The Vital Babymoon


What is a babymoon?

Babymoon is a term first used by social anthropologist, and mother/baby advocate, Sheila Kitzinger, in her 1994 book, The Year After Childbirth: Surviving and Enjoying the First Year of Motherhood. It refers to the postpartum bonding period between parents and their new baby, and is especially crucial for a mother and her new little one.

It is at this time, and especially during the first 40 days following birth, that a mom and her baby do best cocooning at home together in their own 'nest' as they establish breastfeeding, sleep and nap together, and fall deeply in love.

During her babymoon, mom learns to read her baby’s cues (preventing unnecessary tears and fears for baby - and for mom), and it is the time that secure attachment begins to develop between a baby and parents because of their tuned-in responsiveness. Infants learn that the world can be trusted, that they are loved, not ignored.

Oxytocin flows freely for a supported mother who is cared for herself, and this feel-good love hormone floods her baby as well when kept close within a newborn’s natural habitat: mom’s chest. 

During the vital babymoon, milk supply is built and regulated, and baby’s respiration, cardiovascular functioning, hormones, and temperature are stabilized by being close to mom. The babymoon is a sacred period, and one that each mother and her baby deserve to fully savor and be supported through. This is one time that we do not wish to disrupt the primal process of mothering.


Related Reading: 

Natural Family Today: The Importance of a Babymoon (article)

BlissTree Babymoon (article)

Her Family: Importance of a Babymoon (article)

Bella: The Importance of a Babymoon (article)

Why African Babies Don't Cry (article)

Why Love Matters (book)

The Continuum Concept (book)

Baby Matters (book)

The Biology of Love (book)

Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering (book)






Candace Owens on Circumcision

"What if we did what everyone else in the world does, and just didn't allow people to snip our perfect baby boys' penises the second they come into the world..." -Candace Owens on infant circumcision

Candace Owens took a stand on genital autonomy via her Instagram stories this week when she addressed the topic of infant circumcision. The items here are those she shared related to the topic. 


















Related material on circumcision and cancer: IntactHealth.org/research

Related material on infection myths at IntactHealth.org/research


Listen to your heart, your instincts, and your baby. Join networks that support parenting with tuned-in instincts. Peaceful Parenting Community is one such forum.

More doctors are standing up each year against unnecessary genital cutting, and joining in collaboration with Medical Professionals for Genital Autonomy.








For men who were cut as minors:



























Why African Babies Don't Cry

By J. Claire K. Niala
Read more from Niala at In Culture Parent


Why African Babies Don't Cry

I was born and grew up in Kenya and Cote d’Ivoire. From the age of fifteen I lived in the UK. However, I always knew that I wanted to raise my children (whenever I had them) at home in Kenya. And yes, I assumed I was going to have them. I am a modern African woman, with two university degrees, and a fourth generation working woman – but when it comes to children, I am typically African. The assumption remains that you are not complete without them; children are a blessing which would be crazy to avoid. Actually the question does not even arise.

I started my pregnancy in the UK. The urge to deliver at home was so strong that I sold my practice, setup a new business and moved house and country within five months of finding out I was pregnant. I did what most expectant mothers in the UK do – I read voraciously: Our Babies, Ourselves, Unconditional Parenting, anything by Sears – the list goes on. (My grandmother later commented that babies don’t read books and really all I needed to do was “read” my baby). Everything I read said that African babies cried less than European babies. I was intrigued as to why.

photo by Andy Graham

When I went home, I observed. I looked out for mothers and babies and they were everywhere, though very young African ones, under six weeks, were mainly at home. The first thing I noticed is that despite their ubiquitousness, it is actually quite difficult to actually “see” a Kenyan baby. They are usually incredibly well wrapped up before being carried or strapped onto their mother (sometimes father). Even older babies strapped onto a back are further protected from the elements by a large blanket. You would be lucky to catch sight of a limb, never mind an eye or nose. The wrapping is a womb-like replication. The babies are literally cocooned from the stresses of the outside world into which they are entering.

My second observation was a cultural one. In the UK, it was understood that babies cry. In Kenya, it was quite the opposite. The understanding is that babies don’t cry. If they do – something is horribly wrong and something must be done to rectify it immediately. My English sister-in-law summarized it well. “People here,” she said, “really don’t like babies crying, do they?”

