Start Your New Year’s Resolutions Early – And Other Tips From an IIN Graduate

January 24, 2020

Nina Zorfass, IIN Content Editor

With a new year comes the opportunity to evaluate what’s important to us as it relates to our health.

We recently heard from Robyn Youkilis on how she sets goals in line with the school year, not the calendar year, and now we’ve got Omar Cumberbatch, Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and host of the podcasts This Podcast Burns Fat! and Health Coach Academy.

Omar shared his IIN experience, including how, after graduating, he felt all this energy and passion to share everything he learned about health but struggled to find a community of male peers to do so.

Omar decided to create that community himself, pursuing work as an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and creating podcasts that speak to a wide audience on all things health and wellness. Through his work, he’s filling a void in the wellness space and empowering others to share their stories, whether it’s on mental health, weight loss, or burnout.

More and more, we’re seeing men and women open up about their health experiences, creating communities digitally and in person. We’re so proud of our graduates for spreading the ripple effect of health and happiness wherever they are in the world.

Read on to hear more from Omar about setting (and failing at) New Year’s resolutions, what the start of a new decade means for him, and building community.

IIN: Do you set New Year’s resolutions? If not, what do you do instead?
Omar: Absolutely! Even though I try to stay consistent with my goals all year round, I take the new year as a time to see what I can improve on and also what I might not have done so well the prior year.

IIN: What do you think many people get wrong about resolutions? Have you ever experienced thwarted or failed resolutions yourself?
Omar: I think that people don’t properly plan for their resolutions and also don’t have realistic expectations of what is needed to accomplish their goals. It’s funny – I tell people to declare their resolutions by November 1 so that their resolution has some legitimate traction. For instance, if you want to start going to the gym, start going in early November when the gym is less crowded. Then you can actually learn how to do some of the exercises and won’t be intimidated by the whole gym experience. Otherwise, on January 1, the gym is a madhouse, you don’t know where any of the equipment is, and you don’t know how to do any of the exercises. So people get overwhelmed and just quit, which I totally get.

This scenario plays out the same whether it’s for diet goals or launching a podcast. It takes a lot to think that a change in the calendar will magically change the way that you’ve been operating. We forget that there’s a natural buildup to your goals that requires a bit of planning and action steps. Many people often have an unrealistic idea of what the process actually looks like.

As for my own thwarted or failed resolutions, I’ve had too many to list. But I think that I’ve gotten way better by staying consistent throughout the year and using the new year to improve on things instead of a massive overhaul.

IIN: Did the start of this new decade mean something different to you? How so?
Omar: Honestly, it did. I really started to reflect on what 2009 looked like and where I was at that time. When you consider how much a decade changes you, it humbles you to consider how different 2030 will look and what the next 10 years will do to and for you.

IIN: Separate from resolutions, how do you keep yourself motivated during the year to stay healthy?
Omar: I just want to feel good. That’s my main motivation. I hate feeling exhausted and achy and irritable, so I try to make healthy choices that mitigate those feelings. More so than ever, I’ve become really in tune with how I’m feeling, and I find myself using healthy habits to feel better. I’ve been able to recognize how food, sleep, and stress affect me and choose my actions accordingly.

IIN: What role do you think community plays in setting resolutions/goals/intentions? How do you establish community, especially with men who are also setting goals around their health?
Omar: I think community can play a great role in setting resolutions and goals. Community can provide motivation and accountability, which are integral when trying to accomplish goals. We are lucky to live in an age where we can establish and have access to a community anywhere in the world. You just have to seek it out. That being said, I’ve found that this community of men, especially when it comes to health, is smaller and a lot harder to find – women seem to be excellent at creating communities.

Not only is the current landscape of wellness and nutrition more focused on women, but women are more likely to share and are expected to express themselves in that way, which I think needs to be emphasized for men as well. Asking for help, support, and advice is something we’d all benefit from. My hope is that more men will embrace being more open to sharing their health concerns with those close to them because it truly does lead to better mental and physical health.  

IIN: How did your IIN education impact how you approach health and wellness in your day-to-day life?
Omar: IIN really taught me that diet and exercise are not the only things that I needed to be healthy. Before I went to IIN, I really didn’t see that. I can honestly say now that I did have an unhealthy approach to life, even though I was dieting and exercising consistently. So after IIN, I really started to become aware of the other factors that played a role in my health and recognized that I needed to address those areas in my life in order to be truly healthy.

Become an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and help change the world.

As Omar said, figuring out imbalances in other areas of your life that have nothing to do with food can be a turning point in your health. We call this primary food – career, spirituality, relationships, environment, physical activity – and how you choose to fill your life with these things off the plate is a choice that is just as important as the foods you eat.

Integrative Nutrition Health Coaches give their clients the space to explore these areas of their lives and can provide guidance on how to nourish these areas to find balance. Often, clients will come to their Health Coach with physical symptoms – poor sleep, gut discomfort – and, through their sessions, will realize that there are non-food issues at play that could be contributing to those symptoms – poor stress management, not enough restorative movement, etc.

This work may seem small, but picture this: over 100,000 of our students and graduates in over 155 countries helping people make these shifts in their health. That’s the ripple effect in action! Their work is helping reverse the global healthcare crisis by giving their clients the ability to decipher all the nutrition information out there, understand what works for them, and make sustainable lifestyle changes that keep them healthy for the long-term.

Curious to know the health of each area of your life? Complete this interactive Circle of Life exercise!

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