Spring has sprung a day early in Melbourne* and it seems like the perfect time after a long break to begin a new challenge: a challenge to add more healthy activities and drop the sweet treats. Not just for a week, mind you, but for a whoooole month!
I had big plans for my health in 2013, but have failed dramatically. Although I’ve tried very hard for the past few years to be healthier, fitter, more confident, less stressed, I’ve really struggled to maintain any of it**. This year I felt more optimistic – until I started getting migraines all the time and catching every cold that went around. Being ill so much has put me far behind in my Honours thesis that I have little time and energy for anything else.
In February, still motivated, I forked out more money than I could really afford on buying myself a gym membership for my birthday. Two days later I caught a summer cold and have just been piling on the weight ever since – and I mean stacking it on!
I have never gained so much weight in such a short amount of time – and I have never weighed near this much in all my life!
I think that I have spent the past four or five years feeling self-conscious about being a overweight, but this is the first time I that I just feel undeniably fat. There is nothing I own and nothing I can buy to wear that can cleverly hide this anymore. I had thought I was unconfident about my body before, but it’s amazing just how embarassing and shameful it feels to have everyone able to see clearly how much weight I have gained.
Considering the year so far, I am not confident that I will be able to turn this around any time soon. Oh, and I’m currently struggling through yet another cold!
Yet something in my bones is telling me that now is the time to set myself a new challenge. A challenge that is strict and slightly ambitious while being realistic and very manageable – even if I get sick again or have to go into a thesis-writing cocoon.
This month I am going to add 20 minutes of some positively healthy activity each day. I wanted to just commit to exercise, but I realise that I am destined to fail that one. I know that there will be days when I am at uni and work from so early to so late that I will come home with barely enough engery left to make dinner. I hope that I will stay well, but I also have to prepare for catching the next cold that floats around (and the one after that and the one after that).
I have to take into account what I can still positively achieve even when I am exhausted, time-poor or ill. Even on those days, I want there to be something positive that I have done for my health. “Positively healthy activity” will include anything from aerobics and walking to meditating and yoga. It can be doing my physio back stretches or dancing around my bedroom. It is anything where I am spending 20 minutes (and perhaps not even 20 minutes all at once) focusing on my body and my wellbeing. (Although admittedly, I hope that for many of the days I will manage to do some exercise.)
This month, I am going to drop those indidious “sweet treats” from my diet. Lollies, ice cream, cookies…and especially chocolate, which I have consumed ridiculously callously this year! I’m in a toxic relationship with chocolate. It makes me feel so good and yet so bad at the same time. I feel horrible after eating it and I know it’s bad for me, and yet I just keep coming back for more!
So I’m allowing myself two “sweet cheats” this month: (homemade) chocolate milk and hot chocolate (cocoa). I don’t find that sweet drinks make me want more sweet things, as sweet food always does. I feel I need to build in a back-up plan for the danger times when I begin to crave chocolate, such as when I have migraine.
When I was kid, I loved playing with old business diaries or school worksheets and pretending to work in an office or as a teacher. The joy came from playing with the stationery and pretending to do official stationeryish things. I don’t think there should be any new project started without some kind of pretty organisational chart to mark off! (Mine will be in Excel, and the month will gradually change to pretty colours as I mark off each successful day.)
It will be so nice to feel good about my habits again rather than ashamed. Tomorrow will be the first of 30 days of feeling good about my healthy habits!
*Although it’ll probably descend into Winter again multiple times before finally setlling on just being hot around the end of November. And then it will rain at Christmastime.
** I’m proud to say, though, that I have felt more organised while doing my Honours studies this year and feel that all my DO/AO efforts in the past have helped me.