I am going to share something about myself: I LOVE magazines. You might even say that I am just a little bit addicted to those wonderful, shiny, colorful, insightful and often inspiring publications that arrive at my house each month. When one shows up in my mailbox, I can hardly wait to pore over the contents, often from cover to cover, during one of my early morning workouts(remember, I am one of those nuts who go to the gym 5 mornings a week and yes, I can read on the stairstepper)or in the evening as I settle down to relax.
I am constantly amazed at some of the information that I have gleaned over the years from these little gems. Currently I subscribe to More, O, Whole Living, Portland Monthly, In Style, Life Extension and let’s not forget the weekly New York Times Magazine. In addition I work in a medical office and have access to a plethora of others(lucky me: I don’t have to sneak my reading in on the checkout line). In general I am usually reading at least a few a week.
I imagine a lot of you are also afflicted with this affinity for magazines(I know most of my friends are: we often swap piles of them when we see one another, the ultimate in recycling!). One thing we can count on every January is the attention given to resolutions, restarts, new habits, breaking old ones, weight loss programs, cleansing ideas, decluttering, etc. Here are a few examples of the ones I noticed just this past week as well as my thoughts about them:
“Dr. Oz’s 28 day plan to renew your body, mind, and soul”. O Magazine: wow, all 3 in 28 days????
“2012 is YOUR year”: In Style Magazine. I knew this was going to be my year!
“This is the year to : Feel Grateful, Get Your Finances in Order, Lose Weight, Discover What You’re Truly Meant to Do”: Parade Magazine. I was exhausted just reading the taglines!
“Start the new year bright: clean eating action plan: 21 Days,+50 Recipes: A whole new you!:Whole Living. It sounds great, but I know me: I could never follow such a stringent plan
“The Secret of Willpower: how to flex it and why you have more of it than you think”: Whole Living. Hmm, now that actually grabbed my attention
I think you get the point by now. According to the media and our society in general, January is THE month to change our ways, to redo our diets, lose those stubborn pounds we have been carrying around for too long, cut down on drinking/smoking/fill in the blank, become a more patient person, learn a new language: the list is endless. And no wonder so many of us who have great intentions to stick to our new year’s resolutions just can’t quite make it more than a few weeks before we revert back to baseline, often feeling as though we have failed.
Perhaps we should reframe the way we think about what the new year means to us. I like the word ‘aspiration’ better than resolution. The definition for ‘aspiration’, according to Merriam-Webster, is: “strong desire to achieve something high or great; the act of breathing and especially of breathing in”. I like the image of listing my aspirations better than writing down my resolutions. Creating a list of aspirations has a more hopeful tone and positive spin that makes me want to look at my current strengths and weaknesses and take inventory. I love the idea of creating a list that moves me forward in my journey towards balanced living.
And the second aspect of aspiration: the breathing in, is a particularly lovely way of embracing new ways of living. Breathing is essential for living. The practice of yoga emphasizes paying attention to the breath, which links the body and the mind. One of my aspirations this year is to practice yoga more frequently. I have never walked away from a yoga class where I didn’t feel more at peace and relaxed, yet I often don’t make time for this practice. In a recent edition of Real Simple magazine( ah ha! they DO come in handy!), there was a terrific article on “Mood-Boosting Workouts”. The following exercise types were reviewed: Yoga to feel more content, Pilates to sleep better, cycling to increase your energy, lifting weights to achieve clarity and Tai Chi to reduce stress.
I was particularly taken by yoga’s ability to boost one’s mood and reduce overall anxiety. The practice of yoga causes an increase in GABA ,which is one of the neurotransmitters that helps to reduce anxiety(GABA is actually is also available as an amino acid supplement over the counter for those who need additional help in this area). In addition, the slow rhythmic breathing used during yoga helps to increase oxygen flow, which in turn promotes optimal functioning of the brain and other essential organs. After 3 months of regular yoga practice, subjects in a study actually had observable changes in their parasympathetic nervous system: this is the one that kicks on when you are asleep and helps your body to restore. Several studies were cited in this article: go to http://www.realsimple.com/health/fitness-exercise/5-mood-boosting-workouts-00100000065518/index.html for the complete article.
Our hope with this blog is that you will create your own unique list of aspirations and begin to move forward with us on the path to balanced living. There are many aspects on this path towards life balance. Exercise is one that we hope you aspire to as you embrace the new year. A recent article in NY Times quoted Jack LaLanne’s wife(he died this year at the age of 96 !):”Jack trained every day of his life as if he were going to the Olympics…..Jack wanted to to show people that just because you’re getting old, you just don’t quit exercising.” He was an inspiration to many: “I can’t die. It would ruin my image”. I love that attitude. Everyday, he just showed up. And it showed.
So as you contemplate your aspirations for 2012, consider the things you want to embrace in your life, the things you want to breathe in this year. The opportunities really are endless and we are excited about all of our hopes for the new year. Wishing you and all you hold dear a happy, fulfilling and amazing new year.