Laying bricks

I remember reading once that life – and goal setting – is like laying bricks. Whether you want to build a cottage or a cathedral you have to put down just one brick at a time. There are no short-cuts, it just has to be done. Eventually you’ll build what you’re trying to build.

One of the dangers with this, of course, is that you can both lose sight of the bigger picture for focussing on the small things, and also get overwhelmed with how long the journey seems to be taking; how long you’re going to have to do what you’re doing in order to get there.

Recently I think I’ve been having a problem with the latter issue and have been focussing on the wrong things. I’ve talked about how I let things go around Christmas and fell into bad habits, and I link that often in my mind with the fact that I haven’t really lost any weight since this time last year. So in the last month or so, I’ve been thinking a lot about how can I lose the weight – should I be counting calories, paying more attention to portion size, fitting in a few more workouts etc… I’ve been so focussed on what can I do to lose the weight now that I’ve not really been thinking about it in a long-term sustainable way.

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What I Want To Work On Wednesday

I think the main thing ‘What I Want To Work On Wednesday’s have taught me this week is how fast time can seem to move. Whilst some part of me feels that this week has moved at a decent pace and I got things done, I also can’t believe I’m writing this WIW2W post already. It feels far too soon.

Which, I suppose, is one of the reasons why I started doing this in the first place. To stop time whizzing by so quickly without taking advantage of it to its fullest. To ensure that I don’t check in a month down the line and say, oops – I’ve not really done anything.

So how did I do with this past week’s tasks?

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What I Want To Work On Wednesday

What is ‘What I Want To Work On Wednesday?’

A few days ago I was reading through my old blogs (there were at least two before this one) to both gain some inspiration on what to write about and, more importantly, see what my life was like a few years ago. It wasn’t long before starting this one that I last wrote in my previous blog – I started this one in November 2014, and the last post in my previous one was October 2014, although regular posting stopped around August – so I was surprised to discover that for the most part I feel like I’m reading about a completely different person. I was extremely surprised at how much I’ve changed and grown as a person over the past two years. As much as I tend to beat myself up a bit at the moment when I feel like I’m going off the rails (falling into bad food, sleep and exercise habits), ‘off the rails’ for me now is nothing like it was two years ago. I’m much better organised, much more confident, much more on top of my mental health – to name just a few things.

One thing I did do on my last blog which I think would be a good idea to start doing again here is the brilliantly named (and not at all overly wordy) “What I Want To Work On Wednesday”, where I’ll name a couple of small things I want to work on during the week ahead and check in on how the previous week’s tasks are going. This ties into my mention of accountability in my last post. It’s very easy  for me to completely lose track of time and my goals and ambitions if nothing or nobody is checking in on me or making me stop and think about how I’m doing. That’s how – just like this last month – I can suddenly stop and realise that it’s been over three weeks since I last did any consistent exercise, despite feeling like I’d just taken a day or two off.

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Rebirth and Renewal

rainbow fountain cow

There’s really no correlation between this picture and this post

Surprise! I’m still alive!

So, that went well.

Despite the fact that several of the last couple of posts published on this blog discuss re-starts and a need for increased consistency in posting, you may have noticed that I’ve failed spectacularly in doing just that. Whilst I did indeed have several very good weeks following on from my last post in regards to improving my diet, exercise, sleep schedule etc… I quickly fell into the same problem that so many people have with the end of the year, when I let December and the Christmas holidays completely derail my progress.

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It’s a New Dawn, It’s a New Day, It’s a New Life for Me…

New Day

…And I’m feeling good.

Today, ladies and gentlemen, we are going to be talking about fresh starts.

I originally planned to have this written and uploaded last week, straight after Easter. Like Christmas and New Year, Easter for many of us is another time of overindulgence, and my weekend was no exception. Whilst I didn’t eat all my chocolate eggs in one go, my usually balanced diet flew out of the window in the face of cheeses, pâté, pizza, roast dinners, chocolates – to name but a few. To be fair – as I had to remind myself on the third day – I wasn’t completely overeating. The quantities of all of the above were much larger than my usual intake of them, but the portions were nowhere near as big as they might have been a few years ago.

It just made me feel generally like crap. I was genuinely sad when I realised this, and annoyed my family trying to demand sympathy:

“You want us to feel sorry for you because eating this stuff makes you feel bad? Just don’t eat it then!”
“You don’t understaaaaaand!”

