Happy 2017 lovely readers – I hope you’ve had a fantastic Christmas and New Year filled with family, fun, food and festivities!!
NOW DROP AND GIVE ME 20!
Because I saw you sneak that third slice of pudding with custard AND double cream and now you must be punished OK? At least that’s how I used to see New Years Day. One seriously big dose of guilt and self-loathing after weeks of eating and drinking with abandon, sometimes (but not always) served with a side of optimistic enthusiasm for the new me. The ‘definitely being good from today’ mentality that year after year guaranteed the same outcome – TOTAL FAILURE! Yup, whatever half-cocked new foodie hogwash was topping the Amazon book charts, it was in my basket quicker than you could say alkaline acai bowl. Sometimes, if I was feeling really enthusiastic I’d even treat myself to the celebrity endorsed fitness DVD de rigeur to ensure optimum success. Six-pack sorted.
Sound familiar? I swear I started every year of most of my adult life hopeful that this time it would be different because I really was going to change everything. I’d prep and blend (and spend!) my way to a healthy glow. I’d (mindfully) Pilates and plank the sh*t out of life for a body taut enough to make Davina weep. Ultimately, it was my ‘go at it guns blazing’ attitude that was my downfall every single time. Once the initial enthusiasm wore off and the reality of everyday life crept in I was back to square one, only worse, because this time I’d failed AGAIN.
Thankfully I’m a pretty fast learner and after ooh, say 15 years of repeating the same sodding routine with the same sodding outcome, I finally cottoned on that this wasn’t quite working for me. I wasn’t ever going to want to stop eating Kit-Kats with my cuppa and no amount of (very expensive, home made) raw energy ‘bliss balls’ were ever going to change that. I did the one single most important thing I’ve ever done for myself and gave myself permission to just stop. Stop constantly berating myself for what I did, what I didn’t do, how I looked, lived, ate, thought…all of it. I had equated happiness with something that realistically I was never going to achieve and that needed to change. At first the thought of not following the rules terrified me. I was an intelligent adult and mother of two and yet the thought of being left to my own devices when choosing what to eat made me feel sick. Yes, I’m fully aware how ridiculous and sad that sounds.
Today I’m 100% happier when it comes to all that stuff. It takes time to change a habit of a lifetime and I’ll admit that sometimes I’ll find myself sneaking a peek at a latest food craze or fitness plan but these days I do it with a much healthier, sensible attitude. I can look at the pretty pictures, appreciate how tasty and nourishing a chickpea and sweet potato curry is but most importantly I can tuck into a Sunday roast with all the trimmings and savour every mouthful without feeling remotely guilty about it – it’s just food! I no longer feel the need to restrict food groups or calories. I take responsibility for what I put in my body and am fully aware of the consequences of a healthy versus unhealthy diet. Some days I have the sweet potato, some days the roast dinner- it’s called balance.
You’d be forgiven for thinking I’m not a fan of New Year Resolutions but actually the opposite is true- I love New Year! I think it’s the perfect time to reflect on the past and make exciting plans for the future. To draw a line under the not-so-good and start afresh. I even love a Davina DVD now and again and after hearing her speak at Blogfest this year I really believe that she works hard to juggle work, family life and exercise just like everyone else. She was warm, open, funny and had a vulnerability that you don’t usually see in the public eye.
For some people the man of the moment is Joe Wicks. In fact this New Year’s Day his ‘Lean In 15’ food and fitness books claimed ALL THREE top spots on Amazon bestsellers. If that plan works with your lifestyle and you enjoy it then that’s perfect, I’ve seen the ‘Before & Afters’ and they’re pretty amazing. Personally, well I once tried his beginners 15min HIIT workout and honestly thought I was going to throw up for the next three hours. Sorry Joe, it’s just not gonna work out between me and you.
This year I will be making resolutions, setting goals and drawing up master plans in my shiny new notebook, it’s just that none of them will be diet related. Been there, done that. In my 20s I was almost 3 stone heavier than I am now and miserable. I was stuck in the horrible cycle of diet, fail at diet, feel terrible, binge, repeat and 15 years later I still hate to think about how I felt back then. Comfort came in the form of huge bowls of pasta, tubs of pick n mix and (prescribed) happy pills. Not good.
I gradually lost a few pounds here and there and years later my wedding provided the incentive I needed to ‘stick at it’ but even then, a year of limiting calories and cutting out sugar was zero fun and I spent most of it like a banshee with PMT. Until last year I never really managed to have a healthy relationship with food or my body and in the end I realised that the whole time the problem was ‘up here’ *points to head*.
Life whizzes past at 100mph and I refuse to spend another second worrying about my squidgy bits when I am lucky enough to have a beautiful, healthy family to spend it with. I don’t love the way I look, I’d change a lot of things given the option but then who wouldn’t? I just don’t allow it to get me down anymore.
I walk, a lot. It never fails to make me feel happier and the exercise is an added bonus. Sometimes I’ll stick on a Pilates DVD if I feel like it, never under duress. I think of it as an investment in my health rather than a form of punishment! This Christmas I’ve eaten every kind of pudding and pie I fancied and enjoyed every single bite. Where in previous years I would have mindlessly ‘stuffed it all in’ before the big new year diet, that never even crossed my mind. Ironically I probably ate way less as a result. I don’t weigh myself nearly as much as I used to but out of interest I hopped on the scale this morning and weigh exactly the same as I did last month. No guilt, no dramas, no emergency diet required.
I really hope that if you’re thinking about going hell for leather with the whole ‘New year- New Me’ thing you’ll cut yourself some slack and take a realistic, long-term approach, not forgetting to start ‘up there’ first. It took me 15 years, not 15mins but I got there in the end.
Here’s to a happy, healthy, fun-filled 2017!