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How to Get Ready (and Healthy) for the Real New Year

by Elise Museles

Forget January. In my world, September is the real New Year.

As the long carefree days of summer draw to a close, there’s a buzz of excitement in the air: the kids head back to school and we adults buckle down at work. Everything feels brand new again! And just like the other new year, this newness brings a clear opportunity to transition out of the laid-back season into greater predictability, a firmer schedule, and a fresh start. Whether you want to eat better, feel stronger, hold onto summer’s easy, breezy vibes, or simply speak to yourself with a bit more kindness, it’s always empowering to develop a healthy routine and feel 100 percent committed to it.

And nothing makes me happier than a willingness to embrace healthier habits and a healthier mindset. But I’m also a huge believer that feeling healthier doesn’t have to involve major life upheaval or herculean efforts. Sustainable changes stick best when we take small, consistent actions over time. (Remember 12 Tiny Changes?!)

So, to set you up for success as we get this “back to school; back to work” party started, I’ve rounded up my best and most relevant posts for a gentle (and realistic!) approach to “the other New Year.”

Here’s how to start it with a {healthy} bang:

Boost your immunity. As the seasons change, many of us end up with runny noses – or worse. It’s hard to feel your best unless you make your own health a true priority. Try using colorful (and delicious!) food to step up your immune-boosting routine, and give yourself extra TLC before fall even begins.

Declutter your kitchen – and your mind. Stuff keeps us weighed down. Those extra spices from 2010 and containers of unused protein powder might prevent you from seeing clearly when you step into your kitchen. To truly enjoy making meals from scratch, and to feel confident in your choices, create a clutter-free, workable space, making room for the essentials that will actually help you eat – and feel! – better.

Use your tools. When your kitchen is fully stocked with the right ingredients, seasonings, and equipment to prepare the foods you want to make, you’ll love being there, creating new and exciting dishes. No fancy gadgets required, just the right tool for the job!

Do it yourself. There’s nothing more gratifying than making something with your own two hands. And when you replace a store-bought item with a homemade version, you control exactly what ingredients stay (or go!), all while saving money. Your school and work lunches will never be the same!

Keep your gut (and your mind) happy!  There’s a strong connection between the brain in your belly and the brain in your head. In fact, studies suggest that nourishing your second brain is one way to increase happiness. So load up on delicious, digestion-friendly foods (hello, mood-boosting Matcha smoothie!) and make a few lifestyle shifts to improve your overall health + wellbeing.

Get curious about your cravings. As the colder weather approaches, we often start craving heavier comfort foods. Learn to use curiosity instead of judgment to decipher exactly what your body is saying. By the time winter arrives, you’ll know just what to do to satisfy your urges without sabotaging your health.

Talk to your kids about healthy habits. The lull between end-of-summer activities and the start of the school year is an excellent opportunity to speak with your children about food and self-care. When we arm them to persevere through the anxiety and confusion we’ve experienced on these subjects, we change the story for the next generation.

Avoid uncomfortable conversations about food. As you head to the office proud of your new green smoothie habit and homemade snack supply, you may hear incredulous responses from co-workers. Instead of shying away, arm yourself with these scripts to explain and celebrate your healthy choices.

Eat until you’re satisfied (and not too full)! Instead of mindlessly polishing off an extra serving of roasted sweet potatoes (or chocolate chip cookies), connect to your body and learn to recognize exactly when you’ve had enough – even enough kale salad!

Boost your mood. As the days get shorter and the colder temps set in, many of us begin to feel “stuck,” and can’t seem to shake that “meh” feeling. Arm yourself with some easy (and fun!) ways to get unstuck and reinvigorated, even when you want to hide under the covers.

Get organized with your foodI know, I know: I preach about the life-changing benefits of meal prep. (#sorrynotsorry!) But spend just a few hours in the kitchen and set yourself up for a week of healthy eating. Meal prep can reduce stress, eliminate family food gripes, and make it easier for everyone under your roof to eat healthier.

Sleep better. As you settle into your new routine, consider adding a nighttime ritual to wind down and decompress before bed and set yourself up for eight hours of deep, restorative sleep that will make the next day smoother and more productive.

Silence food noiseWhen you tune out all the external messages from the media, your friends, and your own mind, you can tap into the brilliant wisdom of your body. Let your inner nutritionist out this fall. She knows what’s best for you!

Practice self-care. Self-care is not all-or-nothing; a little goes a long way. When you find some time on your hands, spend those extra minutes doing something special for yourself. If you don’t fill up the love tank, you’ll have that much less to give, meaning that everyone benefits from your commitment to self-care. Especially you.

Move from knowing to doing. This last step is the key to helping everything fall into place. No matter how much you KNOW, you still need to bridge that gap from knowing to actually doing. (I even created a downloadable worksheet to spur you into action…) Because when you stop just KNOWING and start actively DOING – as in, putting in the effort, committing, and truly making your health a top priority – that’s when you experience lasting, sustainable change. So then, by the time next January rolls around, you’ll already be well on your way to feeling like your best and healthiest self.

Now it’s your turn: Are you getting ready for a fresh start? Share your plans for {healthy} change in the comments.

5 Responses to How to Get Ready (and Healthy) for the Real New Year

  1. Andria August 30, 2017 at 7:09 pm #

    I love this Elise! …it’s like a refresher course for the 12 Tiny Changes and I will be revisiting several of these posts. It’s also an anniversary of my commitment to healthy living, the birth of checkoutmyfoodie and the start of a wonderful friendship! Health and happiness always! Xo

    • Elise Museles August 30, 2017 at 11:01 pm #

      True! It is similar to 12 Tiny Changes but with some different changes and thoughts on how to start the other new year off with a bang. I have loved watching the growth of @checkoutmyfoodie on Instagram, and most importantly, I couldn’t be more thankful for our friendship that was born from your question on FIGS! xo

  2. Meredith August 30, 2017 at 10:58 pm #

    We love Fresh Start September!! I am incorporating grated zucchini and quinoa into my son’s daily oatmeal breakfast. Extra protein and goodness, and he will even love it. Thank you for your ideas and words of encouragement!

    • Elise Museles August 30, 2017 at 11:05 pm #

      YES! Fresh Start September is the perfect name for this time of year. I love how you are taking your son’s oatmeal to the next level! Thank you for being such an important and thoughtful voice in this community. xoxo

  3. elana November 27, 2017 at 2:35 am #

    Hi Elise,

    You are such an inspiration in every way! I was wondering where the best place to post this would be but I’ve been struggling to find a reliable granola bar that I wont have to make myself and can just keep in my bag running from class to class. I’ve been doing Rx bars which have been good (not the lowest in FODMAP friendly foods though). Was wondering what your go to is and also what your opinion about square bars were? They were at my Whole Foods today and started scaring me about what “natural flavors” means on the Rx bar. Hoping to get your input so I can charge into final exam season with a new quick energizing snack!


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