In Fine Fettle: Setting intention for changes

By Ammi Midstokke
Reader Health Columnist

Perhaps Lao Tzu said it most plainly: “If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.”

It’s that time of the year again. We’re all trying to change some direction. Out with the old, in with the new, turning a new leaf, setting the bar high, raising some expectations, and we sure as heck aren’t going to be eating sugar or skipping gym days.

Ammi Midstokke.

Until February, that is. Distance from our original plan, life happening, ski weekends, perhaps a winter cold, social engagements,  all of these things tend to distract us from our goals of change. We easily slip back into our familiar patterns and tendencies, making a few valiant efforts to recommit sometime before beach season or a summer wedding, but often starting back at square one next January.

Effectively creating lasting change in our lives means also creating the environment in which a change can occur and remain. It isn’t just about determining to “start exercising more,” but also shifting your schedule to allow for that. (Hint: just getting up earlier isn’t enough. Sleep is precious. Cut into your TV and phone scroll time instead.)

A greatly under-sung component of change is identifying and creating a support system within our relationships. The law of averages suggests that “the result of any given situation will be the average of all outcomes.” This is what Jim Rohn applied in his statement of “You are the average of the five people you spend the majority of your time with.” The fact that a large portion of my life is spent with a 10 year old means there are more toilet jokes in my average than I’d like.

If you want to read more, spend time in a book group (the Library has all kinds of literature resources). If you want to run more, find a running group (Facebook has Run 7B, where runners of all abilities and ages set up spontaneous jaunts). If you want to eat more healthful, surround yourself with people who encourage and share this interest (or sign up for our very own Jenn Markwardt’s cooking classes at Develop a circle that actively supports the changes you want in life. It makes those challenges seamlessly become your lifestyle and part of your natural identity.

The short-lived motivation and commitment of our Christmas-cookie-filled bodies is an incredible tool this time of year. If you’re one of those who sets intention or resolutions, take some time to consider ways in which to recommit next month, in six months, next year. Build upon a foundation of small goals and achievements, like sturdy stones you shall climb, so that each day, week, month, year reveals new potential.

And celebrate every step of the way. Look at where you have been, where you are, and where you want to be. Sometimes all you need is a little reminder of why these changes are important to you and the life you are creating. Choose where you want to head, and change your direction. You’re the only one driving.

Ammi Midstokke is offering a 6-week nutrition and health course beginning January 18th and hosted at Evan’s Brothers Coffee. To find out more, visit

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