Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead book cover

Last year I went big with my New Year’s Resolutions.  I had a slew of self-improvement projects on the docket, including the infamous “This Year I Learn to Cook” intention.  Guess what? I didn’t.  I got busy doing more important things, and I learned to order groceries and prepared foods online instead.

This year I’m getting a late start on annual planning and I’m feeling a lot less resolute. In a complete reversal from past practice, I’ve canceled my gym membership, quit running and given up on all goals that require an excess of outside accountability to pursue.  But that doesn’t mean I’m going inactive.  I’m just ramping things down to a comfortable pace and shrugging off external pressure to go hard.

Christine Carter, author of “The Sweet Spot: How to Find Your Groove at Home and Work” likens this pattern of alternating periods of rejuvenation with spans of uber-productivity to cycles seen in nature.  The great-granddaughter of olive growers has observed many years of short crops preceding abundant ones. Rest fuels productivity.

So the life tweaks I settled upon for 2015 are so small-scale I’m calling them micro-resolutions.  They are the kindest, gentlest, happiest wellness projects I can conjure.  I’m excited to see how it goes!

Micro-Resolution 1: Walk it out. Winter may not seem like the best time to head outdoors, but a chill in the air can give our steps just the pep they need.  I had a blast walking around the State Capital Lawn during the sixth annual Virginia Healthy Youth Day, hosted by Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth. Virginia First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe, local celebrities and mascots took part in the event (pictured here), alongside 450 middle school students from around the state. If you see me speedwalking through the fan, you’ll know where I got my start this year.  On snow days, I’ll pace around my house while talking on the phone or listening to podcasts.

Micro-Resolution 2: Let the groceries shop for themselves.  I get whole grains, fruits and vegetables delivered to my doorstep weekly via Relay Foods, an online grocery store.  That way, I have a record of previous purchases and other shoppers’ reviews on hand, making it easy to pick winners in a flash. Plus, ordering online keeps me from veering down junk food aisles or picking up 85 magazines at the checkout line. Kiss impulse buys goodbye. Pro move: Set up staples to renew at regular intervals (weekly, every two weeks etc.). It’s like your shopping cart has a mind of its own, freeing your brain to focus on bigger things.

Micro-Resolution 3: Pump up commercial breaks. Like most Americans, I love me some TV.  So rather than letting my Shondaland habit turn me into a sedentary mess, I’m going to stand up, stretch and get some jumping jacks, squats or lunges in during commercial breaks or every 20 minutes.  Every movement counts, right?

Micro-Resolution 4: Set up “play stations” around the house. I’ve got post-it notes and place cards to remind me to integrate exercise into my day. My desktop has some office yoga moves on display. The basement is the spot for planks and pushups, and high knees around the kitchen keep my three-year-old amused.  The trick is to pick exercises that suit you.  I know I’m unlikely to do anything that’s not fun and convenient.

Micro-Resolution 5: Dance Party! My daughter requests a dance party daily.  If I bring half as much enthusiasm to the floor as she does, I’ll get quite a workout.

Finally, some feel-good New Year’s (Micro-)Resolutions I can keep!


Photos courtesy of Healthy Virginia Youth Day, hosted by Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth. The sixth annual event brought hundreds of middle schoolers to the State Capitol Bell Tower for a morning of exercises led by VFHY Executive Director Marty Kilgore, First Lady of Virginia Dorothy McAuliffe, sports radio host Greg Burton, the YMCA, the mascots of local sports teams and fitness initiatives, and yours truly.