the Menu: The New Year – Act the Way You Want to Feel

“New year, new you.” This ubiquitous mantra shows up everywhere, the moment you finish nursing your New Year’s Eve hangover and send your party dress for dry cleaning to remove all traces of glitter and confetti.

Salad RecipeLooks delicious, doesn’t it? I resolve to eat more whole foods like this!

We reflect on the year past, take an inventory on where we are in life, and start setting goals to get to where we want to be.

On top of that inventory list is probably the most popular resolution we all hope to meet successfully — to become healthier. I’m also guilty as charged.

Can you really be healthy enough? Probably not. Attaining life balance and maintaining physical, emotional and mental nirvana isn’t a one-time thing — it’s a lifelong journey that requires dedication and hard work.

Being healthy isn’t a goal that has a beginning or an end; it’s just a way of being. Maybe that’s why some of us find it daunting because we’re looking for a list of tasks to complete or a magic formula that will give us instant results of looking and feeling better. But it’s a bit more complex than that and much of it includes the way we eat.

Food is an important part of my life. My husband says I am “infatuated with food;” I’m not going to deny it. If my Instagram feed is any indication, I have a gluttonous desire to seek and find good eats, even if it means overindulging. I also use food as an emotional security blanket and eat when I want to feel better or if I seek a distraction from something unpleasant.

But this year, I resolve to do good for my body and soul because I’m tired of it — literally, as in I feel tired all the time. And bloated. It’s time to find better late night snacks than a bag of chips and microwave popcorn. I also need to learn how to sleep at a decent hour. You know what else would be nice: not feeling winded every time I walk up a flight of stairs, or having my arm muscles tense up when I try to whisk a batch of cake batter.

Gretchen Rubin

Feeling good is about more than just learning how to eat well and exercising more. To live better, you need to adopt a positive outlook. In the words of Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, act the way you want to feel. This is my new mantra. It’s one thing to say you’re going to do better, it’s another to act upon it.

With all great gastronomic adventures comes great responsibility — a responsibility to yourself that you will treat your body with respect. You don’t want to deny yourself the pleasure of a great meal; it just means you need to find a perfect balance that will let you make a cake and eat it too. You might just have to compromise a bit — with layers of almond flour sponge cake in between all that cream cheese frosting (baby steps, my friends… baby steps).

As you move forward with your resolutions for the year, here are some other factors to consider to help keep you motivated.

Be realistic
Be honest about what you want to do and what you can do. You determine what your capabilities are and what time commitment you can make. The last thing you want to do is to let yourself down because you made unrealistic, overly-ambitious goals for yourself.

Add a friend to the mix
There really is strength in numbers. Buddy up with a friend and create a support group with whom you can share your successes and challenges, as well as bounce off ideas (or be your taste tester!). Having the support of a loved one can do wonders for your emotional health.

Be accountable
Make yourself accountable for your progress by sharing it in a public way. Post weekly achievements on your refrigerator door, send emails to your friends or use social media to share your progress. If you’re a private person, you can keep a personal journal to write your daily achievements and reflect on your notes on a weekly basis.

Next week: I share my recipes for wholesome, clean eating.