By: Judy Davie - The Food Coach
One of my corporate clients was a little jaded when we first met. Her job role could be described as a bit humdrum and her life had fallen into a routine of tasks with little deviation. Credit to her, she joined in the health challenge nevertheless and three weeks in, after a good diet had seized hold of her body, she was far more positive and amazed by how much better simple improvements to diet made her feel.
Our discussions turned from food to life and I was struck by how easy it is, for all of us, to fall into a rut. I suspect she could be talking for many women in their late 50's and early 60's whose life has fallen into a pattern of work, home, a meal for the hubby, bed and returning to it all over again the next day.
If youth is against us brooding won't change anything. It's life and what's important is what we do with the rest of it. It's fun to set some challenges through life, whether it's for the day, week, month or year ahead.
Over the years I've done Feb Fast, Dry July, and monthly detoxes which can be interesting and beneficial to some extent, but they are all framed around denial and one specific behaviour. What I wanted to achieve with my client was a more positive and potentially enduring monthly activity which allows some indulgent behaviour as well as some healthy challenges and some stuff which simply provides pleasure. In my opinion, routine can be comforting while habit is boring. A routine of getting up at the same time of day and going through the motions of getting ready for work can be useful, while the habit of having the same thing for breakfast every day is boring. The routine of arriving at work at the same time may help manage the day with less stress while driving the same route to work each day throws us into automatic pilot where we remember none of the journey.
To help motivate her I suggested she complete The 10 - steps to a more-fun month plan.
The 10-steps to a more - fun month can include some healthy food goals, some indulgences, some life adventures, and anything else you may think of which will help to shake you out of your monthly habits. Not only must you decide what 10 things you plan to do in the month, you have to think of how often you plan on doing them. Once a month might be the most challenging or the most indulgent. It's totally up to you.
Here are mine
|Times a month ||Activity |
| 1 x ||500 calorie nutritional fast|
Personally I dislike fasting and never want to use it as a regular activity despite the science which suggests intermittent fasting has numerous health benefits. I just like to know I can consciously control my intake of food, give my digestive system a bit of a break and enjoy that slightly hollow feeling fasting provides.
| 2 x ||Go somewhere I've never been before|
The brain uses a lot of energy and any new behaviour or activity which requires thought places extra stress on the brain. We humans typically operate to minimise the amount of time spent making decisions for that very reason - in order not to over-tax the brain. It's important to stimulate the brain and burn energy that we have to burn. So I plan to get the map out twice this month and go somewhere new.
| 3 x ||Enjoy pasta, or pizza or pie or cake|
Why not when it's only three times a month?
| 4 x ||Give someone a random gift|
This won't necessary be a physical gift, it could be some time to help with a job, even a genuine compliment to help lift someone's spirits. Science shows when we focus on giving rather than receiving we are motivated to help others. It's a nice start to making the world a better place.
| 5 x ||Go on a hike or a kayak or swim, further and faster than usual|
When life takes over and you stop doing the stuff you enjoy you need to take stock, make some changes and create time to do the things that give you pleasure.
| 6 x ||Eat vegetarian meals all day|
An easy one for me to achieve but worth including for anyone who wants to copy my example.
| 7 x ||Let me just say this - 7 times a month will put a smile on my partner's face - and mine if I'm honest. |
| 8 x ||Eat salmon or sardines or mackerel or tuna|
It's the gold standard in oily fish consumption. I'd just fallen out of the practise. Twice a week, eight times a month is the goal.
| 9 x ||Drink alcohol|
Move over Feb fast, I like this approach a lot better. A couple of glasses of wine a couple of times a week with one mid-week night if it arises fits well in a healthy balanced life.
| 10 x ||Practise yoga|
This is a personal challenge to extend myself beyond the twice a week class I attend. I now have to practise an extra twice a week at home.
Everyone's 10 steps will be different but these were mine. You'll notice there was no mention of vegetable and fruit consumption because that's a non-negotiable. It's 28, 29, 30 or 31 times depending on the number of days in the month!
Download a blank 10 steps plan in PDF format
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