You've survived another holiday season, one of the coldest storms on record for early winter, and probably even spent a little time thinking about the year to come. Millions of people have finished up their year making resolutions to do better in some way—sleep more, eat better, lose weight, save more money, or whatever they feel they are missing. Millions more have celebrated a year come and gone with only a resolution to make no resolutions. No matter which camp you fall into, resolutions often fail. Not because they aren’t worthy, or because their crafter is weak-willed, but because resolutions by themselves are not enough to create changes in habits. And little changes can add up.
We've recently started carrying a new weight loss supplement—I’m very excited about it, especially for those who get stuck in “leptin resistance” and can’t lose weight. But by itself, it's not a magic pill. It takes sustainable change to reduce weight and improve your health. As an experiment, I just added the supplement and made no other changes. I have 20 lbs I’d like to lose. It’s not horrible, but I made a choice last year to focus on other things and not worry about the weight. This year I decided it comes off. So I’ve been taking the supplement for 6 weeks with no other changes and I’ve lost about 3 lbs and 7 inches in total body measurements (waist, neck, chest, hips, arms, thighs, and calves) with the bulk coming off the waist and hips so far. I notice I’m less hungry and I’m craving more veggies with it.
I’ve also been reviewing the research of what’s out there as far as nutrition, inflammation, and weight loss. The data on fasting periodically and its ability to help your body renew itself is remarkable. I’ve looked at the research cited by the China Study, Dr. Gundry (who’s all about eliminating lectins from the diet), and Dr. Anderson (who’s all about how to regulate mental health with diet and exercise whenever possible). The trends are clear and consistent with what I already knew with some new twists. Even moderate calorie restriction for a few days a month can mimic the benefits of traditional fasting. Sugar is bad, fake sugar (with a few exceptions) is worse. Fruits are ok in moderation and when in season. Grains and starches are often just sugars in disguise! And a little quality meat can be beneficial but too much is not good either—many keto diets are far too meat heavy to be healthy in the long run.
I learned some other new things—not eating for at least 4 hours before sleep and waiting for a solid 18 hours to eat again a day or two a week can dramatically improve the housekeeping processes of the brain, leading to reduced inflammation. While I don’t know that I subscribe to the idea that lectins are disastrous for everyone, I have to admit there are enough case studies and examples that suggest if you haven't tried eating lectin-free for 30 days and you struggle with chronic inflammation of any kind, you should give it a shot. In many cases, if you give the gut adequate time to heal, you can add some of those lectin-containing foods back in moderation.
I firmly believe most people in the US are dangerously deficient in vegetables, both in quantity and variety. Many things you “don’t like” are reflections of which bacteria dominate your gut microbiome and as you change your food, you change your flora and your tastes will reflect those changes.
So, for the next 90 days, I’m going to follow the Longevity Paradox meal plan from Dr. Gundry along with my weight loss supplement. I do plan to have occasional sourdough bread in small amounts because I've tried being completely gluten-free in the past and my body feels worse with none. But there’s a huge difference between an occasional small slice of sourdough from organic non-GMO grains and the typical loaf of bread or biscuit available in stores. But other than that small variation, I plan to follow his plan closely. And I'll see what the scale says then.
If you would like to try that weight loss supplement—it’s available for order here
*Note there is both a straight retail option and a membership option for a discount—either way, it comes with a 60-day money-back guarantee!
So back to those resolutions...and why so many fail.
Goals that are not measured typically are not achieved—take for example:
“I want to exercise more in 2023”. This alone is a resolution doomed to failure!
What kind of exercise? When? How often? For how long? Let’s say you decide you want to complete a 10k run by the end of the year. That’s slightly better but still highly likely to fail unless you are already consistently running close to that distance regularly. But let’s assume like many well-intentioned resolutions, you aren't sure you can run around the block...how do you successfully turn that resolution into a completed goal?
1. Pick an actual goal date—Find a race or set a date to run that distance on your own and work backward and make sure it’s far enough out for you to have adequate time to reach your goal.
2. Break it down—If, for example, you want to run a 10k by November, you probably should be able to run a 5k by June...there are a bunch of “Couch to 5k” running guides out there—find one to help you plan.
3. Break it down again—If you want to run 5k by June, you probably should be close to 2.5k by March. That’s a reasonable time length to build a plan around.
4. Make your 90-day plan—Work back from 5k to 2.5k to 0k—and write it out. Then pick one thing you can do today to get you started. Perhaps it’s seeking advice on where to run, reaching out to a local running club, or getting outside to do a test run of how far you can go without straining right now.
5. This is most important—every day when you complete that “mini goal”—celebrate! Give yourself a high five, bask in your awesomeness; give your brain a little “dopamine rush” and help it see the benefit of completing these goals.
That's just one example—maybe your exercise goal is to maintain your current good habits. Then you might say “I will continue to lift weights for 45 min 3 days per week and get over 10K steps a day at least 5 days a week”. Or maybe your goal is to get up out of a chair without struggling— break down how to make that goal work for you!
