Over the last five years or so, I’ve gone back and forth on the spectrum of self-care. I’ve gone through periods where my wellness was the priority (coincidently before a child was ever in the mix) and I’ve also gone through periods where taking care of myself was not a priority at all – university days I’m talking to you #supernoodlesandvodka. I hit rock bottom when it comes to taking care of myself after Harrison was born, but nearly two years later I’ve finally started moving in the right direction. I’ve made steps towards slowing down, to switching up my diet and stressing less, and even to embracing my body for what it is at this very moment. With that being said, I’m good at preaching about the things I’m changing, and I’m not really all that great at doing them. All talk, no action – I would be lying if I said I hadn’t fallen off of the band wagon a good few times and I’ve still got a good few changes to make before I can really say I’m taking care of myself.
This all stemmed from another frustrating weigh in this week, after which I started to consider why the scale wasn’t going down. Truth be told, I’m eating too many chocolate biscuits and I’m gaining muscle, so the lack of weight loss is irrelevant, but it got me thinking…
I couldn’t tell you the last time I had drank the recommended amount of water for the day. I also keep skipping breakfast. I feel like I have a constant tension headache thinking about the things I need to do that I’ve left until last minute. Diet, water and stress are three things that can hinder losing fat, sure, but more than that, they are also three things that contribute to an ultimately shittier life. I’m taking my vitamins, I’m building a career and I’m jetting off on holiday when and if I can but Jesus Christ if I can’t get the basics of self care down, is there really much point?
So with that in mind, here’s my promise to myself. A commitment to three basic areas of my life that will ultimately improve my wellness. Who knows, maybe it could for you too, because surely I’m not alone here?
My name is Kirsty, and I’m addicted to my phone. Let’s be honest though, 85% of millennials are, heck its not just a millennial problem, my mum is rarely seen without it in hand and she is certainly not a millenial (sorry mum!). Phones are wonderful things. They keep us connected, they put a wealth of information at fingers reach but they are also serious brain cell killers. Every time I unlock my phone, I lose at least 5 minutes to social media, investing my time into someone else’s life rather than my own. My phone may as well be an extension of my own arm, so switching off entirely is unrealistic and pretty scary, so I’m taking baby steps. Like, baby, baby steps. If like me the prospect of leaving your phone at home is a no-go, try starting with a mobile bed time ban. Going to bed should signal rest and relaxation, not let’s scroll back through four years of Megan from Love Islands’ instagram feed. Plug your phone in at the other end of the room, or better yet, downstairs if you can cope with a vintage alarm clock. I’ve broken this rule too many a time, but going forward I’m living by the mantra of not having my phone be the last thing I see before I go to sleep at night, and not being the first thing when I wake up. Maybe you should too?
I’ve also switched off my notifications, and found this means I’m reaching for my phone a hell of a lot less. It’s so easy to get hours when you get a notification – it’s the very reason these apps send them. Ben from Hollyoaks doing a live video on Instagram? I’ve not watched Hollyoaks in four years and I’ve probably never engaged with Ben, but I may as well jump on and see what everyone else is up to. Forty minutes later, you’ve probably ended up on Ben’s long lost aunties cousins ex-boyfriends Instagram, and forty minutes have been well and truly wasted. I spend waaaay too much time living vicariously through everyone else, why not just spend my time living my own life. If you want to scroll, by all means scroll, but switch off your notifications and scroll with purpose, where you have to make a considered effort to go on to the app.
I was very reluctant to even write the word diet here. Nutrition. That’s a better word. Now i’ll start by saying this – my changes to my diet have absolutely nada to do with losing weight. I’m an insecure female who’s gained a fair bit of chub since carrying a child (in comparison to before, it’s all relative) so of course any weight loss is an added bonus, but it’s not the aim here. I’m not reducing my calories, I’m simply trying to eat more of the good stuff. I’ve never been great when it comes to getting nutritious meals in. I gave up on vegetables when I was in primary school, and I’ve never picked them back up again. Aside not giving me basic nutrients, the foods I eat just do not make me feel good, ever. Too much sugar, too much dairy and a whole host of caffeine, so I’ve been trying to make small changes that don’t make me feel like I am missing out. I’ve switched out cows milk for almond milk, Coco Pops for omelettes, reduced the caffeine ever so slightly… I’m just trying to be more conscious of what I am fueling myself with.
It’s not just the foods that I’m eating that are the problem, it’s when I’m eating (or not eating) them. Breakfast. Monday to Friday, it’s the meal I don’t eat. I just don’t have time in the morning, or at least that is what I’ve been telling myself. Rather than continue to make excuses for my shoddy morning routine, I’ve been setting my alarm twenty minutes earlier and making an effort to get a good start to the morning. Don’t get me wrong, 3 out of 5 times I hit snooze – but that’s two extra days where I’m fuelling my body and easing myself into the day, which let’s face it, is a big ass improvement from where I was before.
Finally, I’ve really gotten back into exercise. This will not apply to everyone, but I really do enjoy the gym. I love being strong, feeling fit and having a routine that involves taking care of my body, both physically and mentally. That routine was waaaaay off over the last year or two. I’ve found myself getting back on the exercise band wagon periodically, but I always seem to find myself falling back off. At the moment, I’ve been consistently at the gym 4/5 days a week for nearly two months, and I’m feeling much better for it. Find the form of exercise that’s right for you – I hate running, I get bored af doing pilates and fitness classes are not my thing. I like to lift weights and walk on a treadmill sometimes, so that’s what I will keep doing.
Oh and water. Note to self, drink more water.
I know just how important taking time out for myself is, it was one of my main go-to’s for getting over my January blues, and yet I still don’t do it enough. Everyone requires just a little bit of time to themselves to maintain sanity. As a busy mum who works full time and also for herself, time is valuable. I’m saying no to the things I don’t need to be doing, and saying yes to taking time for myself, and for Harrison. Personal time is the first thing I’ll forego. I’ll prioritise work, errands, cleaning the utility room top left cupboard and other pointless tasks, when really I need to be prioritising a good hour on the couch watching Love Island (anyone else with me?). If you follow me over on Instagram, you’ll already know that I decided to reduce my hours at my full-time job this week, and this was the reason why. Working full time meant that I worked on the blog in the evenings, which in turn meant my time with Harrison, and my time for myself suffered. I’m not suggesting we all get up and quit our jobs for the sake of watching bad TV, but rather we look for solutions to having no time rather than simply accept it. It is so easy to underestimate the power of a good work life balance, and if losing 8 hours of work will let me do that, then all the power to me.