by Michelle Bense
Each January, an estimated 40 percent of Americans make one or more New Year’s resolutions. Whether the goal is big or small, a vow to make a change is often not an easy task to tackle. Luckily, the healthy living community in the Bucks and Montgomery county area has helpful advice and wishes to share with Natural Awakenings’ readers.
Slow and steady
Too often we force ourselves into strict, harsh resolutions, attempting to quit bad habits cold-turkey or dive completely into a new lifestyle. This may work for some people, but for many it is their resolution’s downfall. Ease into larger changes and allow the body to process the benefits of the new plan.
“Gentleness, support and nourishing our way into what we want is the way to go, always,” says Barbara Meza, of Conscius Vita, in Yardley. “In this respect, Conscius Vita works with the body/mind, helping you connect the mental, emotional and physical. This is subtle, but supporting yourself and your resolution makes it more probable that you will keep it.”
Don’t get overwhelmed. “I believe in baby steps. Small changes made continuously add up quickly and do make a difference,” says Stephanie Brown, of EZLifescan, in Gilbertsville. “Don’t bite off more than you can chew; make goals realistic and attainable.”
Julie Ann Allender, a therapist in Sellersville, agrees. Setting a manageable goal sets us up to succeed. “Resolutions are tough to keep if they are not realistic,” she says. “Make resolutions you know you can keep so you can feel proud of 2015 as being the year you succeeded.”
Focus on current successes
“Remember, there is nothing wrong with you!” encourages Susan Burger, of Dr. Susan Burger’s Vitality Center, in Morrisville. “While life is a process of healing and growing, it is important to honor that you are okay with where you are and who you are.”
Burger helps clients using the process of Neuro-Emotional Technique and other coaching support. “With these techniques, I act as a catalyst for you to dissolve old programming and beliefs that no longer serve you,” explains Burger. This mind-body transformation allows clients to be present, and to give more unconditional love to themselves and others.
“Start with loving yourself just the way you are,” reminds Burger. “See that beautiful spirit inside and know that you can release the past, because is it just that—the past.”
Consult a hypnotist
One method that many have heard of or used to keep resolutions is hypnosis. Barry Wolfson, of Hypnosis Counseling Center, in Flemington, New Jersey, helps clients quit bad habits like smoking and unhealthy eating.
“Many folks ask me why hypnosis will work while other methodologies don’t. Hypnosis is an ‘alpha’ state of mind, which is a dreamlike state similar to yoga and meditation,” explains Wolfson. “I use my voice to put clients into a very relaxed state where I can then plant positive suggestions for change.” Customized audio CDs for each client reinforce what’s done in the session and aid in permanent success.
Eat local, eat healthy, eat right
Eating healthier, local foods is a common and smart resolution to make. A great way to begin eating better and stick to the routine is to join or shop at a local food co-op—which will do most of the local food search for you. “At the co-op, we’ve vetted the food for you,” says Lisa White, of Doylestown Food Co-op. “By knowing where it came from and how it was produced, we have brought in only the best.”
White recommends buying whole foods (mostly fruits and vegetables), eating meat, eggs and dairy that are free of antibiotics and added hormones and reading the labels on all processed and prepared food.
“Every year at Ase Yoga we celebrate the new year with energy-releasing poses and a healthy vegetarian meal,” says Robbin Alston, of Ase Yoga Studio & Tea Room, in Philadelphia. “We believe our year becomes new when we breathe correctly, eat healthy and meditate—simply, when we engage in healthy living practices.”
Never stop learning about nutrition. Christina Smith, an integrative nutrition health coach at Greenshire Arts Consortium, in Quakertown, guides and supports people in manifesting their ideal health. Starting on January 19, she will offer her six-week, signature program covering such topics as choosing the perfect diet, healthy cooking, grocery shopping, boosting the immune system, self-care practices and addressing food allergies.
