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Inside Sydney Miller's 12 reSOULutions

ot any big reSOULutions for 2017? NYC instructor SYDNEY MILLER sure does. She actually has, ahem, 12 of them. She opened up about her goals, how she decided to partner with rider and registered dietician JACKIE LONDON, and why she’s got one for each month of the year…

Let’s start from the beginning. When did you start these monthly challenges?
Back in 2016, I decided that having monthly step-up-your-game ideas give you bite-sized food-for-thought, helping to take your workout (and wellness) to the next level.

Explain the concept behind your monthly challenges.
I always felt that New Year’s resolutions were great in theory but realistically, you start to drop off by month #2, if not before. Rather than putting so much pressure on ourselves to make a resolution and stick to it for the whole year, I think 30 days is a great amount of time to commit to a small change.

So how does it work?
The goal is that after 30 days, you develop a new healthy habit and then want to maintain it as part of your regular lifestyle. By offering up the challenges to my classes, we were able to hold each other accountable.

So, wait… your riders do this with you?!
Yes! The most successful challenges were ones we could either do within the studio (physical challenges) or the ones that were related to wellness and things we could all do a better job at, like the hydration and gratitude challenges.

Tell us about your first challenge for January.
It is to put down your phone.

That’s not always easy. Why start with that one?
I think in the past couple of years we (or at least definitely me) have become so attached to our phones that we feel naked without them. We stay connected 24/7 but in many ways we are less connected to our friends, family, and living in the present moment. My resolution this year is to be more present and live in the moment, so I wanted to make my first challenge directly related to that so I could work on it all year.

Are there details we should know about?
The challenge this month was to power down and turn off your phone ONE time a day – it can be on a walk to work, a walk home, while you’re having a meal, while you’re winding down your night and relaxing – any time you think you can check out for a little and take a breather.

Got it.
I also want to put my phone away more often – but sometimes even then when you feel your phone vibrate or ring while you’re having a conversation, then all of the sudden you’re not engaged anymore. This month let’s try to separate a little bit and connect in to the moment a little bit more.

And there is strength in numbers...
To me, SoulCycle is all about the riders and the community that we cultivate here, so taking on challenges that bring us out of our comfort zones are even more powerful when we collaborate. (Stronger together, right?!)


That’s why I’m partnering with my friend (and regular-rider) Jackie London, R.D. and Nutrition Director at Good Housekeeping, to take the wellness aspect of SOUL to the next level. We have a similar philosophy about taking on smaller, quantifiable, more attainable goals in order to achieve something super powerful in the long-term—not just making big resolutions that ultimately fail (because they’re way too overwhelming!). We’re so excited to kick off this month with a little more introspection, staying present/in the moment, and how that can help us all reset, make better choices, and stay present and in the moment so we’re ready for anything that’s to come.

Jackie, what’s your overall philosophy on staying present and “in the moment” as it relates to healthier eating habits?
JL: In general, the next wave of healthy eating starts with your attitude: Mindfulness means tuning in to what you're eating, savoring and enjoying the experience, and moving on. (Not snacking on your commute, grazing while watching TV, or diving into the chips while watching late-night TV).

Good advice.
JL: All of it is very much in line with Syd’s monthly challenges and Soul’s philosophy in general… I thought it was a great opportunity for us to collaborate.

What’s the next big thing in healthy eating?
JL: I think the next generation of health and weight-loss is calling out the difference between feeling full and being actually satisfied. (It’s phenomenon I call, "Full not Satisfied Syndrome," or FNSS). The more we stay in touch with what we’re eating — before, during, and after — the more primed we are to make better food choices for the long-term, and train our minds—and bodies—to get so used to doing this that it becomes automatic over time.

So when it comes to making resolutions — and this question is for you both — What’s a mistake some people make?
JL: They’re way too general. Typically, these are ones that usually start with a pretty basic phrase like "I'm going to lose weight this year!" Instead, setting smaller, quantifiable goals to help you achieve a long-term goal establishes benchmarks for tracking progress, and ultimately keeps you on track.

So be specific.
JL: Exactly. If weight loss is your goal, pick one to three small goals to start — like committing to ride at SoulCycle three times a week, or eating a healthy breakfast every day. It’s also super important to start small and keep it simple. Making big promises right off the bat is just setting yourself up for failure.

Why do you both consider “accountability” a key component to making healthier habits that stick?
If no one knows you're trying to make healthier choices, it's harder to stick with them. Luckily, your person to whom you stay accountable can include your best friend, a cousin who lives across the country that you see twice a year, or even your personal journal (that no one ever reads!).

Someone to keep you honest. I like it.
The accountability aspect is honestly what gives our whole idea life! When people are held accountable to someone or something (e.g. a training schedule, or appointments with a Registered Dietitian!!!), they tend to stay on track and make long-term changes that stick.

Jackie: why do you think Syd’s monthly challenges “work?” And can the same be said for adopting healthier eating habits?
JL: Totally! Diets are dead — or at least as far as I’m concerned! The reason why they don’t work? They’re often a total snore, super unattainable (because you’re virtually starving the whole time) or the most deadly combo: They’re too difficult to do when you apply them to your already hectic, very real and messy every day life.

How come?
JL: Think about it: Diets are temporary-by-design—when we want them to be long-term strategies for success! That’s why we’re taking this new approach of simply asking you try try something for a month—nothing too crazy, complicated, or exhaustingly overwhelming—just some ideas that you are welcome to ditch after a month if they don’t work for you (although we have a hunch, you won’t want to).

Tell us about what’s to come—what can riders expect and how can they join in?
All of these challenges are science-backed concepts—ones that we know can help transcend any wellness hurdle you’ve had previously. The trick is to stick with them! But it’s not a one-size fits all approach. That’s why there are 12—so anyone can join in at any time and pick and choose what works for them with their personal lifestyle. Some will be a little more nutrition-focused while others won’t involve nutrition/food all that much—but we encourage you to get in touch with us regardless and let us know what’s working for you vs. what’s not. Think of us like your non-judgmental (ROOSTER) breakfast club! And you can ask questions via social, through the community site/posting comments on the article, email us anytime, etc.

What’s your #1 biggest piece of health “advice” for readers/riders in 2017?
JL: Resist the urge to throw yourself a pity party when you fall off the wagon (and you will! Because that’s normal!!!) For example: If your best friend called you crying because she was upset that she'd fallen off the wagon with her healthy eating plan, you would never call her a failure or accuse her of being “lazy” and unmotivated, right?! Instead, you'd probably cheer her up by focusing on what she's already accomplished so far, and how proud you are of her success. So why is it so hard for us all to do the same thing for ourselves?! Let’s get over that this year. Let’s be better at being nicer to ourselves.
SM: Completely agree. Every day is a new day and if you make a mistake and make the wrong choice, you acknowledge it and pick back up where you left off tomorrow. The key to success is consistency – so if you pause for a day, that is not the same as stopping! Keep it up and continue to take it day by day.

OK, last question: Any big resolutions for each of you this year? Outside of the monthly challenges, of course!

JL: Be on time to class. But in a quantifiable way, so maybe it’s, “be less late by 3-5 minutes!”

SM: Definitely to stay off my phone more especially when I’m with friends and family.

Catch classes with SYDNEY at 19th Street, Bryant Park, NoMad and Union Square! Questions or comments? Email!
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