Sometimes we know all these tricks and we still somehow “get in our own way” and as a result, don’t achieve our goals. When that happens, coaching can be immensely valuable in addressing the hidden things that are holding us back from the life we want. Depending on your needs, I may recommend working with one of the coaches I know; or in some cases working with myself and my equine partners in an equine gestalt session over at Rowdy Cowgirl Coaching.
New Year's resolutions are a great way to set goals and work towards self-improvement. While it can be challenging to stick to resolutions, it is important to remember that progress, not perfection, is the key to success. Don't be too hard on yourself if you struggle to meet your goals, and remember to celebrate your victories along the way. With determination and the right strategies, you can make lasting positive changes in your life in the new year and beyond!
The Year of the Tiger is quickly approaching, and this will be a time of action and change. February 1st marks the beginning of the Lunar New Year.
Those born in 1950, 1962, 1974 1986, 1998, 2010, and 2022 were born in the year of the tiger.
Forthright, determined, passionate, and bold, the tiger is a natural born leader. Tigers help lead the way for others. Rebellious in nature, tigers are attracted to adventure and action. Tigers are also empathetic, chivalrous, and noble.
The year ahead will also be a water element year. In Chinese astrology, the water element represents maturity, deep emotions, spirituality, vital essence, and creativity. The most powerful of all elements, water is able to go around any obstacle without losing its essential nature.
There will be strong aspects of both power and sensitivity this year. Risk-taking will provide rewards, while sensitivity and deep emotions may cause quite a bit of chaos. Despite adversity, this period is also expected to draw strength and growth from new found enthusiasm and vigor.
With tiger and water element aspects of the year ahead, we can expect it to be a year of extremes. This will be a year of big changes! There will be big decisions to be made, and emotions will run high. Tigers are quick to pounce, changes can be anticipated to happen quickly and unexpectedly. The go-getter tiger vibes of the year can also be helpful in turning “pipe dreams” into reality. We will find ourselves weighing our priorities more this year, and postponing less important matters—which will help us focus more narrowly on those “pipe dreams” as well.
The year of the water tiger will call on us not to succumb to the emotions of a moment, as well as to avoid focusing on things of minimum importance. Willpower and a sense of calm will be necessary to get us through an ideal 2022. As a result, we can expect our dreams to unfold as we also make way for unexpected adventures.
Lastly, lucky colors of this year are blue, green, red, and yellow. The color blue will bring luck in negotiations and communication, while green will bring luck in any new endeavor. Red will attract luck in love, and yellow will bring financial luck. Incorporate these colors into your wardrobe and home to optimize good fortune throughout 2022.
As we make our way through the year, remember to remain vigilant and steadfast. Just as tigers trust their instincts, so should oneself! The coming year promises to be an exciting one, and situations can change quickly, emotions can run high, but with those comes great opportunities and great benefits. This is the year of strength, rebellion, and bravery!
We here at Raja Wellness wish you and your family a healthful, prosperous, and joyful New Year!
2021 - Year of the Ox is almost here, and it brings with it not only many welcome positive changes, but also hard work and determination.
Those born in the Year of the Ox are predicted to have an especially great year in wealth and love: 1913, 1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009, 2021.
The Ox is a symbol of diligence and stability. The phrase: “stubborn as an ox” definitely rings true! Struggles will occur for most zodiac signs this year. But with hard work comes rewards, and in 2021, the tougher the work, the greater the reward!
The Yin energy, specific to the sign of Ox, will be quite poignant. This is going to be a year when we will fully feel the weight of our responsibilities, a year when it will be necessary to double our efforts to accomplish anything at all.
This year will be a great time to focus on personal relationships. Now is the time to get more involved with the people in your life be it friends, family, co-workers, as well as love interests. It will be a great time to reach out to those you haven’t spoken to in a while; and work to mend any strained or distant relationships. This year will also bring much luck in love. Those married during the Year of the Ox go on to have strong, happy marriages.
2021 will be a metal year, and to increase luck, wear metal accessories. Lucky colors will be white, yellow, and green, which in Feng Shui, represent success and prosperity. Adding a splash of these colors to your home or wardrobe will be a great way to increase your luck!
Thus, 2021 is a year when all problems get solved with discipline and persistence. It will be a time for self-improvement, reflection, and determination; and will serve as a sign of better things to come!
January 25, 2020 is the start of the Chinese Year of the White Rat (or Mouse). The Rat is the first animal in the Chinese Zodiac system and this is the beginning of a completely new 12-year and 60-year cycle and is therefore considered the beginning of a new era. It is also the start of another decade, all of which makes it an especially important year for new beginnings and new possibilities. It is time to bring out new ideas, new plans and say yes to new opportunities. It is a good year for reinvention and starting over.
