It’s the final day of January…and the last week of the #2018elevate challenge! I have felt really honoured to be your partner in creating meaningful and positive nutrition change. It is my sincere hope that you are ending the month feeling more energized and motivated to keep going.

If the Elevate approach has inspired your self-care, how can you evolve your practices to stay well all year long?

The Elevate weekly practices are definitely something you can stick with for the year, in a way that makes sense for you. Perhaps you do not want to drink the same smoothie for the whole year…but if you noticed you feel better drinking it, you can either try sticking to a low FODMAP breakfast, including the psyllium and probiotic into your usual morning routine or create a mini-menu of nutritious smoothies that you rotate throughout the week. In avoiding a deprivation mindset, your Elevate practices can remain with you for life.

So many of us, in setting rigid resolutions, tend to just go back to baseline in a few weeks. Or, we do a Whole30, feel awesome, and then go back to eating coffee shop breakfasts and no veg and feel like garbage by spring…just in time for ‘detoxes‘. I have lived that reality. In my younger years, rigidity sucked the joy out of eating and quite frankly, I ended up a lot less healthier for it. I am in better health (well, maybe minus increased stress levels!) than I was a decade ago and part of the reason for this is that in ditching rigidity, I have found a deep love of eating in a way that makes me feel really good. Eating a ton of plant foods. Ditching sugar (usually) and cooking from scratch, sometimes with a glass of wine in hand.

In wanting to help you find freedom from that anxiety-inducing cycle of diet and overindulgence, I’ve collected some thoughts around setting meaningful wellness intentions, inspired by my own wellness journey.

First things first: what is an intention? It is somewhat different than a goal. Most of us are familiar with SMART goals, such as, I will eat three pieces of fruit everyday. Or, I will go to the gym three times a week.

My interpretation of intention is that it is less rigid and wider in focus; instead, organized by how you want to live, how you want to feel and what your ideals are. What I have found particularly powerful for myself is setting intentions with an inherent amount of flexibility to them. Particularly for wellness goals, which can have underlying motivators in discontent with health or body, I feel that flexibility is key to help you avoid feelings of ‘failure’.

For example, instead of saying that I am going to ‘eat healthy’ or avoid junk food – I think of an marker of healthy eating, like eating vegetables. And my intention becomes, ‘at every meal, I will try to make half my plate vegetables.’ This intention is free of rigidity; it has a positive, additive tone…and it renews itself with each meal. So, if at the last meal, I didn’t hit my goal, the next meal is another opportunity.

You might want to eat fewer animal products. Instead of declaring that you will go vegan tomorrow, instead, you could create the intention of finding plant-alternatives for your usual meals and food products until you simply end up eating a plant-based diet six months from now. Or, if you feel that you would like to lose weight…ask yourself why. Is it to feel more energized, more at ease in your body – or to improve your health? Would an intention that is in line with that overall goal be something like, I will try to move my body everyday…or, I will start to wean myself off of added sugars?

As #2018Elevate draws to a close, consider the following practice to help you imagine 2018 as your healthiest year yet:

  1. Take 15-20 minutes to sit with a piece of paper, in a comfortable place with a cup of tea or a glass of wine and some music if you wish. Put the phone away for this one.
  2. First, start by closing your eyes and taking a few deep breaths, imagining what it would feel like and look like to be a healthier you.
  3. Now, take time to write, without censorship, all the things you want for your health and wellness over the next year.
  4. Take a look at that list, read it out loud to yourself if you can, and consider any themes that emerge.
  5. From this, set one to three intentions for wellness for the year in line with what you hope to achieve. Display them where you will see them everyday; on the front of your planner, on your dresser or in the bathroom.

Here’s to a truly joyful and healthful 2018!

Photo Credit: Britney Gill Photography