Lifestyle,  Wellness

9 healthy habits to fab up your February

It’s almost March – how did we get here so soon? I was just wrapping gifts and baking Christmas cupcakes, and suddenly we’ve done January and Valentine’s has been and gone.

Spring is definitely round the corner. Snowdrops everywhere. Daffodils opening.  But the days are still short and it’s easy to let that winter living linger – too many comfort dinners, too cold to exercise. Comfort living is great for a while, but it leaves us feeling drained. Spring is calling …

So, let’s limber up and get back into healthy habits before too much of the year whizzes by.  10 minutes on Pinterest the other day made me feel motivated and guilty in equal measure so here’s my 9 tips for improving our health, fitness, good eating, deep sleep and a little bit of calm. Will you join me?

There’s nothing clever here, no special equipment is needed, and they’re in no particular order. Just some sensible ideas that we just need to get on with

Healthy Habit #9  9 thousand steps

Cake decorating and blogging doesn’t encourage too much exercise and if I don’t make an effort to get out – it’s just a few steps from the office to the kitchen to the car. – and back.

We live on the beautiful North Wales coast so there’s really no excuse for laziness. One of my goals for this year is to get back into regular walking as part of our daily routine.  We all know what a difference walking makes to our physical and mental wellbeing, and there’s no new skill involved – just putting one foot in front of the other.

I might invest in a Fitbit, or I might just start walking and see what happens.

Healthy Habit #8 8 hours of sleep

A good night’s sleep is a bit of a project for me.  I struggle with anxiety and this has meant I’ve developed really bad sleep patterns. I need a good 8+ hours to function well and the more of them I can get before midnight the better. Having the TV in the bedroom is a curse, and if you’re thinking about putting one in  – JUST DON’T. It’s so easy to drift from one rubbish programme to the next, flick channels endlessly and totally ruin any hope of a good sleep.

So, I’ve introduced 2 things.

First something new – the Sleepcycle App (link – which tracks your sleep through sound and movement and wakes you up with lovely twinkly music in the lightest part of your sleep. My husband and I are now competing for who can get the most deep sleep and the highest percentage sleep quality. The outcome (after about a month) is I am getting between 8 and 9 hours – result! By the way, it also tells you how long you snored for and if you pay for the premium app, you can listen to yourself snoring. Happy Days!

The second is the old fashioned book at bedtime. I used to love reading popular thrillers  – John Grisham, Michael Crichton, Dan Brown  – that sort of thing.  So I’ve introduced the principle of “a chapter at bedtime” to help me nod off. Trouble is Dan Brown is more likely to keep you awake all night, rather than induce sleep. My advice – pick a book you’ll enjoy and make yourself read a chapter. It really works.

And switch off the TV – you’ll thank me 9 hours later.

Healthy Habit #7  7 glasses of water

This one is easy if you like the taste of water. That sounds like a strange thing to say but I know people who just don’t like it. You can add fruit cordials, or just a slice of citrus. Fresh mint is nice too. Or  apple. One of the coffee shops  I frequent serves watermelon water and it’s really refreshing.

It’s hard to overegg the positive effects of drinking lots of water and also the need to avoid buying disposable plastic bottles, which were never disposable. Joseph Joseph have brought out a great t water bottle concept which I’m planning to try. It’s a simple 400ml or 600ml bottle that shows how much you’ve drunk. You simply twist the neck every time you fill . You can take it to work, on your walk, to the gym or on a car journey – and feel really pleased with yourself at the end of the day.

Healthy Habit #6  6 minutes of calm

Calm is a precious thing and a commodity that none of us have enough of. When you live in a holiday town like Llandudno, you really appreciate early spring.  We are the Queen of Welsh Resorts which is lovely and helps our economy – but brings with it hoards of people for their holidays and day-trips. We are currently enjoying the only quiet time on the tourism calendar where you can park easily in the town and not have to queue up at the car wash.

Building a little bit of calm into our lives is a totally individual thing.  My thing won’t be your thing. Perhaps you enjoy meditation and the popular concept of mindfulness. My calm is sitting on the beach watching the waves wrapped up in winter woollies, it’s the joyful 20 minutes I savour with my monthly Country Living magazine, and it’s curling up with a cup of tea and my Bible which I try to do every morning.

Healthy Habit #5  5 servings of fruit and veggies

Every food retailed is promoting healthy eating at the moment so it’s easy to get on board and improve our diet. In my Christmas stocking were 2 books which I’m thoroughly enjoying. Jamie Oliver’s “5 ingredients” is amazing and it’s so full of wholesome delicious recipes that you can whip up in minutes. Antonio Carluccio’s “Vegetables” is a delightful coffee table book following his passion for all things veggie, especially mushrooms – my personal favourite.

It’s not hard to get 5 portions in every day, but it takes a bit of planning. My trick is to have a separate food planner. It only needs to be a small week to view diary. You can plan out your meals, and your shopping, in advance. It helps to make sure you’ve got everything you need for a week of healthy eating, and it helps to reduce the number of extra things that drop into the trolley (by accident). Of course, if you’re an on-line shopper this won’t happen to you.

Healthy Habit #4  4 breaks to stretch and breathe

Sometimes I get so carried away with writing a blog that I lose all sense of time, suddenly realise it’s pitch dark outside and I should be downstairs making a healthy dinner!

Yes, breaks are essential – you heard it here first.

This morning I was a bit cheeky. I took my morning break before I actually started work. Mr Bond only has to say “d’you fancy coffee out” and I’m there like a shot. Happily, our local and most favourite coffee house is 7 minutes away by foot, and 3 minutes by car. That makes it super handy.

Healthy Habit #3  3 meals and healthy snacks

Are you one of those naughty people that skips breakfast?  Well, stop it – now. You know breakfast is the most important meal of the day for your body and your brain so get organised with some healthy muesli, yoghurt, toast or scrambled eggs – whatever takes your fancy.

3 reasonably spaced out meals punctuated with healthy snacks gives a structure to our day, gives our body and mind much needed energy and helps us be the best version of ourselves.

Healthy Habit #2   2 hours of no phone before bed

This really is a challenge. In my quest for better sleep, I’ve read and watched a lot about the effects of “blue screen” time on our sleep patterns. TVs, tablets, laptops and phones all emit blue light which activates a certain part of our brain and keeps us awake.

Last night I tried to ignore my phone after 9pm.  I convinced myself that my emails can wait and who emails after 9pm anyway? Social media can wait, for goodness sake, and if there’s any emergency presumably someone will ring me and speak to me in the old fashioned style.  I know, I know, there’s a great danger of missing out on some vital piece of celebrity gossip and then feeling like you’re the last person to find out. The struggle is real. But honestly – balance that against a good 8 hours of deep sleep and there’s no contest.

Tonight I will try from 8pm. Wish me luck …

Healthy Habit #1  1 session of exercise

We’ve already talked about walking so now I have to think of another form of exercise which in my (retired practise nurse) mother’s words will cause me to be “mildly puffed”

I used to run. And really enjoy it. I have an ipod, proper running shoes and everything. So perhaps joining the gym will get me fit enough to start road running again. And by the time I’m fit enough, the weather might have warmed up. Although I read a quote today “there’s no such thing as bad weather, just different types of good weather”

You might prefer swimming, canoing, rockclimbing, even gardening. Whatever floats your boat.

You might feel overwhelmed with things you feel you should be doing. My advice – be gentle on yourself, but remember

“if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always be what you’ve always been”

So whatever it is for you – just get up and do it.

Judith x

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