Why I Don’t Make New Year’s Resolutions & What I Do Instead (+ The Best of 2017)

Why I dont make new year resolutions and what I do instead

I’m going to share a little secret … I’m really competitive. (Like, really.) My husband is the same way. So you’d think we’d be great at New Year’s resolutions, right?

Not so much! Let me explain why …

And if you want to hear me explain why, hop over to my New Year 2018 podcast, plus hear an announcement about the exciting changes coming to Wellness Mama in 2018! If not, read on …

New Year’s Resolutions: Yay or Nay?

Of course I’m not against the idea of self-improvement (far from it) and I’m in full support of setting New Year’s resolutions if it works for you. It became apparent that we needed something different for our family after a few years of trying to set and keep New Year’s resolutions together.

I’m the first one to say that better habits are worth the effort and that good routines and a little tracking go a long way toward a successful outcome. Still, if you’re like me and winning is important (maybe too important), goal-setting has the potential to be frustrating.

My usual downward spiral when it comes to New Year’s resolutions (or resolutions in general) goes something like this:

  1. I think too big and bite off more than I can chew.
  2. I get mad at myself when I don’t accomplish the goal as I thought I would.
  3. Therefore, I don’t want to make new resolutions.

My intentions, while admirable, were not getting me too far. Time for a new approach!

Out with New Year’s Resolutions … In with Experiments!

Since my husband is the exact same way, one year we had a meeting of the minds (over a glass of wine, of course) and decided to take some pressure off of New Year’s resolutions. That year, instead of resolutions, we would try experiments.

In case you were hoping for something more revolutionary, hear me out …

First, let’s look at the definition of “resolution:”

  1. a firm decision to do or not to do something.
  2. the action of solving a problem, dispute, or contentious matter.

Now let’s compare “experiment”:

  1. a scientific procedure undertaken to make a discovery, test a hypothesis, or demonstrate a known fact.
  2. a course of action tentatively adopted without being sure of the eventual outcome.

Doesn’t one sound a little more motivating (and fun) than the other?

We totally owe Tim Ferriss for the inspiration for our experimental approach:

“I like pushing myself to the limit and pushing the envelope, and in my mind that is not really compatible with a reliable long-term plan,” says Ferriss. “I generally treat my life as six-month projects and two-week experiments of various types. Then I take the most attractive door that pops up, and rinse and repeat.”

Calling our goals “experiments” (we’ve also called them “challenges” at times) builds excitement about the process and keeps the focus on the learning. We make a hypothesis about what will happen and see what we can learn from the experience … no winning or losing involved.

It may sound like the easy way out but these experiments actually suit the more intense personalities in our house because it allows us to have laser focus for a shorter period of time. Or, we can just have fun with it and see where it leads … depending on what our family needs at the time.

Ideas for a Healthy 2018 (& How to Stay Motivated)

So how to start “experimenting” with a great 2018? Here are some favorite experiments and challenges I’ve tried over the years, and a few new ones I’m embarking on this year:

1. Keep a Journal

If there’s any one way to make positive changes (and keep them), making long-term things much more accomplishable on a smaller scale and on a daily basis is the place to start. This is where a daily journal comes in.

Research shows that journaling reduces stress and increases happiness and has a real impact on physical health. I’ve always kept some kind of journal, but this year for the sake of research and a bunch of new health routines I plan to try, I’m experimenting with getting a much more detailed journaling process going, such as:

  • things I’m grateful for
  • a health picture of the day (what I ate, exercise, how I’m feeling, etc.)
  • blood glucose or ketones (post on what I do coming soon)
  • my daily to-do list (already do this)

One of my favorite ways to manage my to-do list is to pick the two most important things for the day, every day. (Something besides obviously feeding my family and keeping up with the household, etc.) If all I can get done is those two most important things, then I can consider that day a success!

2. Write up (or Refine) a Family Manifesto

Years ago we discovered the power of a family manifesto to shape our family culture. It keeps growing and changing as our family does, but we’re very intentional about pursuing those goals.

I’ve explained more about what’s in our family manifesto elsewhere, but one important goal is to raise kids with an entrepreneurial mindset. This is something that is very important to both my husband and myself and I think is especially important to our children’s generation. We try to give them opportunities to think outside of the box because the way some things in the world and the environment are headed, we need people who can tackle and solve these problems.

3. Conduct a Sleep Experiment

Having trouble narrowing down to just one thing to tackle this year? What if I told you just one thing could help your body restore and heal, regulate hormone production, boost your mood, and aid in weight loss? Yep, sleep! Plus it’s free (or almost free)!

