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My New Year’s Resolution? Be Myself.

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Moving past aesthetic goals during resolution season is possible, if you explore what true happiness means to you.

My teenage brain was exposed to a steady stream of makeover-style movies in the ’80s and ’90s, so much so that I have a recurring dream: I wake up totally different.

I look different. I speak and act differently — more confident, more proper. I have a closet of chic Vogue-esque clothing — think red-carpet-ready looks for that future film festival where I pose alongside my BFFs, Chrissy Teigen and John Legend — that doesn’t fit my actual lifestyle as an active mom of two little kids.

Every January, I feel like I need to reinvent myself. Resolution season can either be energizing or demoralizing, and for me, it is usually draining. I come out of Christmas and New Year’s celebrations feeling shame for how I ate and imbibed, and fully committed to a new diet or program.

At least for a few weeks, that is. Usually by Valentine’s Day, I have some chocolates and champagne and decide my diet isn’t worth it. And, it’s true: Most diets and the language around diet culture cause me more harm than good. The more specific and restrictive the program, the more unsustainable the lifestyle — and the more I feel like a failure for noncompliance and fall into disordered eating patterns. I’ve spent years recalibrating my relationship with food.

Now would be the moment when my elders speak to me, saying, “My goodness, child, why are you in the health and fitness industry when you have this history?” It’s an important point: I have to be more conscious of how unhelpful and harmful language in the wellness world affects me. But I’m a firm believer in the third way, and I’m interested in finding positive examples and solutions. And I’ve personally experienced the benefits of fitness, in both inner and outer strength, and that’s helped me rethink my approach to resolution season.

Instead of setting goals that are about how I look, I think about how certain behaviors might improve how I feel:

  • Go to bed 15 minutes earlier every day for a week. Reassess and adjust as needed the following week.
  • Journal daily, starting with just five minutes. Build on the habit.
  • Cut back on screen time and set boundaries around my media consumption.
  • Spend time in nature as much as possible.
  • Connect with friends and family who make me laugh.
  • Drink more water.
  • Make awesome sauces and dressings to top nourishing meals.
  • Eat veggies and have fun with new recipes that help me feel well. Add in more colorful foods; worry less about protocols and focus on satisfaction.
  • Meditate often and repeat the mantra, “I’m still me, and I’m pretty awesome.”

These are just a few examples of goals I’ve set that also offer self-care and improve my well-being. It is a better approach for me to flip the script to what I can gain instead of what I need to lose. While I did make weight loss the focus in past efforts, I ultimately found more power in prioritizing strength training and movement, for example, which provided me with more confidence, improved sleep, less stress, and better mental clarity.

In rethinking my resolutions to align with my values and not what others were doing, I’ve come to see how I’ve really been seeking my best quality of life. My “transformation” usually comes back to mindset, which sets me up for true success, or as Arthur C. Brooks writes in his column for The Atlantic: “The reason [people] so often fail is because the resolutions they choose don’t match their true goal of greater happiness.”

We each have our own unique vision of happiness, and when we start exploring what that means, it’s possible to reset our behaviors with clearer intentions. Instead of striving for the arbitrary “goal weight” I thought I needed to reach for my body, I aimed for a new PR to set on the deadlift. When I saw how staying up late was zapping my energy, I realized how beneficial more sleep would be.

And that part of my dream with fancy outfits for the red carpet? Perhaps my subconscious was really seeking more creativity and expression. Though I doubt there was any subtext with Chrissy and John as my besties. Sometimes dreams are just that.

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Health & Fitness

Which Type of Butter Should You Choose?

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Which butter is better? Here are five varieties to consider.

  1. Organic butter offers more healing omega-3 fatty acids than other butters. And it’s less likely to have high levels of toxins, which can accumulate in an animal’s fatty tissues.
  2. Grassfed butter delivers more beta-carotene and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). Beta-carotene is a potent antioxidant, and CLA can help improve body composition and reduce cardiovascular-disease risk. Some studies also show CLA may help protect against cancer.
  3. Cultured butter is slightly fermented or aged. “Fermenting butter increases the amount of butyrate,” says nutritionist Liz Lipski, PhD, which is a win for gut health. It also has a slightly tangy flavor that many people enjoy.
  4. Unsalted butter is largely a matter of taste preference compared with salted butter. Like butter, salt carries its own stigma when it comes to heart health — one that has been debunked in recent years. (For more on concerns about sodium, see “Is Salt Bad for You — Or Not?”.)
  5. Ghee is a clarified butter in which the milk has been heated and the solids skimmed off. It can be used in all the same ways as butter, and because the solids have been removed, it is often more digestible for people who don’t tolerate casein or lactose. It contains the same nutrients as butter, including butyrate. Ghee is stable at room temperature, making it a good option for meals on the go or while camping. (For a tasty recipe for infused ghee, visit “Infused Ghee”.)

This article originally appeared as “Butter Up” in “Everything’s Better With Butter” in the January/February 2021 issue of Experience Life.

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