It all made much more sense when I finally delivered and my grandmother came from the village to visit. As it happened, my baby did cry a fair amount. Exasperated and tired, I forgot everything I had ever read and sometimes joined in the crying too. Yet for my grandmother it was simple, “Nyonyo (breastfeed her)!” It was her answer to every single peep.

There were times when it was a wet nappy, or that I had put her down, or that she needed burping, but mainly she just wanted to be at the breast – it didn’t really matter whether she was feeding or just having a comfort moment. I was already wearing her most of the time and co-sleeping with her, so this was a natural extension to what we were doing.


I suddenly learned the not-so-difficult secret of the joyful silence of African babies. It was a simple needs-met symbiosis that required a total suspension of ideas of what should be happening and an embracing of what was actually going on in that moment. The bottom line was that my baby fed a lot – far more than I had ever read about and at least five times as much as some of the stricter feeding schedules I had seen.

At about four months, when a lot of urban mothers start to introduce solids as previous guidelines had recommended, my daughter returned to newborn-style hourly breastfeeding, which was a total shock. Over the past four months, the time between feeds had slowly started to increase. I had even started to treat the odd patient without my breasts leaking or my daughter’s nanny interrupting the session to let me know my daughter needed a feed.

Most of the mothers in my mother and baby group had duly started to introduce baby rice (to stretch the feeds) and all the professionals involved in our children’s lives – pediatricians, even doulas, said that this was ok. Mothers needed rest too, we had done amazingly to get to four months exclusively breastfeeding, and they assured us our babies would be fine. Something didn’t ring true for me and even when I tried, half-heartedly, to mix some pawpaw (the traditional weaning food in Kenya) with expressed milk and offer it to my daughter, she was having none of it.

 photo by H. Anenden

So I called my grandmother. She laughed and asked if I had been reading books again. She carefully explained how breastfeeding was anything but linear. “She’ll tell you when she’s ready for food – and her body will too.”

“What will I do until then?” I was eager to know.

“You do what you did before, regular nyonyo.” So my life slowed down to what felt like a standstill again. While many of my contemporaries marveled at how their children were sleeping longer now that they had introduced baby rice and were even venturing to other foods, I was waking hourly or every two hours with my daughter and telling patients that the return to work wasn’t panning out quite as I had planned.

I soon found that quite unwittingly, I was turning into an informal support service for other urban mothers. My phone number was doing the rounds and many times while I was feeding my baby I would hear myself uttering the words, “Yes, just keep feeding him/ her. Yes, even if you have just fed them. Yes, you might not even manage to get out of your pajamas today. Yes, you still need to eat and drink like a horse. No, now might not be the time to consider going back to work if you can afford not to.” And finally, I assured mothers, “It will get easier.” I had to just trust this last one as it hadn’t gotten easier for me, yet.

A week or so before my daughter turned five months, we traveled to the UK for a wedding and for her to meet family and friends. Because I had very few other demands, I easily kept up her feeding schedule. Despite the disconcerted looks of many strangers as I fed my daughter in many varied public places (most designated breastfeeding rooms were in restrooms which I just could not bring myself to use), we carried on.

At the wedding, the people whose table we sat at noted, “She is such an easy baby – though she does feed a lot.” I kept my silence. Another lady commented, “Though I did read somewhere that African babies don’t cry much.” I could not help but laugh.

My Grandmother’s gentle wisdom:

1. Offer the breast every single moment that your baby is upset – even if you have just fed her.

2. Co-sleep. Many times you can feed your baby before they are fully awake, which will allow them to go back to sleep easier and get you more rest.

3. Always take a flask of warm water to bed with you at night to keep you hydrated and the milk flowing.

4. Make feeding your priority (especially during growth spurts) and get everyone else around you to do as much as they can for you. There is very little that cannot wait.

Read your baby, not the books. Breastfeeding is not linear – it goes up and down and also in circles. You are the expert on your baby’s needs.

photo by E.B. Sylvester

Dr. J. Claire K. Niala is a mother, writer and osteopath who enjoys exploring the differences that thankfully still exist between various cultures around the world. She was born in Kenya and grew up in Kenya, Cote d'Ivoire and the UK. She has worked and lived on three continents and has visited at least one new country every year since she was 12 years old. Her favorite travel companions are her mother and daughter whose stories and interest in others bring her to engage with the world in ways she would have never imagined. Read more from Niala at In Culture Parent.

