I am popping into your inbox NOT with a Black Friday deal or Cyber Monday deal. I am not asking you to buy ONE more THING. I’m also not here to tell you to get back on track or how to detox after enjoying your Thanksgiving meal. I hope you know me better by now. Now, if you are still eating pecan pie every night that’s another story. . .
I’m here to talk to you a little about this month. You know, December. It’s a pretty chaotic, fun, crazy, stressful time for lots of folks – especially moms. When my boys were younger and I worked full time, I felt like Christmas was another full time job on top of my already full time job. Exhausting. I started thinking about ways to wind down this year and step into the new year feeling good, healthy and strong. I recently had a well-known self-improvement guru come across my Instagram feed. She was talking about this last 30 days and not waiting until January to begin your goal. Then I felt as if she began yelling at me about not doing enough, not starting today, waiting to begin and if I wasn’t going to start now, then I was failing. Now, I get the whole don’t overdo all month and wait until Jan. 1 to begin that diet. (I’m all non-diet, remember?) But, I had to turn her off because I didn’t need to be yelled at right then. (maybe later if I’m being super lazy and putting off whaterver it is I am wanting to do). So, I’m here to say I’m not going to yell at you about how you spend your December, but I am going to encourage you, and hopefully, get you thinking about how you want to end this year and begin the next.
If you follow me on Instagram then you may have seen I recently did a self-imposed 30 Day Yoga Challenge. I did some form of yoga every single day, whether it was only 5 minutes before getting in the shower, a class or an at home practice and it truly felt wonderful. It simply became a habit that I’m still doing. Since I like a challenge, I’m thinking this month is the perfect time to begin a challenge to make this a healthy month and help with habits that you will take into the new year that promote all the things I love to encourage – health, wellness, well-being, longevity and a healthy lifestyle.
When I began the Nutritious Life certification program, the certification centered around 8 Pillars of health. I thought it would be great if we could focus on these 8 healthy habits this month so we could really feel good during December and begin 2020 healthy and strong.
8 Goals for Your Best December
1. Eat Empowered
You know I’m a fan of a non-diet lifestyle. I admit it’s taken me awhile to get here and learn what feels best for me – actually listen and think about the choices, rather than what would taste or feel good right in the moment. I’m definitely not saying I always make the healthiest choices because this is real life, but being consistent in eating real foods that are nutrient dense, unprocessed and natural, outweights the indulgences of wine, cheese and the chocolate covered nuts that just landed on our doorstep.
The healthiest diet is an approach to eating that fuels your body and mind and fits into your lifestyle. Eating empowered means listening—really listening—to your body and focusing on different, tasty, healthy foods you get to have rather than focusing on what you cannot have on a strict diet. (Think, I get to have these delicious fresh blueberries, rather than I can’t have these greasy, fried french fries). Eating these good foods always makes me feel like the best version of myself.
When I am being mindful of what I’m eating I am more motivated to eat well, exercise, and follow better healthier habits. So, I’m not saying to ignore the good stuff during this month, I’m encouraging you to consistently eat mindfully and well, so you can enjoy what you want without the guilt and still feel your best.
2. Water, Water, Water
I am convinced that water is THE answer to almost anything. Proper hydration aids digestion, boosts energy, and promotes great skin. Drinking water is one of the best things we can do to support healthy eating habits. We all know this right? This month, let’s make this high on the list of priorities.
3. Stress Less
If I had the magic answer as to how to stress less, I’d be able to buy my own island. It is everywhere and it threatens our wellness in SO many different ways. It sabotages healthy eating habits, contributes to inflammation, makes us hungrier (or so we think), causes sugar cravings and depletes energy, causes really poor sleep, which then causes more stress (or at least it does in me). It also makes us grouchy or short-tempered so it affects how we treat those around us. Stress is a normal part of life, but learning to manage it is crucial to keeping our physical, emotional and mental health. December can be an especially stressful month. So, as we enter this Season and exit this year, my goal is to manage the daily, weekly and overall stress that comes creeping in or even slamming down. We all have different methods of de-stressing or dealing with these situations. For me, exercise, finding some quiet, saying “NO” to things and venting it out to my dogs (or a very patient friend or two) go a long way to helping ease stress. What we don’t need to do, is cover it up, ignore it, get even more wound up or try to drink or eat it away.
Now, I’m here to tell you that this one will be the one that will do me in. I know what it’s like to try to get those magic eight hours of sleep and put my head on the pillow and completely fail to fall asleep. Quality sleep is essential to living well. I do know that. This month I’m continuing to focus on getting to bed at a good hour, winding down, and actually sleeping. In fact, the Third Son has berated me so on having both dogs in the room with me making noises, I’ve moved the big dog (that sounds like a horse all night long) back to his cozy kennel. So, whatever you need to do to get some sleep, just do it. No one wants you tired, sluggish and grouchy.
5. Love More
A big part of living well is having healthy relationships. Since I am a single mom of three boys I’m not going to go into the health benefits of a healthy sex life, but just let me say ALL the experts out there say it reduces stress and boosts feel-good hormones that make other healthy habits—like deep sleep and smart food choices—fall into place. I’ll just say that spreading love to those around us, whether they are spouses, family, friends and co-workers can also contribute to a healthier, happier lifestyle. This is definitely the month to think about spreading the love.
6. Live Consciously
I have, as a whole, really focused on living more intentionally. In all areas. Where I spend my time. How I spend my money. With whom I hang out with. What I say “yes” to and what I say “no” to. Where can I do the most good? This month can be so chaotic with far too many things going on. How often have you found yourself attending one more thing or fitting in one more project simply because “Tis the Season? For a Season of joy, so many of these things may be actually robbing you of your joy. Don’t let that happen! Thinking about each day with purpose as we wind down this year. There are only so many days in December. How do you really want to experience them – for yourself, for your family, for your community? Because when you live with purpose, you treat yourself better. You’ll sleep well at night, too, knowing you’re sticking to your principles.
7. Nurture Yourself
I’ve said it before, self-care is really thing. It’s not all about manicures, massages and bubble baths. Although I’m definitely not against any of those! It’s about how you take care of yourself. Running yourself ragged so you are exhausted and look and feel like crap is not self-care. Taking care of yourself is taking time to fill that water bottle, get to bed on time, eat good foods, take a night off on the couch with the Hallmark movie, actually making time for you so that you then have the energy for those around you and all the fun things this month brings.
8. Sweat Often
A good sweat is pure magic. And I’m not saying to sweat and exercise just to burn calories or because you overindulged at that Christmas Cookie Exchange. Heck no. Working out is about SO. much. more. Regular exercise protects against heart disease, keeps your joints working and helps build lean muscle, which all work to promote longevity. (my favorite word!) It’s also one of the best endorphin boosting thing you can do for yourself, especially during a time when many people can get a bit blue. I know all the excuses this month brings, too. But, honestly, if you can even do 10 minutes, (like I did during my 30 day yoga Challenge recently), take the stairs, and park waaaaayy back in the parking lot of the mall, you’ll feel better on those days.
I’m actually looking forward to this month and all it brings. I’m also really looking forward to beginning a new year feeling healthy and strong. I hope you will look at your month and ways to make it your best. I hope you’ll try these eight habits, some may be more difficult to incorporate than others, and that’s part of the challenge for you. This is my non-yelling, less than perfect, unbossy way to encourage you to make this your best December.