Keeping things interesting

January is drawing to a close, and if there are any new years’ resolutions remaining, well done you!  If not, and your healthy goals for 2017 have started to fall by the wayside, then you are in good company.  January always feels like the hardest month to begin new activities – it’s cold, we’re impoverished after Christmas, and the reality of coming back to work can hit hard.  In a way, it feels like any commitments to be healthier would naturally fit in the middle of the Spring, when the sunshine begins to come back.

Yes – there are even healthy (or healthier) hamburgers

Yes – there are even healthy (or healthier) hamburgers

Seasonal misery aside, one of the bigger challenges that can face us when we’re trying to be more healthy is boredom.  Not only can our healthier eating habits seem dull, but if we’re trying to exercise more by doing the same things, that’s a recipe for letting things slip.

While the comfort of things we know and trust is useful, we only grow personally when we are prepared to try new thing.  Like them or hate them, fresh experiences help broader our views as well as keep things interesting.  That’s not just a psychological benefit; if we just do the same exercises over and over, we’re unlikely to derive the same health benefit from them, and will be neglecting some muscle groups.  For instance, cycling to work is all well and good for your legs, but it’s not going to do much for your arms.

So, in the spirit of keeping us motivated, here’s some ideas of new things to try in February.

Shake up your exercise routine

Always easier to motivate yourself when exercising with friends

Always easier to motivate yourself when exercising with friends

Try a different route for your run, a new sport, or give a new workout a try.  If you haven’t done yoga before, give it a whirl and quickly notice the impact on your health and flexibility.  Or if you really want or need to stick to the same kind of exercise, then throw some more variety into it.  How about varying in the intensity of your cycle by doing intervals of super-fast cycling for 60 seconds and then cooling off?

Add spice to your diet

Literally and figuratively.  You may have seen our 27th Jan story on the potential benefits of chilli peppers in your diet; why not try and turn up the heat on some of your favourite dishes? (handle the amounts with care though!).  Similarly, take even just 10 minutes to seek out new recipes that you can look forward to preparing and trying over a week, putting more variety into your week’s eating.  Sites like BBC FoodSlimming World and many others can offer a range of new recipes that can introduce you to novel tastes.

Explore cultural delights

Perhaps start with watching the performance, THEN learn to juggle

Perhaps start with watching the performance, THEN learn to juggle

You don’t need to restrict your innovations just to health. Do other new things: find new music, new films, activities or locations.  Yes, our choices are always restricted by our responsibilities and income – it would be nice to do the ‘new’ thing of going to Tahiti for a month, but for the rest of us, that’s not an option!  All the same, we can take a bit of time to find new delights to interest or motivate us.  Look locally for whatever might interest you – art, theatre, concerts, watching sport, education courses – or just hanging out with good friends more than you have done recently.

Do some soul-searching

If all the above is not shaking the sense of boredom or listlessness, then it’s time to have a good think about what else may be going on.  Enlist the help of family or friends to bounce ideas around, and really consider what you might change to improve your happiness.  For instance, is it time to look for a different job?  While you may start considering some big issues, it’s important to reflect regularly on how you are feeling, and what positive steps you could take.  After all, your mental wellbeing is just as important as your physical health, and the two are closely linked.

Above all, look for the new, as well as the familiar and comfortable, to keep yourself healthy, and you’ll find your motivation to keep on being healthy will follow.