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Winter Solstice: A Time for Rest, Reflection, Rebirth


Artwork by Jessica Boehman, Illustrator 

Life is being drawn into the earth, painlessly descending down into the very heart of herself. And we, as natural human animals, are being called to do the same -- the pull to descend into our bodies, into sleep, darkness, and the depths of our own inner caves continually tugging at our marrow. But many find the descent into their own body a scary thing indeed; fearing the unmet emotions and past events that they have stored in the dark caves inside themselves, not wanting to face what they have so carefully and unkindly avoided.

This winter solstice time is no longer celebrated as it once was, with the understanding that this period of descent into our own darkness was so necessary in order to find our light. That true freedom comes from accepting with forgiveness and love what we have been through, and vanquishing the hold it has on us, bringing the golden treasure back from the cave of our darker depths.

This is a time of rest and deep reflection, a time to wipe the slate clean as it were and clear out the old so you can walk into spring feeling ready to grow and skip without a dusty mountain on your back and chains around your ankles tied to the caves in your soul. A time for the medicine of story, of fire, of nourishment and love. A period of reconnecting, relearning and reclaiming of what this time means brings winter back to a time of kindness, love, rebirth, peace and unburdening instead of a time of dread, fear, depression and avoidance.

This modern culture teaches avoidance at a max at this time; alcohol, lights, shopping, overworking, over spending, bad food, and consumerism. And yet the natural tug to go inward, as nearly all creatures are doing, is strong, and people are left feeling as if there is something wrong with them --  that winter is cruel and leaves them feeling abandoned and afraid.

Whereas in actual fact winter is so kind. Yes, she points us in her quiet soft way toward our inner self, toward the darkness and potential death of what we were, but this journey, if held with care, is essential.

She is like a strong teacher that asks you to awaken your inner loving elder or therapist, holding yourself with awareness of forgiveness, and allowing yourself to grieve, to cry, rage, laugh, and face what we need to face in order to be freed from the jagged bonds we wrapped around our hearts, in order to reach a place of healing and light without going into overwhelm.

Winter takes away the distractions, the noise, and presents us with the perfect time to rest and withdraw into a womb-like love, bringing fire and light to our hearth.

-Brigit Anna McNeill

Read more from McNeill: https://brigitannamcneill.com

Mabel, age 12, creates her fantastic rendition of Jessica Boehman's original.
Note the extra books - little lamb must be making a run to the library for more!
Follow more of Boehman's work on Facebook: FB.com/HansMyHedgehog


• Peaceful Parenting on Facebook: FB.com/PeacefulParenting
• Peaceful Parenting Community: FB.com/groups/ExplorePeacefulParenting



12 Breastfeeding Days of Christmas


Not too many better ways to ring in the "12 days of Christmas" than with the Best for Babes Foundation's 12 Breastfeeding Days of Christmas (composed in 2009 and slightly updated this holiday season). Please take a moment to visit the Best for Babes site for a detailed explanation of each of these twelve life-changing gifts and take a look into how they can help "rebuild our shattered breastfeeding infrastructure."


12 Breastfeeding Days of Christmas


On the first day of Christmas 
There stood before me,
A mother wanting to breastfeed!

On the second day of Christmas 
There stood before me, 
Two doula/midwives, 
And a mother wanting to breastfeed!

On the third day of Christmas, 
There stood before me, 
Three support groups, 
Two doula/midwives, 
And a mother wanting to breastfeed!

On the fourth day of Christmas, 
There stood before me, 
Four (FABM) MDs, 
Three support groups, 
Two doula/midwives, 
And a mother wanting to breastfeed!

On the fifth day of Christmas 
There stood before me, 
Five Baby-Friendly Hospitals, 
Four (FABM) MDs, 
Three support groups, 
Two doula/midwives, 
And a mother wanting to breastfeed!

