Category Archives: Fitness

“January’s Incremental Improvements”: (1). Eating Well & Enjoyably.

Sometimes I find incremental changes to be far more effective and sustainable than sudden energetic efforts to drastically change a particular area of life. Of course sometimes a large project needs to be planned and undertaken (such as de-cluttering you home, for example), wherein such energetic efforts for a short-term project are necessary and helpful in order to sustain new habits, a new system and new daily routines that will be sustainable in the long term.

However, unlike some, I’m not one to approach healthy eating in this way, and I wouldn’t jump on the January “New year, new start, new diet” bandwagon. From observation, such efforts often seem short lived, ending in discouragement, disappointment and a lapse into old bad habits.

I prefer to make incremental changes gradually and throughout the year, taking time to research healthy options and what will work for me in my life and routine. Overall, I find, small and consistent changes are more sustainable and can lead to a healthier lifestyle, rather than finding oneself struggling under the guilt of not achieving a particular diet or lifestyle goal.

And yet, they busy-ness of life does mean that at certain times of the year, and under certain circumstances, I do better than at others. Therefore, I find January and a new year to be a wonderful opportunity to think afresh about whether I can approach things differently to sustain positive changes and intentions on a day to day basis.

So, with that in mind, a new purchase I have recently introduced into my life is this lovely stainless steel “Bento Box” or compartmentalised meal tray.

Details and pictures from Amazon can be found here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B078RJPTY8/ref=twister_B0771KJXM9?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1

How has this small change helped?

Psychologically: For some, perhaps idiosyncratic and childlike reason, I love airplane tray meals. Therefore, it gives me a little burst of joy to look forward to eating from this whether I’m at work, or at home curled up on the sofa while watching TV.

Portion Control: I am more aware of how much food I am eating, and these compartments certainly help visually in seeing this more clearly than on a standard plate.

Preparing and Maintaining Healthy Eating Habits in a Busy Lifestyle:

As a young, single woman, who works full time, 5 days a week, I often only get home from work after 7pm. This can mean falling into bad patterns of getting ‘quick’ options for food, including ready-meals for the microwave, or occasionally even takeaways when I don’t have the energy to cook a full and healthy meal for myself. This is fine in moderation, however, I’d like to choose the option intentionally, rather than by default because I’m too tired or not organised and prepared enough. However, now I only have to think of 5 things to put into the compartments, which means it is easier to have a healthier variety of food, eat well and be mindful of portion sizes, and save some money. I used to ‘meal prep’ for the week ahead on some weekends, however, this takes time and is something I tended to stop and start as I found it hard to maintain on a regular basis. This way, ‘meal-prepping’ feels far easier and more manageable – at least for me – you may have different and better ways that work for you.

The Verdict:

This little investment has already helped me to make healthier and manageable changes in my day to day life and I feel that I will be better able to sustain these changes than with good intentions alone. What about you? What fun things can you introduce into your life to help make and maintain positive changes? What things do you already do that you can share with the rest of us? xx

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Fitness, focus and forming new habits.

Life as it happens to be today has included getting in a couple of workout routines.

Now, let me clarify…amongst my friends and people I know, there are a lot of very sporty, healthy and fit people. Their pursuits range from swimming, skiing, snowboarding, long distance running, rock-climbing, weight training, hillwalking, playing football (‘soccer’), canoeing, assault courses, working out at the gym and cycling! They do sponsored events….for fun!  The point I wish to clarify, is that I am not one of these people. I like walking. I like cycling, but in a leisurely way, and it would help if I had a bike, which I haven’t had for years. I also very much like the idea of being a cool pole vaulting, rock climbing, mountain biking, snowboarding chic – but as much as I like the idea of it, my body doesn’t seem quite to have a natural inclination towards sports and fitness in the competitive sense. Ok, I hated gym class in school – not so much because I didn’t like the exercise – I loved the hurdles, because I could do that well, and I felt as if I was flying. But because my fitness and stamina was pretty average, and with sports in school there is quite a competitive edge, or there can be, and average doesn’t really stand for much. There are also all of the ‘cliques’ that go along with that kind of world. Well, my school days are long behind me now, but I do wonder if perhaps my inclinations towards sport and exercise as an adult have been influenced by the certain dread felt in those younger days?!

Now that I have the freedom to be my own person in the adult world, I find that fitness is a very personal thing, and a personal journey. And it really doesn’t matter where you are starting from. What matters is that you have decided to take better care of your body and physical health, which in turn has a positive impact upon your mental health. I went to the gym for a while several years ago, but I don’t go now. Growing up I’ve always been quite ‘petite’ in my frame, but as the years progress I find that I can no longer take that for granted, and I will have to work at it to keep in shape and stay as healthy as I want to be.

For me, one of the things that keeps me motivated is breaking big goals down into smaller more manageable pieces, and making lists! I’m a big ‘list-maker’, me. I find that that helps me to focus. And while I don’t go to the gym, as perhaps I have the ‘self-conscious bug’, I have set myself tasks and goals that I try to keep a track of.

I do walk a lot, however, and I have also started skipping (‘jump rope’) and keeping a track of how many I can manage over time. I love being able to exercise at home without all of the social fears and anxieties that go along with being in a gym environment and the natural self consciousness and comparison traps that result. I love the fact that there are so many health and fitness videos on YouTube and I have started to do some simple weight training and cardio amongst other things. I am not well versed in the world of fitness, but I’m making a start and keeping going.

Of course, there are days and weeks when I don’t actually manage to get anything in. And I think that’s ok. What works for me is to have a goal, write it down, break it up into smaller steps, have a way of encouraging myself and tracking my progress. So the fact that I might metaphorically slip off the treadmill from time to time isn’t such a big deal, the main thing is I got on to start with and will keep going and if I slip up here and there, I’ll simply get back on and aim to keep going, without external pressure.

I know we all work differently, and some people find the external pressure a driving force and a catalyst for change. I don’t think I’m one of those people, but I’m sure there is still so much more for me to learn about myself and maybe if I stepped further out of my comfort zone I would find that that actually helps.

I know someone who wasn’t particularly fit, but took up running and participating in marathons and now does them with alarming regularity! 🙂 Initially he trained on a treadmill in the gym but thought that he didn’t like running outside or with other people (the marathons being the exception), but later joined a running group and is loving the mutual encouragement and meeting people at his own stage and fitness level when previously his mind had been closed off to the idea. So …who knows…we learn and we change and new opportunities can take us to new places.

I believe that the process of habit formation, for me at least, is most effective by incremental gains. Small and consistent changes building up over time. Some people like to throw themselves into things, and take on big challenges, and find that they do great that way.

You might be a ‘super fit’ person, someone somewhere in the middle like me, or someone who feels very unfit and wants to make a change. I think an important thing is to be kind to yourself. To know that who you are right now is wonderful and although there are changes you want to make in your life, you are no more or less deserving than the next person of having a healthy life. Start from where you are, find out what works best for you, and encourage yourself and other people.

And don’t worry if you’ve slipped off that treadmill….you can always get back up on it again, or leave the gym and take a walk in the park. Whatever works for you…find it, start it and keep going. You can do it! 🙂

And if you’d like to share, I’d love to hear what works for you, so please feel free to comment below! 🙂