As January trucks along, chances are some of those New Year’s resolutions have probably begun falling by the wayside, am I right?
If you’re feeling a bit bummed that you haven’t been able to stick to certain health promises, there’s fascinating research out there now on how to form new habits for good. I invite you to read it, because sometimes our success (or failure) is actually predicted by how we set up the game—and not by how we play it.
One thing that’s for sure: Most people find it easier to change one thing at a time—so that they can register the value and reward of that thing, which motivates them to continue doing it—rather than embarking on an all-or-nothing mission. In fact, that “reward” bit is crucial to making a habit stick.
That’s why I want to share a new habit of mine with you. It’s simple and easy and it’s probably the single most powerful thing I’ve done for my health since—hmm—taking that first yoga class ten years ago? It’s hot water and lemon, y’all. Here’s all the reasons (and rewards!) why you too should make it a habit.
1. It’s easy to stick to. Of all the health commitments I’ve made to myself over the years, and there have been plenty, this has been the absolute easiest to stick with. It probably helps that it didn’t start as a resolution. See, when I was on the yoga retreat, we always drank tea with our meals. I’m talking delicious teas made from scratch with fennel seeds and fresh ginger and all kinds of goodness. I got used to having this warm yummy liquid with my food, and when I came home the boxed teas in my cupboard weren’t quite cutting it. Enter Mr. Lemon. Easy and fresh-tasting, this quickly became my go-to.
2. One good habit begets other good habits. Mark my words: Drinking warm lemon water will improve your dietary choices. I’d be willing to wager that if you are you sipping warm lemon water during the day, when mealtime rolls around you’re going crave something healthy. It’s just an association thing. One that really works.
3. You’ll drink more water (and probably less coffee). I’ve always been one of those too-much-coffee-too-little-water types. I still enjoy my morning coffee (or two) but after 11 this is my new go-to beverage. I’ve essentially gone from a person who would forget to drink water to a fully hydrated human. Also, I’ve lost desire for other less healthy bevs.
4. You’ll eat more slowly and thoughtfully. Watch most of us eat and it’s easy to see just how close we still are to animal ancestors. But slowing down, and especially chewing, is one of the best things you can do for your digestion and your relationship to food. Not only will you enjoy your meals more, you’ll know when you’re perfectly satiated—not just when your plate is empty. Here’s a great practice to make this a habit: Take a bite of your food and then actually put your utensil down, chew, and have a little sip of your warm lemon water. Rinse, repeat and watch how this lovely ritual ups the pleasure of a meal.
5. You’ll have a better chance against the flu. We’re having one heck of a flu season. Chances are you’ve already been sick more than once this season, or have watched those around you suffer. This simple tonic will help your immune system stay strong.
6. Your skin will thank you. Contrary to popular preaching, the skin’s hydration comes from the inside and not from the creams we love to lather on it (the right ones do help keep moisture in, mind you). The best way to hydrate? Not by chugging a giant water bottle all day, which will just send you to the bathroom. Research shoes that it’s slow sipping over longer periods of time that actually hydrates you. To boot, Vitamin C is a known boon for skin and anti-aging. Talk about two birds.
7. It’s better than that third drink (or any drink). You’re out to dinner with friends. You started with a cocktail and then enjoyed a nice glass of wine with your food. You’re perusing the dessert menu and considering just one more little boozy beverage. Here’s a better idea: Enjoy your dessert and sip on some hot water and lemon instead. It will kill the craving for another drink and you’ll avoid getting sloppy and waking up with a hangover. Win! Don’t drink? Even better. This tonic pairs well with just about any meal.
8. It’s calming and comforting. There’s just something about a warm cup of something that brings up feelings of coziness and comfort. During a busy workday, sipping on some warm water with lemon instantly turns down the stress. Knowing what stress does to our skin, health, and everything else that matters in life, perhaps this is the best reason of all.
We made it you guys! Another year, another election, a non-mageddon, and a whole lot of clean beauty. :) Don’t know about you, but we’re feeling pretty excited about what 2013 holds—and not because we’re wearing rose-colored glasses. This life stuff continues to be hard, but we’re of the mind that the more you work through your crap, with each passing year, the more rewarding the challenges become.
Anyways, on my very long drive back from Utah, where I spent the Christmas holiday, I listened to a lengthy (and kind of boring) interview about New Year’s resolutions. It turns out something like 46% of them actually stick, and that when you take the time to make a resolution on a chosen day (it doesn’t have to be New Year’s), it has a way better chance of surviving than just having an intention to make a change.
According to the piece, certain things really help make a resolution real. First off, you have to be serious about and truly ready for the resolution. It’s better if the resolution is clear and measurable, ie. instead of saying, “this year I’m going to be a better friend,” you say something more specific like, “this year I’m going to make an effort to call my close friends at least once a month” or whatever it may be. The buddy system seems to help too, or some kind of accountability to someone (your bud doesn’t need to have the same resolution as you). The expert also says that most people usually slip up pretty early in the game, but as long as you don’t let the slip be a fall, you’ll be fine. Last but not least, it’s important not to make too many resolutions at once—one is best, but two can work if they’re compatible.
Keeping all of this in mind, I am going to share my resolution for the year with you guys. Siobhan and Rebecca will share theirs in the comments, and we hope you tell us yours as well! That way we can all be accountable to each other here.
My resolution for 2013 is to become an intuitive eater. The good news there is that I’ve already started this practice! But I want to make sure it sticks for, well, my whole life. What do I mean by intuitive eating? I might have to save some of it for a longer post, but for most of my life I’ve been a pretty restricted eater in some way or another. While on the surface, this appeared to be very healthy—and was often done in the name of health—I’ve finally acknowledged to myself that it’s an obsessive type of behavior that has more to do with control than health. Some of the tenets of intuitive eating are: Eating when you’re hungry. Asking yourself what you truly want to eat instead of eating what you think you should eat. Stopping when you’re full, even if that means there’s still food on your plate. Not using food as a reward (or a punishment). Not really thinking about food unless you’re actually hungry—I come from a family that plans dinner before breakfast is even finished!—and so on. This book on intuitive eating has been really helpful to me, so if any of you feel a bit out of touch with your natural rhythms when it comes to food, I highly recommend it!
I have other intentions for this year, too, like being a better listener, and nurturing my spiritual practice. But as some of you surely know, the obsessive day-to-day stuff really detracts from the higher-self goals. So that’s where I’m gonna focus my energies for now.
Can’t wait to hear what you have planned for 2013. Happy New Year everyone!!!