Happy New Years Eve! How was your holiday? The past week has been a glorious mix of extra sleep, movie marathons, walks in the Arizona sunshine, and delicious food. I’ll be back with more recipes next week, but I wanted to help you get the year started off right. No deprivation/starvation/body-shaming required!
I’ve never been one to set New Year’s resolutions. I like the idea of turning over a new leaf once the clock strikes midnight, but often the expectations we set for ourselves are simply unattainable. Instead, I focus on getting my home base and surrounding environment into tip-top shape so that it enables me to make good choices for the upcoming year. My mom even mentioned this habit to me after Christmas. I told her I had already taken down the Christmas tree and all the decorations, and she just started laughing. “Yep, it’s your annual clean-out time!” Seriously, though, from as early as I could remember, I spent a few hours each day leading up to the New Year organizing and decluttering my room and a lot of the other rooms in the house. I was a bit of an, um, “unique” kid. #hadnofriends
You’re probably wondering why a dietitian is talking to you about cleaning, but it’s simply a piece of my health model. How can we make resolutions to become our best self when we’ve got a bunch of crap in the way? Your health can take center stage when you’ve taken care of what else is blocking it from view. I didn’t quite know how to explain my thoughts on organizing to the general public until I started hearing about the book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing,” by Marie Kondo, a Japanese cleaning consultant. I decided to finally read it and ended up finishing the entire thing (it’s a quick read) on a flight to Chicago this past summer. I was mesmerized! Finally, someone could explain the method behind the madness.
In the book, Marie discusses the relationship we have with all the “stuff” in our lives. What it means and why we hold on to it for dear life. Marie’s mantra is simple. “The process of assessing how you feel about the things you own, identifying those that have fulfilled their purpose, expressing your gratitude, and bidding them farewell, is really about examining your inner self, a rite of passage to a new life.” Her method includes focusing on putting what you own into categories and working through each category individually instead of the typical room-by-room approach. You live in your entire house, not in each room individually, so the way you organize should help how you flow through it.
As soon as I finished the book, I knew I needed to use this method in my own nutrition business. I talk to clients all the time about making healthier choices, but one of the most important things that could be hindering success (that we never talk about) is the home environment.
Create a home for the person you want to be
“The space in which we live should be for the person we are becoming now, not for the person we were in the past.” Do you want to be an early riser with time to workout and eat something healthy? Or the kind of person who attempts to wake up early, but can’t find their sneakers and socks, and tried to make oatmeal but found it expired? It’s so incredibly lame when you attempt to make good choices only to feel sabotaged by your past self. Figure out your flow to make healthy happen for you. Store those sneakers right by the door, create an exercise drawer in your dresser, and know how much oatmeal you have because it’s not hidden by other expired containers.
Don’t complicate it
“People cannot change their habits without first changing their way of thinking.” Often we like to add a bunch of new gadgets and foods into our diet at the start of the new year in the name of “health.” January is a marketer’s dream! There’s a reason people who join the gym at the start of the New Year are called “January Joiners.” What can you do, right here and now, without spending money and adding to the clutter? Can you go for longer walks after work? When was the last time you used those weights in the basement? YouTube is a great source for free workout videos, by the way! Also, don’t waste your money on a juice cleanse or protein candy bars. There are treasures hidden in your cabinet! Things like flaxseed, cans of tuna, oats, an old blender, and winter greens in your produce drawer will work just fine.
Get rid of the excess
“Keep only those things that speak to your heart. Then take the plunge and discard all the rest. By doing this, you can reset your life and embark on a new lifestyle.” This quote is one of my favorites from the book and struck me as profound when I first read it. Embarking on a healthy lifestyle journey can be emotional and often eye-opening. Holding on to things like a smaller pair of jeans, snack foods hidden in drawers and corners in the cabinet, or even toxic people in your life can ultimately work against your goals.
Take the time this year to focus on making each environment be the best it can be, from the office, to the home, and even your mind.