The fact that Habits Month, a conversation with my therapist and a Man Repeller partnership with WelleCo (a vitamin- and mineral-rich dietary supplement in a very beautiful jar) all hit at the pinnacle of my itch to do a full life makeover to be more healthy is what we in the biz call kismet.
I’d already decided post-fashion-month that March would be my kickoff to finally make some positive changes. I felt puffy, sleepy, stressed, mentally messy and generally gross. My list of ideas about how to improve these things was long. It included but was not limited to working out every day, meditating for 20 minutes every morning, making myself nourishing breakfasts instead of eating “bars,” consuming at least 120 percent more greens and vitamins, foam rolling before work and “getting back into effleurage.” (Effleurage is a facial massage I started doing on myself last year that, in short, makes me feel better, but as a person who is frequently sucked into intermittent blackout vortexes of worrying and scrolling through social media, the time it takes to stuff into a day already gripped by the relentless corset of adulthood makes it a near impossibility for me to keep up with.)
When I told my therapist this, she commended me for my organized plan to make some changes that I had deemed important. But, in a far more eloquent string of words, she then essentially told me to chill the hell out. She said that this massive makeover list of “How to Be Better” was a recipe to set myself up for disappointment. Contrary to the cinematic getting-things-done montages of the ’80s and ’90s, most humans cannot overhaul absolutely everything in one go. She suggested I instead try a few changes here and there, more in the way of making positive-for-me choices rather than turning over more leaves than a leaf blower in autumn. Instead of pledging to work out every single day at 6 a.m., why not aim to move more? Instead of becoming a health and wellness guru, start with some greens, yadda yadda — the kinds of things that I know I know but for some reason can’t seem to put into daily practice. For me, it’s either all — “I’m going to be the healthiest version of me to ever live!” — or nothing.
Since my way has never seemed to stick around for long, I decided to try her suggested approach for a month. Given the partnership at hand, adding in the WelleCo supplement to my morning routine was first on my now-much-lighter list. It’s a green powder that smells and tastes a bit like matcha and, in two teaspoons, boasts more vitamins, minerals (like vitamin D3, vitamin B12, iron) and good-for-you-things — including broccoli, which I cannot tell you the last time I swallowed — than I’ve consumed in a while. The formula I used, Super Elixir Greens, is intended to support the immune system, help digestion, fight inflammation, increase energy and improve hair, nail and skin health.
On my first morning, I sprinkled just a dusting (surely not enough to do anything) over toast with almond butter and then, late, ran out the door. But hey, I’d just made breakfast.
The next morning, I poured it into an ice-cold water bottle, shook it hard and drank it while rushing to work.
That Saturday, with more time on my hands than normal, I made a smoothie with frozen raspberries, blueberries, peaches, the WelleCo powder, a bit of almond milk, a bit of coconut water and a few grapes for good luck. It was great. The sun was shining. So I put my healthy concoction in a to-go cup and decided to take a walk.
“This is pleasant,” I mused. “I should do this more often.”
So I did. There was something about the combination of a small positive change (I could handle adding two easy scoops of a vitamin-filled powder to water on even my laziest, most stressed mornings, it turns out) and the daily intentionality of supporting myself, rather than fighting with myself, that appealed to my creature-of-habit personality. It set me up for the day — just like making my bed does.
From there, I began to pick up momentum.
+ I started to set my alarm 10 minutes earlier than usual on weekdays. (Normally I’d be like, “Let’s set this baby a whole hour earlier!” And then I’d hit snooze because a whole hour is terrifying.)
+ With these 10 minutes, I gave myself some options as to how to fill the extra time: stretch, do nothing and enjoy the concept of extra time, try a two-minute meditation (another therapist suggestion, rather than a full 20). A few mornings, I massaged my face while listening to music. Luxury in the little things.
+ I began to schedule my workouts a few days in advance rather than weeks ahead of time. Though it sometimes meant I got added to waitlists rather than being guaranteed immediate entry, this meant I was making more mindful decisions to work out, ones that fit in with my schedule that week or that day instead of some idealized workout schedule I crafted a month prior, which I almost always have to rearrange or cancel.
+ To help remedy a consistently stiff neck and back, I started foam-rolling for about five minutes or so each night with my phone way across the room and the TV on. Do you know how long I’ve been promising to start foam-rolling? FOREVER.
+ The WelleCo-infused smoothie I made that one super-sunny weekend became something I looked forward to, even on rainy Tuesdays, so I started making it more often. I liked having a post-workout treat; ever motivated by food, I was incentivized to get up and go because I knew I could come back and snack. I also liked the pre-office ritual of pouring something colorful into a glass, of giving myself a reason to be sort of still for a moment while drinking it, of actually taking my vitamins and ingesting, as mom is always recommending, “some green stuff.”
And you know the whole positive chain reaction of healthy eating, of course: I didn’t want to undo my good work, so instead, I did things that added to it — I touched my toes more, I walked more (which meant being on time more). I made a small dent in my long queue of podcasts while on those more-frequent walks.
The biggest thing of all: I truly started to feel better. More in control.
Because these changes were small, not doing them didn’t feel monumental. It wasn’t like, “Oops, well, I skipped my workout. Better swallow the components of my Easter basket in one go and never again even attempt to break a sweat.” It was more like, “No big. I’ll do some stretches at my desk today and try again tomorrow.”
As someone who’s pretty all-or-nothing when it comes to…every aspect of my life, these “small changes” can be harder for me to conceptualize. How do you know the changes are happening if you can’t see them, or if you can barely feel them?
You don’t, really, it turns out — until it all starts to add up.
Photos by Louisiana Mei Gelpi; Art Direction by Emily Zirimis.
P.S. Use the code MANREPELLER for free shipping on any WelleCo order over $50!