I have never been a New Year's Resolutions maker. Long ago I learned that very rarely does this well-intentioned practice significantly impact the actions that people take in real life.
The most common result of New Year's Resolutions is probably more negative than positive. In my experience, failing to follow through on promises leads to failure messages that my mind applies to feelings about myself. Like there is something wrong with me. This is absolutely not a positive outcome to an undertaking that was intended for my betterment.
Is this a familiar story?
Practical, Reasonable, & Flexible
There are 'experts' whom I have heard describe their daily self care routines. It's a full time job! Meditation (for two hours!?), several forms of exercise and movement, self healing, special foods, and on and on. My mind says, "When is there time for work?" Following this sort of regimen is not realistic for most people.
What average people need is practical, reasonable, and flexible ways to incorporate supportive practices.
Develop Healthy Habits - Any Time of Year
What becomes available when efforts made to improve are released from the pressure of 'starting the year off right'? The development and ongoing execution of supportive practices becomes a part of normal, everyday life. As everyday life is where the practice of habits makes a difference, why not begin them that way?
Personally, any time I have something that I decide would be beneficial for me to incorporate, I add it. (Following guidelines that are described near the end of this post.) This is part of my ongoing journey of growth and development as a human being.
Categories of Habits
I have perspectives about self care that may be different from any you have heard. I categorize my lifestyle habits. Here are some examples.
Automatic. When it comes to foundations like diet, there are standards which I follow automatically. This is the way that I eat, without question. I do not consume foods containing gluten, or things coming out of packages with lists of questionable ingredients. It is normal and automatic to cook from scratch almost everything that my husband and I consume. I recognize that not everyone can do this. I consider myself fortunate that I can.
Toothbrushing, flossing, and tongue scraping are automatic. Though to be truthful, when it's inconvenient, I occasionally skip it at night. My ongoing level of oral care is high enough that I accept an occasional slide.
Well established. Other habits are established standards in my routine, and I mostly follow them. Making exceptions as frequently as several times a week is acceptable.
Intermittent fasting works fabulously for me. Normally, I have one large meal around 5:00 p.m., (with nutritional supplements earlier). Reasonably frequently, I choose to eat lunch. Not because I have to eat to stave off hunger, but because I feel like eating with my husband. Since switching to this way of eating, I never feel starved. I may be a little hungry late in the morning, but if I don't eat, the hunger sensation dissipates, as my body burns fat for fuel. (NOTE: Please do not attempt to jump into intermittent fasting. Educate yourself first. Intermittent fasting does not work successfully for everyone. I will write about it sometime in the Forks for Health blog. Note: Forks for Health is no longer active.)
I limit my consumption of sweets. This is not a strict ban. I choose treats of relatively high quality, mostly making them myself, using whole food ingredients and less sweetening than commercial products contain.
Oil pulling is a practice that I perform about three times a week. It clears bacteria from the mouth. As most bacteria enter the body through the mouth, this decreases the body-wide populations of potentially problematic bacteria. Part of me thinks that oil pulling daily would be better, but I choose to be okay with half that. I blogged about oil pulling in 2013. Read the post in the Forks for Health blog (Forks for Health is no longer active. If you are interested, please contact me.)
On and off. I know that these practices would be good for me to follow consistently, but I am never successful in maintaining them. Understanding this, I do not give myself a hard time. Instead, I adjust my expectations and implementation. Frequently, I drop these habits when I am away from home, because all of my routines are harder to stick to. My intention is to pick them back up when I return home, but sometimes it doesn't happen. When I start feeling negative impacts, I get started again.
Short duration, high intensity weight bearing exercise. The program I do is Metabolic Aftershock. Twenty-minute workouts that get me breathing hard and sweating (but not too much), and that tire my muscles. This positively impacts metabolism, strength, and bone health. I stick with this program, because it is short, convenient, and effective. When away from home, I mostly drop this out. If I delay in putting it back into my routine, my back and neck bother me. (If you want to check out Metabolic Aftershock, here is my affiliate link to a short survey about what you are interested in - weight issues; or muscle, bone, and overall health building.)
