Sunday 10 January 2016

Little Steps, Big Changes

It’s that time of year again, when we all reflect on our lives and the year gone by and many of us decide to make some changes and set some goals. I’m not a big fan of making resolutions as they feel like pressure I do not need and I’m tempted to break them very quickly, so I struck resolutions off my to-do list quite some years ago now.

I am however passionate about change; things do not stay the same and that is a good thing. As a Christian, I’m learning and growing every day, just like Jesus did and even though on the outside it might look like my life is pretty much the same as this time last year it is the inner me I know that has changed for the better.

There are still plenty of changes that need to be made and the biggest one of all is losing some weight and becoming healthier. In the last year I have been diagnosed with cough variant asthma and early onset arthritis in my knees and that can’t be right for someone who is just 42 years of age. Losing weight has been a goal of mine for near on thirty years so this isn’t going to be an easy one to achieve but then the best things in life are never easy.

I’ve had a bit of a revelation in the last few weeks though and it is encouraging. I’ve been asking myself why I think I can have a different result (i.e. weight loss) when I keep doing the same things? I’m in a terrible pattern of trying to diet or ‘be good’ as I call it at least once a year and for two or three months I am motivated and I can manage to drop a few stone. Then it gets boring and my true love of food rears its head again and off I go in that same spiral of eating and dieting.

My revelation this year has been that I need to make small incremental changes and introduce new habits into my life. Habits for life in fact. The current NHS programme to help educate our nation is called ‘change for life’ and that is exactly what I need to do. Not diet, not ‘be good’, not anything for a short period of time but make long lasting changes.

It’s been fairly easy to identify that I lose all will power and determination as soon as I’m tired so the first change I’ve been making in January has been my bedtime. In bed with the light off by 11pm has been my rule, there has been the odd time later but massive improvements have been made in general. If I want to read my book I go up at 10pm so there is time before the 11pm lights off, not just tag it on the end and find myself still awake at gone midnight as had become the norm.

Hand in hand with this earlier bedtime has been an earlier wake-up time. I like the morning and thus it seems sensible to make the most of it before the house awakens, so at 6.30am I’ve been creeping into the lounge and reading my bible, writing my journal and praying. It’s been a very blessed time.

I now need to ensure that these patterns continue for the foreseeable future. Researchers seem to say that the minimum time it takes to form a habit is 21 days of continuous activity, but the more complex and difficult it is for you to personally adopt that habit the longer it will take. There is no strict formula but UCL suggest a good estimate is 66 days, that’s just over two months, yikes!

I’ve also had a health assessment in January and found out I am 47% fat and that feels like a scary figure but it is just that, a figure. A place I’m starting a journey from, it does not have to define me. There is no more ‘hello I’m Michelle and I’m fat’, it is now ‘hello, I’m Michelle, a child of God’, that is what defines me. It will be incredibly satisfying to watch this fat figure decrease, in more ways than one!

There will be more for me to update you on in coming weeks, but that’s it for now.

First two small steps, early to bed and early to rise. You know what they say about that? I’d be content with healthy, wealthy and wise!

What about you, have you got changes planned this year?

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