New Year’s traditions vary in the United States and certainly across cultures, but all almost always include a social element to the festivities. Just think about Times Square before the ball drops or grabbing the first person you see to kiss at midnight. There are parties, champagne, and fireworks. “Auld Lang Syne” is sung with good cheer in high hopes that this new year will be better than the last. “Out with the old and in with the new” is celebrated.
Then there are also the not-so-good traditions like reaching for “the hair of the dog” the next morning; admittedly not the best way to kick off a new year. I am lucky enough to have a “Southern Mom” who makes collards, black-eyed peas, and cornbread on the first day of the year, which keeps me pretty honest about how many times I raise my glass in good cheer the night before. And then there is the setting of resolutions, which can be so stressful! These are often problematic and almost always broken by St. Patrick’s day.
Why are New Year’s resolutions so problematic and hard to keep? One of the reasons is that they are just too generic. By very definition, a resolution is a firm decision to do or not to do something, but it lacks actionable items beyond the thought of maybe joining a gym. And there is frequently no reasonable framework of attainability. There are a whole twelve months with which to work and yet we typically hang everything on two weeks out of the gate—with the first two days spent in recovery. Do a Google search of the top ten New Year’s resolutions and the first three will invariably be diet, exercise, and to quit some bad habit that has followed you around for too long. Here is a thought: Chances are pretty high that I did not achieve my Jennifer Aniston body and lifestyle last year and that I may not this coming year either. Wouldn’t I be wise to reevaluate my decision-making skills?
Another thing that has always been confusing to me is that, while the US is one of the most individualistic societies on the planet, there is an insistence on “one size fits all” blanket solution for health. We want to work on our “diet” but we are also very bio-individual. What works for me may not work for you. The current trend is keto crazed, but what if I have a sluggish gallbladder and can’t digest all that fat? What if I need some leafy greens and sweet potato? Cooked or raw? That will depend on how my body best processes those foods. I also don’t understand why we join in community to bring in the new year and then withdraw to work on our problems in isolation. Eating is a social activity and there is research that suggests sharing a meal reduces stress, which improves digestion. (Sharing a meal does not mean a breakfast sandwich in the car on the way to school or work.)
So this year, my one and only resolution is to only work within the context of kindness, truth, and curiosity. Now, that is a good, solid resolution that can play out in many different ways. I resolve to be kind to the person who cuts me off in traffic and not ride up on the tail of the offending car. I vow to be truthful about my negative reaction and to be curious about why I am in such a rush anyway. The other nine resolutions of my top ten, I will turn into SMART goals; goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time bound. Think about it: If I really want to effectuate change, I need a solid plan. Take the common resolution of diet and turn it into a goal of making better food choices by paying specific attention to what you are eating, as opposed to should be eating. Eliminate the word “should” from your vocabulary and pay attention to what is.
For 2019, be kind to yourself and address the issue of diet in manageable steps. Be truthful and set a doable schedule with actionable items to be broken down into the available twelve months within which we have to get things done. Get help if you need it. Be curious and take a culinary adventure to all parts of the globe. Start with “Taco Tuesday,” then go to the South of France in January and chimichurri in Argentina for February. Don’t do it alone either. Have a pot luck or cook with friends, inviting the warmth of friendship and community into your home to keep that New Year fire burning. And most important of all, have a Happy New Year 2019.
Quality coffee is high in antioxidants and can be a great way to start the morning. So, in keeping with the theme of kindness (and kindness to yourself), don’t give up coffee if you don’t want to. Instead, try a delicious cup of java that packs a powerful nutritional punch!
1 cup single origin organic coffee
1 scoop collagen protein
1 teaspoon unsalted grass-fed butter or ghee
1 teaspoon MCT or coconut oil
Note: You can adjust butter and coconut oil quantity up to 2 to 3 tablespoons
Brew your coffee. Add collagen, grass-fed butter or ghee, and MCT oil or coconut oil. Blend together for 20 to 30 seconds, or until well incorporated. Enjoy!
Carrie Brown Reilly, NPT, 541/222-0841, firstname.lastname@example.org, balancednpt.com