On the sixth day of Christmas, 
There stood before me, 
Six great IBCLCs, 
Five Baby-Friendly Hospitals, 
Four (FABM) MDs, 
Three support groups, 
Two doula/midwives, 
And a mother wanting to breastfeed!

On the seventh day of Christmas 
There stood before me, 
Seven partners protecting, 
Six great IBCLCs, 
Five Baby-Friendly Hospitals, 
Four (FABM) MDs, 
Three support groups, 
Two doula/midwives, 
And a mother wanting to breastfeed!

On the eighth day of Christmas 
There stood before me, 
Eight friends a-helping, 
Seven partners protecting, 
Six great IBCLCs, 
Five Baby-Friendly Hospitals, 
Four (FABM) MDs, 
Three support groups, 
Two doula/midwives, 
And a mother wanting to breastfeed!

On the ninth day of Christmas 
There stood before me, 
Nine celebs a-nursing, 
Eight friends a-helping, 
Seven partners protecting, 
Six great IBCLCs, 
Five Baby-Friendly Hospitals, 
Four (FABM) MDs, 
Three support groups, 
Two doula/midwives, 
And a mother wanting to breastfeed!

On the tenth day of Christmas, 
There stood before me, 
Ten nursing nooks, 
Nine celebs a-nursing, 
Eight friends a-helping, 
Seven partners protecting, 
Six great IBCLCs,
Five Baby-Friendly Hospitals, 
Four (FABM) MDs, 
Three support groups, 
Two doula/midwives, 
And a mother wanting to breastfeed!

On the eleventh day of Christmas 
There stood before me, 
Eleven strangers cheering, 
Ten nursing nooks, 
Nine celebs a-nursing, 
Eight friends a-helping, 
Seven partners protecting, 
Six great IBCLCs, 
Five Baby-Friendly Hospitals, 
Four FABM MDs, 
Three support groups, 
Two doula/midwives, 
And a mother wanting to breastfeed!

On the twelfth day of Christmas, 
There stood before me, 
Twelve supportive employers, 
Eleven strangers cheering, 
Ten nursing nooks, 
Nine celebs a-nursing, 
Eight friends a-helping, 
Seven partners protecting, 
Six great IBCLCs, 
Five Baby-Friendly Hospitals, 
Four (FABM) MDs, 
Three support groups, 
Two doula/midwives, 
And a mother wanting to breastfeed!

 Mary nurses Baby Jesus in this 16th century oil painting by Andrea Solario
for similar images see: Breastfeeding Baby Jesus

