My latest fad: suber uber health kick 2018
Maybe it’s the fun of trying something new. Maybe it’s an inherent desire to defy convention. Or maybe it’s straight up narcissism. Whatever it is, I seem to have an in-built craving to challenge myself through obscure fitness and health regimes.
I’ve been a vegan, a vegetarian a part time vegetarian, a yoga enthusiast, a mindful meditator, a map-my-runner, a nike fitness clubber, a faster, a feaster, a five-two-er and a sleeper. I even once tried to rise and sleep with the movement of the sun in summer and hallucinated from tiredness. That was fun!
So why would 2018 be any different?
In true neurotic fashion I’m clamping down on health in a new way this year. I’m going for a full myriad of impractical regimes. One that, in full, will blow those past menial challenges out of the water.
And for why? Well there is actually a more practical reason than a simple desire to achieve ultimate control of the meat and bones that I own… 2018 is the year I get married. And on that day I want to be most fit and most healthy I HAVE EVER BEEN!
So this is my new fad. The ultimate fad. The super, uber fad to end all fads 2018….
First up. Food.
The biggie. This is less of a ‘what can I eat?’ scenario and more of a ‘what do I need to cut?’ kind of deal. I eat a lot. And I like eating a lot. Fortunately I’ve been blessed with a fierce metabolism (by who I know not). The kind of metabolism that if bottled would be a golden elixir to gym bunnies everywhere. (Note to self – research metabolism extraction). I once ordered every item on the McDonald’s menu and munched through the entire calorific lunch while supportive friends cheered on. By evening I was hankering for a cheese and biscuit supper. That was a great day.
You might think this sounds awesome. And you’d be right. But like Uncle Ben wisely said “With great power comes great responsibility”. If I’m not careful things can get out hand quite quickly…
Fish and chips? Of course! But lets add a sausage just to be sure. Domino’s you say? Sure, I’ll just have the party deal to myself. KFC? Absolutely, I’ll take the family bucket with just one straw please.
So where I might look trim and slim on the outside (if I do say so myself), my innards are clearly taking a processed beating.
It’s time to reign it in.
So here we go. Straight out of the cage. No messing around. Clean eating that even Trinny and Susannah would be impressed by.
The hard no-no’s:
1. No dairy.
Milk is literally baby cow growth juice! Would you suckle the teat of any other animal? No. It’s weird. Dairy is gone.
2. No caffeine.
I drink gallons of tea and coffee. Flat whites by the bucket load. Mugs of tea by the hour. I hardly touch the floor some days I’m jittering so much. Plus my dentist always gives my grief for staining my teeth. It’s going!
3. No bread
Big discussion point. And I get it. Bread technically isn’t that bad for you. But can we agree that mass produced loafs contain sugar, salt, oil, vinegar and preservatives? Yes. Can we agree that homemade bread is a good solution? Absolutely. Can we agree that the average Joe has too much stuff going on (like blog writing) to straddle a bread tin and ride it around the kitchen for an hour every day. Yea? Ok, then it’s gone. (And for the record I’m throwing white rice, pasta, tortillas and wraps in there for good measure.)
4. No Sugar
Sugar is bad mmm’kay.
5. No Alcohol
I have a love-hate relationship with this one. From my late teens this was a key component to social activity. Drinking down by the local church was the weekly social event in fifth year. Ever since, most social occasions are served with a side of fizz, pints or ‘just-a-small-one’s’. Sure, my tipple has changed and I now prefer a Chateauneuf du Pape over a vat of Frosty Jack, but it’s still a poison. It’s still a drug. It’s still an addictive solution designed to imbalance our fragile, chemically filled bodies. No alcohol!
Essentially this top five is covered by the rule “if it ain’t growing, it’s going”, which I thought was really clever when it sprang to mind. (In reality it’s more like “if it’s processed, I’ll protest” but that’s just pretentious and not as catchy).
That’s the consumption plan fixed. But as I said I want to be the healthiest I’ve ever been. I am way more than just a walking stomach. So what about fitness I ask?
Good point I’d say to myself. Well this is the fitness plan:
Exercise every morning. Every morning. Every. Morning. Get up. Put the kettle on. Hey-Google Metro radio. And get moving!
Five simple activities:
- Plank. Get that core engaged!
- Bow. Inherited from my yoga days.
- Bicycles. Burn those abs!
- Push ups. Remember to breathe.
- Butt push-ups. Physio Pete told me this will help my dodgy knee.
Walk. Everywhere. Two miles per day is a pretty good aim as that’s about 30 mins of light exercise. Living in London pretty much rules out driving and I dislike public transport generally, so this is pretty easy to incorporate. There’s a train station exactly one mile away from my house where I can get a train to work. This is my commute now.
One hour of cardio per week.
I often play football on a Tuesday night. This is perfect. Run around like a loony chasing a ball for an hour and get blood pumping. Failing that go for a run. Not on a treadmill. Outside. With the elements and fresh air.