Of course as moms there are many situations that make it tough to get enough sleep, but when even just one missed night of sleep can give you the blood sugar levels of a diabetic or pre-diabetic, it’s an area to take seriously.

One thing I can control even as a mom is my sleep environment and this is a great place to start experimenting. I go into exactly what I do in this post, but some additional things to try are:

  • avoiding blue light a few hours before sleep (or wear orange glasses)
  • lowering the temperature at night
  • using black-out curtains (and ditching nightlights)
  • investing in a good quality mattress
  • exposure to outdoor light for at least 30 minutes in the morning (or use a sun lamp)

Sleep better and you’re already off to a great start in 2018!

4. Start a Real-Food Detox

I’m sure many of us enjoyed some foods we don’t normally consume on a regular basis over the holidays and a detox might be a good way to bounce back. Instead of a vague resolution to “eat healthier” this year, how about a simple 7-day detox challenge? I’m starting one on January 9th, 2018, with my friend Christa Orecchio! It’s a 7-day soup cleanse filled with gentle, real nutrition, no fasting or supplements required.

Clinical nutritionist (and amazing human being) Christa guides us through a series of specialized soups that target different organs in the body to get digestion improving and the immune system running strong. I’ll be working with Christa on the lifestyle side by sharing ways to stress less, plan better, and detox your home.

I know a lot of you guys are already there, but if you want to do this as part of a fun group, check out it out here.

5. Have an Attitude of Gratitude

It sounds cliche, but cultivating gratitude as a daily habit is perhaps even more important than any resolution or experiment, because it’s the secret to fighting stress and staying motivated. The point here is to keep from falling into the trap of thinking, “If only I had XYZ, I’d be happy,” or, “If only I didn’t have to deal with ABC, I’d be happy.” This is a pretty vicious cycle.

I love this TED talk from Shawn Anchor where he points out that gratitude and happiness are the first step and not the end result. So making the choice to be happy and have gratitude is not only healthy, but it can improve performance and success as well! Sometimes just writing down what we’re grateful for (and telling others we’re grateful for them too) is all we need to realize we’re doing just fine.

2017: A Wellness Mama Year in Review

Resolutions aside, I do value this time of year for reflecting on all we’ve done and accomplished. Every year I make each of the kids their own photo book with their year in review, and this year they include photos of a 7,500-mile RV road trip that lasted seven weeks and covered 19 states! It was crazy for sure, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything …

The last 525,600 minutes have been busy, hectic, hard, amazing, rewarding and so many other things all rolled into one crazy year and I’m so grateful that I got to spend some of it with you. To celebrate some of the things that make life easier (hooray!), I’m sharing some the best natural living resources and hacks I found in 2017 (and I’d love to hear yours in the comments as well).

My Favorite New Gadget: The Myobuddy

Why I Don't Make New Year's Resolutions (& What I Do Instead)The Myobuddy is a percussive heated massager that targets both muscle and fascia. It can be used to reduce cellulite, but I prefer it for relaxation and fascia massage. When I first learned about it shared it on social media, the feedback from everyone who tried it out was incredible.

Runners Up:

Favorite Online Course: Kids Cook Real Food

The benefits of letting kids use knives in the kitchenKids Cook Real Food E-Course. I seriously wish I could give this course to every family and go to their houses to make sure they actually watch it. It is that good. Katie Kimball of Kitchen Stewardship teaches your kids how to cook (with your help). My kids love it and can cook a meal on their own because of it!

Favorite Healthy Hack: Red Light Therapy (& Saunas)

The Benefits of Red Light Therapy-PhotobiomodulationI’m a big fan of red light therapy and sauna use. They do different things but have a similar mechanism. Red light therapy improves mitochondrial function and increases ATP and is studied for reducing hair loss, improving testosterone in men and more. I have a Joovv combo light and use it all the time.

Saunas are also an age-old health routine with many benefits studied in modern times. We invested in an at-home sauna and use it often. This is the brand we have.

Best Handmade Product: Kokomo Cream Deo

natural deodorantIt is so exciting that you can now buy so many handmade products if you don’t want to make them yourself. I still make a lot of my own, but often use this Kokomo Cream Natural Deodorant from Crunchy Betty on Etsy.

Runners up:

Kids Favorite: Slackers Ninja Lineslackers ninja line

Inspired by the show American Ninja Warrior, this Slackers Ninja Line will turn an ordinary backyard into a hanging and climbing obstacle course that is great fun for kids of all ages.

Favorite Drinks (Besides Water)

This is totally a legitimate category, right? There were some tough contenders for the title this year, but the winner is a tie … Dry Farm Wines for their natural and organic wines and Four Sigmatic for their mushroom infused coffee.

