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{Note from Jessica: Today’s post is shared by my good friend, Lauren, author of Lauren Fowler. She is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) and yoga teacher who promotes a non-diet approach to nutrition and health. She wants everyone to connect to their bodies intuitive wisdom rather than following diets. She encourages the tools of intuitive eating and health at every size. Stop by LaurenFlower.co to read more about nutrition, intuitive eating, heart-based health, and yoga.}

When January hits every year, my newsfeed is filled with statuses of New Year’s resolutions and goals of getting healthy and fit. While I always support people’s steps towards a healthier lifestyle, our culture ends up taking health to the extreme in January, only to “fall off the bandwagon” in February.

This year, focus on taking sustainable steps towards better overall health meaning, physical, mental, or emotional health. Start to create intentions and daily routines that support your well-being and will add up towards better energy, digestion, or a happier mindset.

Here are some ideas of common resolutions and new intentions to set instead:

Old Resolution: “I will lose xx amount of weight.”
New Intention: “I will nourish my body with healthy habits.”

Weight loss is always a top resolution, which makes sense because we are a culture obsessed with weight loss. Doctors tell their patients to lose weight multiple times a day, and nearly all articles on health and nutrition focus on weight loss. While weight loss itself isn’t a bad thing, switch your intention to weight loss towards nourishing your body.

This mindset switch can help you focus on what really matters – feeling good in your body, having the energy to live your life, or helping to manage any symptoms or disease states in your body, like blood sugar imbalances or digestive concerns.

When you switch from a weight-focus to a health-focus, you can create daily routines that can support your life. These may include taking time to cook meals at home, eating more whole foods and plants, taking a daily walk, or drinking more water. It’s these daily actions that will cultivate health over time, and your body will find its natural balance.

It will also help you create sustainable habits for life rather than a single goal. Many people can lose weight following diet plans, but they are typically not sustainable, and usually, people regain weight (and more) as a rebound effect. Instead, creating daily healthy habits helps your body feel balanced and supported.

Old Resolution: “I will get fit or six-pack abs.”
New Intention: “I will move my body with joy.”

Starting to workout for the first time – or starting back up again – can be an intimidating and exciting time. Many people want to go full-force and workout for 1-2 hours a day for the first week with goals of getting in shape fast, only to feel painfully sore and tired and rest on the couch the following week.

Instead, switch this intention to moving your body with joy. You don’t have to go to CrossFit or spinning class if you don’t enjoy it. Find a form of movement that you really enjoy, and do that. It may be walking, hiking, dance, yoga, or weightlifting.

All forms of movement can get your body moving to leave you feeling energized and your mind clear. There’s no need to push your body until you collapse or hate every moment of working out. In reality, movement is meant to feel good on the body – we’re made to move with joy. This year, create a new relationship with exercise so you actually look forward to movement.

Perhaps, your intention may be to try out new exercise classes, create a hiking, running, or walking group with your friends, or add more movement in throughout the day, like a lunch break walk or a short yoga flow at home in the morning.

Old Resolution: “I will give up sugar/alcohol/carbs/etc.”
New Intention: “I will be mindful with my eating and honor my body’s cravings.”

While there is certainly a place for removing certain foods from your diet, such as in the case of food sensitivities or elimination diets for health concerns, giving up entire foods or groups typically leads to a deprivation mindset. I see it all the time : clients try to cut out all sugar only to binge on brownies a few weeks later.

Your brain doesn’t like to hear “NO,” so when you tell yourself you “can’t” have carbs or sugar or other foods, that’s all you are going to crave. Instead, switch to practicing more mindfulness around food.

Take the time to listen to your body’s wisdom and cravings – you may be surprised by what it’s telling you. While you may crave chocolate or carbs, you may also crave whole, nourishing foods as well. Create healthy habits towards eating balanced meals with an abundance of whole foods, but also allow yourself to mindfully eat whatever you would like.

When you allow all foods in your diet, it’s easier to find real balance and moderation. Since you can have sugar any time, you can pay attention to your body and realize that it feels good to have a home-cooked dinner, followed by a square or two of dark chocolate. You may realize that your body feels sluggish or tired after eating a lot of sugar or drinking a lot of alcohol.

When you are mindful with your eating, you also can enjoy your food a lot more. Instead of feeling guilty while eating a cookie, you can slow down and savor it. Be choosy with your foods as well – choose high-quality treats that you will really enjoy.

If you’re feeling frustrated about not being able to make lasting changes in the past, now’s the perfect chance to switch to intentional mindsets for better health. You have the power to make positive shifts in your health, and it all starts by setting intentions towards taking care of yourself. Set the intention, choose a realistic action step, and go for it.

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