Resolve to Create Healthy Relationships and Habits in 2014

I recently started working on my book and like all worthwhile endeavors, it’s challenging. The first weekend I devoted to writing I had such massive writer’s block I thought I would cry. Instead, I went for a run, which always provides clarity. I came to see that writing a book is like cultivating a relationship. Whether with your health, another person, or even a hobby like running, everything of value requires attention, effort, and the humility to listen and respond to what is being communicated. In essence you need to make friends with the process.

When I first conceived of this book I decided that I would write every day for two hours, more on weekends. I would sacrifice my social life and be finished by my birthday in March. Then I’d take myself on a fabulous vacation to celebrate. That is what I intended. But perhaps you’ve heard that the path to hell is paved with good intentions?

Rather than great writing mornings, my mind went blank with resistance. The more I insisted on laboring until I had a cohesive thought that would start the thread of fluidity, the more I drew a blank. But on that run I saw that the writing was trying to teach me something and it was a lesson I had heard before…

Growing up, I struggled mightily with my weight. It was a battle of wills between my ego wanting a diet to work for life, and my body and soul quietly insisting that a “diet” was self-destructive. After having tried and failed every weight loss fad known to man, I had to accept the on-going truth of dieting in general: it is a flawed paradigm. In order to get a handle on my weight and health, the only sustainable solution was to befriend my body and honor the message it was conveying. Then I had to change my habits.

The same thing happened when I started running. In the long ago past, every attempt at it left me in pain, my knees letting me know in no uncertain terms that they were unhappy with my choice of exercise. When I became serious about running three years ago, I listened to that lesson and rather than running past the truth, I took the precautionary measure of taking Glucosamine, Chondroitin and MSM to protect my joints. I also started out on soft surfaces. I’m happy to say, I continue to run regularly without issue.

All valuable relationships in life require that you set an intention and then stay open to what the relationship is trying to teach you. If you were to begin a relationship with another person only to dictate how it was going to be, insisting only on your perspective without honoring the other person’s needs, it would be wholly unsuccessful. The best relationships are borne of friendship, making listening and honoring key elements to a successful union. In this same way we need to approach all meaningful work in our lives… in the spirit of learning and then finding the humility to change our habits to accommodate what is being asked of us.

As we approach a New Year, rather than making empty resolutions such as losing ten pounds or quitting smoking, resolve instead to create a lasting and abiding relationship with yourself. Honor what your spirit is trying to convey. If you’ve struggled to lose weight, rather than dieting, offer your body the nourishment it’s asking for. Sometimes overeating has nothing to do with food at all, but a deep need for happiness that can’t be fulfilled with a bag of chips.

What I am learning from writing a book is that anything approached with an unyielding mindset, leaving no space for breath, mistakes or even idle thought, will lead to resistance. It’s the same lesson I learned when attempting to lose weight on restrictive diets rather than a change in habits. If perfection is the goal, you will always fail. Sometimes what’s needed is time to reflect and contemplate without action so that you can sketch out your plan. Like my friend Lee reminds me, part of the writing process is the time spent in thought so that the writing may come easier. And part of the process of developing a healthy body is to craft a plan to a lasting solution that addresses your self-sabotaging habits while creating healthy new ones.

In the end, it will likely take far longer than three months to write my book, but that’s okay. I am eager to see where this chapter in my life will lead. Like when I long ago changed my eating habits and never again struggled with my weight, I’ve already learned so much of lasting value.

I wish you all a magnificently HEALTHY, HAPPY and LOVE filled New Year!!

Traditions in the New Year

This New Year’s Eve I am spending the night at home in front of a fire, enjoying a home-cooked meal, writing and working on my vision board.

This is not a typical New Year’s Eve but I am excited about my plans. It is my habit to spend New Year’s in symbolic gesture of how I want the year to unfold. Last year, for example, I did the Midnight Run in Central Park as an offering to a year of physical fitness in preparation for Mont Blanc. This not only keeps me amused, but engaged in intention. This year’s plan perfectly symbolizes what I hope 2014 will be about.

One thing that will not change is something I have been doing every New Year’s Eve since I was a child. I will be having 12 grapes at midnight. This Spanish tradition dates back to 1895 and is thought to have originated in Madrid. It symbolizes 12 months of prosperity, health and happiness for the coming year. I can’t imagine starting a New Year without them.

What are YOUR New Year’s traditions? I would love to know how all of you spend the dawn of a new year. Let me know in the comments below… It is always so lovely to hear from you!

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12 comments on “Resolve to Create Healthy Relationships and Habits in 2014

  1. AvatarJanice Roe

    I wish that I had known about the twelve grapes at midnight, I would have started this year. I may be a day late. LOL I have been saving you under my receipes section and today was the first time I have actually opened up your blog. I am now in the process of reading your other blogs. I love them. Thank you.

  2. Avatarlisa

    dear barbara,

    i love your writing! you have been an inspiration to me this year and every year. i wish you the best on the book and if i can help in any way, reading chapters, i will!

    we don’t have any traditions for new years so i am taking yours! 12 grapes each.

    love you to!


    1. AvatarBarbara Mendez, RPh, MS Post author

      Thank you Lisa!! You inspire me too!! I can’t believe how much you’ve embraced cooking and healthy eating~ You have some such a long way from the days of eating the same things day in and day out! I am so impressed by your journey~

      I wish all of you a wonderful New Year!! I hope to see you at some point during it and of course, your beautiful family. That Luke is a special child~

      Stay well, enjoy the grapes and I hope 2014 is everything you hope it to be~

  3. AvatarDeborah Miller

    I will be eating 12 grapes at midnight too!( If I can stay up that late).

    I love reading your blog. It is helping me to work on befriending my body. it’s a process…Happy New Year Barbara!


  4. AvatarFrancesca

    Very wise words from a wise woman! Thanks for sharing so much with us this year. I can definitely cosign on the habits over all-or-nothing changes! (And can attribute so many of the health and nutrtiion ones to knowing you and following this amazing blog!) Have a fantastic 2014 B! 🙂

  5. AvatarSusan Clemente

    Hey B…
    Great blog…We have authors in our building and they go thru a process where every morning the gal gets up at 5 am and writes and then goes to work and takes care of her kid…They also attend a writing seminar every summer to im prove their skills and both have been published…It is a grueling process and not so organized as you describe…Jot down your thoughts as you go and things will happen…This goes along with your idea of being open to new relationships with the world we live in):):):..Pete and I love the 12 grapes and will start doing this New Year…Love

    1. AvatarBarbara Mendez, RPh, MS Post author

      Thanks Sue! It is indeed a process but befriending it has made it easier and I am excited about what lies ahead. I hope you enjoy the grapes! They have been lucky for me and my clan so far 🙂
      Wishing you the very best of health, happiness and prosperity in the New Year!!

  6. Avatarjorge mendez

    Lovely article. I am very happy that you always have been very proud of your heritage.
    The custom of eating twelve grapes at midnight might be silly, but it is part of a TRADITION !
    I actually recommend it to your readers. Eat twelve grapes at midnight, color is optional, but for myself I want them to be seedless. I would like a smooth sailing. No bumps on the road.
    Happy New Year to all !!!


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