WELL we're almost at the end of 2013 and I hope it's been a good year for you and your health.
Before we head into 2014 though, we have the little matter of Christmas and New Year to deal with. Now normally at this time of year I'm advising people what to do to limit the damage caused by eating too many rich foods, increased alcohol consumption and for most, a reduction in activity. You know what I mean, lounging around on that sofa, in front of a warm fire with friends and family watching another Christmas movie! I'm all for that but there is a limit to the amount of lounging around we should do before we need to get up and moving.
This year my tactics are a little different and possibly that's down to changes that I've made to my own lifestyle, over the last few months. So I'm not going to say, keep your alcohol consumption to a minimum or only eat raw unsalted nuts or only have one piece of chocolate or sweet per day, because once you've read this and put the paper down, with all the good intentions in the world, it's Christmas for goodness sake and you're allowed to let your hair down a little.
At the end of last month's article I said this month would be about nutritional changes you can make but I've changed my mind, as I think the following is more appropriate. We will have plenty of time to talk nutrition in future articles.
So here's the deal and it's a deal you make with yourself, it's quite simply to make a small step each day to a healthier lifestyle, for Life. That's it. Because your health is for Life, not just about ignoring over Christmas. If you look at it like this and gradually build a new, healthier lifestyle, you will without a doubt see a new you emerge, the you that you think about and want to be. So forget all that New Year, new you hype, we've all learned by now that it's short lived and just makes a few extra £££s for the fitness industry who put you through a regime that resembles a living hell, just for you to lose a few pounds and get disheartened. It's the 'get fit quick' mentality at work again and please, take it from me, it doesn't work, not in the long term.
OK, so back to the deal you're about to make with yourself. Say the next sentence out loud now. "I am going to take one small step each day to create a new, beautiful and healthy lifestyle for myself". There that wasn't so bad was it and the beauty is that you can start today, you don't have to wait until New Year and you can still have a fantastic and guilt free Christmas. Everyone's steps are going to be different and without working with you personally, it's not possible for me to say here what your next and future steps should be. What I can do, is give you ideas and tips to get you started.
1. Make sure the steps are literally small changes each day and note them down in a diary. i.e. the first week could be just adding an extra glass of water each day until you are drinking 8-10 glasses per day.
2. Be kind on yourself, even if you take a step backwards one day. It won't hurt every now and again.
3. Be consistent. You already have been with the lifestyle you currently lead, so you can be with a new lifestyle. Make those small changes and then keep doing them.
4. It takes practice. Whenever I start something new, I know I'm going to have to keep practicing at it to get better and once I start getting better, it becomes more enjoyable and I want to practice it more. This applies to everything, whether it be drinking 2-3 litres of water per day, making a healthy meal for dinner or climbing a mountain.
5. Be prepared and get excited about trying new things. Food, places, activities, people, conversations, experiences, the list goes on. Just start doing something different out of your normal routine once in a while and you'll soon find it becomes a more regular thing that you want to do. As Albert Einstein was once quoted as saying "the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result." Although I believe a little insanity helps, I also believe that if you want a new outcome, you need to do new things.
6. Don't ever deprive yourself. Yes you can still have all those naughty things in life. The way I look at it now is, having smaller doses of the naughty stuff means I will be able to enjoy them for longer as opposed to having large doses of them which will most probably reduce the quality and therefore enjoyment of my life.
7. Enjoy the little things in life. Playing with your children/grandchildren, taking the dog for a walk, tasting a new food for the first time and then tasting it again, whether you liked it or not.
That should get you started on your new and continual path of healthy living. Being healthy isn't something that happens one day or something that you have to aim for, it is just doing something in this very moment that will help your mind and body improve. Having plans in place and goals to aim for is great but it's the consistent, continual little pieces of action that will inevitably keep you fit and healthy for life.
Next month I'll share with you some of the changes I've made over the last few years and what I continue to practice today. Some have been life changing for me and they could be for you too.
Until then, Have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy New Year.