Simple, little and achievable aims for 2017


I don’t like making resolutions because I never stick to them. I also can’t face going on Facebook on New Year’s Day to see all the ‘new year new me!’ or ‘leaving all the fake friends behind this year’ style status updates. Thanks for that update hun, but no thanks.

Last year my main goals consisted of telling myself I will get more than two haircuts, to focus on my health more and cut down on drinking coffee. All of which I have achieved (I got three haircuts, high five) although the coffee drinking slowly started to increase as December neared.

I actually think goals help most people to achieve more and I do like ticking things off a list, so I am making one. Health is continuing to be my number one goal. Ehlers Danlos syndrome makes life hard at the best of times, and the bad times seem to get worse the older I get, despite being more infrequent, so I want to be as healthy as possible to combat the symptoms. Aside from making more progress on being well and getting stronger, these are my little aims for 2017:

Learn to knit – Yes, I say this every year, but this time I mean it. I WANT TO KNIT.

Master at least 10 new vegetarian recipes – I’m not a big meat eater at all, so I eat mainly veggie dishes already, but it’s getting repetitive. I would say I had lentil and chickpea curry at least 10 times in December, so I need new food in my life.

Join a club/team/activity of some kind – When I move, I want to find something local to do so I a) meet people in the area and b) spend more time learning new things and being sociable.

Start making packed lunches at least three times a week – I’ve gotten so bad at making healthy lunches at the tail end of 2016 and have started spending more money than I care to think about on Pret soups and salads. I also tend to add more unhealthy snacks by strolling through Tesco and deciding I definitely need a Milky Bar AND crisps AND chocolate raisins AND biscuits to dunk in tea during the 3pm lull. 

Get into gardening – I’m not sure how well I’ll cope with a reasonably big garden because I have zero gardening experience and no idea how to help plants thrive or whatever happens out there so I should probably buy a book or something.

Do life admin when it needs doing, not when a paperwork avalanche happens – I should learn to file.

This is me going pretty easy on me for next year, so here’s hoping I finally buy some knitting needles and learn to do more things with lentils. The excitement never ends. Happy NY!

Fitness and body image: goals for the rest of 2016 and giving up on unrealistic aims

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In my mind, I was going to come back from a two week holiday, have the August bank holiday weekend and then get straight back into my exercise and running routine. My hip injury healed, I got new running trainers, I was rested- it all made sense.

 What actually happened was M&S flapjacks, carbs, big homemade meals and wine and lots of staring at a screen while I caught up with work. Me and my pyjamas have really clocked up some quality time together. I also put on a pair of skinny jeans and nearly burst, which was a nice reminder of all the halloumi I ate in Cyprus.
Now I’ve been back a week though, I’m running out of excuses. I need to get back in the fitness game before I lose everything I built up. I am really motivated to do it, so I’m hoping it won’t be too hard to actually get out there and start moving. Baby steps.

I can’t believe it’s September. I’ve spent most of this year saving to move and looking forward to New York, and now that’s even two whole months in the past. My health has been really up and down lately, but I feel better on the whole so I want to make the most of the rest of the year. 2016 has turned into the year of a health transformation for me, so now I just need to make it to the end without mince pies and gingerbread defeating me. I work better when I have solid aims, but I can’t be bothered to make them farfetched and extreme, like get ripped abs by December or sign up to a marathon and run every morning or something. Never gonna happen. I want to look a certain way, but after so long of never making it happen, it’s time to readjust. It’s not happiness to constantly be feeling like you haven’t made it. Over and over again. 

Simple is better for now. Simple and realistic.

So, goals:

1) Start running 5k twice a week again. I was doing a lot more back in July but two injuries and almost a month out mean it’s back to warming up. Here’s hoping hypermobility doesn’t rear it’s ugly head again for a while. I like hips better in their sockets.

2) Keep up with physio stretches, rather than do them once, forget them, wake up in pain, repeat. It’s amazing how even though I know it does my damaged shoulders so much good, I continue to be appalling at doing them.

