As 2019 gets underway, are you noticing that your new year’s resolutions are starting to dwindle and the old habits return?  Let’s face it salad and the gym or a run on a cold, dark winter’s night aren’t the most appealing!   So this year, why not do something different?  Instead of going into competition with the treadmill or a delicious pudding and working out who can hold on the longest, why not have a think about other ways the same goals can be met?   The aim of this blog is to introduce the idea of spending some time investing in you.  Improving your wellbeing not just regarding exercise, food and a good life/work balance but also it’s about time out, fun and discovering the inner you by creating a good balance in all the areas of life.

So here goes…

Those who know me will know that I am a do-er.  I rarely sit still, love having people over, chatting, going out, travelling, weekends away etc etc.  I don’t do quiet relaxation well, unless it’s on holiday!  So it’ll be no surprise that last year was busy.  I decided it was the year to try a whole load of new things which included Italian lessons, learning to draw and paint and revisiting piano lessons!  I went on a course that taught me the importance of doing things I enjoy regularly, gave me my first introduction to meditation (something I’ve always shied away from) as well as teaching me the importance of knowing my boundaries and keeping to them.  And I finally succumbed to buying walking boots (as a city girl this wasn’t easy!) and went walking in mud…lots!

So what about 2019, what next…?

Planning for the Year Ahead

As always  ‘getting fit and losing weight’  are on my list for 2019 but this time it’s not lettuce leaves and spin classes that I’m relying on to help me get there.  I was thinking back to the time when I was at my lightest and fittest which was about 10 years ago.  I was rowing in an 8 and attending British Military Fitness bootcamp regularly.  I was eating fairly normally (good during the week, not so good at weekends) and partying and working hard.  They were great times but to be honest I don’t think I could do that pace now,  So instead I’ve set myself two challenges that I anticipate will be both fun and social, with fitness and weight loss hopefully a welcome bi-product.  My challenges are to walk Hadrian’s Wall and cycle London to Paris, (albeit not necessarily with a large group or against the clock).

So, you may be wondering why I’m telling you this?

Ready for a change?

Well, every year I chat with patients who share how they would like to change things in their life.  It might be their weight or fitness levels, their aches and pains, work, hobbies, sleep, stress levels, holidays or lack of them….. the list is long and I’m sure we can all relate to it.  I appreciate only too well that making things happen can seem like a mountain to climb, fraught with challenges.  However at the start of this new year, why not make this a ‘can do’ year of change working towards the things you’d like to be different?

I think that central to our ‘well doing’ (terrible use of English I know!) is our ‘wellbeing’.  Having good health where we feel happy, healthy, fit, painfree, optimistic and we’re sleeping and working well really does make everything better.   

This isn’t just about taking regular exercise and eating healthy food it’s also about taking time to relax, spending time doing things we enjoy either with others or on our own.  It’s about achieving our goals and getting to bed on time, to name a few.

So with this in mind I’ve put together some ideas and as a physio I think it’s only right that I should start with the exercise side of things!

Exercise tips  (PS it should be enjoyable!!)

For those less used to taking exercise walking is a great place to start.  A pair of suitable supportive shoes and you’re off.  By building up your distance/time every day/every other day and if possible trying to increase your speed a bit you’ll start to see and feel your fitness improving.  This is something you could do in a lunch break if time is short. 

If walking’s not really your thing maybe try swimming or perhaps an aqua aerobics class, otherwise dance classes such as Ceroc or Zumba may be more up your street.  If running is of interest, Parkrun is free, fun and happens weekly, all ages and levels attend this and there’s a great sense of community.  Cycling and running clubs are also great places to meet others who enjoy those activities and can offer support and encouragement along the journey.  If you like the idea of doing something new but don’t know where to start why not book in for a lesson or two and learn the basics.  I’ve had swimming and tennis lessons as an adult and I enjoyed them loads more than I did at school!    If that all sounds too much why not try ‘Chairobics’.

