A “New” Approach to New Year’s Resolutions

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HAPPY NEW YEAR! I hope you had a great holiday season. December here was wonderful, with friends and cheer surrounding us. This year, I’m not making a “new” New Year’s resolution- instead, I’m sticking to a “different” way of thinking, and THAT’S made all the difference!

For as long as I can remember, my New Year’s Resolution was “lose some weight.” Statistics show the resolution to eat healthier, exercise and lose weight is the most common resolution each year. It’s not that I don’t take care of myself; I eat all organic, eat lots of veggies, and am active. But each year, it seemed a little more weight would creep on. I’m not a medical professional (I’m not giving out medical advice), and everyone’s situation is different. However, in today’s busy, fast-paced world it’s easy to put on weight, and it’s even easier when you’re a woman over forty.

A few years ago I had a bout with tick-borne illness. I’d been undiagnosed for a long time, and my whole body was affected. During that time, I quickly put on twenty extra pounds. After successfully battling the nasty tick bacteria, some of the weight disappeared, but a lot stayed.

I love to be active and outside. I don’t watch a whole lot of tv. I’m an active farmgirl- crafting, gardening; I’m also a wife, a mom of a busy teenager, a volunteer with Girl Scouts and a Master Gardener.

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I teach knitting and gardening classes. I’ve got chickens and pets that need love and care. I like to walk and ride my bike, as well. But weight kept sneaking up on me.

I also LOVE to cook and bake. I adore good food. In 2018, with the stress of job changes, new schedules, major damage to our home from a bad storm, worry over ill pets and relatives, and with a lot of horrible weather, I kept putting off exercise and was eating less-than healthy.

I’ll soon be 47. I was feeling tired, with aches and pains, especially in my back and hips. I noticed my face looked puffy, and my clothes didn’t fit. Styles I used to love no longer looked good on me. I thought, “Well, I’m getting older. This is aging.” I’d lose a couple pounds, but the thought of losing more than that seemed like an impossible obstacle.

This picture doesn’t even look like me! I didn’t feel energetic and looked puffy. From June 2018

This picture doesn’t even look like me! My skin looks tired, I didn’t feel energetic and looked puffy. From June 2018

It was time for a full physical, something I hadn’t done in several years. This summer I was pleased to find that I’ve no more traces of tick-borne illness and my thyroid that hadn’t been functioning during my illness was now back to normal! The only complaint the doctor had was my weight, particularly around my middle.

After asking about my eating habits, the doc said to exercise more. “I do exercise”, I replied. I wanted to crawl under a rock when he suggested jogging. I’ve always hated jogging, since I was a teenager made to run laps in gym class in 100-degree Texas heat. He suggested I add more strenuous exercise. “You need to balance the calories you take in with those you use”. My complaint was there just isn’t any time.

“Make time”, he said. “You need to make time for yourself”.

At that, a bulb in my head went on. I’ve been saying this for years, telling my knitting students to make time for themselves. I suggested in an early blog to slow down our lives, not be so scheduled. Yet, I was not following my own advice.

As women, we’re programmed to be caregivers. We’re the nurturers, the nesters, the Mother Hens and Queen Bees. We say “Yes” to helping (which of course, is good) but we often need to say “No” and then feel guilty for it. We end up doing too much, working too long, and trying to do it all. We wear ourselves trying to do everything for everyone and those we love. We put ourselves last on our list.

It wasn’t that I didn’t KNOW how to keep my weight down…what to eat, how to exercise…it was feeling I didn’t have the time to take care of myself. I put myself last.

I started out slow, squeezing in a twenty minute walk/run with my dog the first time. I was so sore the next day! Then I started using the simple exercise bike purchased a year ago (that’s when I watch tv now). Soon, I was able to spend more and more time exercising without feeling exhausted. Bit by bit, exercise was no longer uncomfortable or painful. Now I crave it! On busy hectic days, I FIND the time to exercise, even if just for twenty minutes on the bike or a quick walk. I’m not always in the mood to exercise, but squeezing in the time helps, and before I know it my mood is changed and I’m loving it. Now I even RUN!

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I don’t diet. I hate the idea of “dieting”. I take time to make good meals, paying attention to serving sizes. I started eating more greens, less bread, and broke up with cheese. (If a recipe calls for cheese, I use it, but use less). I read labels and became aware of hidden sugar (for instance, the organic bread I was buying had 6 grams per slice. I changed to a different organic brand with less sugar per serving). I switched out some (not all) of the dairy in my diet with almond milk.

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I still snack if I need to, but start with fruit first and watch my servings – two crackers instead of ten. I also gave up seltzer. I always thought since it had no calories it was as good as water. I read that seltzer, while calorie free, can actually increase your appetite! It explained why I was always hungry! I might still drink it, but now I will have one instead of several. Again, it’s taking time… the time to read labels. Taking time to take care for myself helps me take care of my family.

