If you're ever feeling bad about your weight, particularly when looking at old pictures of beautiful, slim people - don't.
The rise in obesity is strongly correlated with the decrease in smoking rates. Basically, post-1964, we stopped lighting up and started reaching for the potato chips as an alternative way to self-soothe. Combine that behavioral change with the increased availability of junk food and prevalence of eating out and you've got yourself a three-punch combo that makes staying trim a constant struggle (at least for us Americans).
I mean, you can't even go to Staples, an office supply store where they sell paper, without being confronted with a wall of junk food at the cash register. Same for the FedEx store. Why are they selling Pringles next to the packing tape? On my old commute (which was long and stressful and topped off a long and stressful day at a job I didn't particularly like), I passed probably a dozen fast food restaurants and another half dozen gas stations stocked to the gills with junk food every. single. day. How long could I resist that level of stimulation and advertisement encouraging me to bliss out with a bag of cheesy popcorn or a crunchwrap supreme?
So if we're not suppressing our appetites with cigarettes anymore (cause we don't want cancer, cardiovascular diseases, emphysema), and we're exposed to more calories/day than any previous generation has ever experienced in the history of humankind, then you probably shouldn't feel bad about your weight.
Go ahead and eat healthy, exercise more, get fit, etc. Those are all great things. Just don't let yourself fall into a cycle of despair and guilt over weight issues or for caving into a junk food craving, because the odds are stacked against all of us. It's really unsurprising that it's an issue given the conditions. It's not all about free-will. You are the product of the society and culture you live in, and right now things are out of whack.
And this NOT a PSA to encourage you to smoke, which is infinitely worse for your health than carrying some extra weight. This is just a reminder to be kind to yourself.
-signed, the person who stopped at McDonald's for a Shamrock Shake and decided she wasn't going to feel bad about it. She'll change when everything else does too.
I've never had much success with New Year's resolutions...except for one.
A few years ago, I decided I wanted to feel more "put together." I wanted to feel better in my clothing (this is along-standing issue I've had about dressing sloppily).
But instead of resolving to "dress better," I decided I would make one very small change: to always wear matching underwear. Nothing fancy. But my top and bottom would match.
I achieved this by throwing out all the random underwear I owned, especially the ones with goofy patterns and colors from Victoria's Secret, and then I went to Macy's and bought 5 pairs of black underwear and 5 pairs of nude at one of those sales they periodically run. I already owned two black bras and two nude bras. Then when I got dressed each morning, it was a snap to either choose a matching black or nude "set."
5+ years later, my underwear still matches using this same system, and even though no one else can tell, it does make me feel slightly more polished.
I think what made this "resolution" succesful was that I framed it as a small, concrete change that I could make in my life fairly easily. Apparently, making a decision as convenient as possible is one of the best strategies for establishing a habit.
So this year I'm going to try the same thing.
Instead of "I will lose weight," I'm going to:
Instead of "I will save/make more money," I'm going to:
Instead of "I will write more," I'm going to:
I might add more little changes as I think of them and write them here so I can come back to this list if I'm feeling off-track.
None of these things are ground-breaking, but I think they will add up and help me achieve several goals I have for the year, which include:
There may be more, but this is what comes to mind right now.
What are your goals for this year? What small, easy changes can you make to achieve them?
Look, I know I'm not very good at yoga.
If you've ever been to a yoga class, I'm that girl in the room. The one that can't do the splits, sit cross-legged without a block, or generaly mimic the teacher in any way because I'm overall so god-damned tight.
But I'm ok with that. Because it's not about looking cool, it's about feeling better and slowly improving my strength and flexibility.
When I do a little bit of yoga every day, my entire body feels good. My back issues go away. My stomach muscles are noticeably stronger. And I feel like Catwoman, which is a good thing.
So to keep up this good yoga habit through the holidays, I bought myself an early Christmas present - a travel yoga mat, specifically this one from Jade Yoga.
Like a lot of people, travel has always disrupted my healthy habits. I went up to D.C. several times this past summer and fall, and it was such pain to drag my thick yoga mat along, that I just didn't bother. But then when I'd get back to North Carolina, it would take me a little while to get into yoga again. I think it's way harder to start or re-start healthy habits, than it is to maintain them. Ergo, I should do yoga even when I'm away from home.
This Christmas we're visiting my husband's family up in New England, where I'm sure we'll be enjoying plenty of holiday cookies and candy cane drinks. We're usually pretty good about taking long walks with the dogs, but I want to keep up with the yoga as well.
So I did some research and survey said: Jade Voyager Yoga mat.
Every now and then I'll make a purchase that turns out to be the best thing ever, and I think this mat is one of those things.
It's super thin. Look how easily it fits into the front pocket of my suitcase.
It's also full-sized and super gripy - which I prefer in a yoga mat. I hate slip-sliding around.
My regular yoga mat has gotten kind of old and worn down (I think I bought it in 2003, so I may have gotten my money's worth). It's just a tad too slippery for me to feel completely comfortable sometimes. The Jade Voyager travel mat is a little too thin and unpadded for daily use, but when I decide my old yoga mat has finally given up the ghost, I might upgrade to this Jade Harmony mat, which is thicker, and definitely a little pricey, but not if you think of it in terms of price per use (i.e., for daily yoga practice, it might be worth it to splurge on a higher quality mat).
It looks nice and padded, but still extra-grippy, so you can really push down and away from the mat to get that nice downward-facing dog stretch in your lower back.
Anyway, yoga is just one of the ways I'm planning on staying healthy this Christmas and into the New Years. I refuse to feel bad about enjoying some holiday treats with my family. Yoga is a more positive and sustainable activity I can incorporate into my life to help me feel good.
How about you? Any healthy living goals for the holidays you'd like to share?
Writer, editor, scientist.