Here we are at that time of year again, the beginning, with a new clean slate and a chance to start afresh. Every January we witness the influx of resolutions; gym memberships spike as people vow to get fit, there’s a rise in sales of “healthy foods” (rather foods we have as a society labelled as healthy when in reality there are no such thing as good foods and bad foods) and the streets are teeming with bright eyed and bushy tailed runners in their shiny new running gear. No harm in this at all, taking initiative to make any positive changes to one’s lifestyle is admirable, but the whole “New Year, New Me” phenomenon has become, especially in more recent years, a bit of a taboo.
As a result of this influx of “get healthy” intentions, influenced greatly and pushed into a sort of boost mode by the aftermath of an indulgent Christmas holiday during which we, naturally, gain a few. Many of us are left feeling guilty if we don’t follow suit in “getting our acts together” and hopping on the “get fit” bandwagon. Of course, after a few weeks of no college and indulging on our favourite festive foods, we do need to respect our bodies by replacing some of the mince pies and chocolate with more nutritious foods, as well as making an effort to get back to a more active day to day routine after the days spent sprawled out on the sofa enjoying your family favourite festive movies (which is a luxury you are perfectly entitled to enjoy, and should not be made feel in any way guilty about).
In terms of the guilt this time of year can sometimes leave us feeling, I find that this negative and judgemental energy is the reason for many of us not liking the month of January very much. That is why, this year, I have decided to ignore all the incentives to take on a “get healthy, get fit, lose weight” New Year’s Resolution, and instead I am going to embark on a journey of self-care, self-love and embrace the body I have been blessed with. It breaks my heart to hear my friends, or anyone for the matter, bash their own individual and unique physical features – “I hate my thighs” “I hate this awful birthmark” “I hate these stretch marks” “This scar is so ugly”. We stand in front of mirrors and seek out all of the things we don’t like about our own bodies; we use mirrors to check ourselves and fix ourselves. Have you ever stood in front of a mirror and admired yourself? Have you ever stopped for a second, before getting dressed in the morning, looked at yourself and, instead of tossing and turning into positions considered more flattering, admired the things that you like about your own body, the little ways in which it is completely unique and different from anyone else’s?
Enjoy the journey. Embark on a fitness journey that is maintainable; one that doesn’t impact or take away from any other aspect of your life, be that work, college, your social and love life. You have to enjoy your workouts, whatever they may be; some people enjoy walking, some running, some weight training in the gym, some cardio in the gym, people can have any combination of activities that make up their fitness routine. As long as it is maintainable and enjoyable, and it makes you feel good and happy, then you’ll be set and well able to keep it up. Look forward to your workouts, and don’t let them get in the way of you living your life. A well balanced and non-restrictive routine is key. Life is too short to deny yourself your nights out with the lads, your girls night, your desert after a meal out. There is a sweet balance between being good to yourself, respecting the nutritional and fitness needs of your body, while also allowing yourself your treats and the indulgent foods that you enjoy. I am not a qualified nutritionist, nor am I a qualified personal trainer or fitness expert, so I won’t advise on specific nutritional plans or fitness regimes. Instead I simply encourage you to educate yourself. Make sure you’re getting the information from qualified and trustworthy sources, not self-proclaimed Instagram fitfam members.
Learn to love your body. Don’t just accept it, embrace it. If you are embarking on a fitness journey, do so with appreciation for your body; don’t just accept it with the intention of changing it, embrace your body. Love and respect the body you have at all point throughout the journey; from the very beginning, throughout all the little transformations and at the end when you’ve reached the goals you set out for yourself. Be mindful of goals, though, and what I mean by this is that you cannot let your happiness be dependent on reaching your goals. “I’ll be happy with my body when…” and “I would be happy if I could change…” are toxic statements; comparing our bodies to others’ and to the pictures we see on things like Instagram is a dangerous game that only contributes to a negative and damaging mindset about our bodies. The number on the scales is just that; a number, and you cannot let that number determine your mood and actions every day. Let how you feel within yourself be your guide, not the number on a scale. Every time you feel down about yourself or unhappy within your own skin, remember that everyone has moments of self-consciousness and self-hate, and these moments can turn into devastatingly long periods and can really have a massive negative impact on our lives; remember that there is no one in the entire world that has the same body that you have, your body is entirely unique, and that is amazing; you body is yours to admire, embrace and show off to the world.