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February 14, 2019

Tidying Up: The Health Edition

Happy New Year, y’all! A new year is synonymous with a fresh start, new goals, and an optimistic outlook on the year ahead. And, thanks to Netflix and the adorable phenomenon and organizational consultant Marie Kondo, thousands of people are starting 2019 with a mission: to organize their physical spaces and achieve a perfect state of Zen in a clean home full of perfectly folded clothes.

The best-selling book, now turned Netflix show, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing” is the perfect guide to de-cluttering your home and as a result, finding your inner chi. As I dove deeper into this magnificent show, and one episode turned into five…I had a thought – why not use Marie Kondo’s genius and turn it inwards. If we can determine whether or not material things “spark joy”, shouldn’t we be able to use that principle with our health? What if achieving a state of physical and mental health could spark joy?

So, let’s take Marie Kondo’s step-by-step process of organizing one step further, and start this new year by de-cluttering our health to make sure we can actually succeed with our New Year’s resolutions, shall we?

Step One: Give Thanks

If you could count the number of times you looked in the mirror in 2018 and had a negative thought, or the number of times you wished you had a smaller waist/bigger butt/smaller nose/longer lashes/plumper lips/flatter stomach, what would the final count be? Much like Marie Kondo thanks each home she enters for protecting its inhabitants, we should make a conscious effort to thank our bodies for the health and the strength it brings to the table each and every day. It is safe to say that we put our bodies through the ringer over the course of a year – whether it is the physical stress of a seated job, an injury, not stretching enough, or the yo-yo dieting before every vacation or special event, our body shows up.

How do you show yourself kindness everyday? What did your body do today that you are grateful for? Setting aside time to evaluate and reflect on the power of your mind and body should be the first thing you do each and every day. Can you commit to that for 2019? It sure sounds a lot more manageable that some of my past New Year’s Resolutions…just sayin’.

Step Two: “Sparking Joy” 

Marie Kondo made me feel all the feels when she discussed the concept of “sparking joy”. In her methods, she has her clients hold on to a piece of clothing or a household belonging and determine whether it sparks joy. If it does, it stays, and if it doesn’t…you guessed it, it goes (but, not before it is thanked for all the joy it did bring). When it comes to health, we can apply this same principle to the day-to-day activities, habits and hobbies that give us joy. Find at least one aspect of your day that brings you joy and ensure that you incorporate this into your routine. This doesn’t have to be elaborate or time-consuming; it can be as simple as your morning cup of tea, or a brief cuddle with a loved one or fur baby. Appreciating the small things in your day can shift your perspective and help you see the joy in even the simplest of things.

It’s also critical to remove factors that do NOT spark that same kind of joy. Ask yourself whether common habits or routines are making you feel motivation or discouraged. Does stepping on the scale every morning to see the normal ups and downs make you feel joy? What about the rabbit hole of social media “fitness gurus” or the confusing misinformation that pops on your Facebook page? Begin to remove the distractions and negative habits that affect your overall sense of self-love and appreciation to make room for the people and activities that make you feel your absolute best! THAT is what I call “tidying up”.

Step Three: The Kitchen

Obviously, I have to discuss the kitchen. The kitchen is to me what the closet is to Marie Kondo. Transforming this space into a place of structure can seriously change your health game.

The Cabinets: Start with the dreaded Tupperware drawer. When this particular space is a mess (and let’s be honest, it is), it can make meal planning and portioning a serious pain in your soon-to-be firm behind. Find a space in your kitchen that can house your Tupperware comfortably, even this means it’s in more than one kitchen cabinet or drawer. Make them easily accessible so that your Sunday Meal Prep or Monday Morning Snack Grab is as effortless as the Marie Kondo T-Shirt TeePee Fold. Organize your containers by size or frequency of use, and stack their matching lids underneath them, making for an easy grab. The snack-size containers can be used to easily portion your fruits/nuts/seeds/etc. for work-week snacks, while the larger containers will be used to portion your leftovers for lunches throughout the week.

The Snack Drawer: Ahh…the snack drawer aka the cupboard of crap. As you slowly eat your way through the foods you want to remove from your home this month, begin to replace them with their healthy counterparts. Be sure to place the items that you know are more nutrient-dense at eye level and at the front of the drawer/cabinet so that they are easily accessible. The treats that you want to enjoy occasionally and less frequently than your healthy meal planned snacks should be lower or higher (i.e. harder to reach) and further back to ensure that they’re not your first choice when your eyes are bigger than your stomach at 4:00pm after a very, very long Monday.

The Refrigerator: This is the big one. The more organized and inviting the fridge, the easier it is to make healthy choices. Similar to the junk cabinet, you want to put the fresh, nutrient-dense ingredients at eye level and towards the front for easy access. Divide the fridge into 3 categories – Protein (i.e. dairy, eggs, leftover meat, bean salads and stews), Produce (i.e. leafy greens, vegetables, fruit), and Leftovers (i.e. neatly organized containers of meals and snacks). By doing so, you set yourself up for success and avoid the hangry stop to see Joe, your friendly neighborhood drive-thru attendant at McDonald’s (who may or may not know you by name).

Step Four: Your Mental Checklist

We all have one…and the checklist likes to make its presence known as soon as you get into bed, or the moment you wake up in the morning…amiright? Thinking about the emails, the groceries, the errands, the kids, the food, the job, the car, the driveway, and who you think is going to make it to the final three on The Bachelor is too much for any brain to handle, it’s no wonder we’re starting to feel like our memory is fading and we’re getting less done. Give your brain a break this year and invest in a scheduler. If you’re anything like me, once you put pen to paper again, you’ll never go back. My top choices are The Passion Planner and The Effic Plannerbut any ol’ planner will do the trick. Soon enough, you’ll find that you’re able to compartmentalize and prioritize, making your day-to-day tasks a lot less daunting.

Tidying up has never looked so appealing. Start with the area that you feel is the most manageable and work your way through the list, and soon enough, you’ll be on your way to the most successful year yet. Cheers to a productive, healthy and happy 2019!

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