment to not eating sugar, dairy, grains, legumes, alcohol, and a couple other things.
For 30 days, you eat meat, seafood, fruits, vegetables, eggs and nuts. And you cook a LOT.
After the 30 days, you reintroduce certain food groups one at a time to discover what your food intolerances are.
It empowers you with information that is specific to your own body, and you get to choose how to act with that information.
What I learned after my Whole30 experience is that the way I eat had to change drastically.
The difference in how I felt and how my body felt during the Whole30 was too dramatic to ignore, and go back to the way I was eating.
I’m still processing and testing out different foods, and part of this year’s focus will be fine-tuning what this new lifestyle looks like.
In the meantime, I am back to eating Whole30 compliant and testing a few more foods.
If you’ve ever though about doing a Whole30 and have any questions about it, please feel free to reach out and I can share some tips and advice with you. I’ve had a lot of people reach out already saying they were inspired to do it, and that makes me really excited for you!
What our skin is eating matters too
I’ve thought consciously about the food I put into my body for the last 11 years, but only in the past year did I discover that what we put ON our body matters too.
I recently saw this article about a mother discovering her daughter’s makeup palette had asbestos in it, and it makes me shake my head.
I see more and more stories in the media like this, and in some ways it’s a good thing because more people are becoming aware of the reality that cosmetics in the US are not FDA regulated.
Last year I started checking ingredients in the products I was using and switching slowly to responsible companies using safe ingredients.
Most of the makeup and skin products I’m using are from Beautycounter, who bans over 1500 ingredients from their products.
In 2018 I plan to continue switching over the products I use to safer ones, and also help others become aware and make transitions to safer products too.
I’ve tried out almost all of the products they carry (and I use their kids shampoo and baby oil for my son James), so if you have any questions please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I can share my thoughts.
Fitness and exercise is an interesting topic to talk about because it’s something so many people dread.
Even though I have been exercising consistently since I was in middle school, I have dreaded it for most of my life too. My consistency was mostly attributed to my willpower and guilt tripping myself into getting off my rear and moving my body.
There is a lot of advice out there about how the key to liking exercise is finding a movement that feels fun and exciting to you, whether it be jazzercise, lifting weights, swimming, etc.
I agree with that as a start, but I think more than anything, I have found that my natural drive and motivation for exercise has come from an appreciation and love for my body.
And truth be told, that love and appreciation from my body came after the long battle that I had with my herniated disk, and my inevitable spine surgery.
I went through three years of my mobility and movement taken from me, and I no longer take the ability to move for granted.
But isn’t this something we all know already? To not take things for granted?
It can be hard to take other people’s experiences to heart when we haven’t experienced them ourselves.
Every time I exercise, even when I don’t feel like it, I try to remember that it is a gift to my body and to myself.
One of my personal heroes, Melissa Hartwig, once said on Instagram that she moves for the joy of it.
That really resonated with me and is an attitude that I have adopted. It makes all the difference.
How I exercise:
A couple years ago I fell in LOVE with lifting weights, which I never thought I’d say.
I had never done any weightlifting until after my spine surgery, when I decided I never wanted to let trauma happen to my body ever again, and invested in an incredible trainer in NYC.
Nothing has built pride and love for my body like weight lifting has. Being strong feels good, and has had positive effects on far more than just my mobility.
My trainer has no doubt changed my life, and if you’re interested in weightlifting, I recommend finding a really good trainer who can teach proper form. And if you’re in the NYC area, go see Matt!
Aside from lifting, I also like treating myself to long walks or hikes where I can appreciate nature too. It’s so rejuvenating!
This is a hard one with a toddler, but I know I can make better sleep happen.
I’ve been reading a lot of books on health lately and they’ve really driven home how important sleep is, and how it affects everything else in your day-to-day, like your cravings, stress, and of course energy.
Pete and I have a habit of staying up late because after James goes to bed at 8pm, that is our only true time without baby to get our own stuff done and relax. But what happens is we stay up until 11 or 12, then get up at the crack of dawn when James is up.
For 2018, I have started prioritizing going to sleep by 10:30 at the latest and it has been nice to wake up and not feel like a mess.
We have also started eating dinner earlier, which really helps everything else move up too.
Ahhh…stress, my lifelong nemesis.
My husband has joked that there’s nothing in life that doesn’t stress me out.
It’s only funny because it’s kind of true.
The eating, the exercise, and the sleep are the easiest to change when it comes to my health, but I know the stress will be the hardest.
“Never enough” – The root of stress in my life
I figured out at the end of last year that what underlies most of my stress is the feeling that despite more and more in my life, it is never enough.
I’ve been working with an incredible life coach, Kim Argetsinger, who has helped me work through many of my obstacles around this and around stress in general.
One of the biggest keys to overcoming all of this has been taking a different perspective on what the human experience is.
There’s a loudly spoken idea out there that we should be happy all the time, and when you’re not, you think something is wrong with you and something has to change.
But I’ve realized that the full human experience isn’t all happiness, but also involves struggle, discomfort, and growth too.
And somehow I have come to view this as a good thing! Haha. It truly does put me at ease.
I also highly recommend Brooke Castillo’s podcast. She’s amazing and her podcasts have changed my life perspectives big time.
In 2018 I am also trying out more meditation, and we’ll see how it goes. I have dabbled in meditation quite a few times in the past and it never stuck, but I’m trying again.
I will keep you posted on my journey as I navigate this next year.
Thanks for being here
If you’ve read down this far, thanks for being here and sharing this with me. I’m looking forward to sharing more of my journey with you this year.
Do you have any intentions or goals for 2018? I’d love to hear in the comments below.