Also… Big also… I’ve received a last-minute place in the London marathon. On the day of writing this I have just over 12 weeks to change from a lazy Christmas pudding to a daily fitness runner. This is a huge incentive to get me in shape.
(I’m running the marathon for Cancer Trust – Read my story and give me a little sponsor)
Boom. Exercise regime sorted. Next!
A big one. This is finally in the public’s consciousness. We’re finally looking at our health holistically! We’re evolving!!! We’re the most advanced we’ve ever been as a species!!!! (Ignoring the fact that the Romans had this sussed two millennia ago, ‘Mens sana in corpore sano’ anyone?)
So mental health is an absolute corner stone of my regime. I will look after my brain in 2018!
There are three key areas I’ve learned I need to focus on to keep my brain steady: creativity, education and work.
These are the mechanisms I know will help do that:
I like making things and I like solving problems. Doing both of these things gives me a sense of gratification and purpose. Especially when it’s a project I’m personally interested in. I’ve three simple creative tasks that I can work on throughout the year to keep this going.
1. Post one photo on Instagram per day. There’s a dark side to the Instagram that exploits vanity and promotes extreme beautification. This I do not condone and is behaviour I actively try to shy away from. (Preach✊🏼!) However, I’ve learned to love Instagram for it’s simplicity. I use it as a visual diary. Every day post about a small achievement, thought or activity that effectively documents my day-to-day life. This teaches me to look for little-wins in the smaller things.
2. Write blogs. Like this one. I like writing. It tests my story-telling, vocabulary and let’s me explore new topics. Blogs are also a free range medium where I can write how I like and about what I like. Whether I want to ponder the underlying nuances of the universe or just shout about equality in the style of a three year old having a tantrum, I am free to do so. One of these per month is a good prescription to help get creative juices flowing.
3. Compose music. Music is a passion that has accompanied me since childhood. I started writing silly songs after hearing Blink 182s Mark, Tom and Travis show when I was thirteen. The songs were fun, puerile and often petulant, but they gave me access to a new language. I learned how to write songs, compose melodies and write lyrics. Ever since it’s always been a hobby, to the point where last year I wrote an album as a gift to myself for my 30th birthday. My new challenge is to write one new song every three months.
I’ve set my aims on reading one new book per month. Let’s see how that goes, but the aim is to fill my northern noggin with new and exciting nuggets of information. I seem to have stumbled into an interest in the Roman Empire after reading the Cicero trilogy. It’s so good! My next books will be be I, Claudis and Claudius the god. Let’s take it from there and see how we go. But twelve books by next year is the dream!
Go to the cinema. Yes, yes, the cinema is technically a place for entertainment. But it’s also a great source of inspiration and new ideas. Many moons ago at Uni I studied film and animation. I was transfixed with how a successful mix of audio, visuals and a great story can completely enrapture an audience. That fascination with film and cinematography doesn’t go away. It’s always there. The cinema is a sure fire way to get my creative neurons buzzing. So I’m committing to going to the cinema once per month. (Also, Avenger’s infinite war comes out this year… I might just go see that twelve times)
Work life balance
The big finalé.
I don’t know if this is a universal thing or just a designer mentality, but the work just never feels done. Every design I create could be developed. Every project I work on could be better. Every client could do more. And truth be told, that drive to do more is bloody tiring.
Do or do not, there is no “done”.
The nature of agency life means I’m always ‘on’. Morning, day, night, weekends, holidays, and I know I’m not alone in this. Colleagues do the same and we do great work. But that work is often at the behest of sleepless nights and having to burn the candle right to the middle.
So I’m taking that mentality and flipping it.
In 2017 I did the geekiest study ever. Every day of the year last year I recorded my diet, sleep and exercise and rated how I felt on a range of emotions. (Another blog on that coming soon). From the results it’s clear that I’m way more productive with a daily structure, good sleep and a day that doesn’t consist of purely sitting at a desk. (Who would’ve think it, ey?)
Using the results I’ve created my ideal week. Complete with exercise, commuting, work, and even free time. It sounds ridiculous.. and it is. I mean I’ll deviate from it all the time, but the point is to try and work smarter not harder. Work home on Fridays. Leave the office at five. Don’t touch the laptop after 9pm. In bed by 1030pm. etc. etc. etc.
This is the one I’m probably most anxious about dropping. In the past when I’ve tried to leave early I end up slipping back into the routine of just finishing one more thing and before you know it, it’s 8pm and I’m sat in the office like a lonely spoon. THAT’S NOT HEALTHY!
In order to be my most creative I should spend more time learning, relaxing and thinking. This behaviour in turn will give me new and exciting ideas that come from inspiration as oppose to ideas born in the monotony of grinding out results.
2018 or bust
So there you have it. A health regime to pin up in 2018 with three golden sections: Diet, fitness and mental health. When I read this blog in January 2019 I will cringe (naturally), but hope to have found some level of balance across all three points. Yes, it is probably a bit extreme, but hey, if you don’t test the boundaries you don’t know what’s really possible.
Now… Time to research metabolism extraction.