January can be depressing – there I’ve said it and we can now get back to what we were doing! People can put a whole heap of pressure on themselves at the beginning of the year to start new regimes and put the past year behind them. If anything 2016 taught me is that life is very short and many of our much loved personalities are no more.
Additionally UK and American politics have further destabilised some of us because what we thought would never happen has happened and we have had to shift awareness quickly which has been fairly shocking. Personally I don’t do new year’s resolutions or support new diet regimes, I do however write a list of ten achievable goals which I only look back on at the end of the year. This year I made my ten out of ten, but the tenth slid in right at the last minute! As I write this, the week before Christmas I am reflecting how lucky we have been in East Sussex with the weather so far this winter. I don’t know about you but I’ve never seen such fantastic sunrises and sunsets, the blue skies have certainly lifted people and it can serve as a reminder as to how dependant we can be on the weather to cheer the soul. Hopefully this will continue into 2017 but we are all too familiar with the dark wet days that seem to drag on forever.
In the last few years I’ve been practicing mindfulness, a slight tweak on past efforts at meditation which my monkey brain couldn’t get to grips with for long enough to warrant any effect. It’s helped hugely in the fact that I utilise these learned skills in minute doses, about 5-10 a day rather than sitting in a corner with my legs crossed for two hours which in my world is just not achievable. What mindfulness has helped me realise is that most of us just gallop through life and do not stop and notice very much. My dog walker and runner friends are an exception as they are up with the lark either walking or running and noticing much more than I do lying in bed neither walking dogs nor training for the latest half marathon. To just stop for a minute and be aware of your surroundings is a joyous thing to do. It’s so simple as well and doesn’t cost anything. I think it says a huge amount that the sale of adult colouring books has suddenly gone through the roof. In a frantic world we are certainly in need of peace. Being mindful can also have a huge affect on how we consume food and what we choose to eat. Many of us are guilty of grabbing any food item, seeing it merely as fuel and bolting it down whilst doing several other things at the same time. Many of my patients have had a marked shift in their awareness if they practice mindful eating.
To a certain extent being more mindful can start in the supermarket. Rushing around grabbing the first item with nagging children around can make for one unhealthy mindless food shopping experience. Questions that you could ask are, do we really need this? Is this going to make me feel better? Do I really want to give this company my money? Where has my food come from? Is this something I want to invest in once a week? I have suggested where possible that people do a recce food shop when changing diets. Take a pen and paper and mobile phone camera and walk down the aisles not as a mindless consumer but as an informed and mindful purchaser of the best fuel for your car, although your car.. is you. One of the worst things you can do whilst food shopping is to make assumptions. Assuming something is good for you because a manufacturer tells you won’t necessarily be true. You make the decisions about what’s good for you and your family, and yes this does mean reading the ingredients. You know instinctively if it’s a good product or not by turning the packets over, ignoring the nutritional labels which are quite frankly a joke and making your own decisions. I have also advocated over the years using smaller glasses for alcohol, smaller plates and eating more slowly. I’m certainly guilty of bolting my food down as I’m always in a rush, but it’s really essential to slow down and chew your food and we know how important it is to sit down as a family round a table with TV and phones switched off.
As you go into January there is no need to have a dry month. If you need a dry month then perhaps look at how much you are drinking overall in the entire year, that you would need to stop for a month. If you are being sponsored to go dry, again without sounding sanctimonious that’s really saying you are drinking too much that you have to be sponsored. If you can moderate drinking through the year then January will be no different and in one of the darkest most depressing months you can at least have a bit of wine. The same goes for overindulging at Christmas which may force you to feel you have to starve in January. It’s not the time to do it, it’s wet, it’s cold, there’s little sunlight and you’ve just made it a whole lot worse for yourself! Why not wait until the summer when it’s far easier to eat “light”? Your body is crying out for stews, casseroles, soups and roasts not raw spinach.
New Years resolutions tend to be focused a lot around weight. If you are finding that you do this every year and nothing has happened in the weight loss department then why not stop. You can make lifestyle changes at any time of the year, it doesn’t have to be January. What I’m really saying here is slow down, take your time, have a think about things, don’t rush, there is no hurry. Continue eating as you have done but be more mindful of amount, quality and ingredients of the food you are eating. A food diary is a really good place to start so you can really see what you are eating and add in any physical or emotional triggers as well and how you feel after you have eaten certain foods.
As some of you know I grit my teeth when I’m asked to write top ten tips for a new you in the new year, it’s all nonsense. It’s as though on 1st January you can push the reset button and everything springs into the place, but you know you can push the reset button if you want any time and any day of the year.
And on the that last point I wish you a great 2017 full of good health and positive outcomes.
My alternative top ten tips for the new year:
- Start keeping a food diary to see exactly what you eat, and if you have any emotional or physical triggers.
- Invest in smaller wine glasses – put the flagons in the back of a cupboard somewhere or drink wine from champagne glasses.
- Keep asking yourself am I actually hungry?
- Try keeping a gratitude or make it happen journal – things tend to stick more if you write them down
- Consider slowing down and noticing your surroundings more.
- Try a mindfulness app on your phone or even joining a course locally
- Be grateful for what you have – we all tend to focus on what we don’t have
- Concentrate some of your time on others that need help
- Start buying the best food you can afford and know exactly what it is that you are eating and where it’s come from
- Avoid all diets and detoxes at this time of year – it will just depress you.
Throughout January 2017 Kate has 10% off her two hour MOT consultation. If you would like more information on this please mention this article and contact 01323 737814/310532