I remember when I first started my nutrition course and I was telling a couple of my friends about my renewed approach to life, that I was focusing on myself, eating more consciously, exercising more and feeling great. One of them asked me “is everything perfect now? Do bad things not happen anymore?” which at the time I thought was an interesting question. I replied “no, at the end of the day, life is life and stuff is going to happen but it’s about having better tools to deal with them so the overall impact isn’t so negative on your physical wellbeing”. At the time, I was feeling amazing, I had control over my work, was sleeping enough and had the time to do what I really wanted to do (yoga, my course, cook, see friends). So I dispensed these ‘pearls of wisdom’, poured myself another glass of wine and felt good about myself and what I was doing and the fact that I could share it with people I care about.
Maybe I was being a bit smug… everything was going well, I was loving my life and even though I was saying all this like I was a wise old sage, I didn’t think about what it really meant to be on the other side. Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been reminded of this conversation and the fact that despite best intentions, sometimes you can’t stop life from getting in the way.
I’d had a month of stressful intensity at work. A month filled with deadlines, demands, late nights both working and work-socialising (I have one of those jobs where it’s part of the role). Added to that I had an exam and I was struggling to keep up with my study requirements. I was starting to get less and less sleep and to top it off had a health scare. I’d been just about holding it together, was still cooking (a really significant thing for me) but I was starting to feel more tired, more unhappy and after another late(ish) night at work I thought to myself, “I can’t be bothered to make food, I’m just going to have a popcorn dinner and eat cake.” I’ve talked about this previously, but popcorn is an emotional crutch for me and the fact that I turned to popcorn to fill the space of a meal is a sign I’m not taking care of myself. Anyway, I bought myself a muffin and got the bus home.
When I got home, I suppose it was like a divine intervention because my weekly Riverford organic fruit and veg box was waiting for me on my doorstep. And I couldn’t think of anything worse than the fact I had to unpack it and put it in the fridge (I was exhausted) but I had to. And as I unpacked this mountain of gorgeous, colourful fruit and vegetables that looked and smelled so fresh, I thought to myself, why don’t I cook a really quick vegetable fried rice and it’ll taste so much nicer than popcorn and might make me feel a bit better. So I did and I calmed down and did actually feel a bit better. Don’t get me wrong, I was still knackered but cooking for myself and having a warm nutritious meal really grounded me, I felt a bit soothed and that was a good thing.
So, it’s got me thinking about how important it is to have those ‘tools’ I talked about to my friends so you’re ready for whatever life may throw at you and can stay committed to leading a healthy lifestyle.
I was really lucky that I have a weekly organic fruit and veg box delivery from Riverford. Even if I don’t have the time to choose extras or make changes, a standard box arrives which means that I always have some sort of fresh fruit and veg in. Even if I’m just eating the veg raw and don’t have time to do anything with it, at least I’m eating something with some sort of nutritional value. This month saw me eating lots of carrots, hummus and salads. Veg fried rice was also a staple (I’ll write down the recipe soon as it really is an easy one to do). It’s about having those things in the fridge / cupboards that you can pull a quick meal together from.
2. Managing Cravings
Your body craves things for a reason, whether that be emotional or physical and yes, you can spend time working on whatever the reasons for those cravings are. I do feel that you should give your body what it’s looking for sometimes, albeit in a mindful way. That night I was tired and I wanted cake. So I’d bought myself an organic gluten free muffin (I love Crayve by the way) and I had that for my post-dinner dessert. Another time, I fancied some chocolate and I had some Rawr chocolate which is made from organic ingredients including raw cacao which is an amazing antioxidant. I think times like these are not the time to feel guilty about food so trying alternatives that are better for you is a good place to be.
I really can’t cope when I’m tired, I find it hard to function properly and it plays havoc with my emotions. On the days when I could, I made the effort to get into bed at 10/10.30pm and try and get a full 8 hours. Sometimes it felt a bit early or I felt anxious and couldn’t drop off but I used this meditation by Headspace which worked a treat every time. Prioritise sleeping, it’s your body’s time to rest and recuperate – give it the time to do that.
4. Try to maintain movement
It’s hard but try to keep the exercise in. It’s usually the first thing for me to fall off the radar when I’m busy but when I stopped having the time to go to my weekly yoga class, I used the YogaStudioApp (love this, so good for yoga wherever you are, and you can do 15/30/60 min classes so you could try to squeeze in 15 min classes). When I stopped having the energy to even do the app, I managed to keep up my morning 30 min walk to work at least 3 times a week. I’m lucky I can do that but try to think about ways to keep moving that work within your own lifestyle – cycling instead of public transport, taking stairs instead of the lift.
5. Prioritise yourself
One night I had to work until 4.30am to meet a deadline which just exhausted me. The next night I was supposed to see a group of friends for a dinner which had been planned for months. Despite the fact that they tried to convince me otherwise, I cancelled and stayed at home. I needed to go to bed early and sleep – so I did. This is a big change for me – previously I would have just gone, probably fallen asleep at the table and not enjoyed myself – but this time, I listened to my body and stayed in. There may be different things for you but listen to your heart, body and do what works for you