Give yourself a break

By  Barbara Grant

It’s the New Year and all the magazine headlines and Internet stories exclaim this can be your Best Year Ever!

This will be the year you Lose 10 pounds and Get in Shape in Only 21 Days.  This will be the year of Pinterest -perfect DIY Home Renovations for Under $30 and easy monthly meal planning for Healthy Meals Everyday!

This is going to be your year to finally change everything and its going to be awesome!

January 1 roles around and we start off with gusto and confidence. We join a gym and start with a 6o minute high intensity indoor cycling class. We can’t walk for a week afterward. We cut out sugar, wheat and alcohol and after three days we stop for a take-out coffee and order a dozen donuts we gobble up in the car. We spend $150 on tools to complete a $30 DYI project that ends up looking like something our kindergartener could have made.

We try and then we give up, down on ourselves, down 200 bucks and up five pounds. Clearly we are never going to be thin and fit and fabulous. Our houses are always going to be cluttered and messy and there will never be any place to store the mountains of minutia that pile up in them every day.

I say give yourself a break. Forget about New Year’s resolutions that confiscate your pleasure and force you to do things you hate. They cannot work.

Giving yourself a break does not mean you need to be complacent. It simply means understanding you cannot turn into someone else and radically change your life in 30 days or less. No one can and you don’t have to.

I believe we should strive everyday to be better people and in doing so make the world a better place. Small actions can have huge impacts.  Concerted broad based actions can change the world. It’s a continuum and we contribute where we can.

Our health, wellbeing, and state of mind are important.  We must tend to our selves. We cannot contribute otherwise. We must cultivate happiness.

Change must be made in small sustainable steps and new habits must be practiced. Change is difficult but it cannot be all about pain. It must result in pleasure.

Consider these simple steps:

  1. Treat your body with respect. It’s the only one you will have.
  2. Build as much strength as you can. You will need it.
  3. Eat lots of different types of foods and not too much of anything.
  4. Do something to raise your heart rate for 30 minutes every day.
  5. Make one small corner of your home a haven.
  6. Practice self-compassion.
  7. Be moderate. Everything is a trade off. Seek balance.

As you imagine the next year and what you want and need, what you are prepared to do and not to do, avoid the draw of the quick fix and set your sights on the long game.

Happy New Year!

Barbara Grant is the President and founder of Retrofit Pilates, a full-service health and fitness studio in Toronto. For more information, go to and visit Retrofit on Youtube at