If on the other hand you’re someone who enjoys lots of different exercises but has no time, make this the year you ring fence a set time in your diary regularly at least once a week and treat it like a meeting that can’t be cancelled.  Ask others to help look after children or cover you for that time and enjoy!  

Aches & pains getting in the way?

If so, why not make this the year you get them sorted once and for al!

If it’s sitting or driving, gardening or walking that’s a problem a few exercises and some advice may be all it takes to get you back on track!   

Or if you’re someone who has a manual job or likes to train and pain is something you just work through, you’re quite possibly not helping your body.   Having a good balance of flexibility, strength, core and cardiovascular exercise can help guard against problems associated with overuse. 

If you like to run or do something multidirectional like tennis or football but you find repeated niggles occurring, it might be your footwear or possible areas of weakness or tightness.

Whatever the reasons for your aches and pains if you’d like some help to resolve it, why not book an appointment to have it looked at.   

Good intensions with food but life gets in the way?

If at the end of a busy day you don’t fancy cooking, why not try some different recipes with ingredients you don’t usually use and batch cook and freeze some meals.  That way you know what’s in the meal and it’ll  probably be much better for you.  Take a detour to the shops to ensure you get your fruit and veg in too.  Limiting ready meals and take aways is helpful not just for your wallet but also for your salt and sugar levels.  Oh and don’t forget to eat protein to stave the hunger and drink water to keep hydrated!.  Carrying around a water bottle and your own coffee cup is becoming such common place now which is great, so keeping the bottle topped up is always a good plan.  If you need more information regarding healthy eating/nutrition why not book in with a nutritionist or dietician who can help get you on track.

Social/fun things/getting involved

If like me you’re a do-er and a planner then you’ll have no problem with this one.  But I can appreciate that if you’re new to an area or haven’t yet found something you enjoy doing, it can be difficult to know where to start.  I would recommend either booking in to learn something new or maybe join a social or activity based group and go from there.  If you’re not sure what you might like to do, why not think back to the things you enjoyed doing as a child and see if there’s something along those lines you can do as an adult?    If you feel you’d like to spend some time volunteering there are loads of charities who would love to hear from you.  My heart is for the Campaign Against Loneliness as loneliness has reached epidemic proportions in the UK and befrienders/mentors are in demand. 


Time for rest/relaxation

Now this I’m really not good at but I understand it’s value.  Stepping away from life’s busyness and taking time to read, meditate, relax or perhaps listen to music is incredibly therapeutic.    I used to think relaxation was gardening or pilates, going to the cinema or theatre and indeed I think that they all are but not quite in the same way as totally stopping and quieting our minds.  As I’ve already mentioned I put aside my concerns about meditation and had a go last year and was pleasantly surprised at how I felt both during and after it.  I read the other day that an elderly woman had just realised the importance of learning ‘to be’ rather than ‘to do’ all the time and it had changed her life, brought her stress levels down and helped her sleep better and worry less.  Her one regret was that she hadn’t learnt to do it earlier! 

As we know, the subject of health and wellbeing is huge and as more people struggle with mental health problems, stress, obesity, aches & pains etc I think it’s so important that we take steps to help improve our journey through life and hopefully the journey of others too. 

My professional body, The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy have a ‘Love Activity, Hate Exercise’ campaign which I think reflects how many people feel about this and it’s therefore really important to find things that we enjoy doing to keep us fit and healthy and happy.  If you would like some help with getting started in a new activity or you have an ache or pain that you’d like me to look at just email ‘MOT Please’ and throughout January and February 2019 I’ll give you a £5 discount off your first appointment. 

So, what are you waiting for!  Seize the day!  Perhaps start by making a list of the things you’d like to do, to experience, to learn, to see.  Places you’d like to explore or visit.  Activities you’d like to have a go at, personal goals you’d like to achieve.  Then once you’ve come up with a list, choose a couple of things that excite you and make a plan as to how they could be achieved through smaller goals and off you go. 

Oh and don’t forget to sleep 🙂