Runners up:

Favorite Snack or Quick Breakfast: Phat Fudge

I’m not a big fan of snacking, but when traveling or running errands with the kids all day, a healthy meal replacement like these Phat Fudge packs are so convenient, healthy, and delicious! My kids love them and so do I!

Runners up:

Best Random Gadget I Love

How to make a wine bottle tiki torchDo random gadgets deserve their own category? I say yes… and this Wine Bottle Tiki Torch Kit is my favorite this year. We made a few from up-cycled wine bottles and now they serve as functional decorations.

Runners up:

Best Resource for Pregnant & New Moms: Mama Natural

If you are pregnant or a new mom, you have to check out Mama Natural. She has a great natural birth course, and a week-to-week pregnancy book. Her blog has hundreds of articles about all things pregnancy, birth and beyond.

Best Time-Saver In the Kitchen: Real Plans

Summer Meal PlanWithout a doubt, the tool that saves me the most time in the kitchen is Real Plans for meal planning. The Instant Pot saves me the most time in cooking, but Real Plans saves time planning and shopping (and it has many Instant Pot recipes too!). My favorite part? It is so easy to use that I can plan everything from my phone while nursing the baby!

Useful Tip: Natural Drain Cleaning

Not super exciting and you’d never see this on an awards show, but this beyond-simple natural drain cleaning method really works! It saved me when my hubby was out of town and the drain in our kitchen clogged thanks to the three-year-old’s attempt at dishes that resulted in her pouring a bowl of butter and melted olive oil down the drain.

Runner up: These smart uses for the camera on your phone

Word of the Year

I used this word of the year generator to generate a word I will plan to focus on. It gave me “community” which couldn’t be more fitting as I’m trying to focus on building strong community in our home, our city, and here on the blog. What is your word this year?

My Favorite Thing About 2017…

From the very beginning, the mission of Wellness Mama has been to help other families live healthier lives and empower moms (and dads) with practical ways to accomplish this.

I feel like the mission to help parents provide healthy food for their families doesn’t stop in my own community or even just in the blogging community as there is such a need for this internationally.

Did you know?

If you’ve ever clicked a link on the site and made a purchase from there, you’ve helped keep WellnessMama.com up and running, and a percentage of that is also donated to charities that provide sustainable food and water sources worldwide. Thank you so much if you’ve helped support my blog in this way and also helped support many others worldwide.

Reviewing the numbers today, the giving is the real thing that I’m most excited about and most proud of. Over the years, the Wellness Mama Community… YOU… have helped provide items to families in need all over the world.

These gifts not only provide food or clothing to those in need, but in many cases, also a  sustainable food or water source and a way for a family to earn an income.

Over the years, you’ve helped give:

  • 2000 pounds of non-perishable foods
  • 840 chickens for eggs, meat and income for families
  • 72 Pigs for food and income for families
  • 12 goats for food and income for families
  • 4 donkeys for transportation and tilling
  • 3 water pumps that each provide water to a village
  • 4 beehives for food and income for families
  • 20 Fruit Trees so that families can grow the fruit and sell
  • 10 pairs of work boots so farmers can work safely
  • 5 sets of agricultural tools for small farmers
  • 10 large Coolers for fishermen to store fish to sell
  • 8 sewing machines and thread/material for women to open sewing businesses
  • plus medical supplies and school supplies for children around the world

These things were donated through Food for the Poor in case you want to send some chickens to someone in need this year 🙂

I’ve always been a big believer in the “teach a man to fish” mentality, and giving in this way not only provides food or water for someone one time, but helps other families to start their own businesses and provide food for their children regularly. Because at the end of the day:

It Is All About Relationships and Family…

Again, thank you so much for reading, for being a part of the Wellness Mama community, and for sharing in the mission of providing a healthier future for our children.

In 2018 I hope you’ll join me in one of my personal goals: to focus on my family and on relationships more. To prioritize not just making healthy food and creating a healthy environment for my husband and children, but being more present and spending more time together as a family. This year I plan to share a lot more about our family on the blog, what we do in our homeschool, how I organize our daily life, and anything else you’d like to know!

Nourish not only your body, but the important relationships in your life. Don’t just tell people you love them, but actually show them. Because at the end of the day, that is what is going to make the biggest difference in your own life and in the lives of your family members and the next generation.

Happy New Year 2018, Wellness Mamas!

I may be the original Wellness Mama, but the truth is all of you make this community what it is — a tribe of moms searching for better ways to care for ourselves and our families. I’m honored to be on the journey with all of you, and I wish each of you a very peaceful, happy, and healthy 2018!

Do you make New Year’s resolutions? What works or doesn’t work for your family? I’d love to hear your ideas for experiments, challenges, or resolutions!

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