Emotional and spiritual self healing modalities. Recently I started doing The Healing Codes and The Body Code most days. I've been a practitioner of these modalities for years, but never consistently done them for myself. Now that I am, it really makes a difference. When I drop this one, putting it back into the mix is so worthwhile. I will write about this soon, because I have had amazing revelations through this self-healing practice. Visit my website page for these modalities.
'Wanna Be' habits. These are things that I think would be beneficial for me to add, but I'm not yet incorporating them. Get outside to walk every day. This occurs as a 'should' to me, but I know that I would fail. Get back to consistently walking 10,000 or even 5,000 steps every day. This would be easier to accomplish. I used to be regular at 5,000, but dropped away from it when I started doing Metabolic Aftershock. 'Hang from my arms' every day. I do it occasionally, but nowhere near daily. (All of my wanna be habits are influenced by Katy Bowman, the biomechanist whose work I am forever recommending. Katy rocks! Check out her new website. Read her books, listen to her podcast. It will change your life.)
Living By Design
Here's an interesting Human Design tidbit. People with the Gate 5 in their charts are designed to follow routines. Some of them stick to habits for the rest of their lives. (Personally, I can't imagine what this would be like.) Gate 15 people may have routines that change over time. For Gate 5 and 15 people, routines, schedules, and habits are likely to be ongoing life themes. Though you may or may not be successful in following routines.
If you have neither of these Gates in your Human Design chart, you may still have issues with routines and habits. Everyone has everything in the chart.
If you want to see your Human Design chart, I send them free to anyone, by request. Please visit the Human Design pages of this website.
Strategies for Incorporating Self-Care
Can you see how the dynamics of lifestyle habits can be ever-changing? If you decide to establish a habit, here are some considerations.
For any given habit that you want to begin . . .
- If you are new to this, Start Slowly and make it EASY. Add ONE thing at a time. Set yourself up to succeed.
- How will it benefit you? Understand WHY you want to do this. If you have no 'why', you will not do it. (For me, seeing the science behind the impact of consuming a food puts a lot of weight behind my choices.)
- Are you taking this on because YOU want to? Or is someone else pushing you? If someone else is the driving force, you will probably fail once that person's influence evaporates.
- Does this FEEL good to you? Does it feel RIGHT? Do you REALLY want it? If not, then the plan won't stick.
- Are your expectations reasonable? Make your standards for success achievable. If the goals are impossibly high, it's an almost guaranteed failure. It is possible that you will never even start.
- It will probably take longer than you think to have the performance of new supportive activities become an actual habit. One month is better than no time at all, but realistically you may need to put effort into this for three months or longer. Are you up for that?
Consider implementing the following free external support structures . . .
- Engage a buddy who is also choosing to develop a habit. It may be the same habit, or a different one. Check in with each other about your progress. This is mutually supportive.
- For some activities, you might benefit from doing them with a buddy. Walking and exercise are obvious habits where buddying up is helpful.
- Track your activities on a calendar. This is the single most helpful thing for me in habit development and maintenance. The things that you measure are the things that will improve. Any calendar will do, and record your activities in whatever manner makes sense to you. On days that I do Metabolic Aftershock, I put MA and the workout number on the calendar.
And finally, . . .
Celebrate Your Success
Absolutely do not mentally beat yourself up for allowing a habit to fall away. Any tiny bit of progress is worthy of celebration. You are farther for having set a goal than if you had never begun.
Evaluate whether or not you want to jump back into any supportive practices that you have dropped. Does your plan need to be modified?
Remember to . . .
Celebrate Your Success!
Create Your Life Every Day in 2016!
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Create Your Life Every Day in 2016!
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Licensed Massage Practitioner (WA State)
Human Design Specialist
Healing Codes Practitioner, The Emotion Code/The Body Code Practitioner
Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. As a Functional Diagnostic Nutrition practitioner, I can help you identify imbalances and malfunctions in your body's ability to function and heal. As bodywork practitioner and a practitioner of emotional and energetic healing modalities, I am able to provide recommendations to assist you in taking care of yourself. However, I cannot diagnose or treat any condition. Nothing in this post is designed to diagnose or treat any condition. At the bottom of this page is a link to a more extensive disclaimer.
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