New Year’s Resolutions (+ The Best of 2019)

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I’m going to share a little secret … I’m really competitive. (Like, really.) My husband is the same way. So you’d think we’d be great at New Year’s resolutions, right?

Not so much! Let me explain why…

New Year’s Resolutions: Yay or Nay?

Of course I’m not against the idea of self-improvement (far from it) and I’m in full support of setting New Year’s resolutions if it works for you. After a few years of trying to set and keep New Year’s resolutions, it became clear we needed a different approach in our family.

I’m the first one to say that better habits are worth the effort and that strong daily routines go a long way toward a successful outcome. Still, if you’re like me and winning is important (maybe too important!), goal-setting has the potential to be frustrating.

My usual downward spiral when it comes to New Year’s resolutions (or resolutions in general) went something like this:

  1. I think too big and bite off more than I can chew.
  2. I get mad at myself when I don’t accomplish the goal as I thought I would.
  3. Therefore, I don’t want to make new resolutions.

My intentions, while admirable, were not getting me too far. Time for a new approach!

Out With New Year’s Resolutions… in With Experiments!

Since my husband is the exact same way, one year we had a meeting of the minds (over a glass of wine, of course) and decided to take some pressure off of New Year’s resolutions. That year, instead of resolutions, we would try experiments.

In case you were hoping for something more revolutionary, hear me out…

First, let’s look at the definition of “resolution”:

  1. a firm decision to do or not to do something
  2. the action of solving a problem, dispute, or contentious matter

Now let’s compare “experiment”:

  1. a scientific procedure undertaken to make a discovery, test a hypothesis, or demonstrate a known fact
  2. a course of action tentatively adopted without being sure of the eventual outcome

Doesn’t one sound a little more motivating (and fun) than the other?

We totally owe Tim Ferriss for the inspiration for our experimental approach:

“I like pushing myself to the limit and pushing the envelope, and in my mind that is not really compatible with a reliable long-term plan,” says Ferriss. “I generally treat my life as six-month projects and two-week experiments of various types. Then I take the most attractive door that pops up, and rinse and repeat.”

Calling our goals “experiments” (we also call them “challenges” at times) builds excitement about the process and keeps the focus on the learning process more than the end result. We make a hypothesis about what will happen and see what we can learn from the experience… no winning or losing involved.

It may sound like the easy way out but these experiments suit the more intense personalities in our house because they allow us to have laser focus for a shorter period of time. Or, we can just have fun with it and see where it leads, depending on what our family needs at the time.

Ideas for a Healthy New Year (& How to Stay Motivated)

So how to start “experimenting” with a great 2020? Here are some favorite experiments and challenges we’ve tried over the years (and I share a full list of mini-experiment ideas in this podcast if you’re interested).

1. Keep a Journal

If there’s any one way to make positive changes (and keep them), making long-term things much more accomplishable on a smaller scale and on a daily basis is the place to start. This is where a daily journal comes in.

Research shows that journaling reduces stress and has a real impact on happiness and physical health. I’ve always kept some kind of journal, but this year for the sake of research and a bunch of new health routines I plan to try, I’m experimenting with getting a much more detailed journaling process going, such as:

  • things I’m grateful for
  • a health picture of the day (what I ate, exercise, how I’m feeling, etc.)
  • my daily to-do list
  • a challenge list

One of my favorite ways to manage my to-do list is to pick the two most important things for the day, every day. (Something besides obviously feeding my family and keeping up with the household, etc.) If all I can get done is those two most important things, then I can consider that day a success!

2. Take a Detox Baby Step

I’m often asked how I “do it all,” and the answer is… a little at a time! The recipes and health articles you see on the blog came to be over 10+ years of experiments, trials, and false starts. I’ve shared my successes, but as my kids would be all too happy to tell you… there were plenty of failures along the way!

This is why I designed my Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox book to offer baby steps that let you tackle a little at a time, in the area of life that matters most to you. Whether it’s your food, cleaning products, makeup and beauty products, or even your mental health that you want to declutter and make healthier, there’s a step that will help with that (in a way that’s not overwhelming or unrealistic).

Some baby steps to start on (covered in detail in the book):

3. Write up (or Refine) a Family Manifesto

Years ago we discovered the power of a family manifesto to shape our family culture. It keeps growing and changing as our family does, but we’re very intentional about pursuing those goals.

