It's a new year, and with it comes all the resolutions that seem to fly around with abandon. We at CultureMap asked a few locals what they're doing to stay fit and healthy in 2014.
Will Wynn: Former Austin Mayor and Environmental Urbanist
Our former mayor says that he's never been much of a New Year's resolution type of guy when it comes to health and fitness. "That dynamic is generally consumed with plenty of other worries, like parenting, money management and ACL Fest," Will Wynn says. "Fact is, my approach to my health and fitness hasn't been 'cyclical' for years." Instead, Wynn considers those things fundamental to his lifestyle.
"I'll log just as many miles on the trail and do just as many sit-ups and push-ups in November and December as I do in January and February — precisely the same amount, actually," he says.
But he does take advantage of the new year's start in other ways.
"For starters, I will take out my calendar [and laptop] and circle my key annual races, usually starting with the Capitol 10,000 and ending with the Trail of Lights 5K. I'll set goals for each of my races in January. For instance, since I turned 45, my goal each year in the Capitol 10,000 is to have fun and simply run my age — sort of like shooting your age in golf. I get to enjoy the crowd more each year — and slow my speed about 10 seconds per mile!"
Since his physical routine remains consistent year-to-year, Wynn looks to his dietary habits for new annual inspirations. "Instead of the penalty of a 'diet' plan, I simply set my goals to learn about one healthier dish that I happen to find delicious. And over the course of the year I aim to incorporate it into my — and my kids' — fairly simple culinary routine. Over time, I have slowly integrated a much healthier eating habit without really knowing that I've done it."
Terri Givens: Professor, Athlete, Entrepreneur, Activist and Mother
"I’m not a big fan of New Year’s resolutions," says Terri Givens, founder of Take Back the Trail, a nonprofit initiative that empowers women in low-income neighborhoods to take back their health and communities. "I prefer to pursue a lifestyle year round that focuses on being healthy, happy and wise. I have been a runner most of my life, and in the last year took up CrossFit, which helped to renew my interest in weight lifting."
Givens works with Valerie Hunt at BVM CrossFit, and says that she had forgotten that she's actually pretty good at lifting weights. Givens is also a firm believer in spreading healthy habits. "It’s not just about me! A little over two years ago, I started Take Back the Trail, which is a fitness program that we provide for free to women in East Austin. My goal was to be able to spread the word about healthy living, and now we have joined with other groups, Fit on Your Feet, WeViva and South West Key to pool our resources under the umbrella of a cooperative, Austin Health and Fitness."
Givens says that her goal is to make it easier for people in underserved groups and communities to be able to make the resolution to be healthier in 2014 — something that is very personal to her. "This New Year’s Day I got the very sad news that my niece had passed away. She suffered from diabetes, and unfortunately hadn’t been keeping track of her glucose levels. She went into diabetic shock and passed away in her sleep. She was only 31-years-old and leaves behind a 7-year-old son. My heart is broken, but I also know that it is even more important to spread the word about taking care of your health. I started Take Back the Trail because my parents suffered from heart disease; my father died of a heart attack and my mother from complications of a stroke. My own family experience has taught me that it takes more than resolutions to save lives, it takes hard work and support from the community."
Kara Kroeger: Certified Nutritionist and Herbalist
"As a person who cooks for people and gives advice to others on how to eat healthy everyday, I try to make good choices throughout the whole year," Kara Kroeger says. "However, each New Year there are a few things I do to reinforce good habits and clean things up after holiday indulgences."
First, Kroeger does a two-week cleanse. "I remove sugar in all forms (both refined and natural), alcohol, caffeine, gluten, dairy and yeast. The removal of these things all at once helps to create awareness around why I eat things, and I become very in tune with how my daily eating habits are affecting me energetically, physically and emotionally. It's a great reset and I proceed from the cleanse with a renewed awareness of improving my daily eating habits."
The second thing Kroeger does is reread the book The Untethered Soul, by Michael A. Singer. "I consider the sweet lessons in this book a cleanse for the soul, as it reveals many ways to evolve your consciousness and enhance your relationship with your thoughts and emotions. Overall, the start of the new year for me is a time to connect deeper to living consciously for both my body and soul."
Shawn Kent: Counselor, Yoga Instructor, Youth Program Director at Community Yoga
Shawn Kent is good about keeping a regular self-care routine. With his background in mental health, this means preserving and enhancing his own mental health. For the new year, he makes a small list of the essentials: meditation, yoga, cardio and nutrition. "Then I pick out one thing that I can do from each of them that takes less that 15 minutes in a day, such as 15 minutes of yoga, one healthy meal with two large glasses of water, etc."
Kent, who teaches at several studios including Dharma Yoga and East Side Yoga, set this method up as enjoyable, easy to meet, bare minimums. "That way I don't set myself up with big expectations, and feel accomplished in my goals. When my practice becomes so enjoyable that I find I want to do extra, I add a second level of commitment, keeping my bare minimum as an option for a good while. This way my goals don't become all or nothing, and I actually enjoy the process. Finally, I set up a reward for completing my minimum goal that is both healthy and satisfying."
Nikki Loftin: Native Austinite, Children's Book Author, Zumba Instructor, Mother
"For me, healthy in large part means happy! When it comes to exercise, I try to do activities and classes that make me smile or laugh." Indeed, Nikki Loftin usually has a smile on her face. "I'm almost always smiling around my family. Every day with my sons I walk the dogs or the goats. Yes, goats. I'm keeping Austin weird."
This preference is a big reason why Loftin, who is also an author of children's books, was drawn to Zumba. She became an instructor and teaches at the Town Lake YMCA. "Come on, a class where I can combine my love for world dances, my overly dramatic personality, and tons of ridiculously sexy and (sometimes unintentionally) funny choreography? Win!"
"My personal goal for 2014 is to be happier than I was last year — and to laugh my way through at least five workouts a week."
Paige Hill: Executive Director at Urban Patchwork Neighborhood Farms
Paige Hill believe herbs are a critical part missing from the contemporary American diet. "They're naturally curative and preventative. Herbs are also often beautiful and delightfully fragrant in the garden," says Hill. "So, this year I've made a commitment to add several more herbs to my annual home landscape and my diet."
Hill says that she's kept very busy with her nonprofit, Urban Patchwork Neighborhood Farms — and the fact that she's a self-described "natural worry wart" doesn't help matters. "So, this year I'm going to grow more Wood Betony, Lemon Balm, Chamomile, Blue Skullcap, Damiana and Hops than ever before. Some are native, all are drought tolerant, they attract bees and butterflies — and they're naturally calming!
Hill advises that people must always research scientific plant names and read reliable texts about preparation before buying herb plants for consumption.