If you’re reading this, that means you made it through 2020 in more or less one piece. It was a trying year and most of us have never seen anything quite like it. So congratulations, you survived 2020, a truly crazy year. However, the goal is not just to survive 2021. The goal is to thrive, like the one of a kind soul that you are. Here’s a few things to leave behind in 2020 to make that happen.
According to a yougov article published in November 2020, 46% of Americans who made resolutions for 2020 resolved to exercise more. 45% wanted to eat better and 44% wanted to lose weight. Only 35% of Americans said they actually kept their resolutions.
I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t looking to get in shape this year like many of you probably are. It’s a good goal to have. About 40% of American adults are considered obese, so losing weight would help many of us. But maybe it’s time to set aside the crazy crash diets this year. Why? They don’t work.
The Washington Post interviewed Traci Mann, a Psychology professor at the University of Minnesota who’s been studying eating habits for more than 20 years. She said dieting makes several biological changes to your body. It makes your brain notice food more often, increasing its reward value. It decreases the hormones that help you feel full and increases the ones that make you feel hungry. Finally, it decreases your metabolism so it quite literally slows your weight loss.
46% of Americans who made resolutions for 2020 resolved to exercise more. 45% wanted to eat better and 44% wanted to lose weight. Only 35% of Americans said they actually kept their resolutions.
So what do you do? Create sustainable changes to your eating habits. Eat more vegetables, healthy grains, and lean proteins. Cut down on sugary food and drinks. Get more sleep and drink more water. Try to get between 30 and 60 minutes of exercise three to five days a week. No matter what you do, don’t starve yourself. I can’t guarantee six-pack abs but you’ll likely be a lot healthier.
You may be whatever you resolve to be. Determine to be something in the world, and you will be something. “I cannot,” never accomplished anything; “I will try,” has wrought wonders. – J. Hawes
Harsh Self Talk
I once lost about 45 pounds following the advice I just mentioned. It was one of the most regular workout regiments that I’ve ever had. When asked by friends about what changed, I gave some of my workout tips and told people to “exercise from love and not from hate.”
When you’re out of shape, you can wind up becoming disgusted with yourself and that often transfers into your approach to exercise. You ignore pain because you feel it’s your punishment for being fat. You’re constantly comparing yourself to others. You get easily discouraged because you’re not as fit as you want to be. These behaviors just slow your progress down and make long-term change unsustainable. I had to learn how to workout from a place of self-love. I truly saw myself as a work in progress. I had to monitor and celebrate my growth. I had to embrace that post-workout feeling even if I didn’t feel like my body looked like it had just done.
“If you celebrate your differentness, the world will, too. It believes exactly what you tell it—through the words you use to describe yourself, the actions you take to care for yourself, and the choices you make to express yourself. Tell the world you are one-of-a-kind creation who came here to experience wonder and spread joy. Expect to be accommodated.”
― Victoria Moran,
Many of us are in great physical shape but the idea remains the same. How you talk to yourself will impact your level of success. If you’ve convinced yourself that you’re trash then your expectations will remain about the same. So practice forgiving yourself for past mistakes, practice self-love, and start to to talk to yourself like you would talk to a friend.
If you had a friend who was struggling and needed your advice would you call them a bunch of names and tell them about how terrible they are? Probably not. It wouldn’t help motivate them and you’d likely push them even deeper into the rut that they’re currently in. So why talk to yourself like that?
Social media enhanced the feeling that the world was on fire in 2020. A new phenomenon called “Doom Scrolling,” popped up. You’ve probably done it before. You scroll through bad news item after bad news item and depress yourself
The problem, in my opinion, is two-fold. Yes, there was a lot of bad news last year. There were fears of World War III kicking off, the president was impeached, Kobe Bryant died, and that was before the epidemic in Wuhan, China turned into a pandemic that sent every country in the world into some form of quarantine.
How we consume news has changed as well. For decades, Americans sat down to watch the 6 o’clock news to be informed or they read a newspaper at some point during the day. Our parents didn’t grow up with non-stop information in the palm of their hands and we haven’t quite learned how to handle that.
I worked in the news industry for about 7 years and thought a lot about this problem. Take this from someone who literally needed people to consume news to keep the lights on: put the phone down.
There’s a lot going on and it is crucial to keep informed. That doesn’t mean that you need to be inundated. A lot of the stuff we’re seeing isn’t even real. A recent Harvard study showed that misinformation was far more prevalent on social media sites like Twitter than on traditional news outlets. We’re often literally getting worked up over things that aren’t real.
Create rules about how much news you’re going to consume that day. An hour should be more than enough time to get a decent feel for what’s going on. You can spend that watching a local and a national newscast, listening to a podcast by a publication like the New York Times or reading articles on your local news station’s website. Once you reach that limit, give it a rest. You’re only one person and you can only do so much about what you’ve read.
Good resolutions are a pleasant crop to sow. The seed springs up so readily, and the blossoms open so soon with such a brave show, especially at first. But when the time of flowers has passed, what about the fruit? -Lucas Malet
Like I keep saying, last year was pretty crazy and it put a lot of things into perspective. Some of us were safer than others, but the fact is we all lived through and are still currently living in a deadly plague. I don’t say that to scare you, you got enough of that from all that “doom scrolling.” But that has to change the way you look at your day-to-day life, right?
What did you spend most of your day thinking about in January and February of 2020? Money? Bills? Traffic? That coworker that you couldn’t stand? Were you thinking about any of it by the end of March 2020?
Maybe we should take this new year to take a look at what’s really important in life. Do you have relationships that you need to repair? Do you have relatives you haven’t spoken to in years? Invest some time into your relationships. Are their hobbies that you’ve always wanted to get into but never have? Give those a shot. Maybe you’ve always wanted to volunteer. See if there are COVID-safe ways you can start. How is your inner life? Make some time for meditation or prayer if you’re religious/spiritual. Spend more time in nature.
That doesn’t mean you can’t do anything career-related. If you’ve dreamed of a new career maybe 2021 is the year you finally make that leap. Are you stable enough to start that business you’ve always wanted to start? Maybe this is the year.
Not to be morbid, but 2020 should have taught all of us that tomorrow is never promised. No one gets to stay on Earth forever and on the day I leave I don’t want to have any regrets about what I should have done. I don’t want you to have any regrets either. So while you’re going about your life in 2021, make sure to always leave room for living.
This post originally ran on Led2Win.com.