Well Merry Christmas all and a Happy New Year! As we approach 2014 I wonder how many of you are dusting off the familiar New Year’s Resolutions ready for the 1st January? You know the kind I mean, they normally require some superhuman effort to achieve and represent your dream lifestyle (i.e. lose two stone, become an athlete, land the dream job and get paid the dream amount for it, travel the world, learn to play the guitar etc etc). Granted, Winter is a time of reflection and what better way to prepare for the year ahead than taking the time to plan your goals, this is a good positive activity but trying to achieve in the next 12 months what you haven’t yet managed in the last thirty/forty/fifty years may not be realistic and in a small way you could you doing yourself a disservice.
With this in mind I humbly offer you my alternative resolutions to keep it simple which I hope will see me to the end of January and beyond!
1. Stop Multi-tasking.
Multi-tasking is a cruel invention of the modern age designed to enable us to fit two lifetimes in the space of one. This defies the rules of nature and often physics and should be avoided at all costs. You can easily spot those people who actively engage in multi-tasking, they are usually working mothers trailed by herds of children clutching half-read paperwork, flyaway hair, anxious expressions and always slightly late for everything. Stop trying to squeeze the life out of every spare 30 minutes and focus on the job in hand, you will do a far better job and bypass all the stress in the process. Do not devise outlandish time plans/driving routes to encompass shopping, school runs, post office errands and such like. Accept that you can only reasonably achieve the fundamentals in one day (work, children) and anything else is a bonus not a necessity. You are not here to exceed everyone’s expectations and a stressed multi-tasker will ultimately drop the ball in a big way sooner or later.
2. Ditch the plane.
Air travel is no longer the sophisticated glamorous travel option it once was. The reality is that we all pay a small fortune to be crammed into an aircraft like sardines before being charged £6 for a small packet of Pringles and that’s after we’ve been shepherded around a soulless airport eyeing our fellow passengers nervously for signs of subterfuge. Unfortunately unless you are wealthy enough to turn left on the plane you are unlikely to enjoy this mode of transport any more than the sullen looking cabin crew demonstrating their emergency exit procedures. The UK is fast becoming the destination of choice for many families and couples, with so many undiscovered delights on our doorsteps it’s not hard to see why. The dramatic coastline of Cornwall and Dorset offer eternal possibilities of walking, sunbathing and ice cream eating. York, London and Manchester with their fantastic rail connections combine beautiful architecture, history, shopping and entertainment for any age or budget. If however, you simply can’t cope without the sunny beach holiday or villa by the pool then spare a thought for the European ferry system and sleeper trains which regularly rumble through to the South of France from Paddington. Not only an elegant way to travel but often much cheaper than being unceremoniously loaded into cattle class by an orange clad British Airways reject.
3. Don’t rely on exercise to manage your weight.
Exercise brings many, many health benefits but you cannot rely on it alone to keep your weight under control. Exercise and weight loss are not mutually exclusive but it is best to view them as such and focus on each target separately. We all know the rules about eating well to fuel your body properly, if you stick to the basics then you’ll maintain a healthy weight. If you get a bit carried away in the kitchen like me then you’ll struggle! If you’re planning to introduce more exercise into your weekly routine then start small, one class a week or a 30 minute walk or gardening session is a good starting place. Write down your average weekly activities and see where you can reasonably fit in one or two exercise sessions to begin with and fix a certain day every week. If a club or health centre seem too intimidating at the start then arrange a walk and a coffee with a friend each week until you feel more confident to step into the gym. Remember, heart pounding, red-faced cardiovascular activity is not always the best option especially if it’s sporadic. Far better to walk regularly each week in the fresh air than attend a lung busting class every three weeks when you’re have a ‘fat day’ ! It is not selfish to prioritise your health, so once you’ve made that date on the calendar don’t allow anyone or anything to override it!
4. Plan something exciting.
January and February can be pretty dire as we slug through the cold with no hope of Spring on the horizon. I think this is the perfect time to plan and book something exciting. Start thinking about all the things you never quite got around to in 2013 to help inspire you, is there a festival you should have been to by now, a museum never visited or weekend camping trip never embarked upon? Have you missed out on a theatre ticket, Chelsea flower show or learning to surf on the beach? Alternatively is there a course of study you have always had your eye on? Even in deepest darkest Norfolk there are endless learning possibilities, part time Uni courses, online courses, sewing and knitting courses the world is truly your oyster and it is never too late to learn a new skill if you have the time. Have you always planned to rescue a dog/cat/chicken from the local rescue centre? One of my exciting plans for 2014 is to restore and restock my greenhouse and vegetable garden, this may seem fairly tame to you more dynamic readers but I can assure you that vegetables require a lot of pre-planning not to mention care and attention and there is nothing quite so satisfying as eating produce you have grown yourself from seed (dynamos take my word for it!).
5. Water, red wine and face cream.
So you’ve had the mother of all bad days, the world has gone to hell in a handcart, work has gone from bad to worse, the children have grown horns, you’ve consumed your own body weight in chocolate and your healthy mind and body plan for the New Year has never been so out of reach! Rather than wallow in your failure of a day, salvage what little is left by doing yourself a few last minute kindnesses. Firstly drink a couple of pints of water, none of us ever reach our eight glasses a day so do a quick catch up and rehydrate your organs including your skin, if you’re particularly desperate throw a berrocca in for good measure (it may not do you any good but who doesn’t love a placebo?). Next pour yourself one nice glass of a decent red wine and luxuriate in the tannins! Maybe most importantly, get into bed by 9pm, yes you will miss the best telly and the dishwasher won’t get emptied but you will be able to read a couple of chapters of your favourite book and relax. Lastly before you go to sleep, slap on some face cream, anything will do, be it posh anti-aging serum or a dollop of aqueous cream, men and women all need to look after their skin and even more so after a bad day. Even better try and moisture every night, who knows if this works but in 20 years time at least we can say we tried! By tomorrow you will be relaxed and ever so slightly more gorgeous, what could possibly go wrong!