Nursing mothers are welcome to join the Breastfeeding Group. Note that this group is pro-baby, pro-natural weaning, pro-nursing-in-public, and WHO compliant in guidelines (i.e. no advertising of artificial baby feeds).


~~~~


Don't Force Your Child to Sit on Santa's Lap

By Brianne Collecchio
Originally at ChildUp.com


Your Christmas tree is decorated, the lights are up, and you’ve started to tackle your list of Christmas gifts. It’s time to take the children to the mall to see Santa. In your mind you’ve envisioned adorable photos of a smiling child posing happily with Old Saint Nick. You’ve thought about how many copies you’ll need to send out to proud grandparents. Your child is excited to see the man in red, already compiling a huge catalogue of toys to ask for. But when your child gets to the front of the line and comes face to face with Santa, he’s terrified! There’s no way he’s going to get anywhere near the man, let alone sit on his lap.

A child can develop a fear of Santa or other costumed characters at any point in childhood. Maybe your daughter loved Santa for the first three years of her life, and all of a sudden just the mention of his name has her running to her room. Children have extremely short memories, so each year when Christmas rolls around it’s like they are discovering Santa for the first time.

There are many reasons why children might be afraid of Santa. He has a big white beard that covers most of his face, and when a young child sits on his lap sometimes all they can see is that great white beard. It can be pretty intimidating not to be able to see his face.

A lot of children experience separation anxiety. When a parent sees Santa, they think of a jolly old man who brings children presents. When a toddler sees Santa, they’re experiencing mom and dad putting them on a stranger’s lap and walking away. That’s terrifying!

A toddler’s mind is also growing and developing so quickly—especially their imaginations. They are learning so much about the world so fast, but they still do not have the ability to distinguish between fantasy and reality. To that child Santa is a large stranger with a booming voice, and they are being left with him. That’s pretty intense.

Don’t force your child to take a picture with Santa or meet him if he or she is too afraid—just wait until next year. It’s not fair to subject your child to that level of anxiety just for a picture—and it won’t even be a good picture. Forcing your child to meet Santa can cause your child to associate that panic, fear, or discomfort with all things holiday related, and the last thing you want is a child who has a panic attack every time they hear Jingle Bells.

Telling your child not to be afraid of Santa can make him or her feel bad about themselves. Instead, be supportive. Let your child know that nothing bad will happen to him or her and that you will be right there with them. Offer to go see Santa first or have your picture taken with him to show your child that they will be fine.

Try to recognize if your child is truly afraid, or is just shy. Stay out of the line and watch some of the other children go first and hear their interactions. It’s very possible that they will see the other children enjoying themselves and change their mind.

If your child will absolutely not go anywhere near Santa, try to look at the bright side—it means that your child has an inner stranger-danger awareness. Value that alarm! There are far worse things in life than a child who is afraid to sit on Santa’s lap. Maybe you won’t get that adorable photo to send the grandparents, but you won’t get one of your child screaming either. Take it slow. There’s always next year.



Brianne Collecchio is a registered early childhood educator and runs Busy Bees Home Childcare in Guelph.

Christmas To Do List


This Christmas... 

 Be present. 
 Wrap someone in a hug.
Send peace. 
 Donate food. 
 Be the light. 

 🎄❤️🎄❤️




Momma's Night Before Christmas


Mother's Love painting by Kolongi. Art work available here.

Twas' the night before Christmas,
when all through the abode

Only one creature was stirring -
and she was cleaning the commode.


The children were finally sleeping,
all snug in their beds,

While visions of presents,
flipped through their heads.


Daddy was snoring in front of the TV,

With a half-constructed bicycle up on his knee.

So only Momma heard the reindeer hooves clatter,
Which made her sigh, "NOW what's the matter?"

With toilet bowl brush still clutched in her hand,

She descended the stairs, and saw the old man.

He was covered in ashes, which fell with a shrug.

"Oh great..." muttered Mom, now cleaning the rug.


"Ho-Ho-Ho!!" bellowed Santa, "I'm glad you're awake.

Your gift was especially hard to make."

"Thank you Santa, but all I want's time alone."

"Exactly!!" he chuckled, "And I've made you a clone."


"A clone?" Mom asked, "What good is that?

Run along now, Santa. I've no time for a chat."

But it was Momma's twin!
Same hair, same eyes - same double chin.

"She'll cook, she'll dust, she'll mop every mess.
You'll relax, take it easy, and get some good rest."
"Fantastic!!" Mom cheered. "My dream come true!
I'll read. I'll write. I'll sleep a whole night through!"


From the room above, the youngest began to fret.
"Momma?! I need you. I'm scared and I'm wet."
The clone replied, "I'm coming, sweetheart."

"Hey," Mom smiled, "She knows her part."


The clone changed the small one, and hummed a sweet tune,

As she bundled the child, in a blanket cocoon.

"You're the best momma ever. I really love you."

