Happy New Year! Instead of making challenging resolutions (like losing those last 10 pounds or getting up for the gym every morning at 5:30 a.m.), I recommend starting the new year with a re-commitment to your overall health and fitness.
In honor of 2014, here are 14 of my favorite ways to recommit—that have nothing to do with eating and working out. Because while good nutrition and exercise are important, equally important are coping with stress to curb emotional eating, staying mentally focused on what you want to achieve, becoming spiritually grounded to trust yourself, and last but definitely not least, using the power of your mind to follow through.
1. Choose a theme for the year.
A theme (such as patience, forgiveness, courage, etc.) guides your growth and progress through the coming year. It becomes the lens through which you make choices. For example, if your theme for 2014 is self-compassion, think how you will bring self-compassion to your weight loss journey every day. If your theme is health-first, how does that affect your daily habits. See what I mean?
2. Ground yourself.
Breathing is one of the most powerful ways to manage stress and emotional eating triggers. Here’s an easy and effective technique called “Four-Step Breathing”:
Slowly take in a deep breath as you silently count to four.
Hold the breath for four counts.
Slowly release the breath as you silently count to four.
Hold again for four counts. Repeat several times.
3. Choose your words wisely.
Eliminate the following from your vocabulary: Try, should, can’t. These disempowering words add struggle to your weight-loss journey and weaken your confidence. For example:
Change: “I’ll try to take a walk today” to “I will (or, I won’t) take a walk today.”
Change: “I should eat a salad” to “It’s good for me to eat a salad.”
Change: “I can’t exercise this week” to “I choose not to exercise this week.”
In the long run, being positive and honest with yourself keeps you strong.
4. Use the power of your imagination.
Success is first created in the mind. Take five minutes every day to visualize what it looks and feels like to release the next five pounds. Or imagine yourself reaching your goal weight. Especially important is capturing the feeling associated with what you’re visualizing. This inner work ensures the outer work of your actions take hold.
5. Create your reality.
Don’t listen to those who say weight loss is “hard” and difficult.” Remember, the quality of your thoughts create the quality of your journey, so if you believe it will be hard, it will be. Choose to believe this instead:
“I reach my weight loss goals with ease and grace.”
Similarly, move from thinking you’re someone who “struggles” to lose weight, to believing you’re someone who is becoming thinner and fit. This simple mind shift makes a big difference.
6. Plant your intentions everywhere.
When setting passwords for sites or accounts you frequently access, choose words or phrases that inspire you and reflect goals you want to reach. For example:
Iweigh__lbs (insert desired weight)
You type these every day, right? So, instead of the same old password, each time you write these you affirm your intention to release weight and live a healthy lifestyle.
7. Stop complaining.
It can be tempting, but don’t join others in negative conversations about how “hard” it is to lose weight, how “bad” your body looks, or how “awful” it is to get older. These conversations poison your mind and body, shake your confidence and will become your reality unless you do not to participate in such talk.
8. Choose whether you “release” or “lose” weight.
I like to say “release” weight rather than “lose” weight—and people often ask me why. Practice this exercise to find out:
Get quiet. Close your eyes. Say to yourself a few times:
“I want to lose weight.” Notice the sensations in your body.
Clear that thought and then say to yourself,
“I want to release weight.”
Again, notice what that feels like. Open your eyes.
What did you notice? Many people feel a sense of lightness with “release” and some tension with “lose.” What did you experience?
9. Start a success journal.
Keep a notebook by your bed. Before going to sleep, write your answers to this question:
“What steps did I take today to care for my mind, body and spirit?
“I parked away from the store entrance to walk farther.”
“I didn’t beat myself up for overeating at lunch.”
“I took ‘Me’ time to read an inspirational book.”
Writing in your success journal trains your mind and brain to scan your experiences and find the healthy choices you’re making. Your attention shifts away from looking only at what’s “not working” to notice what’s going well. Your memory becomes imprinted with images of taking good care of yourself, inspiring you to keep moving forward.
10. Affirm good health.
Within your body and soul you already possess perfect health, unwavering strength, and profound wisdom. Affirmations help you to believe this on a deep level. Repeat these affirmations daily to call forth what’s already there:
“I am healthy. I am strong. I am wise.”
11. Embrace what feels hard.
Sometimes the most important thing to do feels like the hardest thing to do, especially when releasing weight. For example:
When you’re upset with yourself for overeating, speak to yourself with compassion.
When you feel demoralized about the time it’s taking to release weight, be patient.
When you feel shame toward your body, send it love.
Hard doesn’t mean impossible. It starts with a willingness to do what feels hard until it becomes easy.
12. Make it easy.
If you’ve learned to “reward” yourself for “good behavior,” or give yourself a treat for doing something challenging, this may feel counter-intuitive, but…
Start to take your accomplishments in stride. For example, after eating healthfully for a few days or exercising after work, respond as if this were a common occurrence. Say to yourself, “that felt so good” or “that was easy.” In this way you’re creating an inner vision of new habits being something you do naturally and easily rather some extra-special feat. Over time this outlook helps you weave new behaviors into your life as the normal course of events.
13. Ask your body what it needs.
Take some time today—every day—to get quiet, go within and ask your body what it needs from you. For example, close your eyes and draw your attention inward. Take a few breaths to settle yourself. Then, ask your body:
“What do you need today so you will feel loved and well-cared for?”
Listen and follow through with what you hear. Take that relaxing bath. Get up and go for that walk. Guidance that emerges from your body wisdom is more important than any information you’ll find elsewhere.
14. Think into the future.
Ask yourself: “How do I want to feel one hour (or one day) from now?”
This powerful question helps you anticipate the results of your choices, guiding you to choose wisely. For example, before entering a food-challenging situation, imagine how you want to feel as you drive home. Taking a moment to close your eyes and visualize your desired result, and the feeling attached to that result, energetically aligns your mind and body to help you make choices that move you in that direction.
So, no matter how you feel right now and no matter what happened with your weight over the holidays, use one or all of these mind-power tips to recommit to your weight-loss journey. What is important is this present moment and the choices you make today. As Abraham Lincoln said, “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” Here’s to creating a healthier you in 2014!