How to make powerful intentions for your health (skip the resolutions!)
Years ago, I would set these ridiculous New Year's resolutions. As I was setting them, I only half believed that I would lose weight (even though I didn't need to) or "get in shape." So vague, but it was all about reminding myself that I wasn't thin enough, fit enough, or good enough until I reached my goal shape or size. Of course, these resolutions that came from a place of self-loathing never worked. There's only so much restricting - actually controlling my food intake and mental deprivation - I could do, until I ended up eating an entire roll of Thin Mints, all while resolving to start again tomorrow.
When I discovered yoga in college, I was introduced to the idea of setting an "intention."
In English, the word intention is derived from the Latin meaning of stretching towards something. In Sanskrit, intention (or Sankalpa) is a "rule or commitment we make to support our highest truth."
The difference between an intention and a traditional New Year's resolution is where it comes from.
An intention comes from listening to our heartfelt desires from within our bodies. A resolution comes from the mind and usually has an external motivation.
I was introduced to the idea that I didn't have to do or force anything. I could just be. I could set an intention to let go - let go of tension in my body, let go of perfectionism, or let go of old layers of myself. Instead of resolutions where I had to have an action plan and use all my willpower, an intention was just a sweet, simple idea to embody.
Listen to your Desires
Your desires are inside of you right now, just waiting to be heard. I love the word desire. We are made of desires - desire to be heard, to be seen, to be fed, to love and be loved. When we tune into our heart's desires, magic happens.
Too often, we view desires as something we have to hide inside as we are not deserving or good enough for our true desires. We push away our big, scary, 'I can't do that" dreams and settle.
The New Year always feels like a new beginning and ride the momentum of your dreams and desires. Don't hide away those dreams and desires of yours anymore.
Use these tips to help you discover powerful intentions for your health and wellbeing (or really, any part of your life).
1. Find an hour or so of quiet time for yourself. Make it special. Light some candles, make a cup of hot tea, wear comfy clothes. Breathe.
2. Take the first 10-15 minutes doing something you love to get you connected to your body. Maybe it's some gentle yoga, an easy walk outside in nature, reading, or taking a bath. Just something to calm down your nervous system and ease your mind into a calm state. To help you tune into yourself rather than the constant clutter in your mind.
3. Pull out a journal. Yes, you can do this on a Word document, but fresh handwritten paper will be more powerful. Use a pretty pen. Write on the top - "What do I want?"
4. Close your eyes for a few breaths, and breathe into the area around your heart. Deep breathes.
5. Now, write your little heart out. Whatever you want. Just free-write. There's no right or wrong way to do this. Just write as long a list as you'd like with all your heart's desires. Think about your physical health, mental, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing. Your relationships with others...and yourself. Movement. Nourishment and nutrition. Career and work.
Write whatever comes up. Writing helps connect you to your intuition as a way to listen to what your body and spirit are craving. Listen and write it down, no matter how scary or ridiculous it sounds. Write for at least 15-20 minutes to give yourself time to get going.
6. Afterwards, sit and see how you feel. What were you feeling during this writing time? Read through your list, and notice which ones bring about strong emotions of excitement, fear, or comments from the mind of 'you can't do that.' Usually those BIG desires are the ones you need to do. The ones that are a mixture of excitement and fear. The ones your inner critic try to bring you down to keep you in your comfort zone. These are the desires that will help you grow and expand.
7. State your intention with the inner motivation and feeling. It could be "I nourish myself with whole foods as a way to show kindness to myself" or "I move my body to feel creative and energized." State it in the present moment rather than something you "will" or "should" do. This is already your intention, not something that has to be achieved.
8. Write it on a post-it note or somewhere you can read it and feel inspired.
Now isn't this a sweeter way to celebrate the New Year? To ease into your intentions and healthy self that's already inside of you, ready to grow.
If you want to dive even deeper, I highly recommend The Desire Map* by Danielle Laporte. She helps guide you to discover your core desired feelings as a way to live your life. Last year, mine were vibrant, open, flowing, and connected, and I honestly kept these in mind as I made inspired action in my life. I actually remembered them - I can't say that about any past New Year's resolutions!
My intentions this year are: Freedom. Playful. Blissful.
I'd love to hear from you below!
- What is an intention you want to set for the next month?
PS: If you want guidance on setting your own intentions around food, body image, or your health, feel free to contact me about nutrition coaching! I set intentions (instead of strict goals) with clients to help them create sustainable and healthy habits.