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HEATHER HUYBREGTS: Don't be afraid to set goals for 2021 - but make sure one of them is being kind to yourself

Heather Huybregts is setting some goals for 2021. While getting back to cooking for her family is number one, the biggest thing she's focusing on is being kind to herself this year.
Heather Huybregts is setting some goals for 2021. While getting back to cooking for her family is number one, the biggest thing she's focusing on is being kind to herself this year.

Last year saw me treating my body not like a “temple” so much as a “reasonably-priced rental car in someone else’s name.”

Now, as we attempt to scour from our lives the manure-tinged stench of 2020, it’s important to set our intentions towards a cleaner, healthier, more active, less wine-stained goals.

So, I made a list of my intentions for 2021. Perhaps it will motivate you to also convert your “condemned outhouse” into the “temple” you deserve.

1.“If you aren’t sweating cumin, you’re doing it wrong” - HH.

For the latter three-quarters of 2020, I opted for such meals as “cold fries the kids didn’t finish” and/or “Doritos and that-beer-someone-left-here”. I just didn’t have it in me, at the end of my busy, partially-oxygenated (masked) workday, to cook. I allowed myself to appease the kids; there was an obscene amount of PB&J. So I’ve committed to, henceforth, re-harness the culinary prowess of yesteryear that allowed me to create delicious, healthy meals from scratch; meals that made my kids wish they belonged to someone else. That is, after all, the hallmark of healthy cooking.

2. “Suns out, guns out?”

Can’t relate. “Perpetual cold and darkness, I should probably move or something”? Now we’re riding the same wave.

I didn’t “work out” in 2020 so much as I did “the bare minimum required for survival” while maximizing sitting (usually braless and in elastic-waistband pants). And although I was digging the 15-pound weight gain and mysteriously shrinking work clothes, this year I plan to exercise.

Nothing crazy, I’m not re-joining the gym or buying expensive, bandwagon workout apparel (despite their promises to hold in my gut and give me a butt that won’t quit).

But I am walking the dog. And I’m wheezing my way through a daily 10-15 minute YouTube workout video (usually opting for a modified version of the modified version) led by a tanned twenty-something who is always in a stark white room that matches her flawless teeth and vibrant corneas (is that what eyeballs should look like? Do I have jaundice?), with a few strategically-placed green plants (so many plants!) for contrast.

I can’t help but laugh at the unintentional, motivational mockery of me and my single, dead aloe plant, in a room rife with unidentified crumbs and wet-dog smell and dead socks. The other day, while poorly attempting a plank, I found a black bean in the rug.

Will I keep it up? I’m as doggedly determined to exercise as I am to grow out my hair (despite an unavoidable year ahead of looking like Bruno Mars’ kid brother who, ironically, has more facial hair than Bruno Mars). I’m all in. I might not have rock-hard thighs or perfect skin or straight teeth or the ability to keep plants alive or smile with my mouth closed on account of my overbite… OK, I’ve forgotten my point. But I do know this: I am determined to get strong this year! Physically AND mentally...

3. Mindfulness.

I’ve written in the past about my steadfast determination and jaw-dropping ineptitude when it comes to meditating. Perhaps the roadblocks lie in my ceaseless brain chatter or undiagnosed narcolepsy. I needed professional help. So, in early January, I signed up for a mindfulness “masterclass” that happened to be right in my price range (free). I sat comfortably and listened as the little man told me his backstory, about how his mentor made his kids so mindful, they became psychic; and made his friend so mindful she envisioned the winning lottery ticket number and then won. Wow, I thought. This is it. I’m gonna relax myself psychic AND rich!

If I had stayed awake, I'm sure that would have happened.

On a positive note, I had an incredible nap (indicated by the volume of drool in my ear). I am still determined to master mindfulness and unlock the secret that all the happiest hippies keep waxing poetic about. Probably something about having more plants. I'll keep you posted.

4. Picking my battles… Or just accepting that they're not battles at all.

When it comes to fretting, I am a super-plus tampon; I absorb everything. Someone else is having a bad day? My fault, I should worry about it. Four-year-old is being defiant? I’ve failed him as a mother. Slight headache? Brain tumour. Unseasonably mild temperatures for January? I’m hugely to blame for global warming; I’ve been way too liberal with my paper towel consumption.

I am well aware that my knack for worrying is borderline pathological, so it’s something I need to work on. Deleting social media from my phone has allowed me to remove the juiciest of the fret bait - the dreaded social comparisons.

5. Less is more

OK, yes, I watched a documentary: Minimalism. Most of my major life decisions seem to come from my fickle convictions and love of persuasive filmmaking. Forks Over Knives? Poof, I’m vegan. Tupac: Resurrection? Poof, team West Coast. And now: Minimalism? Get rid of everything; we’re drowning in excess.

Jokes aside, this one's got a point. We are working so hard to earn a living, to get the “stuff,” to fill all the spaces with the stuff, and then, when space runs out, we get more space. But no amount of money or stuff is ever going to be enough. Because it’s not the stuff that will make us happy. It’s the people, the experiences.

So I’m purging the stuff. Stuff that I’ve forgotten I even have, stuff filling chaotic drawers and cupboards and bins (unopened since our move in 2015). I’m going stuffless for 2021. I feel lighter already.

6. If at first, you don’t succeed, dry, dry your liver.

That’s right folks, this wannabe wine connoisseur is in the midst of a dry January. And I’m not gonna lie: it’s not bad. We’ve saved a lot of money. I’ve consumed a lot of green tea and water. Not a moment of our puny, two-day weekend has been lost to the old Irish flu. Perhaps this sober shift will spill over into February...

Are you inspired? Maybe I should go into documentary filmmaking?

May 2021 be kinder and gentler to us all as we attempt to be kinder and gentler to ourselves.


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