Every January, millions of people vow to make weight loss, exercise or health a priority for the upcoming year. Gym membership rates soar, diet talk fills the break room. Until last year, I was one of those people who obsessed over my weight or what new diet I was on. My past New Year’s Resolutions usually involved some sort of weight loss goal.
Since discovered Intuitive Eating and the Health at Every Size movement (and the freedom and joy associated with it), I’ve been able to spend the time and energy previously devoted to losing weight on endeavors that truly fulfill me.
For 2019, my goals were to heal my relationship with food and my body, reduce my single-use plastic waste, find a weekly activity to do with my son, only buy clothing from conscious clothing brands or secondhand shops, apply to a master’s program, finish the Marketing Certification on HubSpot Academy and start planning a trip to Machu Picchu. I was able to accomplish all but two of those items plus we added another member to our family and bought a house (one of my 40 Before 40 Goals).
To celebrate this amazing year, I wanted to share 10 of my favorite non-weight loss related New Year’s Resolutions. They’re all SMART goals, meaning they’re Specific, Actionable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Based. Most resolutions fail because they are too vague, too overwhelming or too impersonal. When you set a goal to, for example, plan your dream trip, make sure you decide beforehand what your dream trip is. You should have also saved up enough funds to be able to start booking a flight and hotel rooms. If this isn’t attainable just yet, pick a different resolution!
Hopefully this list will inspire you appreciate your body for all it enables you to do rather than trying to change it.
Lessons I learned from labor and delivery the second time around: Women are warriors. Our intuition is magic. If we can learn to listen and trust ourselves, incredible things can happen.
People say that every pregnancy, labor and delivery is different and I wasn’t sure I believed them until I experienced it myself. With my first, I only had nausea and food aversions from weeks 7 to 9, an easy, breezy pregnancy overall and a long 30-hour labor that started spontaneously at 39 weeks and 3 days. With my second, I had nausea until 15 weeks, was in so much pain with symphysis pubis dysfunction (a common condition in subsequent pregnancies) that I had to go to a prenatal chiropractor twice a week starting at 20 weeks and physical therapy, and I made it to 40 weeks and 5 days gestation with no baby.
On Wednesday, December 4 at 9:30 a.m. (at 40 weeks and 5 days pregnant), I went to my weekly check up with my midwife. When my nurse took my blood pressure, like she does at every appointment, she discovered that it was high (146/102) and it wouldn’t go down even after rest. My nurse pointed out that my belly was very low, that the high blood pressure meant that my body was reaching the end of being able to carry the baby and that I would probably be delivering today. After that, I saw my midwife and we decided that she would do a cervical exam and, if I was dilated at all, she would perform a membrane sweep. When she did the cervical exam, she discovered I was already 3 cm dilated so she did the sweep to help move things along. At that point, it was 10:30 a.m. She said that cramping and bleeding is normal and, if my body and baby are ready, that labor would start within 48 hours. She also wanted me to go to the labor and delivery ward at the hospital to monitor my blood pressure in case I needed to be induced for preeclampsia.
I left the office, called my husband to come home from work and headed home to finish packing my hospital bag. Today was finally the day!
My first of three miscarriages was in January 2017 after an unexpected positive pregnancy test. We hadn't been trying to get pregnant but we also hadn't been preventing since coming home from our honeymoon in October 2016. I didn't even think or know I was ready to have a baby until the positive test was staring back at me. And in that short week, between finding out that I might be a mom to miscarrying, my life had already changed--I had already dreamed a lifetime of dreams and hoped a lifetime of hopes, all of which came crashing down.
In an attempt to make myself feel better, I wrote the following list of reasons why I didn't want a baby yet (based on preconceived notions of what I thought motherhood would be like). I was scared that becoming a parent meant leaving everything I loved about my pre-baby days behind. Since our first baby joined us, I’ve discovered that it's a lot easier--and way more fun--than I had expected to introduce him to the activities we enjoyed together before he came along or having grandparents babysit him for us to go out and do things that he can’t do yet.
Before I share my misconceptions of motherhood (and my present-day rebuttals to pre-baby me), I want to preface the list to say that I am completely aware of my privilege and I know that many of these things would not be possible if I did not live close to family and did not have their support and a very hands-on partner in my husband. On the other hand, I'm a firm believer that we can design the exact life we want for ourselves through commitment, hard work and planning.
When I first embarked on my intuitive eating journey a year ago, I had just decided to end my 20-year relationship with diet culture. I was terrified that when I gave myself unconditional permission to eat whatever I want, I would be overwhelmed by options and not be able to make choices that made me feel good. Because my relationship with food was so fraught since childhood, I had no idea what a normal day of eating and not obsessing about food looked like. In my search, I came across Rachel Hartley's series, "Why I Ate Wednesday" in which she chronicles and examines the intentions behind her eating choices. I found those posts to be incredibly helpful and thought I would share my own in case anyone finds them useful.
In the last year, what I eat on a daily basis varies greatly. Some days, all I want are hearty foods. Other days, I just want fruit for dinner. Mostly I have found that eating intuitively has resulted in me to barely even think about the foods that I was obsessed with in my dieting days, like bagels, croissants and donuts because I can and do have them whenever I want.
For over two decades of my life, I spent countless hours and too much energy focused on losing weight. My first diet was at eight or nine years old and my last one was at 29. I tried everything from the Cabbage Soup Diet to weight loss tea to Atkins, Keto, Whole30...And they all worked for a bit until they didn't.
Exactly a year ago, I was in the throes of my last diet, five days away from completing the Whole30 for a second time. I had been trying unsuccessfully to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight for about six months and nothing was working. My body was holding onto the weight like my life and the life of my baby depended on it. After a month of torturing myself and feeling obsessed with food and "clean" eating, I stepped on the scale and had lost a measly 5 pounds. I was devastated.
