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Spiral Up

We’re 4 weeks into the New Year, and my guess is that if you’ve set some goals for 2018, or made some resolutions (I still don’t care for that word!), you’re still going strong in your resolve to make some positive healthy changes in this New Year. Maybe you’re starting the New Year fully charged and all-in to change something specific about your health/wellness, your job, your spiritual life, or your personal life. Maybe you didn’t, and you’re feeling like a New Years flop right out of the New Years gate! If you did, you need a strategy to continue your momentum through the next 49 weeks. If you didn’t, it’s important to remember that “New Years” can start any day, any minute, any time It can start right now, right this second, even as you’re reading this! Goals be set anytime, and reaching your goal can be as simple as “Spiraling Up.”

I was first introduced to the concept of spiraling up at a Nutrition Conference. I  based my decision to attend a lecture by Rebecca Scritchfield, RDN (Registered Dietician Nutritionist) on the fact that I liked the look of her book “Body Kindness: Transform your health from the inside out – and never say diet again.” Plus, the concept of body kindness sounded intriguing in a warm fuzzy sort of way.  She explains that “Spiraling Up,” is a concept used by positive psychology researcher Barbara Fredrickson, PhD as a metaphor for growing personal happiness, based on evidence that well-being increases as we build positive emotions and experiences one on top of the other, creating an upward spiral. Similarly, negative emotions and experiences create a downward spiral.

Keeping with the concept of spiraling up or spiraling down, Scritchfield applies it to choices we make on a day-to-day, sometimes minute-by-minute basis that either lead us closer to body kindness or further away from it. She encourages us to ask ourselves the question “Is this helping to create a better life for myself?”

As you go through your day and make choices related to your goal or your resolution (there’s that New Years buzz word again) ask yourself the question “Is this helping to create a better life for myself?” If the answer is “yes,” then you are creating an upward spiral. If the answer is “no,” then you are creating a downward spiral.

Picture a spiral, with the smallest end at the bottom and the largest end at the top. The bottom of the spiral represents where you are now. The top represents where you want to go, a goal you’d like to accomplish. Between the bottom of the spiral where you are today, and the top of the spiral, where you’re going, are unlimited opportunities/choices to either spiral up or spiral down. Choices that will either bring you closer to your goal or push you further away.

Let’s say your goal is to move more during your workday. During your lunch hour, you can choose to sit in a lunchroom/restaurant for 1 hour or you can spend 20 minutes eating lunch and the remainder of the hour walking. The second option (walking during lunch)  would spiral you upwards towards your goal of moving more during your workday and the first choice (no walking) would spiral you downward, further from your goal.

What if you have a goal of eating more mindfully? You can choose:

  1. To eat your meal while sitting on the couch watching T.V. and scrolling through emails, or
  2. To eat your meal at the table, with no T.V., and no email, computer or phone, chewing your food and eating slowly.

Option (A) is a choice that would spiral you in the downward direction. Option (B) would be an upward spiral. Option (B) is the next healthy choice. 

By doing the next healthy thing, making the healthier choice, we are spiraling upward. It seems easy like an easy enough concept when you’re on an upward spiral, but what if you catch yourself in a day or day(s)  of downward spirals? What if you have been making choices that aren’t spiraling you upwards; choices that are taking you further from your goal? The good news is that you can choose to put the breaks on any downward spiral by asking yourself the question “What’s one small thing I can do right now to spiral up?”

That one small thing might be as simple as getting up from your desk and stretching for 2 minutes or taking the stairs instead of the elevator. It might be simply turning off the T.V. and moving from the couch to the kitchen table to finish your meal. My point is, that It’s never too late to re-start your New Year.

So, if you started your New Year with a goal or resolution and find yourself slipping as the year progresses, use the spiral up strategy, wish yourself “Happy New Year” again and make the next healthy choice.

Spiral up, and Happy New Year again!