Yet another year has arrived, and with it comes all of the pressures of new year goals and resolutions. As someone who juggles work, school, family obligations, and the stress of building a business, I can personally attest to the challenge of balancing it all while also taking care of myself. So as I reflect on the new year and month, I have come up with six habits successful women start the year with.
This list is a handful of key components of a lifestyle followed by women in my life who are not only successful in their careers, but who also feel their best.
1. Ditch the Diets
One thing successful women don’t do is diet. Did you know that about 80% of people who lose weight on a diet can’t sustain that weight loss for a full year? Studies show that dieters who do lose weight gain more than half of what they lost within two years. Diets don’t work, so don’t waste your time and energy on them. Instead, focus on nutrient-density and eating an abundance of veggies, healthy fats, proteins, and fruit. If you’re struggling with emotional eating or are unsure how to nourish your body in a way that reaches your health goals, there are a number of anti-diet coaches who can help. Some great accounts to follow on Instagram are @chaiwithsandeep, @bingefree.nutritionist, @the.self.love.nutritionist, @thethicknutritionist. They help you optimize your health without wasting your mental real estate on diets that don’t work.
2. Engage in Daily Movement
The majority o fsuccessful women in my life move. Moving your body every day doesn’t mean “working out” every day. It means walking, dancing, playing with your kids, stretching, or even standing up while folding the laundry. Our bodies are meant to move. We are in a period in history where a lot of us are stuck indoors. Finding pockets of time to get our circulation going is critical for focus and mood. It’s hard to be successful when you’re not feeling your best. .
Research has proven time and time again, that “exercise improves mental health by reducing anxiety, depression, and negative mood and by improving self-esteem and cognitive function”. If you can’t put aside a 30 minute time block to move, then set your timer for a few minutes every hour. For example, on days I’m super swamped, I’ll work for 55 minutes, then stand up and stretch for 5 minutes. I repeat this every hour. You can even break it down into three, 10-minute chunks. The idea is to do what you can, when you can in order to improve your mood and focus..
Hydration is so easy to overlook. Start your day with 16 ounces of water (I like to squeeze lemon into mine). I tell clients to aim to drink at least half of their body weight in ounces. For example, if you weigh 150 lbs, then you’d aim to drink 75 ounces of water. I personally love filling up a giant reusable water bottle and drink that all day since it’s easier to track. I use a gallon-size, but a 32-ounce size is also great.
4. Set Boundaries
Successful women know how and when to say “no,” “let’s move on from this,” and “right now isn’t a good time for me.” Yet it’s hard for so many of us. As women, we are born and raised to be nurturers. The South Asian culture often teaches us that we must bend to the desires of everyone in our lives who rely upon us. This no longer has to be our reality! You have to become comfortable setting boundaries for yourself. Setting boundaries with your family, colleagues, even yourself will empower you to make sure your energy and time is maximized. I personally have non-negotiable social media use boundaries in place. It also feels liberating to tell someone “no” with confidence.
5. Prioritize Sleep
This is going to sound cliche, but if you don’t snooze, you lose. Without sleep, you lose focus, energy and clarity. Lack of sleep impacts food choices, mood, libido, and even your hormones. You cannot be your best self if you are not well rested. There’s a myth circulating on the internet that ‘boss babes’ don’t sleep. What they fail to mention is that ‘boss babes’ who don’t sleep are often burnt out, experience hair loss, lose friendships, and all around suffer! You can be immensely successful while also respecting physical limitations and needs of your body. Set yourself up for the long game by sleeping a recommended 7-9 hours a night.. Reverse engineer your day and plan your day backwards. Decide what time you need to wake up . Then, subtract 7 to 9 hours to determine what time you need to go to bed.
Every Sunday, I reflect on the previous week, paying attention to what went well and what could have been improved. I take note of where I overcommitted so that I can avoid doing it the following week. I look at the days where I felt especially tired, and think of how I could have tweaked my food and sleep to have supported myself better. While I don’t think you should dwell in your past, looking back will help you look forward with more clarity in this case. Take an hour or two at the end of each week to track your successes and mishaps so you can adjust your approach in the future.. I also recommend doing this at the end of every month to help you stay focused on your goals and keep an eye on upcoming milestones.
There are a number of additional things successful women practice. These are only a handful of ones I notice in all the successful women I have the honor of knowing. These habits build upon each other and work in tandem to help you feel your best helping you tackle whatever may come your way.
Sandeep Dhillon is a certified yoga instructor based out of Southern California with a Masters in Nutrition and Exercise Physiology from Teachers College at Columbia University. She utilizes yoga therapy to help women find balance in their relationship to food and exercise. She focuses on helping those who struggle with disordered eating patterns and body image issues. Through a mindful approach to eating and exercise, as well as utilizing the science behind holistic nutrition recommendations, she supports her clients to find and follow a lifestyle that optimizes their physical, emotional, and mental health. You can follow her on instagram @chaiwithsandeep.