I don’t need to dwell on what a year this has been and I sincerely hope you and your loved ones are safe and well.
We went into 2020 with goals, dreams and intentions and never for one minute thought all that would be de-railed so drastically. And whilst our lives unravelled in slow motion, 2020 did also offer an opportunity to slow down and reflect.
Here’s what I’ve gleaned as pandemic life evolved into the new normal.
I think I might be an introvert
When I look back over the past few months, I realise that the lifestyle I had begun to carve out in recent years had prepared me well for quarantine life. Rather than a full social diary, I cherish the solitude and the time to clear my thoughts and think with no distractions; indeed most of my ideas come to me when I’m alone. It’s when my mind is firing out plans and ideas that I feel that I am truly thriving. Now, don’t get me wrong; I love to socialise and I love company and of course, human connection but I also love my private time to evaluate and reconfigure.
Whilst the restrictions have undoubtedly meant a lack of balance, the pandemic took away the pressure to gather and allowed me the time to quarantine with just me and my headspace! I’d always considered myself an extrovert; but perhaps I’m more of an introvert that I realise. An “extrovert introvert” maybe?!
I need a lot less than I have
I’m not talking about the big things here; I’m grateful for a roof over my head, my health, a job I love and most importantly the stability of a loving and supportive family. I’m referring to the endless “stuff” I thought I needed, when the reality is that, materially, life has been pared back to a few simple choices. I’ve barely used any of my clothes, rarely worn anything other than trainers, walking boots or wellies and as for handbags, who needs a handbag when you’re stuck at home and your walking attire is cleverly thought through with ample pockets. With my life stripped back, I find myself enjoying the simplicity of a life that now prioritises comfort. Even when life as we knew it resumes (and I’m confident it will), I now realise I don’t need a fraction of what I have. How about you?
Being outdoors with nature is way too underrated
Research has told us that being outdoors with nature provides many health benefits including lowering your blood pressure and reducing stress. During the lockdown months, there was an even bigger need to get outdoors and enjoy the benefits of being outside with nature and I’ve never been more grateful for the many beautiful outdoor spots I’ve had available to me. Simply walking amongst trees, looking at greenery and listening to the sounds of nature almost feels like a natural medicine to me. We know that getting outdoors in the sunshine is the best way to ensure good vitamin D levels and of course, it’s an easy way to factor in your exercise for the day, but the research shows us that a dose of the outdoors also makes us happier and improves concentration. The consistency of nature is a welcomed constant in our disrupted schedules; it simply carries on its course, through the seasons, no matter what. I cannot encourage you enough to take the time to get outdoors every single day, even if it’s just for 5 or 10mins….it’s the best “medicine”!
Butter is good
Well, I only say this because having spent the first part of lockdown nurturing sourdough loaves from a pre-life form to a dreamy “carb and butter fest”, it was SOOOOO good! Now, did I put on weight for it? Not single-handedly due to this addiction, but in truth, along with the endless meals, banana loaves and of course, freshly baked breads…yes!
For the record, butter IS good! Real butter (spreadable is fine) that is. I only eat butter and never any other spread.
Diets don’t work
I do know this of course, but with time on my hands and a few pounds to discard (over the usual half stone), I figured that perhaps I should try out some of the “diets” I hear many tell me they have tried.
So, I tried giving up carbs completely and soon found myself struggling to muster up the energy to make my day worthwhile. I then switched to only eating once a day and couldn’t stop thinking about food all day. I tried cutting out tea and my cappuccinos in a bid to reduce the amount of milk (and therefore calories) I was drinking. I was miserable and pined for my pick me ups. (And anyway, how many calories was I actually saving…I wouldn’t have a clue but whatever, it wasn’t worth it!) And then I upped my exercise; online yoga, circuit workouts, strengthening and toning with weights all on top of a daily powerwalk. I was starving and messages my body was sending to my brain to eat SUGAR were nearly always acted upon.
There was one thing that eventually worked; I power walked each day alongside an online yoga session and ate what I wanted and had as many teas and coffees as I desired. I lost those extra few pounds and made a dent into that hard to shift half stone. And they haven’t returned! [Post Xmas UPDATE: now not entirely accurate!]
HEADS UP… I will be sharing my exact approach as part of my 10-day Weight Loss Challenge beginning Monday 11th January. To take part, you need to be a member of The New Healthy. If you’ve been on the fence whether to join or not, would it make a difference if you knew that you can join now at £12.99 p/m and lock in that rate forever before it goes up to £19.99 p/m from 11th January?
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If you’re already a member, no need to do anything; you’ll be receiving details asap.
Coconut oil is worth the hype
There was a time when coconut oil was all the rage. It’s great to cook with; it has a high smoke point and a perfect vegan choice and that same pot you have in the kitchen can also be used as a natural hair treatment or an effective mouth hygiene product and much more. Until a few months ago, I hadn’t used it outside of the kitchen but, those of you who follow me on Instagram may recall that I suffered an allergic reaction to something I ate, that ended up lasting for weeks. This also meant that I couldn’t use my usual face cleansers and creams, despite only buying organic or natural products. So, with dry itchy skin, I headed for the kitchen cupboard and tried a tiny scraping of coconut oil as a facial moisturiser. I haven’t looked back and now use it day and night!
So, as a good fat that boosts HDL (good) cholesterol, that contains the type of fats that don’t get stored and instead get used as a quick source energy, that also has antimicrobial and moisturising effects; I’d say the hype does have some foundation!
Looking for the positives is rewarding
There’s always an upside; that’s actually “my motto”! It’s always in the back of mind; there must be an upside and I need to look for it. It’s not always apparent and sometimes, I’m stretching my optimism to realms that many would deem (most politely) farfetched! But that’s not the point. The point is to allow my mind to be more creative and inventive so that new opportunities come out of an adverse situation. I know that I am not alone in this, but 2020 has encouraged even more of this attitude in me.
So, having taken the unimaginable decision to re-schedule my entire retreat programme, I found myself with time and energy to hand. This strange situation provided the impetus I needed to start the online membership community I’d had in my mind for years and I finally launched “Thrive”, now called “The New Healthy” on June 1st. I am blessed with this wonderful community, which has given me the confidence and drive to put into reality the plans and ideas that have been simmering in my mind for a long time. I am so grateful that so many of you have taken action and jumped on board. Thank you and I promise, this is just the beginning; 2021 will be the year it really takes off!
Of course, these are casual musings and reflections on what has been a tough year. I do not wish to diminish the severity of the pandemic and the devastating effects of the restrictions that have been imposed on us as a global community. I look forward to bringing joy and freedoms back into our lives very soon.