Rats are considered mostly positive animals to the Chinese and are appreciated for their cleverness and the ability to always find food. People born in the Year of the Rat are considered charming, adaptable, witty and sociable. Rats favor their young, so this is a year of youth empowerment and reclaiming one’s youthful self. People will feel younger and livelier. According to the legend, the Rat tricked the Ox into giving him a ride, jumping off right before the finish line to come in first. The energies of this year will no doubt inspire some of the tricksters and opportunists in society, so be wary of anything that sounds too good to be true!
This is a Yang Water Year with Yang Metal on top. These two elements are considered compatible and harmonious, as the Metal Element feeds the Water Element in the Parent - Child cycle of the Five Elements. This means that there is the potential for a peaceable year. However, there is an underlying, hidden aggression that these two powerful Yang elements bring to the year that should not be ignored and may emerge if provoked.
Yang Water is represented by the ocean, or large water, which also includes large lakes and large rivers. There is tremendous power in water this year and it is expected that there will be major flooding events caused by high tides, rising sea levels or larger than normal waves. Be prepared for saltwater intrusion into fresh water. Low lying coastal areas, particularly cities on the coast, will be very vulnerable to the flooding that comes from storm surges, possible tsunamis from large earthquakes, or from icebergs calving. There will be blizzards and rain events are likely to be deluges. It is anticipated that there will be more atmospheric rivers and large snow events will cause avalanches. Major rivers will also likely overflow their banks or lakes will rise, particularly near cities and flood expensive homes. Have your sandbags ready!
Yang Metal is the autumn and Yang Water is winter. This combination forecasts some very strong storms in these seasons. There will be extreme cold in many places; some that will be unused to such low, freezing temperatures. Because Metal and Water push into Wood in the Five Element Cycle, which in weather is Wind, you can expect some major windstorms, especially in the fall and this will also drive small water, which is rain and snow, making all the usual storms involving wind and water more Yang and therefore more dangerous. This will undoubtedly cause plane and car crashes due to the effects of severe weather conditions.
Water is an element that wants clarity and therefore truth, so past deceptions and secrets will continue to rise up to be seen and deep personal process work can be accomplished. Another interesting metaphor of 2020 implies that people will be able to “see” better and will have more clarity about what is true, especially regarding the past. This may also be literal, where vision improves in those who have vision problems.
The Year of the Rat is a very good year for improving health. People will feel more vital, alive and awake. Minor health issues can clear up easily and more serious or chronic illnesses can stabilize, as Yang Metal enhances the immune system and the Lungs. When people do get sick this year, they can recover quicker and easier. People will also heal from broken bones faster due to the strength of the Water Element.
People will want to take charge of their own health and there will a renewed focus on a healthier lifestyle, as the Metal Element increases the dedication to self-improvement. The Yang aspects of this year will make people want to exercise more in a natural way. Swimming, especially in saltwater pools or directly in the ocean is recommended and spending time in and around water will be very healing. Sleeping more is also recommended and insomnia should improve this year.
The cold weather, wind and the viruses of the fall and winter seasons will lead to cold conditions in Chinese Medicine, like circulation problems in the extremities, arthritis and tightness in the neck and shoulders from Wind-Cold. This may also lead to bouts of dizziness and heart palpitations. Remedies involve warming the body, like taking baths or soaking your feet are good, and remember to wear gloves, hats and scarves. And this is a particularly good year for drinking hot beverages like Tea with Lemon and Honey and for taking distilled spirits medicinally, as in Hot Toddys or Hot Buttered Rum, or pouring Brandy into your Coffee. Chicken Broth, Bone Broth and Vegetable Broths are also good for enhancing the immune system.
Many people will feel their ambition rise this year. But a realistic and somewhat skeptical appraisal of the steps necessary to accomplish goals will also be needed, as luck will be gained through discipline and consistency. This is also a good year for Higher Education and for people who hold advanced degrees. Significant life experience will also be more appreciated and the stories from elderly/older people will help younger people see the cycles within history. This will help alleviate some of the anxiety and stress of the last few years when events are seen in a bigger context. Wisdom will be much more appreciated and honored this year. Clairvoyance will also be enhanced this year and many people will gain insight through their dreams and in meditation.
There is an interesting dichotomy in the social aspect of this year. People may find themselves vacillating between being alone due to the Metal Element and to sometimes feeling too close to others from the Water Element. There will also be a desire to find time to think deeply about things and then a desire to share those thoughts with people that you trust. The Rat is a sociable creature, so be sure to make time for some enjoyable gatherings.
Overall it will be a very dynamic year. Mother Nature will be in charge and she will be temperamental, so be prepared by stocking emergency supplies in your homes, offices and cars and stay warm when the storms come. Luckily, many people will experience enhanced health and vitality and the winds of change will be blowing, altering the status quo for years to come!
©Lillian Bridges, Lotus Institute, Inc., 2020