We’ve all done it. A sneaky glass of wine mid-week, what I like to call ‘easy oven food’ which does nothing for the waistline, late nights binge-watching Netflix; however joyful these events might seem, over prolonged periods, aren’t necessarily good for our health. I, for one, fully own up to my guilty pleasure of chucking a pizza in the oven, pouring myself a glass of red and settling in for approximately three hours of the Walking Dead on a Tuesday night, with the full knowledge that the spin class I had so much hope for at 6:30am the next morning, was a hopeless feat. Now don’t get me wrong – I’m 100% fully supportive of taking time for myself and relaxing, and now and again you really do need that Netflix binge (after all, what’s more important than witnessing the glorious reunion of Darryl and Carol?) but for prolonged periods, this way of living is not sustainable, nor healthy for us mentally or physically. All good intentions go out of the window, that spin class is abandoned, and the tuna salad with a healthy amount of avocado and spinach is swapped for a burrito at lunchtime as you ease off the foggy head. So what are the biggest downfalls of these good intentions, which cause us to fall off the wagon?
I don’t know about you, but the mantra I seem to live by when planning a healthy kick-start is ‘Let’s start on Monday’. Now I totally get it – Monday is the first day of the week, so it seems like the perfect day to start anything – just like New Year’s Day when we kick-start our resolutions, the 1st December when we open the first door of our advent calendar and the countdown truly begins (unless you’re me, and start straight after Halloween). We’ve all had a relaxing weekend, managed to catch up on stolen sleep and caught up with friends and family, had a chance to do the food shop and prep for the week ahead. All of a sudden, that spin class, which in reality we know makes us want to vom 30 seconds in, seems completely achievable. So it’s safe to say – weekends are pretty great. So however much we try to avoid that daunting feeling as the dark cloud of Monday looms over us, when the 5:30am alarm goes off on Monday morning, the last thing I feel is excitement for the day ahead. The last thing I want to do is chow down on that tuna and avocado salad ,with the fresh memories of Saturday night’s takeaway. So are we setting ourselves up for a fall, by starting on a Monday; or are the goals we are setting ourselves just simply unrealistic?
In my opinion, we all put far too much pressure on the goals we set ourselves, and sometimes these goals are just simply unrealistic. Now it’s totally normal to have a weak moment, and make a beeline for that KitKat you’ve been thinking about all morning. But for most of us, we seem to see this as failing altogether, thinking ‘what’s the point in carrying on?’ and by Wednesday, all has failed and we go full circle back to ‘let’s start again on Monday’. We use this as an excuse to put off our goals for the rest of week, as the reality is – sometimes, they are simply unachievable.
And how do I know this? Because I am the perfect example of someone who has lived by this mantra, and I have come to the realisation recently that sometimes you need to change up your routine, review and reset your goals. I’ve been through quite a big lifestyle change this year –my boyfriend and I have bought a house, we have both changed jobs quite recently, so our routine was completely overhauled as we adjusted to a new way of living. I used to live five minutes away from work, with the gym next door, so it was completely easy and convenient for me to roll out of bed at 6:45, whizz up a green smoothie , pick up my gym bag and make the five minute car journey in, knowing I’d get an hour workout, be able to get ready for work and then make the 30 second stroll into the office. That would set me up for the day, wake me up and get me feeling motivated. Now I live around 30 minutes away from my place of work, my gym is in my hometown, so this routine just simply doesn’t work for me here. If I wanted to follow the same sort of pattern, I would need to wake up at 5:30am, get to the gym for 6, fit in my hour workout, head home, get ready for work and then make the 30 minute car journey in – not an impossible stretch by any means, but much more of a struggle and not as easy as it previously was – especially on these cold winter mornings!!
So when I do wake up on a Monday morning with good intentions, and look outside and see my windscreen needs de-icing, I have two choices – make the dreaded journey outside and begin scraping, or roll back into bed and get an extra hour and a half of sleep. I think you all know what my preferred option is! This change in lifestyle for me has meant I need to review my goals, set new routines which suit my new lifestyle, and this makes it easier for me to accomplish my goals. In reality, I know that on a cold and frosty morning, I’m never going to be leaving the sanctuary of my bed. So it makes sense for me to hit the gym after work when I’m already up and out the door, and have no excuses to make. It’s all about setting a routine that for you is realistic – yes I would prefer to go to the gym in the mornings, however for me right now, especially in these winter months, I know the most realistic routine for me to stick to is to go straight after work.
This doesn’t only apply when it comes to the gym – it also follows the same pattern for food prep. I know that at the weekend, I can make the time to cook up a big stir fry dish or something similar, and freeze it for my lunches for the week ahead. This leaves me with minimal effort during the week, and enables me to easily stick to my clean eating plan. I also know that at the weekend, I enjoy spending a couple of hours in the kitchen, rustling up delicious meals from scratch, however there is no point in me attempting to do this on a Tuesday evening, as it simply isn’t going to happen – I’m going to get in from the gym and want to make something that takes me no more than 30 minutes. So utilising cookbooks such as Madeleine Shaw’s ‘Ready Steady Glow’, which promotes quick, easy and healthy weeknight meals, is far more realistic and likely for me to stick to.
So when you are setting your goals for the week ahead, or even in the medium-long term, make sure they are realistic – everyone’s goals are different, and everyone’s motivations are different. Whether that’s a new food plan, a new workout regime, or simply taking some time for ourselves. Make sure it is sustainable, a routine that you enjoy following, so we don’t have to keep ‘starting again’ on Monday.