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Starting a Healthier Lifestyle in the New Year

By Ashlie Castaldo

Very rarely does a new year start as a reset of quiet reflection. My own new year has been a beginning of chaos: a barrage of holiday get-togethers punctuated with illness. This has made me more determined to ensure that 2020 is a year filled with peace, happiness and health. I have spent some time considering how to put that goal into action and it ultimately comes down to living with intentionality, community and abundant nutrition. Take a few simple tips and implement them into your lives today!

Good, Clean Food

It is extremely common practice to take on ‘starting a diet’ as a New Year’s resolution. The problem however, is that dieting and thus food omission is a recipe for success: we most want what we cannot have and then binge since we know we won’t have it for a while. It’s a destructive cycle. What is most beneficial is altering portion size and maximizing your nutritional foundation. Treats like salty or sugary food or alcohol can be imbibed in, but decrease the amount of those items at a consistent and manageable pace. I enjoy a good drink, but some examples of personal changes include moving from spirits to solely wine and now having a glass every other day as opposed to daily. Each change becomes the new normal and I do not miss it or have urges. It is also incredibly important to create a list of healthy, easy to make snacks such as unsalted popcorn, trail mix or apples with peanut butter. Snacking is where I mentally get most caught up in failure since ‘bad’ food is so easy to access in a pinch, and I become less hungry later on for dense, healthy greens. Making wellness easier to access than poor decisions puts success at the forefront. Finally, I have also begun calorie counting via an app. It gives me time to intentionally plan through what I want to think, and consider what I want to put into my body that tastes and feels good.

A Circle of Friends

An important thing to consider is also the change in weather. Cold or dull weather can affect our moods, making us just as drab and blue as the outside. This makes it even more vital that we find ways to bring color into our lives: through loving relationships and brightening memories. I am naturally introverted, but I have made it important to set aside planned time for friends and family. This gives me the time I need to myself, sets boundaries, but also tethers myself to human connection. Joining community meetups or visiting new hot spots are a fantastic way to make new friendships and increase one's perception of the world to include more diverse opinions. Seeing a new place can inspire a fun new hobby that will strengthen your self image/identity. The greatest relationship I have invested in this month has been my dog though. Each time I gave a pet or snuggled, I immediately felt more calm and loved. While having a cold, my dog being near allowed me to feel understood and comforted.

Just Think About It

In the midst of multiple life changes, I have had to think about the direction I want to take. I do not enjoy feeling miserable so while I was sick, I had to make a choice and make it clear to others that getting sleep was a priority for me. I usually sleep between 7-8 hours, but I wake up frequently. So I actively made the choice to take steps toward more restorative, longer sleep. I also have added small forms of skincare to my daily routine (ex. A weekly face mask, nightly serum and taking baths). This gives me a few brief moments to become reenergized or some time to relax and release. Finally, I have become more aware of the importance of listening and working on communication techniques. My marriage is a foundation of personal strength for me, and when that is functioning well, a lot of other facets of my life follow as well.

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