So you’ll probably have seen that Erica and I have updated the positive life plan for 2018. I do hope you’ve decided to join in, whether throwing yourself in wholeheartedly, or just jotting down a few things that you want to change this year or some goals that you might have. It did make me smile that after promising myself a healthy, alcohol free New Year, my Dad went and tested me by popping his clogs on New Year’s Day. Many of you knew what he was like and will know that he’d have laughed heartily to himself about that. So, on to my plans for 2018, then.
Honestly, we’ve done nothing but eat and drink over Christmas. We’ve had lots of visitors and some lovely fun times (we obviously had quite a bit of crying into our wine glasses as well), but now I feel it’s time to reassess and start afresh for the New Year. No resolutions or rules (ugh), but I want to try and be a better version of me this year. My first awful task was to weigh myself and I’m a stone up on where I was this time last year. I’ve also stopped running, initially due to having a sore hip, but then – honestly? – through sheer laziness.
I want this year to be all about positivity, though, so rather than denying myself anything, whether that be alcohol, food or anything else, I want to be making good choices, nourishing my body, exercising well and looking after my health (mental and physical).
My health and alcohol
You can read all about the health effects of alcohol here (it’s linked to seven forms of cancer and, of course, liver and heart disease), but right from the start I was nervous about declaring January an alcohol-free zone (my brother Ian is giving up alcohol for January and I’ll be interested to see how he gets on). I want to foster a healthier respect for alcohol and we’ve chatted about it a lot as a family (with two young men in the house, it’s something I feel we need to be addressing).
Breaking bad habits
I’ve mentioned before that I’m a habit drinker: after the dinner things are washed up and put away, all I want to do is sit on the sofa with a nice glass of wine. That glass leads to another, and then maybe another, and then a few salty snacks too. And actually, if I’m totally honest, wine really seems to be the factor here. If I have a gin and tonic I can make it really weak and just sip it and not desperately feel the need for another. We’ve had a chat recently about avoiding drinking wine at home, and that’s something that we’re still talking about.
Sticking to the guidelines
So far this year, I’ve avoided alcohol completely. I think that’s been a conscious thing as I’m pretty sure grief and alcohol aren’t the healthiest of friends. Going forward, my intention is to try and stick to the guidelines (to keep the risks from alcohol to a low level, the UK Chief Medical Officer’s guidelines are that it’s safest not to drink more than 14 units per week, and if you regularly drink as much as 14 units, it’s best to spread your drinking evenly over three or more days). I’ll be aiming for lots more alcohol free days and to stop seeing alcohol as the natural end to a busy day.
A healthy diet
I love baking, and a life without cake would be pretty miserable, so I certainly won’t be denying myself that. I will, however, be filling our plates with lots of delicious vegetables and fruit, increasing our meat-free meals and crossing the packets of biscuits off the shopping list. I’ll be making sure I always have breakfast too.
Back on the road again
To keep your heart healthy, the British Heart Foundation (BHF) advises us to take exercise, eat a healthy diet and be aware of dangers such as smoking, drinking, high blood pressure and stress. Well, I don’t smoke and my stress levels are generally pretty low, so that leaves drinking and looking after my heart. Another of my plans is to start with the Couch to 5k programme again. I found this really helpful – I’ve never been a runner, but it got me up and running and by a certain point last year, I was running for 30 minutes solid – something I never could have imagined. And honestly? There’s no better therapy than running: I found the feeling of my blood pumping and endorphins rushing around my body exhilarating and uplifting. I can’t wait to get back into it.
The Drinkaware app
When I teamed up with Drinkaware for Alcohol Awareness Week earlier this year, I found the Drinkaware app really helpful for keeping track of what I was drinking. I’ll be doing that again, and I’ll also be checking their website for information and tips on how to reduce my drinking and staying motivated while cutting down.
My Drinkaware month
This month, I’ll be updating you with my progress as well as providing a little motivation and some alcohol free inspo too. Do pop in and say hi. And if you’d like to join me in this healthier, lower alcohol journey, do get in touch 🙂
For more information, visit drinkaware.co.uk.