12 Projects for a Healthier 2017

Today is the first day of February, which might not be the most obvious date to declare a plan for the “new” year, but this plan has been slowly forming throughout the month of January (December was too crazy around here to do much reflection, which I think is a feeling many people can relate to.), and with 30 successful days of AIP eating under my belt, I’m finally ready to set my intention for 2017.

Instead of making a resolution to pursue one or more concrete goals, I’m focusing on a few areas of my life in which I want to make improvements. And, inspired by Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project, I’ve decided to design 12 projects—one for each month—to help change some key habits that I’m fairly sure will make major contributions to my health and well-being. I’m building in some flexibility, meaning I’m not defining my projects too rigidly and I’m allowing for the possibility that I may need to adapt them along the way. I’ve learned over the years that I won’t stick to plans if they’re laid out in too much detail or if the goal is too specific—I’m a clear Rebel according to the Four Tendencies taxonomy created by Gretchen Rubin (more on that in future posts!)—but if I know why I’m doing something and I can identify strongly with what I hope to accomplish, I do well with a loose and flexible plan.

With that in mind, here are my 12 health projects, organized by month (but not set in stone):

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January — Eating Habits (getting back to the full Autoimmune Paleo Protocol, which I have accomplished with my January Reset)

February — Movement (building more gentle movement into daily life)

March — Sleep (improving the quantity and quality of my sleep)

April — Reintroductions (experimenting with adding non-AIP foods back into my diet)

May — Mindfulness (getting back into the habit of daily meditation)

June — Strength (adding strength training to my movement routine)

July — Outdoors (increasing my time spent in nature)

August — Indoor Environment (decluttering, rearranging, detoxing my home)

September — Friendship (focusing on cultivating the important relationships in my life)

October — Writing (getting into a more regular daily writing habit)

November — Get Christmased (using this book to help create a holiday season that doesn’t make me crazy)

December — Celebrate (enjoying the delights of the season without “shoulding” on myself)

Again, I reserve the right to switch these projects around or even change them completely as needed. If I find a project needs more dedicated focus, I might extend it by a month. If I feel the need to focus on one of these areas sooner rather than later, I might move a project forward in the calendar. I actually already did this: I originally had Sleep listed for February because it seems like such a foundation habit, but I decided that the aches and pains I’m experiencing from too much chair sitting need to be addressed more urgently than my less-than-stellar sleep. So Movement it is.

I’ve also designed these projects to build upon each other. By spending a month focusing just on eating clean AIP, I’ve established this habit and can continue it with less dedicated effort (so much of it has become automatic at this point) while focusing on a new area. The end of a month does not mean the end of that habit; it just means that I will continue the habit in more of a maintenance mode rather than as an area of active focus. After a month of focusing on movement, my hope is that movement will be such an integral part of my day that I can carry that habit forward as I work on sleep. I’m also front-loading my projects to get the most bang for my buck at the beginning. I know that having my diet dialed in gives me much more energy than when I’m limping along eating only Paleoish. That extra energy gives me the momentum to focus on movement, which I might otherwise feel too tired to address. Similarly, improving aches and pains with natural movement will make it easier to work on sleep—it’s hard to sleep when you’re in pain—and once I’ve been moving naturally for several months, it should be easier to incorporate strength training than if I were to start working on strength right away. And so on and so forth.

Although I read The Happiness Project quite a while ago, it was a recent podcast with Gretchen Rubin that inspired me to adapt the framework to work on my health, specifically. I’ve already got the first project under my belt, and it feels so good! I have many more good days than bad compared to just a month ago, and I feel like I have the momentum to move forward.

(In case you’re wondering what I’m doing on day 1 of Movement, I’ll be using Katy Bowman’s Daily Movement Multivitamin, which I highly recommend.)

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