3) Try flotation. A friend of mine did this in Vauxhall and said it was incredibly relaxing. Essentially, you shower, then you go into a sort of giant bath in a pod and float in salty water so you feel weightless. They play music for the first part, then it drifts away and you float in silence (I love silence, so I am so up for this). The music comes back five minutes before the end of your hour session to let you know time is nearly up. I’m excited for this.

4) Perfect a foam rolling routine. If you exercise and you’ve never foam rolled, you need to get involved. It’s a way of loosening and strengthening muscles but can also be a standalone workout. It’s particularly good to make your legs feel more human and less deadweight after a heavy workout or long run. It’s painful, there’s no getting around it, but it’s definitely worthwhile trying. It’s supposedly very good for your abs too. I got my roller on Amazon for four little pounds.

5) Sign up to another 10k. Always a bit of risk for me given my unpredictable hips, but the last one felt so good. I felt like I had really achieved something solid because I had a medal and a time, which is stupid, because even the first time I ran 2k was an achievement, but it just felt so satisfying and will undoubtedly help motivate me to exercise more.

6) Get kitted up for outdoor winter exercise. The thought of running in the cold holds zero appeal to me. None. Zilch. Nada. But I have to try. If anyone has some recommendations on good winter kit, let me know, because outside of gloves and a hat, I have no idea.

7) Start making at least three dinners a week from scratch. I’m not bad at this as I love cooking but it’s not easy to be motivated after a days work to slave away in the kitchen chopping and mixing, but it’s worth it. Sauces, curries, stir fry, anything, it always tastes better when you make food from scratch. And you know, it’s healthy. Meat free Mondays was always something I tried to do before I moved out of my flat, so I want to get back into that routine.

The progress I made before my holiday was the biggest step I’ve ever taken fitness wise, with running weekly, doing a 10k, changing my diet up and gaining actual, visible muscle. It was even bigger progress considering the setbacks from Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. One last push through the last quarter of the year and I can definitely put a success tick next to my goal to transform my fitness this year.

Must. Stay. Away. From. Haribo.

 

Fitness overhaul- How much do you really want to change?

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 Two weeks ago I was more determined than ever that my latest attempt at overhauling my health and fitness was going to last. This is the longest I’ve ever stuck to a serious exercise regime. It’s the fittest I’ve ever felt. It’s also the longest my various health problems have gone into some sort of remission,  which has let me get to this point. 

It’s just amazing how quickly it can feel like it’s slipping away. I see so many public announcements of lifestyle changes. Declarations on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and in blogs from people who swear that this time, it’s going to last. They’re going to succeed. This time it’s for real and by posting it online it makes it official. Often though it doesn’t last, the attemp fails and the cycle is repeated few months later. I’ve been that person so many times. 

For the past couple of weeks I haven’t been able to stick to my preferred exercise/diet regime because I hurt my hip and I’ve been much busier than usual. I’ve still been able to fit some quick exercise in but it’s not been at the pace of the past five months. It’s made me so behind, so fast. 

It’s only two weeks. Two weeks doesn’t sound that long when you’re looking at the bigger picture, but this is where I fail. In fact, this is where we fail. We fall down because it’s hard to bounce back when you have a little break right?Motivation starts to wane and all the inspiration you felt just days before isn’t there anymore. It’s amazing (and bloody annoying) how quick and easy it is to slip into old habits.

The last two weeks have brought it home to me how much you need to want to change. You can’t want it a little bit. You can’t want it in waves. You have to want it to the point where there’s no alternative. I thought I’d always wanted it enough but clearly I haven’t, because I’ve never succeeded long term and now that bugs the life out of me. Why can’t I just do it? 

This irritation at myself has been stronger than ever and it’s driven me to this current attemp at reaching my goals.

I want to be physically fit- like really fit. I want it for the good of my weak body, my joints that struggle badly for my age and I want it to feel and look good. There’s no point denying the body image part- I want a flat muscly stomach, toned legs and arms and I want to feel really well and strong. I’ve wanted all of this for a long time but all the years of yearning and faddy attempts haven’t amounted to a real changes until now. 

I haven’t totally turned my life around and I’m vets inky not sporting a six pack, but I’ve never lasted this long or made this much progress- hence the frustration at feeling like I’ve taken a step back. 

