Updated: Sep 1, 2018
New Year’s Resolutions continue to be a popular cultural pastime. Perhaps a bit bleary and bloated after the holidays it’s natural to think, “I’ve got to make some serious lifestyle changes!” We’re bombarded with ads and articles all with the requisite Before and Afters. “It’s a new year, time for a fresh start…”
While there’s a certain appeal and glamour in the idea that we can completely start again on January 1, I think a lot of major adjustment efforts are doomed to fail because the rest of our life tends to go on just as before, with the same schedules, obligations and demands. We don’t live, eat or make decisions in a vacuum.
When it comes to health and lifestyle changes, I’ve found that the most effective are small, incremental adjustments that can be organically incorporated into my daily routine, and then become part of that routine. Building healthy and nurturing habits rather than making drastic changes based on aversion or deprivation is what’s been working for me long-term.
Looking Back, Looking Ahead…
I think few of us would disagree that 2016 was a tumultuous year for any number of reasons. It was a bit of a reset year for me personally, as I left my full-time job after almost 40 years of working, all day every Monday to Friday. (I DO NOT miss that aspect of it!!)
My re-invention is turning out to be a more gradual process than I’d anticipated. I enjoy working from home, but the newness of having my time be (mostly) my own and some amount of travel have kept my schedule a bit haphazard. I’ve often felt as though I’m just keeping up rather than moving forward. While I don’t want to lock myself into another set of daily obligations, I do believe that getting into more regular routines will be a positive step for my well-being.
Lifestyle Changes: Baby Steps
So the first adjustment I’m making is to set a blog posting and Great Food Club review schedule. Trying to post almost every day doesn’t allow me enough time or to keep up with other blogs, answer my email in a timely manner, or tackle some other projects I’ve had on the back burner for months. So I’ll be posting on Wednesdays initially. As I’m inspired and time allows, I may post on other days too, but am only committing to and planning for the Wednesday schedule.
Next, I’ve set a goal of taking myself out for an “art/culture date” at least once a month. There are so many really good museums and historical properties nearby in Yorkshire, and I no longer have the excuse of no time. Again, planning is key to making this happen, so I’m declaring the third Wednesday of each month my personal Culture Appreciation Day.
My final goal is to visit and review at least two food producers or restaurants in Yorkshire each week….no pressure on myself then!
Finally, and on a more serious note, the untimely death of Carrie Fisher was a stark reminder that although we tend to focus on breast cancer, Alzheimer’s and other diseases, the number one cause of death among women is still heart disease, and I do consider myself a bit of a ‘cardiology’ knowledge expert given my heart history. So in addition to the other steps I’ve taken to maintain and improve my health, I’m adding a bit more cardio to my routine. (I already try and do my cardio rehab exercises each day). First step is to get my heart rate in an improved “target” training range. I’m starting with 10 minutes walking each day and will work up to 20 minutes per session. (Again, small adjustments that are easy to incorporate.) I’m also hopeful that improving my cardiovascular fitness will increase my energy levels and improve my sleep.
Because I’m more successful with small, manageable steps rather than drastic overhauls, I’m not going to overload myself with too many changes at once. I think these are a good start.