Real talk: Given the sheer volume of New Year’s resolution pitches that fled my inbox at the tail end of 2016—some starting in early November and going well into the middle of this month, FFS—you’d think that’s all we thought about how we’re going to change ourselves for a quarter of the year. I imagine all companies with any sort of aspirational peg think January’s prime time for marketing—and maybe they’re right. After all, most of NYC’s workout studios were fully booked during the first week of the year, and I’ve never seen a more hearty crowd in Whole Foods than I did the first Sunday of the month, but not everything needs to be pegged to making a change as soon as the calendar’s slate is metaphorically wiped clean. But instead of just moving all those pitches to my deleted folder, I decided to cherry-pick the ones that didn’t feel like such a chore. Rather than blindly advise you, dear reader, to give up your coffee for some energy drink that may or may not make you nauseous (among other things), I figured I’d try a few of them myself.
Ahead, all of the ways I tried to be “better” in January—whatever that means—and how it worked out for me.
If we’re being honestly, Purely Elizabeth’s Probiotic Granola didn’t exactly promise any life-altering experiences other than what was called an “esteemed inner glow,” but it did make my breakfast of Greek yogurt and chia seeds considerably more delicious. Plus, my stomach issues have gotten better since I started eating it every weekday morning—though, of course, that could be due to a variety of things. And while I’d rather eat granola than take a probiotic pill, I’m not sure I’m really eating enough of it to really get that “inner glow.”
Eat Grapefruit Every Morning
Some Instagram influencer said she eats an entire grapefruit every morning and it’s saved her skin/stomach/waistline/insert qualm here and then a team of PR people emailed me about it—so I tried it. I was kind of excited; I love grapefruit! But I lasted a solid five days before I started having a visceral reaction to all that acid. Plus, I heard it might make my birth control less effective so I’m pretty happy I bowed out after a week.
Verdict: Not Better
Let’s get this out of the way: Yes, it’s actually called Fat Water, and yes, it tastes weird. The lemon version tastes sort of like if yellow Gatorade (delicious) and those fruit punch versions of SSips (also delicious) had a baby, and then you dunked a Fruit Roll Up in it for garnish and let it ferment. That’s not to say it tastes bad—just sort of off. But Fat Water, despite its unfortunate name, promises to supply you with enough energy and brain power to get through your 3 p.m. slump, all sans sugar—and it sort of works. Maybe it’s placebo effect, but I slotted it in place my third cup of coffee for (most of) January, and though I could only drink about a third of of it in one sitting or else my stomach would hurt, I didn’t have the same oh-my-god-I-need-to-go-for-a-walk-or-I’m-going-to-fall-asleep-right-here feeling as often.
Verdict: Better, Sort Of
Work Out More
I should start by telling you that I’m not un-athletic. I played sports in high school and college, working out doesn’t scare me, and I don’t particularly hate waking up in the morning to exercise. But when some half-dozen people emailed me with some facts about endorphins and would I like to try their new bootcamp, I immediately turned them down. Boot camp is for the military and Victoria’s Secret models. Instead, I decided to continue going to The Class by Taryn Toomey, which is best described as this weird high-intensity/yoga/transcendental experience that makes you sweat and scream and jump with about 100 of your closest friends. I started going pretty religiously last spring but fell off the wagon when it got cold out. Over the past two months I was starting to feel the effects of SAD and promised myself I’d go at least twice/week, if only to get those endorphins going. For most of the month, I went happily, and I definitely felt better. If The Class wasn’t $35/session, I’d keep it up. For now, it’s back to once/week, which is considerably cheaper than therapy.
I can’t say someone pitched this idea to me specifically, but I did receive a lot of emails about “tricks” to save money. I’m not super fond of those budgeting apps, and I don’t think you can “hack” your savings account (spoiler alert: You just have to not spend money to save it); I’m more of the mindset that if I want it and I have the money in my account (and due to diligent saving over the past year, I usually do), then I can buy it. But I noticed I wasn’t as aggressive with my savings as I’d like to be, so I set some boundaries: After bills are paid, I could only spend $100/week with the exception of one short weekend skiing trip for New Year’s. At first, my boyfriend and best friend (both of whom make similar salaries as me and like to do similar things as me) laughed—and rightfully so. After tracking my spending over the last few months, I was averaging about $350/week. Sometimes it was on careless things like a Zara run for more versions of things I already own, or a dinner where I agreed to split a few bottles of wine among a small number of us, and sometimes it was because I failed to pack my lunch for the 365th time. But I wrote down everything I bought for an entire month and only went over once—by $26 to buy a bus ticket home to see my mom, who had to go to the hospital. I had to say no to a few things, and ignoring the itch to shop to basically all the energy out of me, but I did it. And now my savings account is in fine-ish shape.
This was less of a resolution in itself and more of a money-saving tactic.: I literally only had a dry January so I could tell people I couldn’t go out for drinks (which often add $20-30 to your tab) and instead, suggested we get coffee or breakfast. I’m not a huge drinker so I mostly felt the same, and it should be known that I accepted free alcohol when it came my way.
Verdict: Sort of better
Taking My Makeup Off Every Night
Every single dermatologist ever has said this is a non-negotiable, and I’m usually 100 percent on board—my night time skin-care routine is borderline absurd—but maybe once a week when I’m super tired and already saddled up in bed with my laptop, I drift off and don’t try to stop myself. None of that this month! Except this one time, but it was inauguration day and I was feeling shitty. Long story short, I didn’t get up to take my makeup off, and even though my skin felt fine, I felt major guilt.
Verdict: Not Better
Pressure Point Massage
I felt so amazing after Alicia Yoon introduced me to pressure point massages that I resolved to give myself one every morning before I got out of bed in 2017. I’d focus my energy on my palms—specifically, the fleshy skin between my thumb and my pointer finger that Eastern medicine says is connected to the stomach—and get to work massaging. In the shower, I’d make sure I massaged my scalp as well. While some people swear they see profound changes from this, I felt better mostly because I could wake up and not feel pressured to immediately pounce out of bed. Instead, I took my time and got to wake up over the course of ten minutes rather than hit the snooze and slide Alex Mack-style onto my floor and into the shower.