My diet when I’m away from my family is completely different – my own fault entirely because when I’m around them I have no self-control and tend to think “I’m on holiday”, not because they force junk down my throat. I generally feel good and very comfortable when eating the way I do at home, but that changes when my eating habits change during visits to my parents.

I have actual restraint in my own home, this lasted for weeks

I have actual restraint in my own home, this lasted for weeks

But far from feeling happy that I had been right all along, in thinking I’d found a diet and lifestyle that worked a lot better for me over the last few years, I just felt sad. A tiny part of me was hoping that I’d kind of just been being a “pretentious foodie” when professing my love for date, cashew and cacao “chocolates” over regular chocolate, or that my aubergine and mince bake sits better with me than regular lasagne, even if the latter holds a fond place in my memories.

I do still occasionally want to binge on all those now-oft-deemed “unhealthy” foods! I just don’t want to feel terrible afterwards. But I did, and I was also feeling a bit down in the dumps about life in general (it happens sometimes).

I needed a fresh start.

The thing about fresh starts is that people often decide they should coincide with an important day of the year – New Year’s Resolutions, for example, or a significant birthday. And if it’s not one of those times, often you just start feeling a bit miserable about the way things are heading and hope that they’ll change at some unspecified point in the future.

But in the immortalised words of Nina Simone – it’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life for me.

You have the ability to start over any day you like, you can feel good, and to help here are five small things you can do to shake yourself up and feel fresher:

1. Eat something green

Vegan 'cheesy' broccoli soupOk, it doesn’t have to be green. But make yourself a much healthier meal than usual (we can all do it), and one that makes you feel fairly refreshed or ‘lighter’ afterwards. There are plenty of delicious and easy healthy recipes out there that can give us a bit of a boost and still feel fairly indulgent. Personally I made the above vegan ‘cheesy’ broccoli soup, and felt better than I had in days afterwards.

2. Sweat

SweatOr if you don’t sweat, just move in some way! Literally shake the cobwebs off. I’ve been doing Jillian Michael’s Shred It With Weights workout recently, it takes just 25 minutes and gets my heart rate up far more than a 25 min jog does (mainly because I’m unable to jog for 25 minutes, and so alternate with walking). If I don’t really want to work out one day but make myself start and finish, I feel so good and proud of myself afterwards. But if you don’t want to do anything that strenuous, go for a walk and take in some fresh air! Do some yoga! Do anything to get the blood flowing and your muscles stretched out a bit. Shaking things up physically will help you de-shake (that’s clearly a word) things mentally at the same time.

3. Shower

IMG_20150328_180630Or take a bath – use some of those left-over secret-Santa gifts from the last few years or the bath bomb/bath salts you’ve been saving for a special occasion. Take longer than usual – do the whole routine. The cleaning and the exfoliating and the conditioning and the moisturising afterwards. Feel cleaner and fresher and more pampered than you have done in a long time.

I should probably point out that this list isn’t in any sort of order. If it were, shower would probably come last. But as it isn’t, we can continue.

4. Clean

CleanTidy up your environment a little. It doesn’t have to be a lot for it to make a huge difference to how you feel. Make your bed. Wash the dishes. Throw a load of laundry into the washing machine. Wipe down the kitchen surfaces. Put away those clean clothes that have been lying on the sofa for about a week now. As much as I liked to claim that it wasn’t true when I was younger and that “I understand this mess, it’s organised chaos – this way I know where everything is!”, whoever said ‘tidy house, tidy mind’ was onto something. Buy yourself a cheap bunch of daffodils for your kitchen table. If your environment feels fresher, you’ll feel fresher.

5. Do something different

Do something different

Do absolutely anything that you don’t normally do, so long as it’s something that puts a smile on your face. It could be as simple as painting your nails if you don’t often do that (mine are now a very shiny turquoise). If you’re stuck for ideas, I love to browse the Sad Trombone List over at GalaDarling. You’re tired of your old routine, so break it up. Go to a different coffee shop. Plan a dinner that you wouldn’t normally try. Draw a picture and pin it on the noticeboard. Re-arrange the furniture. Buy and light a scented candle. Take a break for an hour – turn your phone off for an hour, sit in a room with no technology and read a new book for a short while. Get the paints out. Go to a museum. Usually wear jeans and a t-shirt? Wear a summer dress or a button-down with rolled-up sleeves. The possibilities are endless!

Shake off the cobwebs and set yourself up for a fresh start. You can now tackle anything. And that’s not because you’ve done any of the above steps. That’s because you can tackle anything, and you can achieve anything, you just needed to break out of the rut you were in.

It’s all you, and you’re doing great.

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