The clone smiled and sighed, "And I love you, too."


Mom frowned and said, "Sorry, Santa, no deal.

That's
my child's love that she's trying to steal."
Smiling wisely Santa said, "To me it is clear,

Only one loving mother is needed 'round here."


Mom kissed her child, and tucked her into bed.

"Thank you, dear Santa, for clearing my head.

I sometimes forget it won't be very long,

When they'll be too old, for my sweet mothering song."


The clock on the mantle began to chime.

Santa whispered to the clone, "It works every time."

And with the clone clung close to his side,
Santa said, "Goodnight.
Merry Christmas, Momma! You'll be alright."


~Original Author ("The Night Before Christmas for Moms") Unknown; 
  Revised Poem (2009) by Danelle Day


Soleil Life Photography



*******

Baby It's Cold Outside Lyrics Rewritten



Couple rewrites 'Baby It's Cold Outside' to emphasize importance of consent 
As shared at CNN by Alexandra King | Read more from King

A couple from Minnesota has re-imagined the classic Christmas song "Baby It's Cold Outside" for a 21st-century audience, changing the song's lyrics to emphasize the importance of consent. Singer-songwriters Lydia Liza and Josiah Lemanski, both from Minneapolis, said they were inspired to rework the song after bonding over a mutual dislike of the original's lyrics, which were penned in 1944 by Frank Loesser.

The duet features a man trying to dissuade a woman from leaving a party despite her repeated protestations that she has to go home. "What's in this drink?" is one of the female lines. "What's the sense in hurtin' my pride?" implores the male voice. The song's seeming disregard for the woman's desire to leave never sat well with Lemanski or Liza. "I've always had a big problem with the song. It's so aggressive and inappropriate," said Lemanski, 25.

Liza, 22, said she felt the same way as her boyfriend. "We started thinking of the open-ended questions that song has," she said. "You never figure out if she gets to go home. You never figure out if there was something in her drink. It just leaves you with a bad taste in your mouth."

So Wednesday night, the couple decided to write a complete set of new lyrics. "We wrote the whole thing in an hour and then we went back and used my little demo-recording microphone and did that in 15 minutes," Liza recalled. And though the melody is still the same, the lyrics strike an entirely new chord.

"I really can't stay/Baby I'm fine with that" opens the song, as the lyrics recall the original's format of a woman leaving a party. Except in Liza and Lemanski's version, she does so without protest, the man helps her get home safely and the fictional couple makes a date the next day at The Cheesecake Factory. "I ought to say no, no, no," sings Liza. "You reserve the right to say no," croons Lemanski. And as for that dubious "What's in this drink?" line. It's still there. Except, in the new version, the question is actually answered -- by Lemanski, who responds with the oh-so-now ""Pomegranate La Croix" (obviously). "I thought we were just doing like a really good, cool, funny thing and it just felt right," Liza said. "And emphasizing consent is one of the causes that I've always really been behind because I don't think I can think of one friend of mine who's a woman who hasn't been in dangerous situations with men. I've always cared about this so much," she added.

After the duo uploaded the song to SoundCloud, the couple found that what started out as a shared gripe between a boyfriend and girlfriend also resonated with the public at large. "We've heard a lot of people say, 'Wow, we never actually paid attention to the lyrics before -- this is awful!'" said Liza. The couple also said they hoped the song would raise awareness of the need for consent, given the problem of sexual assault on college campuses. "It's not just a rare thing -- it happens all the time, everywhere. Every day. And I'm afraid for my sister. And I'm afraid for my friends. And I hope that this song gets people thinking about it," Lemanski said.

Liza added that she hoped that the song would inspire others to take action to help prevent violence against women. "I hope it will be on people's minds and that people will donate to charity or do some volunteer work at shelters or sexual assault centers. Like, if you think about this and you think it's a problem, definitely step out of your comfort zone and do something and help someone," she said.

And having successfully designated their re-imagined "Baby It's Cold Outside" as an unofficial anthem for the importance of consent, the couple joked that there were some other candidates for the Liza and Lemanski treatment. "A lot of people have suggested a bunch of songs, like Ella Fitzgerald's 'She Didn't Say Yes, She Didn't Say No' and Robin Thicke's 'Blurred Lines,'" said Liza. "We'll just do a whole album," she laughed.


Lydia and Josiah perform 'Baby It's Cold Outside' - with updated lyrics: 




Baby It's Cold Outside - New Lyrics 

I really can't stay/Baby I'm fine with that

I've got to go away/Baby I'm cool with that

This evening has been/Been hoping you get home safe

So very nice/I'm glad you had a real good time

My mother will start to worry/Call her so she knows that you're coming

Father will be pacing the floor/Better get your car a-humming

So really I'd better scurry/Take your time

Should I use the front or back door?/Which one are you pulling towards more?

The neighbors might think/That you're a real nice girl

