Welcome to the new year! I am so excited for the new year to come for everyone out there. I hope people find happiness and love and laughter this year!
I was thinking the other day about what the new year means for me and others. It’s funny that, although I’m highly against the unhealthy kind, I see the new year as a detox juicing diet. The new year is always so exciting and and feels brand new, like you’re starting all over again. But the beauty is that you don’t have to always start from scratch on your life, you just make changes that cause you to make self improvements. You can detox all of the negative emotion from the last year and get it out of your system, then focus on the positive emotions and challenges that you face in the upcoming months ahead….without, you know, feeling really hungry.
With the new year comes the resolutions and goals, of course. I have many friends who don’t make resolutions or goals. And I honestly feel that it’s totally healthy and get why they don’t. You don’t always meet these resolutions, or when you do you may not stick with them. But I, personally, love to make goals every year. It’s like making a planner for the year instead of day by day. And I wanted to share with you what I’m a concentrating on this year. For people who know me personally, they can tell I’m a pretty determined person, sometimes stubborn. I have had those days at the gym where I get frustrated and grunt and push because I just HAD to meet a goal, and sometimes I have days where I can’t fight my urge to give in for a day and say good riddance. But I make goals that are reasonably obtainable and give just enough challenge that I feel that, while I may have to work harder on some than others, I can really achieve them in the end. And let me just say, I have A LOT of hard goals this year! But I’ve been working on some of them for a while, they just extend some of the goals I made this time last year. But after writing them down, I said to myself, ‘Hey! This is nothing. I can do this!”
Ladies and gentlemen, here are my top goals for 2016:
1. QUIT SMOKING!
I have been a smoker since I was 18 years old, and this year I’m going to be turning 30. That’s 12 years! While it is a nasty habit, it’s something that I picked up in college as a way to deal with stress and just continued to smoke afterward. This is a goal that I make every year because I always said I wanted to quit before my 30th birthday. It’s now crunch time, people! This is not without saying that I have not attempted to quit before. Two years ago I quit for three months straight, with only a slip once or twice. But fell back when I started a summer job where the only break you got was if you went outside to smoke a cigarette. So as you can imagine, everyone that worked with me smoked. I also tried three times in 2015, but each time did not have the right plan set up for me, so I fell back into it. So I either really love the torture of quitting, or I just wasn’t in the right moment. Now, for the past two weeks I have been setting up a plan to help me in times of cravings, including a quit smoking app, healthy foods like carrots to snack on if I need something, a text message system to send me encouragement or to be there,when I feel like I’m losing my freaking mind and need to fall back into dangerous chemicals to help me get through it, from smokefree.org, and the loving support of co-workers, friends, and family. I’m also quitting for me and my body. Before it was because I had been shamed into thinking I needed to quit, guilt-tripped by non-smoking friends into quitting, and/or I just wasn’t ready. Now, I’m ready to go, I have the right mind set, and I feel sick of smoking.
This past year has been quite an eye opener for me and my smoking habit. In 2015 I set out to focus on strength and getting to be the strongest self in every capacity that I could be. I was amazed about all the things that my body does and weirdly began to think of my heart and lungs as people. I had used them to survive but had not helped them in anyway of doing so, I only made my heart and lungs work harder! I slowly began to think about why I started my healthy living journey 10 years before, how I set out to make my body healthy. I had neglected my wonderful lungs who give me fresh air to breath and my heart that literally and figuratively was my center. So, now, I am showing appreciation for them, even though they are not people, and am going to work to make them strong again.
Want to quit smoking with me? Build your own quit plan when you feel ready to commit. Also, the app on my phone is awesome. It’s called the Quit buddy app from Australia. It tracks how many chemicals I’ve kept out of my system, how much money I have saved, keeps me motivated by showing the reasons why I want to quit (that I uploaded or wrote), and it even has a fun little game for you to play when you’re having a craving to distract you! Check out some apps on your phone and see if there are any that can help you.
Want to help someone quit, use these tips here to help them! They’re going to need all the support they can get.
realize that this might be the hardest thing that you/ your loved one can do. be realistic. don’t judge. Just support!
2. RUN A MARATHON.
I signed up to run my first marathon in April of this year. I decided back in October that I was going to run a marathon for three reasons: first, to keep building a stronger self mentally and physically, so that I can prove to myself that I can; second, to put myself in a situation that I would have to quit smoking; and finally, because I would have to do the training in the winter which would keep me active during the cold months, but also help me fight winter depression, which I suffer heavily from when I am not active. I’m 9 weeks into my training and have several ahead, but Jeff and my family have been so supportive. I haven’t had to defend why I’m doing, which I was expecting to do at first. For Christmas I received a lot of gifts to help me during my training. Various family members gave me warm active wear for the outdoors, Jeff bought me a Ninja to make healthy smoothies, and my brother gave me a foam roller to help relieve stress on joints and muscles and a watch to monitor my heart rate, track calorie burn, and time my runs! These are the things that get me through the tough hill climbs and tired I-don’t-wanna-run days of my training. All the support means more than they can imagine. Many friends have already agreed to hold signs up while I’m running. I have the best support system in the world! This will be a major milestone for me and I’ll be achieving in the first four months of the year! I’m giddy right now just thinking about it! In the end, I want to be inspiration for others who think they cannot achieve this type of goal. So here’s to running a marathon!