Frustrated with my so-called failure, I began looking for yet another diet, this time in podcast form, when I came across Food Psych. This was the start of my journey to Intuitive Eating, learning about Health at Every Size and healing my relationship with food and my body.
I learned that diets and yo-yoing in weight is more harmful to one's health than staying at a larger weight consistently over a lifetime. I learned about the "obesity paradox." I learned to free myself from diet culture and weight stigma. I learned to enjoy eating again, not only to sustain my body, but also for the pure pleasure of it, because food is not only delicious but it brings us closer to the people we love. I learned to embrace and celebrate my body for the amazing things it's able to do.
A year after giving birth, I got pregnant again. My starting weight with my second pregnancy was the weight I was the morning I went into labor in my first pregnancy. This was the ultimate lesson in accepting that bodies are meant to change and diets are designed not to work.
Instead of obsessing over food and weight loss this past year, this is what I've been able to do:
Yay I'm officially 30! Two years ago, I wrote an extremely ambitious list of 30 things I wanted to do before 30 and was able to do cross off 15 items in those two years. Not too shabby.
I'm a firm believer in the law of attraction (and focus and hard work) so I make a lot of lists. Writing down exactly what I want to achieve helps me clear my head and focus on my goals. Below is my list of 40 things I want to do before 40. Feel free to use it as inspiration for your own goals.
The thing I hear the most from people and read frequently on forums when I'm planning my trips is, "Don't take your baby!" Babies are often seen as pariahs, especially when it comes to fine dining.
What's a parent to do when they want to experience the wonders of the world but they've also decided to have a family? Must they relegate themselves and their offspring to hotel rooms and not share a unique dining experience with other humans?
When I was planning my latest trip through Europe with my youngster in tow, I had so many questions: Are babies allowed at Michelin-starred restaurants? Can I bring my infant to afternoon tea? Wine tasting with a little one--yay or nay? Though the rest of the internet may have you believe that you cannot under any circumstances enjoy such splendors with your tot, I'm here with facts based on experience (and not baby-ism).
Taking time to reflect and plan ahead is extremely important to me. It's not so much about nostalgia but of learning from my past self and deciding how to intentionally move forward in my life.
For me, journaling has been a crucial part of my life for 18 years. It's my therapy and has helped me deal with and overcome a lot of trauma. It's also where I allow myself to dream and tell the universe exactly what I want out of my life. By goal-setting every year, I make sure I express what I want to achieve, what I want my life to look like, even if I fall short sometimes.
Today I turn 30 and over the course of the past several weeks, I've been reading my journals from my twenties to reflect on this decade, see how I've grown, which (if any) of those goals I still want to pursue and plan for the decade ahead. While I was reading my journals, I found an entry from seven years ago, when I was about to turn 23, entitled "For Christina on her 30th Birthday."
I had totally forgotten about it but sentimental 23-year-old me had the foresight to know that 30-year-old me would find this to be so special. Here's the letter I wrote to myself for my 30th birthday:
*That I'm Incredibly Proud Of.
Two years ago, I wrote a list of things I want to do before turning 30, a 30 Before 30 Bucket List. And in that time, I found a new job, brought a human life into the world and got pregnant again. Whoops! Even though I had my plans, life had plans of her own.
Last year, I did a check-in post to see which items I had accomplished and which I still needed to do. But I found that my desires have changed even in this short span of time and while I didn't do half of what I originally wanted to do, I did way more in my twenties that I was anticipating.
Instead of revisiting my 30 Before 30 Bucket List yet again, I thought it would be more beneficial to make a list of 20 Things I've Done in my 20s that I'm Proud of. So, here it is...
After telling my birth story to a dozen women and being met with awe and disbelief, I’ve come to realize how unusual my natural childbirth experience truly was. And I know how easily and quickly my labor and delivery could have turned into the one I had been dreading.
A quick recap of how it all went down: On the morning of Valentine’s Day, I felt a contraction which caused what I thought was my water to start breaking (no one ever figured out when it actually broke because the amniotic sac was still intact at 6 cm dilated). Throughout the day, I had irregular contractions associated with early labor. I went to lunch with my friend, got my nails done (my manicurist asked me how far along I was and I didn't want to tell her that I was already in labor haha), finished packing my hospital bag and spent the remainder of the evening resting at home all while timing my contractions. Steve went to Trader Joe’s to buy salad, cheese, crackers and snacks on his way home from work. Some of that ended up being our romantic Valentine’s dinner since my contractions were getting too strong for me to feel like I could enjoy our dinner reservations.
Around 1:30 am on February 15, my contractions were 3-5 minutes apart and lasted for one minute. At 3 am, we left home and headed to Kaiser Sunset. My husband called our doula who joined us at the hospital. My midwife's shift at the hospital started at 9 am so I was put in the care of the OBs and nurses on duty until then. After exams, they determined that I was 2 centimeters dilated and 75% effaced and said that it could still "be days" before I deliver. They were concerned because our baby’s heart rate was dropping with each contraction. They admitted me, hooked me up to an IV of fluids to see if dehydration was causing it, put me on continuous fetal monitoring and told me that if things hadn’t progressed in a few hours, they would have to induce me.
The dreaded word: induction! They offered me medication to deal with the contraction pain and I rejected it. By 5 am, I was in my delivery room, laboring in whichever way felt comfortable. I used a peanut ball, walked around, ate some snacks. Every fifteen to thirty minutes, someone came in to check how I was doing and offered to administer pain medication. “We have something that could take your pain away,” they said. I turned them down every time, but I could see how tempting it would be and how someone could feel pressured to accept.