I’m not going to let the past two weeks lead me down the road to failure. I refuse to lose the progress running my first 10k has made. I can’t deal with starting again, after more than five months of trying so hard, sweating so much, sacrificing so much time and overcoming many mental blocks and health barriers. 

I want this change to last. I want it to stay and to improve my life and give me the satisfaction that I’ve finally done it. It’s just taken so long to realise how much you’ve really got to want a lifestyle change to make it come about. 

Any inspiration to get me through the rest of this wobble and to keep me motivated is welcome. As are puppies, if you can arrange it. 

8 readjusted adult life goals

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Remember being a teenager and thinking that you would have nailed life by age 24? When you’re sixteen your twenties feel a million years away. Back then it was totally reasonable to think you’d probably have bought a house, be engaged, have a nice little job that involved regular long lunches and post-work cocktails, maybe you’d even have a kid and some sort of small fluffy dog to walk at weekends.

Well, how completely hilarious. Can you even imagine having life sorted in your early twenties? If you do, you’re amazing and you go Glenn Coco. I’ve bypassed my early twenties now and I’m still trying to scrape some sort of passable life plan together and I’m pretty thankful for it. I’ve enjoyed my haphazard early adult years so far with all the learning curves, house sharing, adventure having and career carving. My life goals when I was a teenager in sixth form, where main activities involved spending my weekend job wages in Pilot and on phone credit were to have a house in a little village, a job as a novelist and a husband and probably a child. I’m not sure how I planned to fit all this in or where I would have got the inspiration for my bestselling novel, but whatever.

These are readjusted, actual real adult goals for the next year

1) Finish this year with more furniture than just a bed, two bedside tables, a lamp and a mirror. With moving looming in the not-so distant future and no more ‘comes furnished’ promises, I should probably at least buy a chair to sit on.

2) Insure everything I own. Ultimate adulting, but it’s obviously important.

3) Learn how to paint walls properly. My past attempts at painting with friends have always mostly been okay, if you stand quite far away and don’t shine any natural light on the walls. I don’t want to have to pay other people to do my DIY forever and you can bet your last penny there’s a YouTube tutorial on it.

4) Start foreign language lessons. I’ve been meaning to do this for about, erm, eight years. Safe to say procrastination doesn’t even cover it. I hate how lazy travel makes me feel when it comes to languages. My sister used Beyonce songs in Spanish to help her conquer a language, so it can’t be all bad.

5) Tick Budapest off my travel list. I’ve wanted to go for so long and I always sideline it for other places for some reason. Once we’ve got through the trials and tribulations of moving and mortgaging, I’m treating myself to this.

6) Get on top of my health. As someone with more complex health needs than your average human, I need to get a proper handle on all the symptoms, tests, routine visits and check-ups I need once and for all.

7) Keep up my fitness levels. I’ve worked hard to be the fittest I’ve ever been right now. It’s helping my mental and physical health and I don’t want to let it slip away through laziness or bad time management.

8) Polish my photography skills. I have a photographer boyfriend and an expensive, flashy camera at home so I have no excuse. This is also sometime I see more and more in job specs for future roles I’d like to take on, so it’s about career development as well as an impressive Instagram.

Body and fitness goals- summer

  
 Getting fit is one of those things that so many people want to do, some people can’t be bothered to do, some people physically struggle to do and others just seem to do effortlessly. I definitely do not fall in the kale blending, early morning running, super toned effortless group, as much as I would love to deep down. I used to really beat myself up every year when summer rolled round at not having gotten myself fitter because let’s face it, we all want to look good in bikinis or summer clothes or whatever.

It’s taken a long old time to realise that ‘looking good’ is basically just interpretation and interpreting yourself as already looking good is a step in the right direction. If I didn’t have health problems and grumpy joints that hold me back, I reckon I could give the full fitness freak lifestyle a really good go ( I say 2 hours before I’m off to Hache to eat thousands of calories in burger and milkshake), but the simple fact is, I probably will never fit that mould.

