Jump Start January
Can we really jump-start January and make changes to last for the rest of 2022? This is the time of year when many of us think about improving our health and wellbeing. In a time, where we’re all very conscious of our health, courtesy of the Coronavirus pandemic, it’s never been more important to look after ourselves both mentally and physically. But where do you start? We’re bombarded with health advice in the news and on social media; eat meat, don’t eat meat, run don’t run, exercise is good for you but don’t overdo it. It’s easy to see why many so-called ‘New Year’s Resolutions’ have faded by the middle of January.
Our team is also trying to navigate this minefield, so we’ve asked them for some ideas about how to ‘Jump Start January’ this year. One trend we’ve noticed is the focus on not putting yourself under too much pressure to make huge changes. Making our lives more difficult is something all of us can do without. Here’s a quick round-up of some of the changes team FI is aiming for this year.
Love your lunch
During the early days of the pandemic, the teams across FI were encouraged to take a real break at lunchtime. No sitting at desks, munching sandwiches. Instead, we took time out to go for a walk, do some stretching, sit in the garden, or simply moved to another part of the house to read or listen to music. With the return to work and lifting of restrictions, these great habits started to disappear. With most of us working from home again, we’ve decided to reinstate this practice. Last January, we were spurred on by a group challenge with local teams competing to walk or run the distance between each of our centers. This is an initiative we’re aiming to reintroduce this year too, as many of the team found that adding an element of competition inspired them to get out to log some miles. We’ll share the details of this year’s challenge as soon as we’ve set our target.
Changing the way we eat
In the January prior to Covid-19, David and Kelley, two of our Chelmsford Directors, successfully completed Veganuary. In fact, David was so successful that he kept his vegan lifestyle for a couple of months. It was only the early days of the pandemic and difficulty in shopping that caused him to revert to his previous diet. With this success under their belts and knowing how good they both felt the last time, Kelley and David are adopting a vegan diet for this January too, and have been sharing tips and recipes with the rest of the team.
Inspired by their success, our Marketing Manager has taken on the challenge but in the spirit of not putting herself under too much pressure, has adapted this to eat a completely vegetarian diet with as many vegan days as possible. In a similar way, ‘Meat-Free‘ Mondays are also a good way to try a vegetarian or vegan diet in a manageable way.
Move more to Jump Start your January
Our team is a fairly active bunch so it came as no surprise that January has seen a wave of new commitments. Tutor Ian, has always been a committed runner (see Ian’s article on Running in Lockdown) but has decided to mix things up in January by introducing daily yoga. He’s found a wealth of useful videos on the Yoga with Adriene YouTube channel which allows him to practice for as little as 7 to 15 minutes. Enough time to feel the benefits but in a way that’s easy to fit into your day.
Managing Director, David, has set himself the challenge of a half marathon but has given himself plenty of time to prepare and build up his distance, as the event is taking place in March. Our Senior Skills Coach, Alice is also returning to running this January. Having previously completed the Couch to 5K programme, Alice knows that she can do this and last time managed to get up to 10K and stuck to her running for 6 months. Like many of us, she’s lapsed a bit but her previous experience gives her the confidence to know she can get there again.
Also returning to an old favourite, our Marketing Manager, Shelly took up netball in 2021 and continues to play with a Back to Netball group. Realising that she’s probably one of the oldest on the court and maybe not the fittest, her goal for 2022 is to improve her all-around fitness by trying to be active for at least 30 minutes every day. This could be through running, a brisk walk, yoga, or a home workout on YouTube.
If you need the structure and atmosphere of a gym, our Apprenticeship Client Manager, Sophie recommends joining one of the council-owned gyms. Reasonably priced and often offering student discounts, she not only has access to her local centre but can also use others in the area. This gives her the opportunity to try a range of activities including ice-skating and swimming and also means she can always find somewhere to train. Sophie’s ‘go-to’ workouts are spinning and weight training and she aims to fit in 3-4 sessions per week.
Taking time for ourselves
Whilst exercise can give us some much-needed time away from the daily grind, we don’t have to pound the pavements to get a break. Our Associate Director, Emma, has decided that she’d like to spend more time reading and has set herself the challenge of reading four library books per month. Reading has so many benefits that many of us are not aware of. It’s the perfect way to wind down before sleep, improves our brain connectivity, and reduces stress, heart rate, blood pressure, and the symptoms of depression.
From a student’s perspective, reading also widens your vocabulary, sharpens your memory, strengthens your writing skills, and makes you more aware of grammar and spelling. Emma is focusing on fiction this month but if you’d prefer something that might help you with your motivation and commitment to your goals, there are some great recommendations later in this article.
