At the beginning of a new year, many of the things we strive for as moms, including good health, abundant energy, and peace of mind, seem like they might actually be possible. We feel a bit more optimistic now than we do later in the year, and may think to ourselves, “I might actually be able to ______ this year.” And then we fill in the blank with something we really want to do – eat healthier, lose weight, get more sleep, start to exercise, live with less stress, or work on a big goal.
If you’ve been thinking about doing one (or more) of those things in 2017 – or thinking about taking care of yourself in another way, I encourage you to take steps now to make it happen. Don’t wait until the January doldrums hit, the kids are back in school, and schedules are starting to go crazy again. Instead, put some things in place now that will jumpstart your efforts to live calmer, stronger or healthier in the coming year.
The first step is to get clear on your goals. Pick one or two areas related to your physical health, emotional health or peace of mind that you want to improve next year.
Then decide specifically what you want to change and write it down – “I will exercise for 30 minutes five days a week.” “I will say ‘no’ to any new commitments for the next six months.” “I will sleep for at least seven hours a night most days of the week.” Or whatever is most important to you.
Finally, decide on two or three simple tasks you can do this week to get a head start on reaching your goals. The specific tasks you pick will depend on your goals, but here are 8 ideas to help you get started:
- Take a hard look at your calendar. Every healthy living goal you want to achieve this year requires the one thing that’s always in shortest supply for moms – time. Eating well, exercising, sleeping – they all take time. If you don’t figure out now how to make time to work on your goals, you probably won’t reach them. So take a hard look at your schedule and your family’s schedule and determine what activities you need to change, eliminate or delegate in order to make time for taking care of yourself.
- Clean out and organize your refrigerator, freezer and pantry. Get rid of food you aren’t going to use, and organize the food you will use. Group similar things together, or put items that will make a meal together. Put the things you use most often in places where you can get them easily.
- Get rid of food that won’t help you reach your goals. It’s time to ditch those holiday sweets and treats! No matter what your goals, cookies, fudge and cake won’t help you reach them. In addition, get rid of other foods you really don’t want to eat, including snacks, junk food, and soda. If it’s not in the house, you probably won’t eat it.
- Make a meal plan for next week. Healthy eating is 10 times easier when you have a plan. So look at your family’s calendar for the coming week, think about the food you have on hand, and make a meal and snack plan. If you need inspiration, Nicky at Little Family Adventure creates excellent healthy eating meal plans.
- Shop for groceries and stock up on foods that will help you reach your goals. If you’ve set any sort of healthy eating or weight management goal, only buy foods that will help you reach that goal. In other words, stock up on fruits, vegetables, dairy, nuts, lean protein, and whole grain foods – and leave the junk at the grocery store.
- Cook a double batch of two or three healthy meals and freeze half of each. One of the most effective strategies for eating more real food and less processed food is to cook double or triple batches whenever possible and freeze half for a busy day. So sometime this week, cook double batches of two or three healthy meals. You might make Crockpot Sloppy Joes or Zesty Crockpot Italian Soup from Christina at Juggling Real Food and Real Life, for example. Or my Spicy Italian Beef or Easy Homemade Pizza Dough. Or any of your favorite recipes that freeze well.
- Locate all of the things that enable you to exercise and put them in a prominent place. Find your walking shoes, fitness clothes, gym membership card, workout music, exercise DVDs – everything that allows you to get up and move! Put them where you can find them – maybe even in a special box, bin or drawer – to make it as easy as possible to reach your exercise goals for the new year.
- Get some rest and sleep! Don’t start the year tired and run down. Rather than cramming in a bunch of activities this week, take some time to rest and allow yourself to sleep 7-8 hours each night. And work on making changes to your schedule so that you can sleep at least 7 hours on most nights throughout the year.
Making healthy changes and taking care of yourself is hard for moms. But the beginning of a new year is the perfect time to get started. So this week, before the new year begins, do a few simple things to set yourself up for a healthier, calmer and saner year in 2017.