By Jessica Beecham
On January 1, I woke up, stretched, put some lavender essential oil in my oil burner, and rolled out my yoga mat. As I began the ritual of 108 sun salutations I was flooded with emotion; sadness for the end of a wonderful chapter of work with the National Federation of the Blind of Colorado, excitement about our new WE Fit Wellness venture, love for friends and family, and joy for the prospects of the new year. Moving through the familiar poses of the sun salutation allowed my mind to become empty and my focus to move to my breath and motion. If you have ever done 108 sun salutations before you probably know that this bliss of breath and motion can sometimes give way to other thoughts and feelings. Occasionally, my mind wondered to the ache that was developing in my shoulders, to a nagging thought of “am I done yet”, and to visions of the upcoming year. I did my best to acknowledge thoughts, feelings, and emotions and let them go. When I finished number 108 I was filled with a sense of accomplishment as I settled in for a long Shavosina or corpse pose (typically the last pose of a practice and sometimes known as yoga dessert) to soak up the amazing benefits of my practice.
The ritual of 108 Sun Salutations is often practiced at the change of season or at a period of rebirth. This year, the practice was particularly meaningful to me because of the launch of our WE Fit Wellness initiative. Many of us look at the beginning of each year as a period of rebirth, change, growth, or improvement in ourselves. Regardless of the choice to practice sun salutations, set New Year’s resolutions, subscribe to the adage “out with the old in with the new,” or undergo another meaningful method of positive change the longevity of changes made around the new year tend to vary. Some people make changes that last only until they walk to the refrigerator, others may make it until January 15, and a few are able to sustain their positive life improvements. As we move into mid January, our team at WE Fit Wellness wants to help you be among the few who make changes that last. Here are some helpful tips.
Choose a realistic goal. One of the biggest pitfalls to New Year’s Resolutions, indeed any commitment to self improvement at any time, is that we think we can change everything overnight. Small changes are easiest to achieve. If you can make one small change and make it last then you feel really good about your accomplishment and your confidence is higher as you set out to make the next small change. Choosing a goal that is realistic and manageable will start you off on the path to success.
REALLY commit to the first month. Experts agree that it takes 21 days to form a habit. This means that if you are willing to commit to a new exercise or nutrition regiment for a month you will form a habit that will become easier to maintain. Many of us get frustrated within the first couple weeks of a diet or exercise change and either significantly back off or quit all together. Everything gets easier with time so if we want to make the health and wellness changes that last we have to commit. It is worth it! You are worth it!
Do it with a friend! Everything is more fun with a friend. This includes exercise and diet changes. It is much easier to start exercising regularly if you have a friend with whom to work out, or to make dietary changes if you have someone with whom to share recipes. Choose a friend who will share in your successes and be there as a source of encouragement on the days when the right choices do not seem so easy. The only thing more fun than making changes with a friend is achieving success with a friend. Do not go it alone! Bring a buddy along for the journey.
Let go of set backs and keep on moving forward. If you have a bad exercise or diet day, week, or even month let it go and move forward. Many of us look at a set back as a failure. It can actually be a great opportunity to reevaluate and recommit to our goals. If you have a bad day, week, or month shake it off and keep on going. The great thing about lifestyle changes is that we have our whole lives to keep working on them.
Journal your journey. One of the coolest things about making positive exercise and nutrition changes is that eventually your health starts to improve. Exercise and good nutrition lead to improved mood, better sleep, weight loss, increased energy, and much more. Documenting exercise, diet, and how you feel is a great way to stay on track and really appreciate the changes that you have worked so hard to achieve. It is also a great way to look back at the way you felt when you were making different choices. Sometimes the reality of our pasts can be a great motivator to keep us moving in the right direction.
Change is achievable! Just like the 108 sun salutations ritual, change is not always easy or comfortable. There are definitely times along the way when focus may drift, but if you persevere you will receive benefits that exceed your expectations.