Say, what is this drink?/Pomegranate La Croix

I wish I knew how/Maybe I'll help you out

To break this spell/I don't know what you're talking about

I ought to say no, no, no/you reserve the right to say no

At least I'm gonna say that I tried/you reserve the right to say no

I really can't stay/...Well you don't have to

Ah, but it's cold outside...

I've got to get home/Do you know how to get there from here?

Say, where is my coat/I'll go and grab it my dear.

You've really been grand/We'll have to do this again

Yes, I agree/How 'bout the Cheesecake Factory?

We're bound to be talking tomorrow/Text me at your earliest convenience

At least I have been getting that vibe/Unless I catch pneumonia and die

I'll be on my way/Thanks for the great night!

Bye/Bye--Drive Safe Please.
Don't watch that episode of 'Breaking Bad' without me/I won't, I'll save that for you!


Lydia and Josiah discuss their rendition of "Baby It's Cold Outside" further:



*******


Why Most People Never Reach Their Fitness Goals


Every year, a new wave of aspiring fitness students set a New Year’s resolution to finally get healthy – but the vast majority of them never reach their fitness goals. In 2020, 75 percent of people listed weight loss as a goal for the upcoming year, yet only 7 percent of people stick fully to their resolutions.

We can also see the effects of this by looking at obesity patterns in the United States. Currently, 73.6 percent of U.S. adults are overweight or obese, and that number is consistently increasing.

Why is it that so few people ever reach their fitness goals? What’s stopping them from living a healthier lifespan?

Inadequate Mental Preparation

Arguably, the biggest issue is inadequate mental preparation. It's easy to say to yourself that you want to lose weight, but it's much harder to put forth the habits and practices that will actually lead you there. If you want a better chance at losing weight, you need to look at the situation rationally and reasonably.

Many people are guilty of at least one of the following when setting a new fitness goal:

·       Underestimating the challenge. Let's say you live a sedentary lifestyle and you haven't exercised consistently in the past 2 years. You've gained 50 pounds in those 2 years and you get out of breath walking up the stairs. You set a goal to run a mile a day, every day until you lose the weight. Day 1, you'll be motivated to complete the mile, but day 2, you're going to be sore. You might not feel better until day 4, at which point, your motivation may be broken. If you want to be successful, you need to understand that most fitness goals are very challenging, and they may not go according to your plan.

·       Optimizing for the short term. Some people fail because they only optimize for the short term. They have a weight loss goal, but their only real objective is to get to a target weight – not to stay at that weight indefinitely. With this short-term mindset, it’s easy to lose focus and allow your eating and exercise habits to slip.

·       Failing to prepare for hard moments. In planning mode, people are optimists. They think about how much fun they're going to have working out and how proud of their choices they'll be when getting a salad for lunch – but they fail to prepare for the hard moments. They don't think about dessert temptations, sore muscles, embarrassing gym moments, and setbacks, so when negative experiences inevitably arise, they feel devastating.

Declining Motivation

If you've failed to achieve your fitness goal in the past, it might have been due to declining motivation. After a few weeks at the gym, you might start stalling out, unable to add much weight to your lifts. After a few weeks of clean eating, you might start having tough cravings for the old junk foods you used to love. After a stressful day at work, you might want to watch TV on the couch after your shift, rather than hitting the gym.

Hiring a personal trainer could be a great way to keep yourself motivated. You’ll have a coach and mentor who can help you identify your biggest demotivators – and defeat them.

Bad Goals

Some people fail to reach their fitness goals because they set bad goals in the first place. It's good to set a challenging goal that forces you to break out of your comfort zone, but if your goal is literally unreachable, you're only going to set yourself up for disaster. For example, if you want to lose 100 pounds in 3 weeks and you only lose 8 pounds in week 1, you’ll feel incredibly disheartened – even though 8 pounds lost in a week is quite respectable.

Use SMART goal criteria to create better, more manageable goals for yourself. And make sure you set smaller “milestone” goals to achieve along the way.

Plateaus and Uncertainty

It’s common for even avid fitness enthusiasts to hit occasional plateaus. You might be unable to progress past a certain lifting weight, or you might fail to lose weight for a couple of weeks in a row. When this happens, some people take it as a sign that their hard work is for nothing – but plateaus are a natural part of the path to fitness. You have to keep working to get past them (and remember all the progress you’ve made so far).

It’s true that most people don’t reach their fitness goals, and that fact will likely remain true for the foreseeable future. But that’s not a death sentence for your fitness journey. As long as you understand the hardships that stand before you and you’re willing to remain adaptable, you can find a way forward.


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