In the waning days of holiday haze, we all have our feelings. Some of us feel hungover. Some feel stuffed with cheese or fairly sure our running shoes won’t recognize us anymore.
It’s time to make New Year’s resolutions, but never fear! No matter how hard you’ve tumbled off the healthy habit wagon, some time spent in Bend can help you start fresh.
Whether you’re vowing to improve your health or the whole freakin’ earth, here are six ways to kickstart your New Year’s pledge in Bend.
Check the exercise box
Let’s just admit this up front: Most of us, no matter how active we are, would like to exercise more.
Raise your hand if you’re tired of the trend where you buy a gym membership Jan. 1, go hard for three weeks, then fizzle out.
I’m raising my hand, which totally counts as a workout.
All jokes aside, there’s a discovery I made a few years back when I realized taking the dogs for a walk didn’t feel like exercise. Upping the intensity, increasing the duration, and taking two daily walks instead of one really just felt like extensions of an existing habit. But man, did they make a difference!
Look for ways to turn an existing habit into something bigger. Do you love trekking the Bend Ale Trail? (Hey, no judgment!) Make a habit of hitting your favorite Bend breweries on foot instead of by car. Not only will you burn calories, but you’ll save yourself the hassle of finding a designated driver.
If you already like walking, take it up a notch by strapping on snowshoes to get your heart pumping harder in Bend’s winter wonderland.
If snow’s not your scene but you do enjoy walking, hoof it up Pilot Butte and let the altitude gain work magic for your heart and your quads. Pack traction devices for your shoes when things are icy, or skip elevation altogether when you roam for miles on flatter terrain like the Oregon Badlands Wilderness.
Set some goals, sweeten the pot
For most of us, “get in shape” isn’t much of a tangible goal.
That’s why it’s smart to plant something in your mind and on your calendar to help you achieve your New Year’s wish.
Are you itching to improve your Nordic ski skills? Sign up to compete in the Tour of Meissner event January 22. It’s one of the largest classic ski events in the Western U.S., and a good chance to get a baseline sense of how you’re doing near the start of the year. Then scan Visit Bend’s Event Calendar for another ski event several months down the road to help gauge how far you’ve progressed.
The same approach works if you’re doing a Couch to 5k running program, as the aforementioned calendar comes packed with Bend running events and races throughout the year.
Here’s one from my own personal archives: Early in the pandemic, I decided to resurrect my flagging yoga habits by committing to do yoga every single day. Every. Single. Day.
It sounds daunting, but the catch was that I’d only commit to 10 minutes, and I could do it in my jammies before starting my work-from-home routine. Know what? I’m closing in on 730 consecutive days of yoga, which is two years minus one pesky day when I just plain forgot. But 10 minutes of yoga daily made a huuuuge difference in my mental and physical health, and it wasn’t that tough to do.
Want to kickstart a habit like that? Commit to a routine, maybe bribing yourself with new yoga gear from Athleta or Lululemon. Then mark the second annual Bend Yoga Festival on your calendar for June 8-11. You’ve now got 6 months to ease into your yoga routine before rewarding yourself with a weekend of wellness, workshops, and yoga practice. Mission accepted!
Embrace your spiritual side
If spiritual wellness is on your 2023 bucket list, the game plan may look different for everyone.
Bend churches run the gamut from Baptist to Buddhist, so scan the listings to find your spiritual home base when you vacation in Bend.
If organized religion isn’t your jam (or perhaps you’d like to broaden your horizons?) consider kickstarting a meditation practice with classes at a Bend wellness center like Blissful Heart or Bend Community Healing.
My personal favorite spiritual experience of 2022 was a forest bath from R’oming Yoga. My whole fam (plus a couple Visit Bend pals) met with our guide in Shevlin Park the day after Christmas. Out there in nature on a brisk winter day, our guide led us to explore, smell, touch, and breathe our way to bliss in the great outdoors. I’ve hiked my whole life and have never had an “in touch with nature” experience like I did that day.
