I have been looking forward to turning 30 since I was about 8, because for some weird reason, I felt that this was the moment when girls became women. It is for this reason that I gave myself the deadline of 30 as the age when I'd put childish things behind me and grow up. One of those "childish things" was for me, my unhealthy lifestyle. So as a bona fide over-planner, in anticipation of this, I carried out a trial run in 2013. However, as you may remember from my new year's resolution post, I failed very miserably. Now, two years later, I'm motivated, better prepared and very determined. It is now or never.
Since I got back to Brussels on the 5th of January, I've been working hard to ensure that I achieve this year's health and fitness goals. These were to:
- Increase my fitness levels
- Give up caffeine and sugary, fizzy drinks while also increasing my water intake
- Minimise junk food and up my fruit/vegetables consumption
One of the sub-goals was to make sure I walked for at least 2x 15mins each day. Well I'm pleased to report that I am walking a whole lot more, and I often see on my phone that I have exceeded the daily goal number of steps. The walk from the bus-stop to my hospital for example, is through a hilly stone-paved path that is actually a bit difficult to do, and I used to struggle/get out of breath. But, no longer! In fact the same route now seems easier and shorter. I guess I'm getting used to it.
In other news, I haven't had any fizzy drinks since I got back from England on the 5th. This is a huge huge deal for me, as I was addicted to and used to guzzling down litres of coke every week. It might be a bit precocious to say this, but I think I might just have succeeded in kicking the habit for good. In fact I seem to have completely lost the desire to drink Coke/other fizzy drinks. Even when we had a (soft drink) celebration at work, I chose to go with a smoothie. I still drink wine/palm wine/cider sha, I am NEVER going to give those up...
I also wanted to reduce my caffeine intake drastically. Considering that I used to drink 5-6 cups of very sweet coffee per day, this was going to be a tall order indeed. The initial plan was to replace my work coffees with unsugared tea, but before carrying out the swap, I decided to do some research into the benefits of drinking tea over coffee. Surprisingly, all the studies I read actually said that drinking coffee is not bad for you. In fact they all went on to state that both tea and coffee have health benefits in terms of the antioxidants they provide. As a result of this, I've decided not to completely cut out coffee. Instead I have swapped a few of the daily cups of coffee for tea, and whenever I have coffee (or tea), I make sure that it is black and unsweetened. The good thing about all the tea/coffee I drink is that it helps me reach my daily fluid intake goals.
I've also rediscovered a new love for water, and no longer need squash, juice or anything else to mask the taste or flavour it. It goes down well unaided.
In terms of food, my overall eating habits have improved too. I try to make healthier choices, while ensuring that I am not depriving myself. I try for instance not to eat any junk food or snacks, except for a slice of cake during my conversation exchange. However, I also eat whatever is offered at work, including stereotypically unhealthy food such chips. I just make sure that the serving size is appropriate, and try to consume as much fruit and veg as possible. And because I no longer snack on junk, I often find myself hungry and needing to eat more. This is practically an aberration for me! I used to go hungry for very long periods of time then overeat. Now I fill up on fruit/veg, eat more regularly and use a smaller plate to reduce/avoid overeating.
I've noticed improved overall health. The most obvious area being my digestive health; I've noticed that I no longer get my random episodes of nausea. The second improvement I've noticed is in my dermatological health. My skin is clearing up slowly but surely. No more teenage acne, and even my eczema and psoriasis are behaving themselves in spite of the lack of special attention. Truly miraculous! In addition to all of this, my period was much easier this month; practically pain-free, with minimal bloating and hardly any new pimples. I'm putting this down to the increased exercise and (warm) fluid intake. The biggest unexpected benefit though is that I have been able save quite a bit of money from the ban on (relatively expensive) junk-food and fizzy drinks. This is great, as one of my new year's resolutions was to save a certain amount of money this year.
And just to finish, I thought I'd mention that the new healthier lifestyle has also led to me losing weight. I lost (and have kept off so far) about 1kg in the first 2 weeks! The thing is I have always found it hard to gain or lose weight, and have been more or less stable at 50-51kg over the last few years, so I was surprised to see that eating healthy and mildly increasing my activity levels could lead to such changes in my body. It just goes to show right...?
New improved weight ;)
Anyway, the results have been encouraging, and I am very motivated to continue. Now I just need to add getting enough sleep to the mix, and I'll have found the elixir of immortality and eternal youth!
Postscript: In the interest of honesty and full disclosure, I must say that I've had 1 Coke zero since writing this two weeks ago. However, in other more positive news, I have been making sleep a priority and getting 7-8hours of sleep per night, as well as doing about 10,000 steps daily. On top of this, I have seem to have completely stopped eating and even lost the desire to eat "unhealthy" desserts, except for dark chocolate, which is often served during our weekly meetings at work.