I make a lot of soups, but skip the cream-based ones (or use less cream and replace with lower fat milk). I stop eating when full. I eat half of large servings at restaurants and split dessert with others. I drink lots of water. I relax. I don’t “go” all day until I drop. I knit more, read more, and in turn, go to bed feeling more relaxed so I sleep better.

All these little changes made a big difference. Soon, I noticed my clothes fitting (and then my “skinny” jeans felt larger). Bit by bit, the extra weight came off.

Since the beginning of autumn, I’ve reached my goal of losing 15 pounds. I’m back down three sizes.

Me! Christmas, 2018

Me! Christmas, 2018

I started my “impossible” resolution in October. Halloween is when all the extra sugar abounds. Then come the holidays, with Thanksgiving, and then Christmas. My goal for the Christmas holidays was not to lose weight, but to not gain back what I lost.

I still baked all my favorites at the holidays, but watched my servings.

I still baked all my favorites at the holidays, but watched my servings.

I thought I’d be doomed at Christmas. But it wasn’t so. I still ate dessert and baked cookies. There’s still candy and I will eat a sweet if I want a sweet. (Dropping sugar made me lose my sweet tooth). If I splurged (or knew I’d be splurging), I’d fit in a little extra cardio. Again, it’s making time to take care of myself.

The bonus is the extra time I found by making time for myself. As the weight came off, my back, joints, and hips stopped hurting, and my energy level soared. I still have a busy schedule, but I have more time because I feel like doing more- because I feel great!

I say no to something if I need to, and treat my time to exercise or unwind as important as any other “appointment”.

Here’s what I’m suggesting: Don’t make your resolution a chore, something that’s negative.

For me, I wanted to lose weight so I’d feel better. Maybe you need more time to unwind after a busy work day, or want to read more but feel like you don’t have time.

Don’t say,”I weigh too much; I need to diet and exercise.” Don’t think “That book’s been sitting on my nightstand for months. I don’t have time to read it”. Instead, make it a POSITIVE. Look at TIME as a GIFT you give to yourself. MAKE TIME. Make time for yourself. Put yourself first a little bit more, treat yourself right, and the rest will follow.

*Remember to let me know you stopped by- leave me a comment in the section below!

Happy New Year! Until Next Time…Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

 

Leave a comment 34 Comments

  1. Denise says:

    very good advise and I will try to follow your advise too! Happy New Year!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Thanks Denise! Just a few changes here and there added up for me. The main thing was taking some time everyday. Wishing you a very happy new year, and healthy 2019! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  2. Julie says:

    Thanks,
    For your inspirational New Year’s blog…Interesting things I didn’t realize…Here’s to the New Year, WISH me luck on getting healthy and losing weight.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Julie, thank you! I am so sorry that you have been under the weather for so long. I have had New Years that started like that. Take care of yourself and feel better soon! Wish we lived closer because I would make you my “magic” chicken soup! I hope you start feeling better soon. Big hugs, my dear friend! ~Nicole

  3. Marilyn says:

    Glad you are feeling healthier. Wishing you and yours a bless,healthy and happy 2019.
    Marilyn

  4. Mary Pitman says:

    I love your email! My husband and I both got tick fever this past summer. What a bummer!!!!! I too need to get healthier and exercise more. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Thank you, Mary! I hope you and your husband are feeling better. Here in Connecticut, tick illnesses are such a problem. I am glad that doctors are recognizing the issue and more are testing routinely for the bacteria. Wishing you I both a very happy, healthy New Year! Thank you for reading and commenting! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  5. Carol says:

    I need to learn to do this. I need to make time for myself as my biggest complaint is that I never have 5 minutes for me!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Carol! I hear ya! It is not easy to reprogram ourselves to do that, but we need to! Have a great, happy and healthy 2019! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  6. Sandi King says:

    Hi Nicole,
    It is interesting that you changed just by taking time for yourself. It is also inspiring and uplifting to know that it worked for you. So glad and as you said everyone is an individual and you have to find something that works for you as that individual, that one thing doesn’t work for everyone. I haven’t tried to lose weight but I did lose about 10 pounds without trying. I don’t know what I did differently from a day to day time, but I am happy about it. Keep taking time for yourself and enjoy life to the fullest. God bless.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Sandi, Happy New Year! Thank you! Our lives are so packed and fast paced, it is important to take time, no matter what it is that we individually need. For me, it was exercising and getting back to my farmgirl roots of healthy eating. That in turn gave me so much more energy. Take care of yourself, and have a great new year! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  7. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts I appreciate the way that you are a approaching the new year and I believe I will do the same !!
    We are certainly the only ones that can change our attitude. That really seems to be the only thing we are in control of.
    Happy New Year!!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Diane, Thank you! I am so glad you liked the post. It is true…attitude makes such a difference in everything and our outlook on life. Thank you for reading and commenting, and have a great 2019! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  8. Linda Hunt says:

    Thanks Nicole for your suggestions of taking time for yourself. You are an inspiration and you make me feel like I am doing the right things. My big change in 2018 was to teach myself to say NO. I now have lots more time to take care of myself instead of taking care of everyone else that does not bother to take care of themselves.

