My Healthiest Year Yet Challenge 2015-2016

I'm here! I'm back!

It's been an amazing 3 months since having my fourth baby. He is just the best little guy and it's made these last few months of adjusting SO much better than they could have been. I speak from experience. Let's just say not ALL my kids started off as great sleepers...

Anyways, since things have been going well, my thoughts are starting to turn to goals for my physical health and all those wonderfully cliche things mothers say post-baby while gesturing affectionately to their muffin tops. It's that itch to, you know, actually FIT into my box of pre-baby clothing again. Getting dressed into my FIVE items of clothing that actually fit me in this in-between phase is getting irritating.

BUT! Here's the thing: it makes me super uncomfortable to talk about getting healthy in terms of weight & appearance. For one, I don't think either of those are true measurements of good health. For another, I don't think either of those are true measurements of good health (ha!). And for yet another, holy let's stop being so OBSESSED with just looking good. I promise I'm talking mostly to myself here, but if, by chance, society as a whole is listening...well, then....

Want to hear another cliche? Beauty comes from within.... But seriously. I totally think good health shows up on the outside, eventually. It just has to, for-real, start on the inside.

I've come up with a challenge for myself that I thought I'd lay out for you, in case you want to join me (Join me!!!). I was trying to come up with some funny, snappy name for it, but I've got nothin'.'s just going to be called "My Healthiest Year Yet." I know, I know. You are SO impressed with my wit and originality. Yeesh.

The Background

I'm guilty of wanting to see the results of a change in health habits, like, NOW. I workout once and I'm all trying to lift the heaviest box in my closet two days later because I should have more muscles now, right!? Ha! But I also know, from experience, that the biggest improvements in my health have come from small, consistent changes I've made over relatively long periods of time.

I'm also guilty of getting over-excited about a fresh start and setting 597 goals all at the same time, and failing at them all because it's just too much to take on at once.

My definition of "health" has changed a lot over the last few years, especially since my sister Jocelyn was first diagnosed with lymphoma. It has always been a "topic of interest" in my family, but not really taken seriously until it became alarmingly apparent that it was, in fact, very important. Since then, I've come to understand good health as something that is multi-faceted (physical! emotional! mental! spiritual!) with all these areas beautifully ways we probably don't even fully understand yet.

My Healthiest Year Yet Challenge Outline

So here are the basic ideas of My Healthiest Year Yet Challenge:

This is a YEAR-LONG Thing. I figured since it's taken one year for my body to grow a tiny human into a healthy three month old, it's going to take at least that long to improve and repair from that super-hero feat. And while a year is still a pretty speedy timeline when we're talking about permanent changes, I figured it was a reasonable amount of time for me to make some solid, lasting, healthy habits.

One Goal/Focus per Month. This is so I take things one step at a time; I need to pace myself! This monthly goal might not be something that I keep up for the rest of my life, but it will be a month-long goal/focus that leads to change and better habits. For example, if you have a focus of eating more leafy greens, you might set a goal to eat a green salad 6 days a week for a month. That particular goal may not be exactly sustainable forever...but will definitely produce some long-term habits and changes. Does that make sense? I hope so.

Health is a Whole-Person Deal. Many of my goals will be focused on physical changes, but some will also be focused on mental/emotional and spiritual changes.

Throw Out the Scale. I don't actually own one, but I'm certainly not going to get one now! Haha. Health is more than that number, and I don't need to subject myself to that kind of roller coaster, thankyouverymuch.

A Truth Journal. I need a place to tell the truth about how I'm feeling about these changes, and track my challenges and improvements. It can be a book of paper pages, a Word document, blog, or Instagram account, but whatever it is it needs to be a place where I can be honest and tell myself the truth about how I'm feeling and what I'm thinking. I'll be keeping a private notebook for mine, but if you're joining in on the challenge do whatever works best for you!

So there you go! Want to join me? I'd love company! Let me know if you are, and keep me posted...I'd love to know how things are going!

Monthly Goal/Focus Ideas

I've been trying to brainstorm a ton of possibilities. Here's my list so far.
Do you have any other ideas??

-Work out 3x/week
-Eat a green salad every day
-Learn to make sourdough bread
-Get more sleep! Have set bed/wake-up time.
-Have daily spiritual study
-Keep a daily grateful journal
-Read a book of literature
-Read a self-help book
-Learn/Research more about one aspect of health (ie. How to improve heart health)
-Learn/Research about the health benefits of one particular food
-Journal nightly
-Go sugar-free for a month
-Perform (singing/piano) for small group of friends.
-Do yoga 5x/week
-Try a new fruit/vegetable each week
-Have 10min quiet time/thinking time every day
-Work on a neglected hobby
-Improve Sabbath observance
-Pray more sincerely
-Think more positively
-Run 5km without stopping
-Try a new sport
-Work on video skills
-Do a free photo shoot
-Finish knitting/cross stitch/crochet project
-Plan and Plant a garden
-Do a service project each week
-Replace two body care products with natural/homemade alternatives
-Meal plan
-Try five new healthy meal recipes

Also: this is an article I read this week that I loved and was right along the lines of what I've been thinking of and planning for with this challenge.

Also, also: I'll be on Instagram as usual (@essaieblog) posting little updates with the hashtag #essaiehealthchallenge in case you want to follow along there!


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