Sunday, 5 January 2014

Simple Pleasures.

I have decided not to make any Resolutions this year. The reason for this shocking break from tradition is because I have just looked at my New Year's Resolutions from last year, and from a list of 8, I managed to successfully fulfil only two and a half of them. Poor, I know. It seems I was a little too ambitious so I am going to be a bit more spontaneous and keep things simple. There's nothing wrong with planning things you want to do in the year, but writing them down and making a solemn vow to everyone that you will succeed in all of them, you are pretty much doomed to failure.

Here was my list from last year and how I got on:

1. Learn Italian.

I began well with this challenge and managed to find a wonderful course on Monday mornings in an old Georgian townhouse in Mayfair. The teacher sounded great and the course, which focussed on conversation rather than being textbook heavy, had a maximum of six students. Perfect. A week before the course began, I received an email saying that due to two students dropping out, they were having to combine the Monday morning class with the Tuesday evening one. Well that wasn't going to work. Tuesday evenings were my swimming/aqua aerobics/pilates or yoga night. Fail number one.

2. Learn more than two chords on my guitar.

Again, this started off promisingly. I bought a guitar book and found out where to get my guitar re-strung, and that's pretty much as far as I got. Fail number two.

3. Lose two stone.

Yes, I did successfully lose two stone. Did I keep off the two stone you ask? Um, well, no. Due to the massive failure of number 8, I gained about 7 pounds.

4. Get knees fixed (again).

This is where the half comes in. My knees aren't fixed, per se, but they are being looked after incredibly well. I have had intense physio and half a dozen appointments with my very creative knee surgeon. Yes, my knees are still officially crap and at some point in the near future, they will need to be operated on, but in the meantime, Mr Orthopaedic and his team have come up with some ingenious methods of delaying the surgery. I will spare you the gruesome details but it basically involves injecting steroids and a rather odd gel substance under my knee caps and around my tendons which act as a painkiller and fake cartilage respectively. It's now up to me to make the call. When the pain makes my life intolerable, the surgery will go ahead.

5. Go to Copenhagen with my two girlfriends.

I'm not entirely sure why this hasn't happened. We have talked about it and discussed dates, and I have scoured websites and guidebooks but it hasn't gone much further than that. I did end up going to Alaska in September and my friends also went on a couple of trips so maybe we just ran out of time. As far as I know, Denmark isn't going anywhere, so this will happen eventually.

6. Travel down the Dalmatian coast of Croatia.

Again, I spent quite a bit of time looking into this and found a couple of friends that really wanted to do it with me, but once again life got in the way, money became tight and suddenly it was winter. Boo.

7. Visit Havana.

Same as the above. If you don't plan it and book it when you think about doing it, then it's unlikely it will happen. Most of my amazing trips around the world have been... book and pay now, plan and worry later!

8. Get a boyfriend.

Ah, now, I suppose I was quite successful with this resolution to begin with because as you know from reading the blog, I dated with incredible gusto for the first 3 months of 2013. Then in early Spring I fell in love and by mid Summer I was heartbroken. Enough said.

So you can see why I may be slightly apprehensive about making such a comprehensive list again. My only declaration this year is to keep things uncomplicated. I am stripping it back to basics, and by that I mean quite literally. On the evening of January 1st 2014, after watching a horrific programme called 50 Shocking Facts about Diet and Exercise, I cleared my fridge and cupboards of about half their contents.

I like to think I'm pretty savvy with what's right and wrong about dieting... the only way I managed to lose two stone last year was by eating less, exercising more and not putting any crap in my body. Simple. But this programme told me, in detail, about one of the most dangerous things in my diet and something I have completely overlooked in my quest to be healthy... aspartame. Not only was it once listed as a biochemical warfare agent by the Pentagon, but it also took over 15 years for it to be approved by the FDA at all, which makes it slightly suspicious. Yes, it's the killer sweetener that is added to pretty much everything. Now, from a very young age I knew I had a slight allergic reaction to this sweetener, and was told that if I drank diet Coke it would make me slightly hyperactive. Yay, I thought, what fun! When I learnt to drive, I didn't mind at all being designated driver… I would happily slug back gallons of diet coke in the pub, while my pals downed pints of cider, and as they passed out under a table I would be laughing hilariously, bouncing off the walls. Brilliant. I order diet drinks very rarely now because I know they aren't good for you, but as this programme revealed all the other names that aspartame disguises itself as, I realised how many products it was hidden in. I went through my kitchen ferociously studying the ingredient labels, throwing away yogurts, pickles, sauces and spreads. It was in my chewing gum, my hot chocolate, and more worryingly, some of my vitamins and supplements. I honestly thought it was ok to have one sweetener a day in my tea or coffee, to have the occasional 'healthy' ready meal or sugar-free dessert but I know now, that if you are going to take away the fat and sugar, it's going to have to be replaced with something else to make it taste good. And it's that 'something else' that I'm going to avoid like the plague.

I am going 'au natural'. It will not only mean eliminating sweetener and any other additive and preservative from my diet, but I am going to really really start appreciating the things that make me happy... the simple pleasures of life. Hanging out with my wonderful family and friends; phone calls rather than hurried emails; going for long walks; stretching; driving my bruised and battered Gigi; laughing; having a good cry; crying with laughter; losing myself in a book or film; kissing; hugging; eating the perfect fillet steak; drinking the smoothest pinot noir; an open fire; a smiling, wagging dog; Bruno, my hot water bottle; and that warm cosy feeling you get when life feels, just right.

Oh, and this isn't a New Year's Resolution by the way... just saying.

1 comment:

Rue Roberts said...

Me too! No resolutions- no stress- no kicking myself for being lax and crying over my failures next New Year's Eve- just going to wing it and be happy whichever way the year goes...