As the end of the summer holidays approach…. others of us are just preparing to jet off. But let us not dwell on that…
Late summer and early autumn can be an exciting time of year to start getting into good habits while we still have the warm days and light(er) nights. These good habits can help us get through the winter; fitter, happier and healthier.
I want to share with you some of my top tips or life goals for autumn, that help me to stay focussed throughout the dark, cold nights of winter….
- Ease up on the alcohol. I don’t know about you, but I definitely feel an affinity to alcohol when the sun shines! Thank goodness I live in the UK, where summer is a rarity, not a guarantee. However, this summer was great, so now its time for me to detox! Instead of finishing work, collapsing on the sofa and grabbing something cold out the fridge aka “the dark path”. I challenge you (and me) to do a little exercise instead. It more than beats the effect of alcohol in helping us to relax after a day cooped up inside. Anything between 10 – 30 minutes should be enough to help you unwind and feel the sublime, smug, endorphin buzz that follows a workout. Living in the modern world of social media means that, should you wish, you don’t have to even think about what to do! Just last week, I found some new (to me) free yoga videos: Yoga with Adrienne https://yogawithadriene.com/yoga-for-beginners-a-little-goes-a-long-way/ ). But you may prefer; a jog round the block, a HITT workout, joining a club or even an outdoor training group. We are lucky in Clevedon to have so much available to us, if you are unsure what to do or which exercise/clubs might suit you, ask your osteopath.
- Start the day well. Now is the time to refresh your breakfast routine, to set yourself up for the day. I was recently told by a nutritionist, that you should “try to put one different vegetable or fruit in your basket each week”. This helps us to explore different foods, to see if we like them, as well as give our body a new vitamin source. My favourite way to start the day, especially on a day I am running out the door early, is with a smoothie*. I discovered a new item in Lidl just last week; a bag of pre milled, hemp, linseed and chia. I’ve been blitzing this omega 3 packed superfood in with my smoothie most days since! Yum. I hear too often that people skip breakfast either through lack of hunger or lack of time. Try to eat something (healthy). Even if its a handful of nuts, an apple or even a small hunk of cheese and dried fruit. Eat it within the first two hours of waking to kick start your metabolism. Sometimes, the change doesn’t have to be big, it just needs to be consistent. *My smoothie would always contain; oats, fruits, vegetables, water +/-yoghurt (or milk). My aim is to include more vegetables in these smoothies, as too many fruits disturb the gut’s friendly bacteria (they’re not fans of sugar).
- Make plans. Start planning some good times with family or friends, for when the nights turn darker. Having something to look forward to can be a really good way of staying motivated and getting out when the evenings start to draw in. Having said that, there is something magical about being out in the dark. Me and my pal have plans to get up nice and early to watch the sun rise on Crooks Peak while munching on breakfast and slurping a coffee.
- Get learning. Although I don’t practice what I preach every year. I am a BIG fan of night class. Zac laughs at me as I have a childhood Record of Achievement and it is STUFFED full. This has persisted into adult life…I have done spanish courses, pottery, knitting, roman blind making (the list goes on). I really enjoy learning new things and exploring more creative tasks, than sitting in front of a computer/ television screen. My current guilty pleasure is Origami. Sadly, I haven’t been able to book any of the courses I had dog-eared from Weston College’s Adult learning booklet this year, as I am going to be away just as they start, so I shall be looking forward to the January prospectus instead!
- Get some zzzz’s. Sleep is a wonderful cure for many an ailment of modern living and a cornerstone to good physical and mental health. Sleep provides space and time for the body to do what it naturally does, process and repair. If we don’t give our body enough rest time, we are not going to be functioning well on all cylinders. Start trying to get to bed half and hour earlier to reflect the shorter days. Remove all phones, tablets and tv’s from the bedroom. If your phone is your alarm, buy an alarm clock! Try to avoid all aforementioned electronics for at least one hour before you get to bed. If sleep is a problem for you, then check out https://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-tools-tips/healthy-sleep-tips. This subject has had plenty of press over the last few years and many a research paper written. The negative effect of not enough sleep is scary enough to cause sleep loss, so don’t dwell on the negatives. Instead, aim to change your habits to make bedtime more of a pleasure.
I hope this article gets you excited for the months ahead. Setting yourself some challenges and goals is always a wonderful way to gain fulfilment.