Trevor McDonald is a freelance writer and recovering addict and alcoholic who’s been clean and sober for over 5 years. Since his recovery began, he has enjoyed using his talent for words to help spread treatment resources, addiction awareness, and general health knowledge. In his free time, you can find him working with recovering addicts or outside enjoying about any type of fitness activity imaginable.
The New Year is a time for renewal and rebirth—and, sometimes, a hearty helping of guilt and self-defeat. Goals set at the start of the year are often a result of bingeing and over-indulgence of the holiday season. Instead of dedicating just one day to self-improvement (and clinging to a resolution that will likely be abandoned in a few weeks), dedicate 2018 to overall self-improvement.
Goals should always be SMART. Specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound are the pillars for any goal. For instance, instead of saying, “I want to lose weight,” consider, “I want to reduce fat by a certain amount of inches and increase muscle by a certain amount of inches, all by Easter.” Losing weight is one of the most popular goals of the holiday season, but it’s steeped in disaster. There’s no such thing as “losing” weight, but there is the possibility of reducing the size of fat cells. A lot of people also want to “tone up” which really means reducing fat in addition to hypertrophy (increasing muscle size).
However, focusing on the pure aesthetics of the body might not be the healthiest means to self-improvement. Here are five ways to increase your overall well-being in the new year (no scale required):
1. Instead of a vacation full of binges, indulge in a detox.
If you’d like to start the year of right with a detox vacation, you don’t need to spend thousands of dollars at a fancy resort (although you certainly can!). You can detox right in the comfort of your own home, and it might even qualify you for a medical leave or mental wellness day. No matter how you decide to detox, giving up your vices like alcohol, sugar, simple carbs, and screen time are all bound to make you feel better and go into 2018 healthier.
2. Find ways of giving every day.
Empathy is a critical trait, but it requires daily practice. Challenge yourself to find new ways to give to those around you every day. It might be helping a friend move house, buying coffee for the person behind you in the queue, or handwriting a card to a loved one, giving back doesn’t need to require money.
3. Practise speaking kindly to yourself
You’re your own worst critic, but you can take steps to change that. How we speak to ourselves, either internally or aloud via affirmations, plays a big role in our self-esteem. Talk to yourself kindly, encourage yourself, and congratulate yourself when you’ve achieved goals. Soon enough, you’ll positively shift how you see yourself—and how others see you.
4. Move everyday.
If possible, head outdoors for at least 20 minutes per day for a walk around the block, snow shoeing down the street, or an urban hike at a nearby trail. The 150 minutes of cardio recommended per week is just that, a minimum. Most people aren’t at risk of over-exercising. However, if you are a gym rat, bear in mind that rest days with gentle yoga or pilates is a great way to keep moving without burning out the body.
5. Schedule the doctors appointments you have missed.
At a bare minimum, everyone should see their general physician, dermatologist, and dentist at least once per year. Can’t recall the last time you saw one of these medical experts? If not, getting them taken care of at the start of the New Year means you’ll dive into 2018 in good health. Always ask your general physician for a deficiency screening. This time of year, being deficient in Vitamin D is very common and can cause fatigue.
Self-improvement is a daily practice that you can start at any time. During the end of winter, it’s easy to slip into hibernation mode. The days are short and dark, and it’s tempting to want to wait out any self-improvement goals until the spring time. Resist the urge and work towards bettering yourself now so that you’ll be ready for Summer. Bettering yourself always has its obstacles, from the weather to having a booked-up calendar. However, making it a priority is the only way you can keep improving your health, happiness, and wealth.
Connect with Trevor on his Website