Lifestyle Change

Up until I was 15, I used to regularly go to dance lessons, normally around four times a week and for hours at a time. My life was constantly on the go and time after school was always dedicated to my hobbies. Unfortunately 15 was the age that I became interested in other things – mainly friends, makeup and boyfriends, rather than hobbies. It became a drag to go to them – it was precious time lost away from my friends – and so I gave it all up.

When I was at college, one of my friend’s sisters ran a zumba class, and me and a group of my friends used to go weekly. We did this all throughout our second year of college and we even went for a swim afterwards. But again, this tailed off, particularly when it got to the point where we all left for uni.

While at uni, I barely did any exercise. I told myself I didn’t have the time, when really, what I meant was that I wanted the time to binge on netflix and drink a lot of alcohol on nights out.

Now I’m well into my second year of working in a full time job and I’ve found myself realising that I can no longer can get away with not doing anything. Not only is it bad for my physical health, its bad for my mental health. I’ve had a stressful year and I’ve realised that the only person who can change and manage that stress is me. I’ve read so many articles about the importance of time to yourself and about exercising, but it’s only the last month or so that I’ve really kicked myself into action.

I’ve majorly surprised myself with just how much I’m enjoying my newfound appreciation of exercise. One of the things I was apprehensive about was not having enough time in the day to do it. I work between 8.30 and 6 and only get home at 7, by which point I just want to chill on the sofa and relax. So that’s why I’ve fitted my workout into my lunch hour.

I’ve been really lucky that there’s a gym literally round the corner from my office. It’s inexpensive, really friendly and there’s a great choice of classes. I find that I can’t just go to the gym and work out. I need an instructor to motivate me and a bit of variation. I’ve started doing spin classes, weights classes and toning classes and I feel absolutely brilliant.

My energy levels are up, my routine feels settled, I’m more motivated and I actually look forward to going to the gym. This time, I don’t feel like it’s just a passing fancy. I actually want to stick it.

One of my colleagues has been kind enough to create me a meal plan for the last week full of protein and veg, and I’ve really enjoyed that too. I think that because I’m enjoying it, it doesn’t feel like hard work or too much effort. Who knows what I’ll be saying in a few months time but for now I’m loving my new routine.

Have you ever made any lifestyle changes? How’ve you found it?

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Old habits die hard

When I turned 18 and was finally legal to drink at a bar, I never knew what to order. I’d always turn to one of the people that I’d be with and ask ‘What are you having?’ and then I’d um and ah and then would choose exactly what they were having, even if I didn’t know what it was or if I wasn’t sure I’d like it. The reason I started doing this was genuinely because I didn’t know what to order, but there’s also a small part of me that knows that I did this because I didn’t want to order the wrong thing. And that’s just ridiculous. Why should what you order at a bar define you as a person? I know it doesn’t and to be honest, I know the people that I was with at the time wouldn’t have cared whatever I’d ordered, but to me, it was a big deal.

It occurred to me recently that the way I ordered at a bar when I was 18, was equivalent to the way I make my choices in life. I tend to be an indecisive person who struggles to make a decision, because I don’t want to upset other people with the choices I make. If someone asks me if I’m free at the weekend, and I know I don’t have definite plans, I’ll agree, and then immediately regret it because secretly, I wanted the weekend to myself after a long and stressful week. If people I know are talking about trying a new restaurant that’s recently opened, I’ll nod along and say I’m up for trying it too, even though I actually don’t know if I like that sort of food, and would be just as happy at the place that we’ve been to before. It’s become clear that I tend to be a bit of a people pleaser, who’s terrified of doing the wrong, socially unacceptable thing.

Breaking a habit of a lifetime takes a while, and I’m pretty sure that when someone next asks me if I’m free at the weekend, I’ll start frantically trying to think of how I can fit it in, but the point is that I’ve become aware of it. I want to be a bit more decisive and I want to make a decision that’s solely based on my wants, rather than because I think it might please someone else.

So the next time I’m at bar, I’m going to order what I want to, just because I want to, even if everyone else is ordering beers and I feel like I’m ordering too fussy a drink. If someone asks me if I want to try the latest Thai restaurant, I’m just going to be honest and say that it’s not really my thing.

There’s always going to be times when putting other people’s opinions and needs ahead of your own is the right thing to do, but on the other side of the coin, your opinions and needs are just as important. And it’s fine to admit it, both to others and to yourself.