I am the queen of resolutions. Something about new beginnings and blank slates and doing the impossible just reels me in like no other. It’s not particularly out of character. I’ve had my head stuck far up in the clouds for as long as I can remember. I have to assume that all dreamers are suckers for New Year’s resolutions. I’m guessing that all of the rest of them are just dying for an excuse to dream a little bigger or commit to something unrealistic. Either that, or it truly is just me.
With such a personality, I certainly have committed to just about every possible resolution over the years. There have been sugar fasts, book reading challenges, and really subjective things like, “Be a better friend”. There have been budgets, Bible study plans, and promises to text people back more quickly. And so obviously there have also been goals to exercise more, eat healthier, and lose “x” pounds. Most of these have been met without completion, and eventually, with complete change of direction.
This past year has changed things.
It has for all of us.
Some people are the most fit they have ever been, since working from home has cut down on their commute times. Some people gained 50 pounds during quarantine and are starting to think it might be permanent. There has been a global heaviness, and that means that our goals are looking a bit different.
In all honesty, this has been true for me for the past several years.
Previously, when the subject of “health” was brought up to me, I thought of eating healthy, exercising, and being skinny. (This also meant that I thought of all of my perceived failings in these areas.) I loved talking about Whole30 and making gym plans with friends. I went through phases where I was super into running. I hated looking in the mirror, and I always wanted to lose at least fifteen pounds.
A few years ago, I started to get sick. A quick disclaimer: I’m not dying. Everything’s fine. Anyway, it took way too long to figure out what was wrong, and once we figured out one thing, there was another (and another and a…). I’m currently a few years into this thing, and my body just still isn’t functioning the way it’s supposed to. I pray a lot, and I do my best to take good care of the body that is trying so hard to take care of me. I’ve read all of the articles (and even some books). I’ve listened to podcasts and tried out different supplements. I have gone to too many doctors and had a whole lot of tests run on my blood. I’ve been told to have faith & hope, and that that would make it all better.
I’m still sick.
It can be difficult at times to hear people talk about their more physical goals. Most exercise makes me really sick, and I often fear that I will never be able to move around – or eat – the way I was once could. There’s something so invigorating about meeting fitness goals, and I have no idea when I’ll be able to experience that invigoration again.
I want to preface the rest of this by saying that I do not in any way look down on people who have more traditional health goals. I know that my struggle is not a normal one, but I wanted to give it a voice, because I’m sure someone else is at a similar place to me.
That being said, I’ve been working hard to set attainable health-related goals for myself this year.
Here they are:
1. Celebrate my body. My body stands up and sits down. It pumps blood, draws breaths, and fights off infection. My brain works and my joints work and my nose works. I have a great deal to be thankful for. One of the best pieces of advice I have read for those struggling with chronic illness is to stop treating our bodies like the enemy. When I’m so tired or in an incredible amount of pain, my impulse is to become angry with my body. But my body is not the traitor. On the contrary, it is doing everything it can to keep me healthy. I am working to celebrate these victories, as they come.
2. Eat good food. This can be interpreted many ways, and I’m sure it will be throughout the year. Eating good food looks like giving my body quality nutrients to help it perform its many functions. It looks like eating delicious food – food that makes me grateful I had the opportunity to be born on this planet. It looks like eating plentifully, rather than limiting my caloric intake in order to be thin. It looks like truly feeding my body the best that I can, without penalizing it when things don’t go as planned.
3. Rest adequately. This one is fairly simple. Without rest, my body won’t do what it needs to do! This goal requires plenty of sleep, time set aside for doing nothing, and intentional relaxation. It also means doing more of the things that help me to feel rested (reading, writing, playing music), and less of the things that serve only to drain or distract me (TV, social media, anything on a screen really).
4. Be present. With myself and with the people around me. I won’t know what I need if I don’t listen. Plus, one thing that I know for certain, is that I need connection. If I’m not present with the people I love, then I’m missing out on one of the most healing things I can find.
5. Forgive my own missteps. I once read an article about weight loss (because that’s exactly the type of the thing I was into at the time) that was reflecting on the different reasons it was hard for people to lose weight. One of the reasons was this: Once we mess up on our diet once, we are so overcome with disappointment with ourselves that we throw in the towel and eat horrendously for the rest of the day. This was so familiar to me! And not just in my “weight loss journey”! This happens to me all of the time now, in every area of my life. When I don’t meet a deadline or I feel I’ve been unproductive or I eat something that I knew was going to make me sick, I just give up altogether. We call it quitting while we’re ahead, but really we’re just quitting before we ever gave ourselves a real shot. So now, my plan is different. I’m actually writing this at the end of a day where I ate a few too many faux-Oreos, knowing full well what the outcome would be. Tonight, rather than being angry with myself, I am choosing instead to forgive me for the mistake. I plan to be a better steward of my body tomorrow, but I can also appreciate that those wonky little gluten free cookies were very delicious, and I’m grateful I got to eat them.
I am so excited about 2021. Do not ask me why. I know it seems naïve and chances are, this year won’t be any better than the last one. But I’m excited, nonetheless.
This year, I will make strides forward and take steps back.
My body will feel better for a while and then start to hurt again.
I will talk nicely to myself some days and be rude to myself on the others.
But, so long as I am striving toward something better, I will not be disappointed when the year comes to a close.