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Empower Your New Year

Lifestyle

Empower Your New Year

Let’s face it, 2016 has been a train wreck. We have weathered the loss of icon after icon and witnessed seismic threats to hard earned gender equality. As we head toward a new year, we face challenges unlike those we have seen in a lifetime. It is easy to feel overwhelmed and want to opt out, but now is the time to make 2017 your most empowered year yet. Here are a few ways to strengthen your mind, body, and resolve in the new year.

There is a famous saying that those who do not understand history are doomed to repeat it. Get acquainted with women who have walked before us or who walk among us now and make it their business to change the world. Read up on the suffragettes, first wave feminism, heck do a comprehensive study of Viking shield maidens. Just get to know those who have stepped outside the boundaries of social acceptance and worked tirelessly to get us where we are today. Feminist authors of note include Betty Friedan, Caitlin Moran, and Susan Faludi. If non-fiction isn’t your forte, there are loads of ladies throughout history who have challenged the literary status quo. Virginia Woolf, Kate Chopin, and Margaret Atwood to name just a few.

Test your limits. Maybe you are a dedicated gym dweller already or a serious spinner, marathoner, or full-on yogi. This year, commit to stepping outside your physical—and emotional comfort zone. If you’re a little bit afraid of heights (like me) find a climbing gym and shatter those insecurities. Take up kickboxing or train for a sprint triathlon. You don’t have to excel at these things, but you owe it to yourself to try everything. In my work as a personal trainer, I listened to countless women worry that they weren’t strong enough to step outside their physical norm. I witnessed many of these same women, one step at a time, show every single insecurity who’s boss.

Nourish your body. Pretty much everybody I know (myself included) lets good eating habits slip over the holidays. And you know what? That’s ok. A little indulgence once in a while never really hurt anyone. What’s important is that you have a nutritional base to return to. New Year’s Eve is rife with ambitious promises to cold turkey bad eating once and for all. We vow to cut out dairy, carbs, meat, sugar, and fat in one fell swoop. After a month cold gruel and carrot juice, it’s no wonder most of these resolution diets are left in shreds as we tuck in to our third bag of dill pickle potato chips. This year, commit not to diet. Instead, pursue channels of lasting knowledge. Consider enlisting a nutritionist to teach you what goes into a balanced diet. If that’s out of reach, there are plenty of books and cookbooks penned by experts in the field like Ellie Kreiger and Mollie Katzen. A strong, well fed body is your best foundation.

Get involved. We face an uphill battle in the coming years and the very real possibility that rights for women will be dampened and in some cases even reversed. Make it your business to join the fight. Whether you show up in person or use the power of the pen to make sure your elected officials know exactly what you think about how they’re running things, your voice matters. Don’t assume the person next to you will pick up the slack, make this the year you’re empowered to exercise every single right you have to participate.

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Julia Tolstrup is a freelance writer situated in the northeast corner of things. When she isn't typing, she raises vegetables, a small flock of chickens, and and even smaller flock of children. She is inspired most by her mother who is one of the bravest people she's ever known.

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