    In saying no – I even had more time to fix healthier meals for myself and my family. My stress level has diminished amazingly!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Linda, Kudos to you for learning to say “No” and take care of yourself! I think as women that is one of the hardest things to reprogram ourselves to do. Stress is one of the worst things for our bodies and can really cause our health to decline. Keep up the good work with taking care of yourself and eating healthy meals! Happy New Year! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  9. Connie says:

    Thank you! Gave me some good tips!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Connie, Thanks for reading and commenting! I just learned the tip about seltzer this year; what a difference! Have a very happy New Year! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  10. Jan Sturgill says:

    Good for you, Nicole! I am not making the same resolution this year! (Yep, the LOSE WEIGHT one!) I will begin a new ‘cardio/core’ class, as well as a drumming class next week. I am still doing my weight bearing program with a trainer every Tuesday at 10:45 am. I am proud of the fact that I am almost up to my previous weight levels before my shoulder repair surgery. Weight bearing exercise is helpful for maturing women in regard to balance, strength, bone density, etc. Makes the endorphins pop! I find that if I commit myself to ‘appointments’ it helps me immensely.
    In the midst of an emotional time for me, I found comfort in a wood working project in our home shop. This shop was my Dad’s shop originally, so I am immensely comforted in that space, as well as experiencing an almost meditative calm. Finished up a cute mid-century table, and now I am almost done with staining and sealing an adorable handmade bench found at a local estate sale. Lots of projects, and so little time! Yippee!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Jan, Thank you! I forgot to mention in the blog that core strengthening made a HUGE difference for me. When I started it felt like I was dying, lol! That core strength training class sounds awesome! Keep up the good work, farmgirl! You sound like you are on a very positive track.

      I LOVE that you are doing woodworking in your dad’s shop! How special is that!? I would love to see your work. You are always such an inspiration! Happy New Year, farmsister! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  11. Diane Ryan says:

    Thanks for the words of encouragement!

  12. April G says:

    Great words and a good boost in thinking to kick off a new year!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi April, Thank you! I truly believe that changing our attitude to a more positive approach makes a difference in everything we do. Happy New Year! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  13. Joey says:

    Happy New Year, Nicole! I loved your thoughtful blog post. While my Dad was dying I gained over 40 lbs on an already heavy frame. Sometime during the past few months, my body decided enough is enough. I have been SO short of breath and so tired all the time and in pain all over. When I retired 2 years ago my stress level dropped so much! Anyway, I’ve lost 14.6 pounds, and working to lose more. Rod got me a BodyGrove tape because I love to dance. Your blog was so motivating, Nicole and I am SO glad you are feeling better. Hugs.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Joey, Congrats on your accomplishment! I am so sorry to hear that you have been not feeling well, and I hope you continue to feel better and get healthier. I remember when you were losing your dad, and how hard it was for you. It seems like a lifetime ago that we all met in Massachusetts that day! I always think of you when I am in that area. Thank you for reading and sharing and for being you! Happy New Year, my farmgirl friend. Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  14. Alice says:

    Great advice!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Thank you, Ali! You are always an inspiration, my friend! I have learned some great recipes/healthy food tips from you- you were the person who I first heard about almond milk from! Lunch soon! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  15. Sue says:

    Great advice! I’ve been in the same mindset, and this will help me change the way I’m approaching this!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Sue, thank you and Happy New Year! Good luck, if I can do it, I know you can, too! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  16. Alexandra Wilson says:

    I love this! Thanks for the positive reminder in the new year. You look beautiful, by the way–positively glowing!
    Cheers and Happy New Year from your Rural Farmgirl sister, Alex

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Alex, thank you so much for all the kind words! Cheers and Happy New Year to you and your beautiful family, as well! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  17. Nancy Lyn Bonner says:

    Enjoyed this blog! First time I’ve been on your site and can relate in many ways to the struggle you have had.

    I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (they think due to a tick bite but it was never diagnosed) when I was 30 – forty years ago. Over the years I gained over 75 pounds – would lose a few then gain them back.

    A year and a half ago I was diagnosed with breast cancer…after chemotherapy, surgery and radiation and a research chemo study, I lost over 80 pounds!

    Needless to say, my lifestyle, eating habits, exercise and wardrobe has changed. Funny how some things can change your whole perspective! I treasure each day I’m given, have continued to work on changing habits and lifestyle, make time for things I didn’t and feel so much better!

    Your blog challenged me and reinforced my resolve to continue the “new me”!!!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Nancy, Thank you for sharing with us. You have been through so much – what a strong lady you are! I love your attitude – great advice! I am so glad you enjoyed the blog – thank you again for commenting. You sound like a spunky farmgirl, for sure. May you continue to feel and be well! Big Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

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