Motivation is what gets you started and habit is what keeps you going. But sometimes you need to simply stop and check in with yourself to assess and see if your habits are hindering or serving you. I’ve cultivated hundreds of habits in my lifetime, some good, some bad and some ugly. The good ones have stuck, the bad ones have dropped off a cliff and the ugly ones left me injured, a consequence of usually overindulging in one exercise form or another. About six months ago I decided that I was going to ‘slow down’ and try to listen to my body more… in other words I was going to give intuitive living a go. What resulted was a happier, healthier lifestyle where I did less, benefitted more and felt a whole lot happier. Here are some of the lessons I learnt:
Eat When Your Hungry
We’re often told to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner at certain times throughout the day. While I fully believe in starting your day off by alkalising your stomach with warm water and lemon I don’t think you should force feed yourself breakfast if you’re not hungry. I now make sure I have a healthy breakfast on hand, usually eggs of some kind, but I only eat them when my stomach sends a signal to my brain saying ‘feed me’. I find that hunger doesn’t actually hit until 11.30 am and my morning coffee is enough to keep me satiated until then. I work and exercise better on an empty stomach and I find that this works for me. I also make sure to really wait until I feel hungry for lunch and dinner too and to slow down meal times in general so I can figure out when I’m full. It’s worked wonders for me and my noon and 4pm snack attacks have completely disappeared in the past two months.
Done is Better than Perfect
I love smashing goals and I get the most satisfaction by completing marathons or races of some sort. This can lead to me putting immense pressure on myself and instead of ensuring I don’t get injured during a race I only focus on the number of people passing me by. During the last race I did, something finally clicked and I decided to focus on finishing the race uninjured and making sure I enjoyed it as much as I could. Smiling sends a signal to your brain that makes you feel happy so that’s what I did. I had more fun than I ever did before and finished in a great time, injury-free. No one is perfect and instead of focusing on completing massive goals it’s better to ensure the journey along the way is awesome.
Less Exercise is Often More
My morning routine goes something like this. Wake up, put on runners, get out the door. Whether I go for a walk, hit the gym, do yoga or go on a hike I always try to get out of the house and do something. Once upon a time I would go to CrossFit or for a 10km run every single morning whether my body ached or not. After educating myself a little bit more and readjusting my priorities I now listen to my body and if I’m hurt I give myself a break, lie in and try to recuperate. I still love marathons and I’m sure I’ll do more in the future but I prefer small and mighty workouts now, dynamite comes in a small box after all.
Guidelines can Eliminate Guilt
Diets don’t work and it’s something I learned the hard way by trying about 99% of them. I finally got to a point where I had so much information that I became totally confused. One day I would decide to do the low-calorie thing and eat fruit all day, the following week I would justify eating far too much protein by referencing the Atkins diet and over the weekend I would indulge in a cheese platter and find myself on the high-fat regime. You know what I realised? Fads don’t work for life and more importantly they don’t make you happy. I finally found a few guidelines that work for me after compiling different bits and pieces from different experts. I stick to proteins, greens and carbohydrates like sweet potato as a general rule of thumb and don’t eat refined, artificial or natural sugar where possible. By sticking to these guidelines I managed to get rid of the dreaded guilt I felt every time I indulged. Create your own rules and stick to them. Sugar in all forms including wine and champagne (sad I know) trigger really bad reactions in my body so I try to stay away from them whenever I can. That said I will have champagne at a celebration and eat cake when the occasion calls for it, because life is too short and these are instances that I plan for in advance.
Walk away from Your Phone
I love my iPhone, I mean I LOVE it. I can’t believe I can stay connected to all of my friends, shop, get food, order a cab etc. on this one shiny device that I just LOVE. I think you can sense I might have a problem and you would be right. I’ve learned the hard way by my iPhone smashing a few times that I sleep better, have more fun and am more social when I don’t have my phone on 100% of the time. I know that spending too much time online shortens your attention span and causes a wide array of other problems but I always ignored the consequences up until a little while ago. I now make sure I spend some of my Sunday totally disconnected and it’s done me the world of good.
Everyone is different and these are just a few things that work for me. It means I can live my life, be social and as a result be much happier and balanced overall. I don’t think any book, expert or life coach has all the answers, but I do find that by continuing to be curious I’m finding out new things every day that lead me to live a better life.
Image Credits: Photographer - Michelle J Procter; Styling - Christie Simpson; Hair - Danielle Abbotts at The Strand, Make-up - Smudge Make-Up Artistry: Location - Upper House Hotel; Top and Leggings - lululemon; trainers - Nike