Jump Start January with Self-care
In this busy world, with work, study, and family commitments filling our time, it can be difficult to commit to a new diet, exercise regime, or hobby. However, looking after ourselves, even by making small changes and personal promises, can help us to feel better about our chaotic lives.
Our Apprenticeship Manager, Rebecca, has decided to do just that. Her intentions for 2022 are focused on her mental wellbeing. She’s starting her day with a 5-minute meditation and positive affirmations. Firstly, she’s reminding herself that she isn’t perfect and that is OK, that her happiness is not dependant on how others judge her, and is trying to look for the bright side in every situation. She’s also aiming to compliment another person at least once a day. At the end of each day she’s reflecting on what went well, what she has learned and how can she grow.
Whilst her intentions may be to look after her mental health, research has shown that physically her wellbeing is likely to improve too. Those who engage in positive thinking often see a reduction in common colds, improve their cardiovascular health, and have a longer lifespan. Alongside this, thinking positively can help to improve coping skills in stressful situations, reduce the risk of depression, and can also help to achieve other goals such as improving fitness or changing your diet. In some ways, this can be considered the cornerstone of wellbeing.
Think before you drink
Amongst our team, there were no pledges to try ‘Dry January‘. This may reflect the tendency towards not putting ourselves under too much pressure. However, it may also be because there are a few birthdays amongst the team in this month but we know that this is the time of year that many people try to ban the booze. There are many benefits to giving up alcohol. These include feeling healthier and less jaded, saving money and lowering cholesterol, the risk of diabetes and blood pressure.
If you’re not ready to forgo alcohol, then why not try moderation instead. Drinking less can have similar benefits to giving up completely, although these may be subtler but more sustainable. Sleeping better, having more energy, and improvements to your overall health are just a few of these. It also may help you to commit to other goals such as diet and exercise changes.
We’ve also seen an increase in the offer of non-alcoholic drinks these days too. This means that you can still socialise and feel very smug the next day when you’re not suffering from the effects of a boozy night out.
Motivation and Resources
We asked our team for some of their tips and recommendations for embarking on and sustaining changes.
Books we are reading
Atomic Habits by James Clear – This book aims to demonstrate ways to build good habits and break bad ones.
Books by Dr. Ranjan Chatterjee – Dr. Chaterjee is a Doctor with over 20 years of experience who believes that by looking at our health as a whole and making small, manageable adjustments we can all improve our wellbeing. He has written a number of books about stress, losing weight and mental health.
Good Life, Good Vibes by Vex King – A mind coach whose book aims to help us all to empower our minds and embrace positive thinking.
Happy by Fearne Cotton – Aims to help you release what’s going on inside your head and keep moving towards the good things in life.
Think like a Monk by Jay Shetty – In his book, Jay focuses on what he believes are the roadblocks to our potential and power, helping you develop the skills and tools to break through negativity, anxiety, overthinking, and peoples expectations.
Podcasts we love
We love a good podcast and when we’re not listening to our FI podcast (which incidentally has lots of episodes on wellbeing, motivation, and mental health), here are some of the others we like:
Once again, Dr. Rajan Chatterjee features highly and his podcast has over 200 episodes offering easy ways to make improvements to your health, expert advice, and also dispels some common myths.
The Power Hour with Adrienne Herbert – what could you achieve if you dedicated an hour a day to improving yourself? This podcast speaks to leading coaches to find out their tips.
Open Mind with Frankie Bridge – In her podcast, Frankie hopes to inspire others to be more open about their mental health by chatting to her guests.
The Doctor’s Kitchen with Dr. Rupy Aujla – Dr. Rupy and his expert guests explore the multiple ways in which diet and lifestyle can help you achieve your healthiest and most fulfilling life.
Our tips to achieving your goals
Setting, sticking to, and achieving your goals is similar whether you’re at work, studying, or trying to make healthier choices. Here are some top tips from our team.
- Visualise what you want and what it will feel like to achieve it.
- Concentrate on 2-3 goals at a time. Too many and you’re less likely to achieve them.
- Break each goal into manageable chunks.
- Find people to support and encourage you.
- Reward yourself and try to tie this to your goal. For example, if your aim is to work out more frequently and after a few weeks you’ve managed it, then you could reward yourself with something that compliments this goal such as a new workout outfit or a massage.
“You don’t need to be perfect, something is better than nothing.”
Sophie Wander – Apprenticeship Client Manager