New Year, New Rules: Cut It Out


Image courtesy of One Way Stock.

With the New Year come new resolutions. Television shows, commercials and news stories tell us it’s time to set goals, make plans and generally reinvent ourselves and/or our surroundings. Start exercising. Stop smoking. Grow out your hair. Grow out your nails. Change the floors. Change your job. Find a man. Find a house. When it comes to resolutions, we’ve all made them; we’ve all broken them. Quite often by the time Valentine’s Day rolls around we women are discouraged by the idea that we have fallen short once again. To that end, I offer a few words of encouragement: Cut it out. Seriously–cut it out. Those may not sound like encouraging words, but they are. With a new mindset, women can avoid the New Year blues.

First, cut yourself some slack. Thanks to Pinterest, Facebook and Instagram, we are bombarded with images of perfection put out by supermoms around the globe. Many of us spent December agonizing over how many creative ways our Shelf Elves could stir up mischief, or how many amazing cookies and crafts we could create for gift-giving or holiday parties. Honestly, I have nothing against Pinterest or its counterparts. It’s fun to look at all of the things people have made and shared. However there is a fine line between admiration and comparison. If you enjoy being creative and having fun with it, go for it; if looking at what others have done leaves you feeling inadequate, stop looking. The truth is–kids really don’t care. Sure, mine loved the fun of finding Outback Bo (our shelf elf) cutting snowflakes out of coffee filters this year, but they were just as happy last year, when his biggest excitement-inducing action was moving from the coffee table to the rocking chair on any given morning, often flung there at the last possible moment before the kids woke up. As far as crafts and treats go, most kids love the homemade goodies, but they are just as happy with some double-stuffed Oreos and Target-purchased decorations. There’s nothing wrong with keeping it simple.

Image courtesy of Jon Ashcroft.

If you do want to enjoy homespun fun, narrow it down. Kids enjoy predictability and tradition, so pick a couple of things and let the rest go. At Christmas time, my kids love decorating cutout cookies, so we take one day and bake a couple dozen. Nothing fancy, but it’s fun and they look forward to it every year. As for the rest of the year, we’ve adopted a few simple weekly traditions. Monday nights are “milkshake Mondays”–typically I make milkshakes, but if sports or activities pop up, we settle for drive-thru shakes and call it good. The Fridays they spend with me are “movie night Fridays”–we rent a movie or watch a DVD and eat popcorn, then sleep on blankets in the living room. Years ago I remember Dr. Phil’s wife Robin talking about how she always had “taco Tuesdays” when her kids were growing up. She said that as adults her sons have told her that those are some of their best memories. Simple is good.

Image courtesy of Banalities.

Of course, along with cutting ourselves some slack, we need to get real and cut the excuses that keep us from achieving the goals we do set. Many women set fitness goals in January only to be derailed within a matter of months, if not weeks. One of the most common excuses, one that I have given myself, is “I’m too busy to exercise”. It’s funny that in this world of conveniences, the things that are meant to save time have turned out to become huge time-sucks. Thanks to DVRs, computers and smart phones, we can entertain ourselves anytime, anyplace. So many who complain there’s no time to exercise have no problem recapping the latest episodes of Duck Dynasty, Honey Boo Boo or The Walking Dead. We make time for Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, but have no time to eat right or exercise. It doesn’t have to be rocket science. We don’t have to count calories, try out all the fad diets, or be a cross fit champ (although honestly cross fit looks like fun). A friend of mine said her trainer challenged her to walk or run one mile every day. One mile takes 10-15 minutes, so it’s easy to work into the day at some point. Of course, my friend said that once she covers one mile, she typically wants to go farther, which is probably the point. Last week I had my annual checkup. I mentioned my desire to lose weight and my doctor replied, “Eat less carbs. Drink more water. Work up a sweat every other day.” Again, simple is good.

Finally, in order to be happy in the New Year, we need to cut the self-criticism. We know our own weak points and focus on them better than anyone else. My ladies’ club had our annual “black dress” party last month. In the pictures we took all I could see were my upper arms. Instead of just having fun and laughing with friends, I let something as silly as my arms hijack my good time. Finally I realized I had two options: let it go and be happy with the body I have, or resolve to take action going forward to do something about it. Dwelling on my current shortcomings was not helpful in either scenario, so I stopped. This applies in so many ways. Maybe our houses aren’t as spotless as we’d like; maybe the laundry isn’t all done, maybe we don’t have Pinterest-perfect organized closets or cupboards. So what? Honestly, so what? Not to sound morose, but none of us knows how much time we have left. Why spend that time dwelling on the negative and beating ourselves up? Instead, let’s focus on the positives, choose our battles, and celebrate the little moments, because life is all about the little moments. It may be simple, but simple is good.