Create a roadmap or dream board
Positive reinforcement and guidelines on our New Year’s resolution journeys can help in a big way. Melanie Stewart, of Healthy Balance with Melanie, in Lansdale, supports her clients’ goals by creating a personalized “roadmap” to aid them in attaining their resolutions.
“This may encompass spirituality, exercise, relationships, career and/or nutrition, depending on their aspirations,” explains Stewart. “The roadmap is customized to them with ongoing support in the form of verbal communication, emails, articles, recipes and many other tools to encourage fulfillment of their resolution.”
Carrie Wiedemann, a Bellabaci instructor in Philadelphia, suggests creating a dream board for the new year. “Draw or glue pictures of desires you would like to accomplish. Post the board in your sacred space or some place you will see daily throughout the year,” Wiedemann says.
Another encouragement that may be helpful is to get an accountability partner. Choose someone you enjoy being around, someone who will encourage you and know when to challenge you.
Mental goals are important, too
When we make new year’s resolutions, we tend to focus on physical changes—exercise more, eat healthier, lose weight, gain muscle. But the body can only advance if the mind is also tended to.
“Be kind to your mind this year. While diet and exercise are important, add a resolution that includes eliminating unnecessary mental and emotional stress,” recommends Lisa Rhodes, of Integrative Health Care, in Fountainville. “Look at the major stresses in life and assess if you are choosing to take part in others’ challenges unnecessarily. If applying your mental and emotional energy to a certain stress cannot change the situation, let that particular stress go.”
Rhodes recommends writing your resolution in a place where it will be seen every day. “Form your resolution in a way that will motivate you,” she says. “For instance: ‘I will feel free, healthy and at peace when I no longer allow _____ to be a stress in my life.’”
Resolve to reduce, buffer or overcome stress. Though it may be difficult to completely eliminate external factors that contribute to stress, we can bolster the body and mind’s ability to cope. Those who process stress well are able to live healthier, happier lives.
“We need to give ourselves frequent opportunities to filter out the impact of stress and keep our minds clear. Acupuncture works extremely well in this way if used regularly, re-balancing our internal physiology and chi energy in order to clear the muddy waters,” says Grace Rollins, of Bridge Acupuncture, in Doylestown. “It is important to consciously include these methods as an indispensable part of your routine and lifestyle, the same way you service your car, mow the lawn or brush your teeth.”
Resolutions can be a great incentive and tool to swap bad habits for better ones, but for some, the focus on negative behaviors makes new year’s resolutions a no-go.
Sondra Weidman, of the Cooking Club, in Telford, doesn’t like the negativity associated with new year goals. “Many resolutions are based on what people are not going to do—not smoke, not drink, not eat junk food,” she says. “When we focus on what we can’t have, rather than what we can, we feel deprived and end up breaking the resolution.”
“My advice about making resolutions for the new year? Don’t do it,” warns Patti McDougall, of Medicine In Balance, in Langhorne. “Instead, I recommend being kind and loving with yourself. Do some exploration as to why you may have made unhealthy choices in the past. Find that beautiful part deep inside yourself that is crying out to be cared for. Love and nurture that part and the rest will be easy.”
Get past old blockages
One common hindrance to keeping New Year’s resolutions is a related previous struggle or injury. World Wellness Health Institute, in Bala Cynwyd, can help with getting past what may be holding us back from exercising. “We’ll help heal your nagging injuries so you can get back to the gym,” says owner Dr. Daniel Lebowitz.
The institute offers advanced services and procedures in the areas of wellness, anti-aging, regenerative and aesthetic medicine. They offer healthy workout plans, weight loss plans, hormone- and gut-balancing and antiinflammatory eating plans.
“Don’t expect perfection,” reminds Lebowitz. “Don’t give up, either.”
If any of these local experts resonate with you, please be sure to look for their ad in this issue of Natural Awakenings.
Michelle Bense is a writer and managing editor of Natural Awakenings BuxMont. Connect with her at Hello@NABuxMont.com. January 2015.