This Year’s Resolution: To Stop With the Big Resolutions
Dana Robertson Halter is making healthy choices for a better life.
It’s Jan. 12 and I’ve already broken two of my standard New Year’s resolutions. My husband made chocolate chip cookies just five days into the new year. As soon as he left the kitchen I started on the batter, and have steadily eaten two cookies a day since. My good intentions to avoid sweets and lose weight are already officially down the drain.
Or are they?
I start every year with all sorts of ambitious plans to reinvent myself. And, like the majority of people who tackle major changes, I give up after my willpower wanes. I go back to procrastinating and end up eating way too many cookies. But this year, ultimately, won’t be like the others. This year, I’m trying a different approach: smart, small changes that will make me happier and healthier.
Focus on the positive
I have a boyish figure, a big ribcage (I named him “Frank” at the age of 10), and I can’t sprint or dance. Nonetheless, my body nurtured and carried two beautiful little girls. I can still run down the street with my 2-year-old on my shoulders. I love swimming, especially in the ocean, have completed a marathon and go on weekend bike rides where my male teammates don’t have to wait for me. My body is healthy and strong – that’s what counts.
Eat your veggies
I’m on a mission to eat more vegetables every day. I eat a megasalad for lunch, double up on roasted beets for dinner and chop up vegetable crudités for snacks. This regimen helps me focus on making healthier choices. Sure, I ate too many cookies last weekend, but when I was hungry later that day, I turned to carrots. I want my girls to see me eating healthy foods so they’ll follow my lead.
I’m addicted to my smartphone. I text while walking from my office to the restroom, check Facebook between meetings and look at email during dinner. I’m so busy looking at everybody’s news that I’m becoming a spectator in my own life. Luckily I recently learned what motivates me to change: shame. A co-worker shakes her finger every time she sees me texting in the hall. I told my 4-year-old that no phones are allowed at the table and she keeps me on my toes. I still like to be connected, but I’m working on leaving the phone behind as much as I can.
I’ve always been competitive, but used to spend all my time wishing I was something I wasn’t. I found no satisfaction in athletics because to me, I was never good enough. Training was a part-time job, I rarely saw my husband and my race results always fell short of my impossibly high standards. I stopped doing triathlons in 2003 because of my negative attitude and shifted to the team sport of bike racing. I made lifelong friends through cycling, but self-doubt continued to hold me back.
Surprisingly, my own daughters have changed my perspective. Last summer I refocused my race goals and committed to enjoying the moment, appreciating what my body can do and smiling all the way through. These were tested in a triathlon when a corner marshal didn’t direct me and I went the wrong way. I was furious and sped into the bike-to-run transition cursing my bad luck, but my family and friends who gathered to cheer me on couldn’t have cared less. I pulled it together on the run, cheering on my competitors and giving my best effort. Going off-course was unfortunate, but I finished the triathlon with a smile on my face and my daughter’s little hand in mine.
I may have already broken my resolutions of years past, but I’m well on my way to a healthier, happier way of living. That’s what really matters.
Photo courtesy of the Lake Stevens Triathlon.
Dana Robertson Halter is a lifelong athlete and mother of two. Dana started swimming competitively at six, began racing triathlons after college, switched to bike racing in 2004 because triathlons were too lonely, and then went back to racing solo (marathons) after having her first child in 2009.