The promise of a new year always gets us thinking about self-improvement and how we can make this our best year ever. For many, that means focusing on wellness and fitness — you’ve probably seen how packed the gym gets after New Year’s Day.
However, embarking on a healthier lifestyle isn’t as simple as running on the treadmill a few times. We talked to Aveda employee and health coach Stephanie Wagner about making a healthier lifestyle work for you, and how to stay motivated (and grounded) when things are feeling difficult.
1. Listen to your body. Stephanie’s number one tip is to recognize when your body feels awesome, whether that’s after you eat a healthy meal or do a workout. A few years ago, Stephanie went from not exercising at all to walking for an hour. “I tuned into my energy and reflected on how I felt after I was done walking,” she said. “What I found in listening to my body was that I felt more energized. Knowing that I felt better when I did it and paying attention helped me stay motivated. I wanted to feel awesome!” This tip also works with diet; if you feel better after, say, choosing fruit instead of a cookie, try to focus on that feeling the next time you’re making a food-related decision.
2. Plan your week. Make appointments with yourself and treat them as if they’re as important as a work meeting. Stephanie makes appointments with herself for everything from workouts to food prep. “If I don’t have that time blocked off, I won’t do it,” she says. “Treat your self-care like it’s a meeting with someone. Maintain the commitment to yourself just like you would at work.”
3. Discover what motivates you. “Everybody is motivated by something different,” Stephanie says. “Some people might be motivated by being with friends, so why not create a healthy habit like going for a walk or going to the gym together to build your social well-being?” If you’re motivated by new clothes, set a small goal (like working out three times a week) and reward yourself if you get there.
4. Set realistic, process-oriented goals. Stephanie recommends setting small goals at first. Don’t be fixated on a weight loss goal — focus instead on the process and actions you’re taking to get there.
5. Know when to take a break. “Sometimes we can be so fixated on our goal, we can drive ourselves to a point of exhaustion,” Stephanie says. “Wellness and health is just as much about being active as it is about being still. It’s all about a balance – it’s a balance of sitting and movement, being able to have both.” Try to represent both active and still energies in your life so you don’t burn out. If you overdo it at the gym, try taking a bath with Stress-Fix Soaking Salts, or soothe sore muscles with tension-relieving Cooling Oil.
6. Set your intention. What do you need to be the best version of yourself in the new year? Think about what you need more of, and what you can let go. Set an intention for the person you want to be, and you can achieve it.