Happy New Year Friends!

I’d like to start the new year by discussing ~resolutions~ here on the blog. 

I’ve noticed resolutions are popularly derived from brainstorming the laundry list of things we don’t like about ourselves, and trying to change all of those things on January 1. Starting the New Year with self criticism is… well, kind of mean, don’t you think? I’m all for self-improvement and making goals to be healthier and happier, but not at the cost of beating myself up about it. Plus, most people (a whopping 80%!) bail on their resolutions by February. Quitting after a month won’t boost my self-esteem!

So let’s take the start of 2019 to reflect on how bomb we are, and find a kinder way to push ourselves to be better? Going back to my positivity post—we are never going to be happy if we’re consumed with our flaws in life. 

I myself woke up after the New Year feeling a bit depleted. I was far from my regular routine and I had a dark winter cloud hanging over my head… there wasn’t too much to look forward to for the next few months. I had to do something about my melancholy. I focused on this dismal feeling and decided THAT was what really mattered… not the few lbs I put on over the holidays. 

Some come January 2, I spent my train ride to working thinking of small tweaks to boost my mood, and how we can all FEEL GOOD. For me, getting back to a routine and prioritizing stress reduction each day is key. Sprinkling some fun and excitement throughout the winter months is also important for me to “fill my cup.”

My 2019 Kick starter Game Plan:

  1. Get into funky herbal teas. Fill up a nice mug and curl up at home each night with some tea. It might take place of my beloved glass of vino, but I’ve had enough “bubbly” over the holidays, I should mix it up. 

  2. Plug in my essential oils lamp. This thing makes me feel like I’m on a fancy meditation retreat (ahem—thank you Target gift cards!). Maybe it will motivate me to practice more yoga, or maybe I’ll just lay down and relax. Win-win! 

  3. FUN dates. As much as I’d love a vacation on a tropical island like I splurged for last year, it’s just not in the cards for me right now. So, I opened my calendar and found a few free spots to fill with some affordable fun. I saw a comedy show with my girlfriends in the city after work (for $30!), Joe and I booked a hotel in the city for a weekend getaway (a little over $100!), and we just looked up some live music shows to party with my parents (without talking my Dad’s ear off for the night—$free.99!). I even scored a flight deal to Florida in March to stay with family for a few days. Nothing is better for my soul than the beach and quality fam time. Now I have a handful of peaks scattered through the dreaded winter months. I’m keeping this Berries and Bubbly mentality going strong!

  4. Remind myself the value of daily positivity. I read through my New Years posts of 2018 and it reminded me of all I could do to keep a positive outlook! I’ve decided this will be my new thing—start the day reflecting what went well the day before, what I’m looking forward to during the week, and giving myself the chance to detangle any stress that’s bothering me. This is easily incorporated into a bullet journal or PENZU journal (I’ve been a fan of this lately, it’s on my desktop and phone). Starting my day focused on positives really boosts my mood.

If you’re feeling the winter blues yourself, take a little bit of time to fine tune your 2019 plan!

Did you make a new years resolution? If yes, how is it “filling your cup”? Do have more energy? More self-confidence?

At the end of the month, ask yourself: “Do I feel happier from these changes?” It’s important to check in on that question from time to time. If the answer is no, how can you switch it up to be a happier and healthier you?

Let’s relax with the January laundry list of self-criticism. Shall we start the year by focusing on a realistic February goal that we can build on throughout the year instead?

Are you looking for a goal to be healthier and happier?
Here are a few of my favorite ideas:

  • COOK more. We all know I love to cook, but some people don’t! Most assume because I love it I am good at it, but that’s actually not true. I’ll be the first to admit it! I am a mess in the kitchen, but I think it’s a fun and creative activity. It can contribute to your “feel good” goals. Here are some pointers on how to start out: 

    • Seasonal Cook Book purchase: Buy a cook book each season and aim to make a recipe from it 4 times per month (once a week, or stockpile your recipes for one cozy weekend). 

    • Buy a Vegetarian Cookbook. You don’t have to become a vegetarian to eat more plants. Dabbling with a few veggie recipes may open your mind and plate to  new veggie dishes!

    • Insta Pot. I’m trying to practice using my insta pot, so this looks fun to me.  

    • Make all treats from scratch during the winter. If you really want something sweet, you’ll select a recipe and actually put in the time to whip it up. If you’re just grabbing something off a shelf on impulse, it’s setting you up for cravings throughout the week. I like this concept because it doesn’t exclude the food and create some strict diet, it just helps you be more intentional with what you want to eat.

  • Spend 5 minutes relaxing every day.

    • A bath: Get all the fix ins… candles, music, soaps. Love iiiiit!

    • Essential oil diffuser: Take a page out of my book and get yourself one of these. It relaxes you like you wouldn’t believe. 

    • Record a complement. Write it down in your journal on on your calendar!

    • Sip your coffee. Wake up a few minutes earlier to spend 5 minutes sipping your coffee in peace on the couch. 

  • Prioritize sleep. Create a bedtime routine that you can stick to the majority of the time. Aim for 7 or 8 hours each night (or whatever number feels right to you), pour yourself some warm tea after dinner, turn the TV off by 8, spend 10 minutes meditating, stretching, or journaling lingering thoughts, and climb into bed.

Let's Talk About Infused Oils!

My parents used to make an Italian dressing with olive oil, vinegar, and Italian spices. You'd remove it from the fridge practically frozen (olive oil solidifies in cold temperatures), hold it under warm water to defrost, and then shake it up like crazy because oil and vinegar don't like to mix. It was SO. DELICIOUS. But definitely didn’t resemble those perfectly blended dressings on shelves at the grocery store.

Ever wonder what makes the store bought salad dressing blended and ready to use?
Emulsifiers. They’re added to make the dressing stable. That way, your oil, vinegar and all the other ingredients stay together when they naturally won't.

Let’s face it, convenience foods make our lives easier. But judging by the increase in inflammatory associated conditions (such as inflammatory bowel disease, obesity, type II diabetes and Alzheimer's disease), they may not be helping us in the long run.

Popular dietary emulsifiers, specifically POLYSORBATE 80 and CARBOXYMETHYLCELLULOSE, are added to foods like salad dressings, ice creams, etc. and have been linked with the inflammatory response. They’re associated with GI inflammation and intestinal permeability ("leaky gut").  

This is why I love the idea of infused olive oils and vinegars. They make whipping up a salad dressing that much easier. Why grab a store-bought bottle when there are 5+ ingredients you can’t even pronounce? 

Not to say that I would refuse chicken marinaded in a store-bought dressing. And yes, I eat junky ice cream every now and then. But I do make my meals at home with simple oils and spices, and I opt for olive oil and vinegar on my salad when I’m out to eat.

I truly believe nutrition and health are all about consistency, not perfection :)

TRY IT  ::  oils and balsamics enhance the flavor of foods you wouldn’t even think! I even love it on my yogurt, without the added sugars some brands use in their flavored cups.