So I’m basically going to do the next best thing, and challenge myself to find the highest point I can reach when it comes to fitness and physical health. I did the Body Coach 90 DaySSS plan last year, and got told several times that I looked thin enough to snap, and that was after 6 weeks of eating no sugar, no junk food, virtually no alcohol and none of my all time favourite pick and mix sweets. I definitely got fitter from the plan, but I don’t want to look too thin, I just want to look and more importantly feel physically good.

  
I’ve already made a start on this by joining a gym where I’m now living with my mum and sister who spur me on, and together we’ve been going to various classes every week for quite some time now. I’ve already noticed a difference from this, and genuinely feel like some sort of Olympian after a spin session, so things are on the up.

The other day after spinning my instructor asked what my aim was, and I sort of just looked at her (and noticed even MORE muscle on her perfectly toned body) and realised I didn’t have a clue. Exercising and increasing fitness and prancing around in lycra is all good and well, but I guess you do need some sort of aim. If I have a goal to work to (finish work so you can eat burgers) then I tend to do everything better and more efficiently.

As luck would have it, I got an email that week asking if I was interested in running Run London- the Vitality British 10k happening on July 10 and raising a bit of awareness on this blog and across social media.

I didn’t reply straight away because a) running is effort and b) can I actually run 10k? Then I did that thing where I type a draft reply and look at it then just carry on watching Netflix without pressing send.

I have hips that sub-lax (basically, half dislocate, it’s really quite grim and the noises are not sexy) thanks to Ehlers Danlos Syndrome so I have to be careful with running, but I need something to train for and get my teeth into and this seems like a good focus to have.

There is of course a small chance I will reach somewhere around the 7k mark and then lay on the ground and silently weep into my water bottle, but I’m hoping to avoid such a thing.

If you’re looking for something to train for and springboard you into your fitness or bikini body plans then take a look at the website, because after looking at the route and officially signing up I’m seriously excited. Starting on Piccadilly outside The Cavalry & Guards Club on Hyde Park corner, runners will make their way past London landmarks including the London Eye, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, so you can fully pretend I’m Paula Radcliffe running the marathon in record time. I love London, not only because it’s my hometown but the sights never really get old.

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By signing up you can also run for one of the amazing charities the race is supporting. Official partners this year include Epilepsy and Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, but there’s a whole host of others on the website.

Having now received my ‘you’re running, this is happening, shit is getting real’ email I feel so motivated to start. I’m hoping that by the time the run comes around, I’ll be in the kind of physical shape I always want to be, but manage to talk myself out of achieving. I won’t lie either that I’m also spending 2 weeks in dessert heat in August and would like to feel confident on a beach for once in my life.

Oh and if you see anyone laying on the floor by Big Ben on July 10 asking people for a piggy back, do stop and say hi to me.

Little goals, little victories

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Aims are easier to stick to in the short term. Resolutions for a whole year never work out (although my one to get more than one haircut in 2016 WILL stand, I am adamant of it) and I read an article recently in a weird magazine in a waiting room that said the best way to achieve things is to have small, short term goals. When I was 20 I sat down on January 1st and wrote this long list of outrageous goals that would ‘overhaul’ my life and make me what I thought would be a better person, but what ultimately would just make me thinner and more miserable. That was a terrible few months and I never want to look at cheese as an enemy again. But having something to aim for makes me feel less like I’m wasting my life watching Suits and whatsapping my friends about commute hatred.

So my little goals are starting now and going to April 1st. Life is better in list form, so here goes:

  • Buy only one coffee a week.
  • Bring my own lunch in at least 3 times a week.
  • Stop talking myself out of running while getting changed to go running.
  • List at least 2 items of my extremely excess clothing on eBay every Sunday.
  • Make at least three plans with my friends that don’t involve alcohol.
  • Do the physio exercises that will ultimately make my life better every other day.
  • Actually get around to researching cruelty-free make up and make a purchase.
  • Make a spreadsheet of my outgoings like a real adults.
  • Master the first week of headspace without falling asleep 2 minutes in every bloody time.

