I've been reading a lot of blogs already this year about how to have the best year ever. The advice ranges from make no resolutions to make just one resolution to make just a few resolutions. But I think we can all agree on a couple of things:
1) We want to be healthy. Perhaps losing weight, or giving up grains, or drinking less alcohol, or exercising more will improve our health. But if we look upon any of these practices as a burden or as rules that society or some authority is imposing on us, we will probably make our resolutions halfheartedly and soon throw them out the window in favor of increased binge drinking, overeating, and couch potatoism.
2) We want to be happy. Sometimes it feels like binge drinking, overeating, and couch potatoing will make us happy. But this is probably a short-term view. The long-term effects of these practices will most likely not bring real happiness.
I was going to write more but I realized that it all boils down to these two very basic needs. And for many of us, I think these two basic needs seem to be in conflict: How can I be happy without a piece of cake? What is life if I can't eat a cookie? I can only relax and unwind after a stressful day with a glass of wine in my hand. I don't have time to get to the gym so how can I exercise?
Personal experience tells me that these sometimes seemingly opposite needs can truly come together as one. But it definitely takes an attitude adjustment.
I recently returned from a long vacation. I had decided in advance that I was going completely off my diet and would consume anything and everything I wanted over the ten days. And I went for it. Whole hog. I drank plenty of wine, ate bread and sweet stuff, never gave a thought to vegetables, fiber, or my health. The results? MAJOR bloating, weight gain, difficult (or complete lack of) elimination, headaches, acne, pain in my wisdom teeth, general aches and pains. (It may not seem obvious, but dental health is directly related to sugar consumption. Not just sugar on your teeth, but sugar in your diet as a whole.)
Now that I am home again, and it is a new year, I am returning to my previous plan: the Whole 30. (Read my blogs about this program from last Sept. if you want more info.) The basics are: NO sugar or sugar substitutes, grains, processed foods, alcohol, legumes, preservatives, or junk food. Only WHOLE foods: meat, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, veggies and fruit. Coffee and tea are fine. Dairy is usually eliminated as well, but I know my body can handle dairy without problems, so I eat small amounts. I would welcome anyone who would like to participate with me! Share your comments or questions and I will support you as best I can.
Integrating true health with true happiness might mean small changes for some people, or monumental shifts in perspective for others, depending on how deeply entrenched your current habits are. If you are always looking to food to lift your mood or bring you comfort, this might be an opportunity to reach out to friends, books, family, spiritual practices, or other avenues of finding joy. And if you've been drinking alcohol to relax every single day for the past thirty years, then giving up that glass (or bottle) of wine will be no small feat. Many people will need professional help. Now is a great time to reach out and get the help you need. Why wait another year?