Today marks an important date! It is February 29th, and it can be used to define a goal, a dream with deadlines, or something of even greater importance. Leap years are known as either good or bad omens. The Scots think it’s a bad omen, while others think being born on February 29th is extremely lucky. They also say a man can’t turn down a woman’s proposal on a leap year. So myths abound. But what I like to do is use it to take inventory of my life, my health, and my goals.
Achieving a healthy weight and increasing our personal happiness is part of a growth process, but to expect you can achieve all your goals in 6 months is naive and setting expectations outside of reality. So a leap year lets us review our lives and set goals to achieve within four years. Let’s start with happiness.
I believe that when President Obama ensured that along with gun control $500 million dollars were earmarked to improve mental health services, it’s time we ensure that our friends, family, and ourselves are taking care of our mental health. Finding and sustaining happiness has as much to do with physical health, as it does with mental health. Both are crucial to happiness, and both are important for a fulfilling life.
If you or someone you know is suffering depression, anxiety, or other serious mental health issues, please seek professional help for them immediately. I will post a link at the end of this article. But for the rest of us that want to just experience greater joy, happiness, and peace, the answer is a combination of things.
1. – Connect
Make sure you reach out to friends and family with frequency. Maybe just a small gesture, like complimenting them on a photo, or calling to congratulate them on their new job, home, or boyfriend. If you do not have close friends or family, it’s important to develop this network yourself. Learning to connect with people is easier through common ground. Do you like going to church? Churches are great places to connect with like minded individuals. Do you have hobbies? Joining a golf club, a bowling league, or a yoga class can help you meet people and connect. I personally enjoy book clubs. But there are many groups both online and in person that plan frequent meetings, such as meetup.com which will allow you to join a club of your interest for free, find out where they get together, and network with new fun people.
2. – Personal time
It’s hard to stop and smell the roses when you are overwhelmed. It is very important for mental health to take quiet time for prayer, meditation, reading, gardening, etc. Quiet time helps us gather our thoughts, plan our life, and enjoy the moment. This increases your gratitude quotient and gratitude contributes immensely to happiness.
Achieving a healthy weight is more about developing a lifestyle that improves and maintains your health to the best of your ability than anything else. We can hit our goal weight with a crash diet in a few weeks, but changing our habits takes much longer than that. It takes years to put on 40 or 100 lbs, so we can’t expect that the road that took us there is now closed. It is about burning that bridge! Make sure you can’t go down that path ever again. So what are the best weight loss tips for long term results?
1. – Find a plan that you can stay on for life
Don’t look for a diet, but develop a plan for your long term success. That means do some research. Can you eat salad for dinner forever? If not, than that plan won’t work. Would you like a day off to indulge in ONE serving French fries? Then make sure you put that in there once every 10 to 15 days. Notice I emphasize one serving. Because excess is a problem in the United States. We must temper our indulgences. My husband and I recently changed our lifestyle. We wanted to get back to our previous weights, but not gain it back. So we opted for a high protein, high vegetable, low carb plan. We incorporated things we love, and we have been extremely successful. The plan we developed takes a minimum of 90 days, but probably an average of 150 days. This system has really allowed us to now accept our new lifestyle. Surprisingly, we lost our appetites for processed foods, fast foods, etc. Our bodies DO NOT crave that at all. We also gave ourselves time to adjust to exercising. We actually miss exercising, ugh! I never thought that would happen!
2. – Move
Your body will not want to move at first. If you have a BMI of more than 30, you are probably so tired at the end of the day it’s hard to find the energy to exercise. It’s possible that even a morning regime might be too much for you. But you know, that is exactly what keeps millions of people from losing weight. The best thing to do is to tell yourself the truth. “I can’t go to the gym for 1 hour. But today I can walk around my apartment for 15 minutes”. You have NO IDEA what 15 minutes of just walking around your home will do to your body. It is a literal miracle. You can later increase that to 20 minutes, maybe start walking outside? If you are ready, get a couple of cans of soup, or some 2-5 lbs weights and start lifting those arms above your head. It won’t take much, an 8 count, 3 times. That’s 24 reps. Eventually, if you do this every day, or at least 3 times a week, your body will miss it! Guaranteed.
I read somewhere that goals are just dreams with deadlines. I truly believe that. That’s why I love leap years. You now have four years to finish that degree, get fit, make new friends, pay off a credit card, find your joy! After four years, next leap year, you can be a completely new person. The same wonderful you, only better, the true you, the one inside that is now dying to get out.
For a mental health crisis hotline and immediate help go to http://www.crisistextline.org
Want to achieve your goals? For more information on the author’s work, services, and life coaching plans visit her site by clicking here.