New Year, New You?

‘Tis the season for oft-failed New Year’s Resolutions.  We’ve all made them.  Some have succeeded in keeping them.  Many have failed.  In fact, Business Insider reported in 2017 that an unsurprising 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail by the second week of February!  Many times these resolutions are too vague or too intense for us to maintain so it’s no wonder they fail more often than they succeed!

Take the resolutions “to cook more in the new year” or “to have a home-cooked meal on the table every night.”  The first lacks definition.  What constitutes as “cooking”?  What constitutes as “more.”  The second is (even for me) stress-inducing.  Oh how many are the plans in a man’s heart…  I’ll be the first to admit and promote, I mealplan every week.  However, sometimes plans change and you have to adjust.  I don’t always have dinner on the table when my husband gets home from work.  So let’s give ourselves some collective slack and explore some ways we can be more successful at just being better than we were before in the New Year.  Below are a few of the most popular resolutions according to Reader’s Digest

Get in shape – There are many ways this could be interpreted.  What kind of shape do we wanna be in?  Let’s change this to make one conscious choice every day that promotes the health of tomorrow’s “you.”  Getting a gym membership is good, but this time of year is brutal.  More than likely, all the machines are going to be taken and all the “group ex” classes will be bursting at the seams.  Maybe wait until March when people start to clear out.  In the meantime, start pushing yourself to do things in your everyday life that you are uncomfortable doing.  Yes, take the stairs by all means, but perhaps also look into a wearable activity tracker and monitor your day-to-day stats and then work on improving those stats weekly and/or monthly.  We love our Fitbits.  We’ve owned and upgraded several over the years.  You can get one with all the bells and whistles, but there are some that are more simple and many that are completely affordable.

Lose weight – This one almost goes with the one above.  The Fitbit can help here as well, but you also want to watch what you’re eating and regularly weighing yourself as well.  The Fitbit app helps you track your calorie intake and their WiFi Smartscale helps you track not only your weight, but also your body fat percentage and syncs your data to the app over your WiFi!  We have been using ours for years.  Note: I write about food so how could I possibly recommend you eschew it?  Thanks to a wake-up call at a routine checkup, Chef Rocco DiSpirito rehab’d his lifestyle and found a new way of cooking.  He has a whole line of cookbooks now to help you eat well and still lose weight.  I enjoy my kitchen creations, but in moderation.  I plan ahead and if I know dinner will be on the heavier side, I make a conscious effort to eat lighter during the day.  Balance and moderation.

Spend less, save more – How much less?  How much more?  A good rule of thumb that I’ve always heard is that one should save no less than 10% of their income.  Another great guideline is to spend no more than 10-15% on groceries.  Depending on the area you live, this could be problematic.  For those who love to cook, this can be downright difficult.  In order to support my culinary explorations, I coupon as well as use an app called iBotta.  You get a $10 bonus for signing up and I find that I get some pretty good inspiration just by scrolling through the offers.  I have even combined a coupon with a sale and an offer from iBotta before (without a ton of planning) to save even more!  Another way I save money is by taking surveys and in-home test trials on Swagbucks.  I give all of these methods no more than 30-60min a day (sometimes more if I’m bored). I can sometimes rack up enough points on Swagbucks for a $30-$45 credit per month that I cash in for either an Amazon or Walmart gift card.  I worked it so hard one particularly tight year that this is how I paid for Christmas!

Get organized – Take each room or space one bite at a time.  In the kitchen, this can be pretty simple.  Sur La Table has these great Expandable Bamboo Silverware Trays to help with cutlery, a Roll-Out Cutting Board & Bakeware Organizer, and a Roll-Out Lid Holder to keep all of your lids in one neat place just like we’ve all seen on Pinterest!  For the longest time I had my eye on a couple of these Seville Classics UltraDurable Commercial-Grade 5-Tier Steel Wire Shelving units.  My kitchen isn’t very large and I don’t have a traditional pantry, so I wanted one in my dining room and one in the entry closet for all of my kitchen tools & toys I don’t have space for elsewhere. My husband’s restaurant recently got rid of a few, so I was able to take a perfectly good one home! It’s sitting on my back porch now waiting for a fresh paint job!

Learn something new – One of my mottoes is “Never stop learning.”  When you stop growing, that’s when you start regressing.  Having been gifted with words and language, in school Spanish came easy to me and I made straight A’s in all of my college Spanish courses.  In 2017, I decided I wanted to learn something I had always wanted to learn.  I had always wanted to learn French, so I signed up for an inexpensive, short CEC course at the local university.  I had a great time!  I haven’t mastered the language yet, but there’s no time limit. I’m using the French version of Living Language Complete Edition to further my studies.  Also, a friend at work introduced me to an app for my phone called Duolingo that helps support my efforts. Other classes I’ve enjoyed have been the hands-on crafting classes at Michaels Craft Stores and there are also tons of tutorials on just about any subject on Youtube.

Travel more – Unless you work for an airline or a travel agency, you probably aren’t jetting off to exotic locales on the regular, but Groupon Getaways and Living Social Travel makes getting away so affordable and puts the entire world at your fingertips.  There is an entire culinary world waiting to be explored near and far with the help of Groupon or Living Social if you start setting aside an additional 10% of your take-home pay to save for travel. You could technically “put it on a card,” but resolutions are historically not about going into debt.  (See resolution 4 above) Another way to make travel more accessible, is by using Sightseeing Pass. With this service, you can browse and pay for tours and experiences in the places you’re going before your trip, saving you time and money in the process.

Eat at home more – This will not only help with the spending less, but you could also help with Resolution 5!  One thing I encourage every married couple to do is to take one evening a week (more if you can swing it) to unplug and explore one new recipe together.  I started this a couple years into our marriage.  I’d used my cookbooks here and there, but I began to make a dedicated effort to exploring something new and different every Friday night. I began with my now-dilapidated, well-loved copy of Better Homes and Gardens Bridal Edition Cookbook.  I had so much fun with this that I eventually expanded to two or three recipes a week.  Now that I stay home, I attempt something nearly every single day using a variety of my ever-growing collection of cookbooks.  Some days are as simple as a new hot chocolate or coffee recipe, some days are a moderate dinner, and some days are more time-consuming trials that give me not only a finished product, but a sense of self-worth and satisfaction that can only be granted by work.

Read more – It’s no secret in my circle that I not only enjoy cooking, but reading as well. I have the proverbial ever-growing pile of “to-reads”, but I was noticing a couple months ago that I was spending less and less time reading. I was allowing the TV to entertain me more than I was willing to admit. I decided to make a concerted effort to read more. Now I make time each day to read something. Mornings are dedicated to Bible study, but afternoons I have reserved for different material. Sometimes it’s a cookbook for specific techniques or ideas, sometimes it’s a classic novel, sometimes it’s a serious modern prose, and sometimes it’s non-fiction. I recently started The Girls of Atomic City by Denise Kiernan which is challenging me to recall the chemistry I learned in high school. It’s forcing me to slow-down and concentrate. In the process it completely strips away the world around me and envelopes me with WW2 era Tennessee. I never figured I would be enjoying it so much, but it goes to show that by varying your reading appetite, you tap into a little bit more of yourself you didn’t know existed.

What are your goals for this year?  What are you looking to improve?  Will you be changing or adopting any new habits this year?  Let me know in the comments below!

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