Fun fact: My FitBit’s sleep calculator (which normally greets me each morning by announcing I am the world’s worst sleeper) has scored every night’s sleep as “good” since the day of my forest bath. Not a bad way to kickstart the new year!
Eating healthy for you may mean vegan dining, or maybe it’s not opening that third bag of Doritos.
Regardless of your personal definition, most healthcare professionals say a healthy diet should include plenty of colorful fruits and veggies, plus whole grains and lean protein. Where can you find all that in Bend?
Most Bend restaurants have a few healthy items on the menu, but some make them easier to spot. I love how 900 Wall breaks veggie sides into their own separate category on the menu, making it a cinch to load your plate with healthy belly filler.
Salads are another great way to gobble up good nutrients. One of my top picks this time of year is the Honeycrisp Kale Salad at Roam, made with chopped kale, honeycrisp apples, pecorino cheese, cinnamon honey vinaigrette, crispy shallots, pepitas, dried cranberries, and candied walnuts. I usually add grilled salmon to make a meal of it.
Another swoon-worthy spot for salads is Nome Italian Restaurant. It’s a tossup for me whether I’m most fond of the radicchio salad with candied walnuts, gorgonzola dolce, pears, and creme fraiche white balsamic vinaigrette, or if I’m more in love with the beet salad with whipped goat cheese, escarole, pickled red onions, crispy speck, and citrus-honey vinaigrette. Better try both and see for yourself.
My favorite form of healthy eating comes in bowls packed with nutrient-dense nummy-ness. Active Culture takes the cake for me (minus the cake) with their Quinoa Lentil Bowl brimming with organic quinoa, organic lentils, organic garbanzo beans, kale, carrot, cucumber, red onion, tomato, sunflower seeds, lemon vinaigrette and Slammin’ sauce.
I’m also obsessed with Yumm Bowls, which is handy in Bend where we have two locations (one in the Old Mill District, one on Bend’s eastside). My go-to here is the Edamame Bowl made with organic brown rice, organic edamame, Original Yumm Sauce, shredded cheddar, diced tomatoes, fresh avocado, sour cream, black olives, cilantro, and roasted seaweed.
If fruitier bowls are more your taste, hit Kanona Cafe and grab their Kauai Green acai bowl made with acai, kale, spinach, swiss chard, avocado, banana, strawberries, and almond milk, topped with granola, blueberries, banana, chia seeds, hemp seeds, honey. They also make a mean avocado toast here, if you need to offset things with something savory.
Splurge for success
Your wallet called and said you gave it a workout with your holiday spending.
But hear me out—sometimes you need to spend some to set yourself up for New Year’s success.
Lucky for you, Bend shops just hit their slowest time of year, which means now’s the best time to score sale items and big-time bargains that equip you to nail that New Year’s resolution.
If outdoor play is on your list, Bend’s sporting goods stores offer everything from running shoes to mountain bikes to fly fishing gear to standup paddleboards.
You don’t have to spend much to make memorable goals. Swing by the Bend Visitor Center to buy a book filled with Bend hiking trails. Flag the pages that intrigue you and commit to hitting five new hiking spots in the coming year.
Be a better human
You may not completely save the planet in 2023, but you can sure take steps in that direction.
Consider taking part in a voluntourism opportunity like the annual Cave Cleanup sponsored by Wanderlust Tours or the Smith Rock Spring Thing where you help tidy everyone’s favorite state park.
Want to support charity while scoring something sweet for your coffee table? Ineffable—a stunning, sustainably-produced photo collection filled with images of Central Oregon’s landscapes, people, recreation, and urban settings—just released its fourth collection. All proceeds go to the Bend Sustainability Fund, which supports projects that create or enhance sustainable attractions in and around Bend.
Looking to simply leave a smaller footprint wherever you wander in Bend’s great outdoors? Follow Leave No Trace principles everywhere you roam, which means packing out trash, sticking to designated trails, and camping responsibly.
No matter how you choose to improve yourself or your planet in the coming twelve months, may you have an amazing 2023 filled with fun and adventure. Happy New Year, everyone!