Want to start running? Here is a great source for all of your tips, nutrition, and motivation! I check it every other day to see if they have new tips!
Thinking of running a race? Check out my blog post about Running your first 5k, there are many links that will guide you to the right places! And you can hear about my experience of running my first 5k.
3. BECOMING A VEGETARIAN (AGAIN)
I’m a huge animal rights activist. I believe that we often forget just some of the cruelty animals face in their short every day lives. I donate money to non-kill shelters, try my best to buy non-animal tested products, and when I lived in Wisconsin, volunteered at a local humane society. 2015, however, I was a little more passive. I didn’t have time to volunteer and I went back to eating meat. Luckily, a lot of the meat I did eat was grass-fed, cage-free, organic. I have gone vegetarian several times in the past seven years. Jeff is vegetarian, so it’s easy to adapt to the lifestyle changes. I became vegan in 2014 for several months but could not not eat cheese, plus it was a little too hard for my stomach to digest, so I went back to being a vegetarian. I gave in to eating poultry again when I worked a serving job that was not very vegetarian friendly. I didn’t have designated lunch times so bringing my food was not really an option, and the most healthy foods were the most expensive to pay for. So it was easier to get a chicken sandwich as opposed to a large salad at times because the salad would go bad after only taking a few bites in three or four hours. After I moved on to a different job, I stuck with eating meat because it was easy access and cheaper. Now, I’m working at a job where I can afford to save a little extra money in the bank, and I can afford to buy organic, cruelty-free products. So, I am going back to be a vegetarian in the next week or two. I’m waiting only because as of today I have not been smoking for three days and that is a new change that is going to take a couple of weeks time to get used to.
I also want to be more active and less passive in my activism. Yes, donating money to World Wildlife and other animal causes are good, and yes, signing petitions to free animals from horrible conditions in zoos, Sea World, or from possible extinction is a start. But I want to be more active and less passive. I am going to start writing letters to products that I love to request them to stop animal testing. What’s the point? There are other ways to test products, we don’t have to torture animals to do it anymore. I also want to fight against factory farming. For many reasons. It’s horrible living conditions and torture for the animals, they’re killed inhumanely in a lot of factory farms, it’s terrible for the environment, and it’s feeding into corporate America that has disregarded the fact that the meat coming from factory farms are cheaper but full of less nutrients. One of the saddest moments of 2015 for Jeff and I was when we were driving to the UP of Michigan and we passed a semi truck filled to the brim with pigs looking out of the holes at us. We bowed our heads in shame because we looked at them knowing full well what would become of them. It was gut wrenching.
I, of course, do not feel that to support the end of factory farms you need to completely quit eating meat. Just spend a little more money on beef from grass-fed cows that have had a good life and been respected and cared for. You can get eggs from cage free and free range chickens who have been respected and cared for. Fresh seafood. Or you can try going vegetarian or vegan once or twice a week to support the cause. I don’t believe it has to be all or nothing. And plus, there are great benefits to being vegetarian and vegan. I say, it’s the new year, give it a try!
Wanna try out being a vegetarian? This cookbook is the best at making sure you don’t just eat a bunch of carbs. Junk food is still junk food! You make simple, yet authentic delicious, healthy dishes from here!
Interested in going all the way and becoming vegan? even one day a week? Vegan for Her was a great book for me, though I feel like it can be used by men as well!
4. BE BETTER AT SNAIL MAIL
I love letter writing. I believe a lot can be said in a letter that has been sent thousands of miles that cannot be sent in a text in two seconds. There is something about getting excited to see your name on a piece of mail for a change, the handwriting that is unique, and a joke that has waited many days or weeks to give a punch line to it’s recipient. I have many friends that I have snail mail arrangements with. However, last year, I dropped the fucking ball on this one. I was terrible at sending cards and letters. I bought a postcard to send to friends while Jeff and I were on vacation in Florida that never was sent, it’s going to be a part of a LATE Christmas package that we send them full of christmas gifts and LATE birthday gifts. God, I’m the worst. One time, my mother gave me a birthday card to send for her. All it needed was to be stamped and I had to LIE to MY MOTHER and tell her that the mail was running slow. Ya’ll, this cannot BE this year. I am making a vow to write more letters, to feel more connection across many states as corny as it sounds. Because I owe some people some very overdue postcards and letters.
Need some inspiration to write a letter? Check out Buzzfeed’s awesome projects that will make letter writing and personal creativity expand. It’s absolute delight!
