Monday, 4 January 2016

Forget New Year New You ~ 2016 is all about New Year Love You

I am sick and tired of the phrase "New Year New You". It implies that the old You isn't good enough and needs to somehow be replaced. Not only is this damn silly it's also downright impossible. You will never be "New". You are a complex being that has been formed by your experiences and thoughts, you are constantly evolving and developing, each and every part of your body, mind and soul is a beautiful myriad of your life so far, and no matter what you do this can never be made "New". And why would you want to be? Why would you want to erase everything your body, mind and soul has learned and achieved over the years? When you really stop and think about it I'm sure the answer is that no, you wouldn't want to.

And please believe me when I say you do not need to be made "New". You are exactly where you need to be at this exact moment in time and you're doing a wonderful job. Yes, it is more than likely that over the years you've picked up bad habits and have neglected good ones, but this is no reason to believe that you need a "New You". So let me present you with a new phrase that I believe everyone should be using: "New Year Love You".

I believe that one of the main reasons many of us get into bad habits - smoking, eating unhealthily, neglecting to exercise, drinking too much, not sleeping enough - is because we don't have enough self-love to truly believe that we deserve looking after. Please don't misunderstand me when I say this - no, I don't believe that just because you smoke you don't love yourself, or just because you get drunk every Friday night you don't think you're worth it - but what I do believe is that more often than not we develop these habits out of carelessness. We think to ourselves "oh, I only have one crazy night a week, it's a treat to myself after working so hard, it can't hurt". But times that by 52 days a year (plus a few added days for birthdays and the festive season) and you begin to realise that actually, maybe it can hurt. There will be people who drink / smoke / overeat because they don't care enough about themselves, these problems are common and these people definitely need self-love and are most likely aware of that; but those of us who develop bad habits without even realising must also wake up and notice that we must show ourselves more love.

So what does loving yourself look like? In my opinion it is feeding the body nourishing and wholesome foods, drinking plenty of water, sticking to a regular exercise routine, getting enough sleep, allowing yourself time to rest, making time to play, doing your best in your school/work life, not being too hard on yourself, knowing that sometimes it is okay to treat yourself, and laughing on a regular basis. Yes, this list can seem a little long, so here are 8 simple steps I've put together to help you achieve this.

1. Make you own personal mantra and repeat it to yourself on a regular basis. This can be anything that is personal to you and that will help to remind you to cultivate self-love. For example: "I am perfectly imperfect. I'm doing the best I can. I deserve my love as much as anyone else". Put a few simple words together, write them down wherever you like (your phone, your fridge, your bathroom mirror), repeat them to yourself often, and you will begin to believe them.

2. Build in quiet time. Whether it's a quiet cup of tea at the start of your day, listening to your Headspace app on the tube, or making time for meditation, try to schedule in at least 5-minutes of quiet time every day. This time is for you and you alone. By spending time with yourself you learn what you need to look after yourself.

3. Set your exercise routine and stick to it. Now is the perfect time to set yourself an exercise routine. Check out your local gym, check out local yoga / Pilates / dance / boxing teachers, have a look at sports teams you may want to join, Google boot camps in your area - basically have a look at anything that might interest you, try a few different things out, and then commit to settling on a routine by the end of January. Once you have it set that Tuesday morning is yoga, Thursday evening is bootcamp, Saturday morning is Zumba, and Sunday you have a nice long walk, then you'll find it much easier to stick to your routine. Maybe even find a buddy for each activity to help keep each other motivated. Whatever you choose just make sure it's something you enjoy so that even when you least feel like going you'll still show up because you know you'll have a great time once you're there.

4. Be organised with your meals and snacks. Take a little time each weekend to plan your meals for the following week. Commit to eating a healthy, wholesome and delicious breakfast, lunch and dinner, and then make sure you that you have all the ingredients you need. There are so many pieces of advice I could give on this section, however I'll have to save it for a couple more blog posts else this will become an essay, but when I'm looking for healthy meal inspiration I find people like Madeleine Shaw, Mel Wells and Deliciously Ella particularly helpful. They take the attitude that diet is NOT dieting, diet is all about ensuring that your body is getting all of the nutrition it needs to function properly, and this means eating well, healthily and happily.

5. Schedule in water breaks. If you're like me then you'll often forget to drink water (I don't know why but I just find it so hard to remember!), and if this is the case be sure you schedule in regular water breaks (even put alerts on your phone if it helps!). Half an hour before each meal it is advisable to have a good glug of water, and the benefit of this is that you'll also eat less as we often over-eat when we're dehydrated.

6. Set yourself a bedtime in the week and allow yourself at least one lie-in at the weekend. I don't really need to explain this one as I'm sure you've realised by now how important sleep is. When you don't get enough sleep you feel rubbish. Both our bodies and minds rejuvenate and recover as we sleep, so why deny yourself of this? Sleep is amazing! Find your optimum number of hours and give yourself this gift each and every night.

7. Work hard play hard. When we work hard we achieve results, and when we achieve results we feel good about ourselves and realise our worth. But we also must give ourselves time to play. I know lots of people work so hard that they don't allow themselves enough time off, and this is also a sign that we need to show ourselves a little more love. A night in with friends, a trip to see our favourite movie, a weekend break in the countryside, going to see an exhibition, doing something really silly like bubble football or paintballing, taking a well-earned holiday in the sun - whatever it is, make sure you take time to do it and enjoy it. Life is short, you never know what's around the corner, so do the things that make you happy with the people who make you smile. You deserve it.

8. Know when to treat yourself. Yes it's good to stick to a healthy eating plan and regular exercise routine, but if you really fancy a few squares of chocolate on a Friday evening then eat it, if you enjoy a nice glass of red with your Sunday roast then drink it, if you've been doing too much cardio and your body needs a restorative yoga session then do that instead. It's no new notion that life is about balance, so be healthy but also know that this means treating yourself from time-to-time. Life isn't about rules, it's about enjoying the process of looking after ourselves so that we can make the most of our time here.

So out with the "New" and in with the "Love". You are exactly where you need to be right now, all you need is a little extra love. So forget being "New" and just focus on loving "You".

And of course, as a yoga teacher I believe that yoga can play a huge part in self-love, so if you live in the Berkshire area and are interested in finding out more about my classes then please don't hesitate to contact me. I can be reached on or you can check out my website.

Happy New Year everyone! Here's to a love-filled 2016!

Namaste, love Lucy x