Arts & Entertainment

Healthy Perspective Inspired by Lunar New Year

By Gretchen Powell

The last day of January marked the first day of the Lunar New Year, a celebration and time of renewal and reflection in many Asian cultures. My own experiences as a dual-cultured kid meant growing up celebrating two separate new years – Western and Chinese. I’ve grown to appreciate it as a reminder that, as I’ve said in the past, Jan. 1 is not the only day of the year on which to make resolutions to better your health – or better yourself.

As part of Lunar New Year tradition, it is common for people to wish each other good fortune, good health, happiness, and the like. As a kid, I primarily did this only as a means to collect my “red packet” filled with money, which the older generation gifts to the younger generation to help usher in a prosperous year. Of course, it’s not like I turn away from receiving my red packet nowadays, but the meaning behind those well wishes has definitely changed.

As my parents get older, as I face new experiences when it comes to my health and finances, and as the next generation comes into existence, my perspective is shifting. And those once-empty words that were a money-hungry child’s means to an end are now the legitimate hopes I have for another year without serious disease, without financial strife, and without heartbreak of any kind.

So I guess my mom was onto something all that time as I was growing up, when she stressed the importance of taking Chinese New Year seriously – not necessarily because of the specific holiday itself, but because it is important to take time every now and then to reflect upon the things that are important. Having a positive perspective can have a lot of impact on the actions that you take towards your goals, and I think that embracing the values that Lunar New Year promotes can have a great impact in that regard.

Of course, as I mentioned, the timing doesn’t hurt either. Lunar New Year generally comes about a month to six weeks after Western New Year, which is pretty perfect considering the likelihood of all those New Year’s resolutions falling to the wayside by the one-month mark. So, for me, it helps to have a reason to reexamine the choices I’ve been making and get a fresh kick in the metaphorical pants. All I know is that as I move forward into the rest of 2014, I most certainly am going to do my best to continue keeping the best interests of my health in the forefront of my mind – so that I can hopefully be that much closer to the good health, good fortune, and happiness that everyone deserves.

 Gretchen Powell is a fitness and healthy living blogger in Falls Church. She is not a registered dietitian, nutritionist, or medical doctor, and a medical professional should be consulted before undertaking dramatic diet changes. For more, visit