Laying Foundations

There is nothing ‘typical’ about the upcoming New Year’s resolutions. In 2020, we collectively experienced challenges, difficulties, disappointments, and general “plot twists” that no one could have predicted. For many of us, this past year forced our health, wellness, and fitness goals to the back burner just to manage the unpredictable changes to our lives. I hope you can look back at 2020 and recognize your own personal growth, and identify small triumphs that you’re proud of: I know they exist.

Looking to 2021, I’m encouraging my clients to do a self-check on some healthy foundations before going full-tilt on additional resolutions. There’s nothing wrong with goal-setting, but in my experience starting with these three foundations can help set you up for long-term success, wherever your ambitions take you.

Drink Up

You probably already know this, but I’ll state if for the record: proper hydration provides numerous health benefits. You get about 20–30% of your daily water intake needs the food you eat, so if we’re following the Adequate Intake guidelines for daily water intake, that’s about 64-73oz of recommended drinking water for women each day.

That’s why I recommend a goal of consuming half your body weight in ounces in water daily; this generally meets the guidelines and is more specific to your size. If this is a new habit for you, start slow and work towards increasing your daily consumption. Don’t guzzle or pound your water, it’s a daily habit, not a race! Try starting with small, consistent sips throughout the day.

Want to learn more about the benefits of adequate water intake? Check out this link.

Set a Sleep Strategy

If you’re onboard with the idea of getting more sleep, but struggle with the execution of snagging more “Zzz’s,” you’re not along. Oftentimes, our nightly routines rob us from a restful night’s sleep. That’s why I recommend creating a “wind-down” routine for better sleep.

Start by asking yourself some questions about your sleep habits. Like most habit-building, you probably won’t be able to do a complete overhaul of your sleep routine overnight (ha!) but if one or two of these stand out to you, consider making small daily changes to work toward your ideal sleep strategy.

1. Do I go to bed and wake up around the same time most days?

2. Do I disconnect from electronics before bed time?

3. Do I eat large meals before bedtime?

4. Do I drink caffeine or alcohol before bedtime?

Practicing regular sleep rhythms, disconnecting from electronics, reducing or eliminating large meals, reducing/eliminating caffeine consumption, and reducing/eliminating alcohol consumption before bedtime are among behaviors most commonly recommended by sleep experts. In my work with clients, I’ve noticed that starting with one or two of these four behaviors can really lay the groundwork for improved sleep.

I like to think of setting a sustainable sleep strategy as creating a calm space to show gratitude towards your mind and body after a hard day’s work. You’re worth it.

Make Mindful Moments of Self-Care

Speaking of your worthiness: self-care is not selfish. It is essential. The final foundation I recommend working on this month is making space for mindful self-care.

In my opinion, one of the most important things you can learn from practicing self-care is that your needs and your wants are a priority. This can help with a greater mindset shift toward prioritizing other life goals you may have, such as training for a race, staying more connected with friends, committing to a meditation routine, etc.

Check out Dr. Lauren’s 2021 Digital Toolkit for more on strengthening the mind through affirmations and meditation, and for inspiration on where to start!