I was shopping at my local Target the day before New Year’s Eve, and, as soon as I saw these adorable New Year shirts for my boys, I knew I had to have them. The shirts read, “2018, let’s do this!” While the shirts were pretty eye-catching, I think it was more the motto that triggered my sentiments instead of the actual design. After a long, and somewhat tiring 2017, I am more than ready to welcome the New Year with zeal, freshness, and an opportunity to do more “thriving” for 2018.
And yet, I’m not a firm believer in New Year’s resolutions. The more I talk to other people, the more I’m aware that “resolutions,” per se, are falling out of favor. This lack of resolve may be due to the inherent pressure we place on ourselves, then the subsequent feelings of failure if – and when – our steam runs out. Instead of making resolutions, I like to use the end of the year for reflection. When were my happiest moments? When did I feel like I let myself or my family down? What can I do more of in my life that contributes to my long-term goals of health, vitality, and feelings of well-being?
I love the idea of “baby steps.” It helps me to remember that overall health is much more than just looking and feeling good now. My idea of health is similar to a projection, of sorts. I like to look at my health long term, something on the horizon. In fact, the name for this blog stemmed from that idea. An “outlook” embodies a vision we see in the future. What are the baby steps I can do today that will help shape my mental, physical, and spiritual health well into my 60s, 70s, and beyond? Of course, I want to look and feel good today. Yet, I can’t practice regimens that are harsh and unsustainable in the long run. No fad diets, detoxes, or strict routines for me!
So, while I didn’t commit to any firm resolutions, I did think about the baby steps that are easy for me to do on a daily basis. Now, I know some of them may seem a little silly at first. I’m all for the easy habits that “pack a lot of punch” and actually make a difference in the long run. Here are some the things I hope to accomplish more of in 2018. As always, I look forward to your thoughts and comments.
Be wary of the “quiet culprits” in our household
The kitchen sponge. Dish towels. My children’s winter jackets and the bottoms of our shoes. These are the “quiet culprits” in our household that house a lot of bacteria and other organisms and need to be regularly replaced and/or maintained. For whatever reason unbeknownst to me, I like to use my kitchen sponge until it looks like something out of a horror movie. Ok, maybe not quite that drastic, however I do extend the life of my sponges more than I’d like to admit. Often left damp and hanging around the kitchen sink, sponges are like magnets for all sorts of bacteria. After a while, sponges can take on the counterproductive task of spreading more germs than actually cleaning them up. I have to remember that dishes and countertops are probably the most utilized surfaces in our house. In addition to sponges, I’ve started washing my dish towels more frequently, as well. As far as my boy’s winter jackets, I have no idea how much bacteria the lapels and sleeves are exposed to from playgrounds, McDonald’s booths, and “snot.” Those are going in the wash more frequently, too. It pays to maintain and frequently replace the “quiet culprits” everywhere in the house.
Reduce my plastic and heavy metal usage
Throwing “steamable” bags of frozen vegetables in the microwave has always been a quick, easy, and relatively inexpensive way for me to put together “sides” for our family dinners. Yet, heating plastics is the not safest thing I can be doing for my young children. In addition to reducing the amount I use our microwave, I’ve been trying to use microwaveable-safe dishes for warming instead of the manufacturer’s plastic bags and trays. Plastics are known to be “endocrine-disruptors” – they wreak havoc on our adrenal system and hormones. This fact is especially of concern to young children whose bodies are still growing.
I’ve also tried to reduce the amount of canned food we eat. I buy highly acidic items – such as tomato sauce or diced tomatoes – in glass jars, since the acidity can wear away at aluminum cans. Lastly, I’ve stopped cooking with aluminum foil. When heated, aluminum foil can wear away, so to speak, and cause a dust that can scrape off onto and penetrate our foods. These days, I always use baking sheets and coat them with cooking oil to prevent sticking.
Take my time when eating
Eating slowly – or at least at a reasonable pace – is essential to proper digestion and helping to feel satiated. As a mother to two toddlers, I routinely scarf down my meals due to time constraints and the demands that young children often bring. In fact, when my husband and I were out to eat alone the other week, I said something to this effect to him, “I don’t even mind if we don’t have the most riveting, or intellectually-stimulating conversations any more on our date nights. I just want to take my time, savor the food, and enjoy my meal in peace!” If you’re a busy mom to young children, I suppose you can relate!
Eating slowly is difficult to do in this stage of my life, however, I can make some easy changes. For instance, I’ve started ensuring that I eat a proper breakfast so that I’m not completely famished by lunchtime. In fact, eating smaller meals throughout the day is easier for me and my digestion at this point. I like to have a family dinner together, but I’ve started eating breakfast and lunch by myself when at least one child is busy playing or napping. That way I have more to time to spend preparing and eating my food.
Defining the times of work and play
As a modern mother, I’m never void of a professional project or assignment at any given time. My career choices have allowed me to be available for my children and still maintain a professional identity, however, the lines of demarcation between work and play have been blurred in the process. My goal this year is to stop trying to do multiple things at once and to be more present and mindful in my duties as both a mother and a professional. I wrote a useful article about mindfulness that can be accessed here.
Thank you for taking the time to read this personal and somewhat lighthearted post. Here’s to a happy, healthy 2018!