5. CHECK OFF 5 ITEMS FROM MY BUCKET LIST
I don’t know if it’s been because I’m turning 30 this year or what but I have been all about my bucket list this past year. I made it last January to add a little more YASSSSSSS! to my life, and it really worked. I traveled, I read books that I had been wanting to read for a long time, I SWAM WITH BEAUTIFUL MANATEES!!!! I can’t say that 2015 flew by and felt wasted, because I got to do so much, see so many wonderful people, and meet some really cool strangers.
This year I’m pushing it a little more, and will try my damnedest to cross off 5 more items from my bucket list. The marathon achievement will be one thing to cross off, so there is that. But I want to travel and see new things that I haven’t seen! I’m so excited to start some new adventures!
Need some inspiration for your bucket list? sign up for this website that is dedicated to finding out what items you need on your bucket list!
6. HAVE A GUILT FREE YEAR
This one is huge for me because I feel guilty about every thing like, all the time. Not like ‘Oh my gosh everyone hates me I need to take anxiety medication’ kind of guilt but just the sense that I need to feel sorry for the littlest things.
A few weeks ago I ran into an old high school buddy I had not seen in seven years. He looked great! Just like I always remembered him, but with a little more facial hair. We starting chatting about what had been going on in our lives. I told him every thing I could think of that I thought was impressive to tell. Not because I wanted to compete with him, but because I wanted to seem as though I lived up to the expectations we all had for ourselves when we graduated high school. He had been working as a server, started writing again, has an amazing apartment in downtown, and is saving to move to Florida where he can focus more on writing. Wow! So I felt as though I had to tell him everything I had done up to this point: worked and received two degrees that was paid for by scholarship, traveled and seen different countries, became a professor at 24, got married, etc. Then I stopped. Because I knew exactly what I was doing. I was doing what I always do when I see friends for the first time in a while. I was trying to prove myself to him. I may not have ran off to New York City and became a famous actress like I said. But I had done lots of things with my life, right!?!?! Because this past year, for the first time in ten years, I am back home, living with my parents, and working at a job that doesn’t require any of my degrees to have. For the first time in a while, I have been needing to be dependent on the help of my family. And this is something I feel guilty and embarrassed about. Because I have been independent for so long. Even though it is now becoming not-so unusual for people to move home for a bit and start over. I said, “I’m so sorry! I just feel like I need to tell you all of these things because I feel like I have to prove something, like, I’ve done things with my life for the past ten years”.
He said, “I just usually don’t give a shit what people think.”
I envied him. And was so thankful for him saying this.
I think often it has to do with the fact that I am a woman, and I’m older because I didn’t used to live with this much guilt in my early twenties. Maybe it’s just me. I felt guilty because an old friend didn’t reply back to my requests for phone dates last year, and convinced myself that they were mad at me for something even though I could not remember anything that I could have done for them to be mad at me. I had to keep reassuring myself that they were just really busy, and voila! they called one day and told me how busy they were all year. They felt bad about not responding. I felt guilty three weeks ago for calling in (something I never do) because I had a very aggressive stomach virus and could not shake fever. I convinced myself that it was awful to leave my other co-workers to pick up my slack only because I was curled up next to the toilet and could shake my fever! yes, I have always been a people pleaser, but my goodness haha! I’m a feminist, I’m a strong, independent woman, I’m confident in all things in my life. I just don’t like to let people down. I don’t want anyone to feel discomfort or feel like they can’t rely on me. But that small guilt can leak into other parts of my life. One day I am feeling a little guilty for calling into work, then the next thing I know I am feeling terrible about a brownie I’m eating at the Christmas potluck, then I’m feeling guilty about something I remember I said as bad joke four years ago to a person I don’t remember their name but how embarrassing!
See? Feeling guilty all of the time is no good.
So here is to a guilt free year, everyone! Let’s all do an exercise. Don’t worry I’m doing this myself! Write down on a piece of paper all of the things you feel guilty for. Whether it be, you always feel like you don’t cover enough shifts at work, or you want to ask for a raise, or you slip and have a cigarette while you’re trying to quit, or you skip a workout, or you eat something unhealthy while trying to eat clean; whatever it is, write it down then I want you to burn that piece of paper, or cut it up to little pieces, or crumble it up and trash it. Say to yourself, “I’m not going to feel guilty about that anymore!” And when you fall into the guilt game again, continue to do that or whatever exercise you need to do in order to give yourself a break. We live in fast paced cultures, and there are only 24 hours in a day, sometimes you cannot fit it all in, you will not always have a perfect day. And sometimes, you just have to ask for help. And it’s ok. Just keep reminding yourself of that!
Need some guilt free inspiration? Check out this website!
I’m still feeling ambitious! Do you have something that you think I should add this year? At least to try? Or, tell me about some of your own resolutions and goals that are the most challenging for you!