I’ve explained more about what’s in our family manifesto elsewhere, but a big goal in our family is to raise kids with an entrepreneurial mindset. This is something that is very important to both my husband and myself. We try to give them opportunities to think outside of the box because with the way some things are headed in the world and environment, we need people who can tackle and solve these problems.

Once we narrowed down to our the core values that really define and excite us, we put it in writing. Visual reminders like these wall quotes help keep us focused on what really matters to our family.

4. Conduct a Sleep Experiment

Having trouble narrowing down to just one thing to tackle this year? What if I told you just one thing could help your body restore and heal, regulate hormone production, boost your mood, and aid in weight loss? Yep, sleep! Plus it’s free (or almost free)!

Of course as moms there are many situations that make it tough to get enough sleep, but when even just one missed night of sleep can give you the blood sugar levels of a diabetic or pre-diabetic, it’s an area to take seriously.

One thing I can control even as a mom is my sleep environment and this is a great place to start experimenting. I go into exactly what I do in this post, but some additional things to try are:

  • avoiding blue light a few hours before sleep (or wear orange glasses)
  • lowering the temperature at night
  • using black-out curtains (and ditching nightlights)
  • investing in a good quality mattress
  • exposure to outdoor light for at least 30 minutes in the morning (or use a sun lamp)

Sleep better and you’re already off to a great start in 2020!

5. Have an Attitude of Gratitude

It sounds cliché, but cultivating gratitude as a daily habit is perhaps even more important than any resolution or experiment, because it’s the secret to fighting stress and staying motivated. The point here is to keep from falling into the trap of thinking, “If only I had XYZ, I’d be happy,” or, “If only I didn’t have to deal with ABC, I’d be happy.” This is a pretty vicious cycle.

I love this TED talk from Shawn Anchor where he points out that gratitude and happiness are the first step and not the end result. So making the choice to be happy and have gratitude is not only healthy, but it can improve performance and success as well! Sometimes just writing down what we’re grateful for (and telling others we’re grateful for them too) is all we need to realize we’re doing just fine.

My Personal 2020 Experiment:

Remember, your experiment doesn’t always have to one of those typical “it’s good for me but I don’t want to do it” resolutions. Instead, how about something fun and out of the box? This year I’m challenging myself to learn pole vaulting with the kids! Wish me luck! 🙂

2019: A Wellness Mama Year in Review

Resolutions aside, I do value this time of year for reflecting on all we’ve done and accomplished. The last 525,600 minutes have been busy, hectic, hard, amazing, rewarding, and so many other things all rolled into one crazy year and I’m so grateful that I got to spend it with all of you!

To celebrate some of the things that make life easier (hooray!), I’m sharing some the best natural living resources and hacks I found in 2019 (and I’d love to hear yours in the comments as well).

Highlight of 2019: Launching Wellnesse (My Very Own Product Company!)

2019 will go down in the books as the year I finally accomplished one of my biggest dreams: launching my own personal care products company. This line is based on the DIY beauty recipes I’ve been making and perfecting in my kitchen for over a decade.

In many ways it’s felt exactly like birthing a baby — the hardest and the best thing I’ve ever done, all mixed together!

It’s my hope that Wellnesse will keep a lot of toxins out of family homes and make it easier than ever to choose natural products. I also believe highly effective and completely safe shouldn’t be an oxymoron! I’ve made sure these products actually work better than the conventional versions, not only avoiding problematic ingredients but also using added botanicals with proven nourishing benefits.

Let me know here if you want to stay in the loop as the first Wellnesse products roll out next week! 🙂

Biggest Lesson Learned: The Value of Friendship

A big lesson learned in 2019 (and goal of mine in 2020) is to cultivate and prioritize my friendships more. Friendship isn’t something plan out or check off a list, but you do have to intentionally make space and nurture them if you want them to grow and last. This hasn’t always been obvious to me, and I’m enjoying deeper and more rewarding relationships as I pay more attention to this area in my life.

Favorite Christmas Memory: Handmade Gifts

Natural and DIY Christmas Gift Ideas

No matter how I try to keep them little, my kids just keep getting older. Many of them are starting to handle gifting on their own. I loved seeing how many of them chose to give handmade gifts this year. I’ll cherish these gifts more than anything that could come from a store, and thanks to online courses from Udemy, some of them were complete surprises I didn’t even know they could make!