5 problems with always wanting to achieve more

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If you’re the sort of person who achieves things, overcomes things and conquers challenges but then immediately wonders ‘but what next’, we are alike. I never feel like I’ve done good enough. I know I might not have done too badly at all, but I always think there’s a bigger achievement or a more satisfying reward somewhere out there. And I just have to have it. It can be an amazing trait, because you don’t need much of a push to be a go-getter, but on the other hand, it can bring problems. These are my main issues with this whole ‘never enough, can do better’ mindset:

1) Your best starts to mean less.

It’s hard to congratulate yourself when you do amazingly well and still feel like you missed something, or focus on the what ifs and missed opportunities. There might be a completely perfect outcome to something, but you wonder about a more perfect situation, and then you aren’t satisfied. Your best effort should make you content, but it does the opposite.

2) You probably have unrealistic goals.

I’m a person with a plan for just about everything. I like setting goals and I like working towards something, but when you do great things and pass big milestones but don’t see it for yourself, your goals become unreachable. You can end up setting yourself up for a loss, which hurts even more.

3) It’s exhausting.

Constantly questioning how to better, further and improve is tiring. It’s so, so tiring. Sometimes it’s a good kind of tiring, but a lot of the time it’s just full on brain fatigue.

4) You start to feel greedy

This is definitely something I worry about. I have more than enough and more than I used to think I would have at this stage in my life, but because of my ‘I can do better’ mindset, I feel like I’m greedy, because what more do I need to feel happy? I have more than a lot of others, but I just want EVEN more on top of that.

5) It can get in the way of happiness

To feel content is so relaxing and peaceful, but it can be a feeling that comes around a lot less when you’re trying to achieve more all the time. It’s hard to feel really happy when you never let yourself reflect on how well you’ve done, or how much of a good job you’re continually doing.

On the flip side of all of these points, being motivated and hungry for success is a great thing too, because it gets you places. Just maybe not in the most peaceful way. I like the way I am and I wouldn’t really want to change it, but I do wonder if they’ll ever come a time I can sit back and say to myself ‘well done me, I did good.’

I also think…would I have come this far if I wasn’t this way inclined? Probably not.

Swings and round-a-bouts I guess.

9 things I want to tick off by the end of 2015

  
1) Oil Pulling

I’ve read a lot of good about this, especially for whitening teeth, and as I’m currently off the sugar (yes, really, no more Biscoff with a spoon), I think now is a good time to see what it’s like. I don’t like coconut though, so that’ll be fun for me. I’m going to start this TODAY, so hopefully I’ll be blinding people with my pearly whites in no time at all.

2) Running a sub-30 5k

Doesn’t sound like that much of a challenge, but I’ve got the joints of a frail old lady. I also think I look a lot like a dying fish when I run, so that’ll be a treat for all those in the Fulham area.

3) Complete NaNoWriMo

This is part of National Novel Writing Month, which is November and encourages people to write 50,000 word in a month. Yes FIFTY THOUSAND. I’m really excited to try this, though given that I feel like I don’t have time to breathe enough during the day lately, it’s going to be quite the challenge. I have an idea and some random notes scrawled in my elephant notebook, although I realised I can’t read some because of my ‘on the tube’ handwriting. Also it’s like writing 5 dissertations. In a month. Lolz.

4) Try and develop a ‘capsule wardrobe’

Unlikely, as I have so many clothes my last wardrobe broke from sheer volume, but I really want to try this. I would love to be able to spend a few minutes choosing clothes and look acceptable, rather than chucking half of outfits across my bedroom in blind fury and looking like a rainbow explosion in the mornings. Winter seems like a good time to get stuck in. Black jeans are life.

5) Start learning to knit

Yeah, I am actually 72 years old. Surprise.

6) Self-host this website

I am scared to do this. Scared I don’t have enough time and scared something horrifying will happen, but I NEED to do it.

7) Learn how to apply eyeshadow properly

When I put it on now, I look like someone who has done their make-up after kicking back 8 or 9 gins. It’s a strong look, but I’d rather look like a normal, functioning 25 year old woman.

8) write a proper travel bucket list

I tend to go to most places on whim but I want to formulate a real list so I can have the satisfaction of ticking places things off. 

9) Succesfully do a week of Headspace. 

I need some calm in my life.