10 Mar Setting intentions for the year ahead
I’ve never been a big fan of New Years resolutions. They seem to come with a lot of pressure attached, and in my mind there is no better way to set yourself up for failure than to put unnecessary pressure on yourself. I am a fan of aiming to make positive changes though, and I prefer to think of what I want to accomplish in the coming year in terms of aiming to implement and sustain long term healthy habits. These are the habits I want to work on in 2017:
1. Be kinder to myself
This year I want to focus on practicing self-love more often! It is so easy to be hard on yourself, whereas priority number one should be to give yourself some credit. Thoughts like “I should have done that better” or “I should have achieved x and y by now, I’m a failure” or “he/she is much more talented than me, what’s the point in even trying” are so easy to put on repeat. The more they are thought they more they are believed, and the more they are believed the more attention they will take away from all of your positive accomplishments and achievements. I am especially good at picking apart what I do wrong (in my eyes) and what I haven’t achieved yet, as opposed to what I am doing right and the many things I have achieved. Make a habit of acknowledging your achievements, no matter how small and seemingly irrelevant you may think they are. Make a point to celebrate them and to celebrate yourself.
2. Focus on exercise, and be adventurous!
I could sing the praises of exercise all day, every day – for body, mind and spirit, the whole lot. Exercise induced endorphins can do wonders for your sense of wellbeing, and this is supported by a lot of scientific evidence. Exercise should be an equal partner together with healthy eating in the journey to weight loss and weight maintenance. I firmly believe that to successfully lose weight and keep it off, while still feeling that you aren’t depriving yourself of everything delicious in life, exercise has to be part of your lifestyle. Having moved from Durban to Cape Town at the end of 2015, I found it very difficult to get back into a good exercise routine. Only towards the middle of 2016 did I start to feel like I was developing some really good habits that I felt I would sustain. I started going back to pilates which has always been a great tool to help with my troublesome lower back. I started running again after years of being too apprehensive to get back into it, and my husband even got me on a bike for a few adventures in the mountains. I also started yoga – by far the most (surprisingly) exciting new habit that I have developed recently. Don’t be fooled, yoga isn’t an hour of sitting on the floor chanting “ohm” and doing a few stretches. It is a challenging, but incredibly rewarding, workout and I would really recommend it to anyone looking to nurture their body and mind.
Remember that the path to developing a good exercise routine and to becoming fitter starts with forming the habits that will lead you there – a 20 minute walk every day, a few push ups or squats or a few minutes of skipping (which can easily be done at home). All of this counts as exercise and will help you to slowly become fitter, at which time you can focus on developing more challenging and adventurous exercise habits. If anything, just aim to move more this year. Less time on the couch or in the lift or on the escalator – take any opportunity you can and MOVE MORE, it all adds up!
3. Take time to be quiet and breathe
I often catch myself spending ages mindlessly scrolling through Facebook or Twitter or Pinterest when I’m bored or have some time to spare. But when I think of the things I was hoping to achieve that day or week my first thought is “but I was so busy and just didn’t have the time”. This year I want to instil more habits focused around taking time out to be quiet, to disconnect from the busyness of the world and technology, and dedicate more time to myself. I think this is a hugely beneficial habit to develop as it helps you to reconnect with your body and mind, and the benefits of a healthy mind-body connection when trying to focus on developing a healthy and balanced lifestyle (especially healthy eating habits) cannot be underestimated.
4. Be more adventurous with my cooking
I can sometimes get a bit lazy when it comes to cooking as I am not particularly confident in the kitchen. This often leads to the same healthy recipes being recycled far too often in our house, which can get boring. This year I am hoping to improve on this by getting into the habit of cooking new recipes more often (at least three or four a month) as well as experimenting with different ingredients. I will post the recipes that I found to be convenient and healthy on the blog so you can try them too!
You may notice that not all my “habit goals” are focused on food. It is so important to remember that, to establish a healthy and balanced lifestyle (which includes healthy and balanced eating habits), you need to nurture multiple facets of your life. Don’t focus on one and neglect the others. Commit to developing habits this year that will address your physical (including exercise and eating) as well as your mental wellbeing. Happy 2017, let’s make it a great one!