Biggest Health Game-Changer: Making Peace With Myself

I’ve written a lot about mental and emotional balance in the last year, and that’s because I’ve been doing some deep interior work on myself. My Type-A self is learning a lot about being intentional, protecting quality time and friendships, and paying attention to the thoughts I feed my mind. It’s made a tremendous difference in my stress levels and even largely contributed to a 50-pound weight loss (without other lifestyle changes).

If you’re looking start the same kind of journey this year, I share the books and advice that helped me the most in my New Year’s podcast.

My Favorite Product: My Sauna!

I’m kind of partial to my new Wellnesse shampoo, conditioner, and toothpaste, but I had to choose a favorite product from 2019 it would have to be my sauna (no surprise if you follow my Instagram). I’ve been using the sauna for years but since my trip to Finland it’s become a mainstay of my health routine I would never want to be without.

After all, what else can claim (based on research) a 40% reduction in all-cause mortality?

(Huge bonus: It’s also a place I get lots of technology-free quality time with my family and friends!)

Runners Up:

Favorite New Recipes

I’ve always liked recreating my favorite restaurant meals at home, but lately I’ve really been branching out into new ingredients by experimenting with recipes from around the world:

Favorite Snack On the Go: PaleoValley Beef Sticks

Hands down, my favorite kid-friendly snack in the pantry are these PaleoValley beef sticks. Unlike a lot of other snacks they deliver a solid dose of protein and keep kids satisfied until we get to where we’re going. They’re also organic, grass-fed, and shelf-stable without preservatives thanks to a natural fermentation process. My kids’ favorite flavors are the Original and the Summer Sausage.

Runners up:

Summer Meal Plan

Best Time-Saver in the Kitchen: Real Plans

Without a doubt, the tool that saves me the most time in the kitchen is Real Plans for meal planning. The Instant Pot saves me the most time in cooking, but Real Plans saves time planning and shopping (and it has many Instant Pot recipes too!). My favorite part? It is so easy to use that I can plan everything from my phone while waiting at kid activities!

Giving Back in 2020…

From the very beginning, the mission of Wellness Mama has been to help other families live healthier lives and empower moms (and dads) with practical ways to accomplish this.

I feel like the mission to help parents provide healthy food for their families doesn’t stop in my own community or even just in the blogging community as there is such a need for this internationally.

Did you know?

If you’ve ever clicked a link on the site and made a purchase from there, you’ve helped keep up and running, and a percentage of that is also donated to charities that provide sustainable food and water sources worldwide. Thank you so much if you’ve helped support my blog in this way and also helped support many others worldwide.

Reviewing the numbers today, the giving is the real thing that I’m most excited about and most proud of. Over the years, the Wellness Mama Community… YOU… have helped provide items to families in need all over the world.

These gifts not only provide food or clothing to those in need, but in many cases, also a sustainable food or water source and a way for a family to earn an income.

Over the years, you’ve helped give:

  • 2000 pounds of non-perishable foods
  • 840 chickens for eggs, meat and income for families
  • 72 pigs for food and income for families
  • 12 goats for food and income for families
  • 4 donkeys for transportation and tilling
  • 3 water pumps that each provide water to a village
  • 4 beehives for food and income for families
  • 20 fruit trees so that families can grow the fruit and sell
  • 10 pairs of work boots so farmers can work safely
  • 5 sets of agricultural tools for small farmers
  • 10 large coolers for fishermen to store fish to sell
  • 8 sewing machines and thread/material for women to open sewing businesses
  • plus medical supplies and school supplies for children around the world

These things were donated through Food for the Poor in case you want to send some chickens to someone in need this year 🙂

I’ve always been a big believer in the “teach a man to fish” mentality, and giving in this way not only provides food or water for someone one time, but helps other families to start their own businesses and provide food for their children regularly.

Because at the end of the day… we’re all in this together!

Happy New Year 2020, Wellness Mamas!

I may be the original Wellness Mama, but the truth is all of you make this community what it is — a tribe of moms searching for better ways to care for ourselves and our families. I’m honored to be on the journey with all of you, and I wish each of you a very peaceful, happy, and healthy 2020!

Do you make New Year’s resolutions? What works or doesn’t work for your family? I’d love to hear your ideas for experiments, challenges, or resolutions!