Monday, 6 January 2014

Positive life changes are always a great idea for our health, though all of us have the right to be autonomous and to decide what's best for ourselves.

In recent years, I've been trying to adopt a new healthy habit, for a new year. I give myself a goal of committing to the new change for one month, and if I want to quit at the end of four weeks, then I allow myself to do so. But as it happens, I tend to get used to the healthy habit, and don't seem to revert back. Occasionally I might have lapses, once or a couple of times, but I seem to be so used to the new routine, I find I don't actually enjoy going back to the old habit. Well, so far that has been the case!

One year, I had read about the health benefits to starting each day with a glass of health juice made up of 1/3rd carrot juice, 1/3rd beetroot juice and 1/3rd pressed apple juice. It looks almost like a glass of blood, goodness knows what my neighbours think ,as I stand there at the window devouring it each morning.  It actually tastes nothing like you might expect, it's got a berry kind of flavour and the beet gives it a bit of an earthy taste.  Carrot juice is anti-carcinogenic, beetroot juice apparently breaks tumours down, thanks to betacyanin, and is used by athletes for muscle recovery, so it feeds your physical body, and apple juice has properties beneficial to the brain, promoting healthy mental function.  I quickly got to like it, and years on, this is how I start each day.
Another year, I decided to stop buying refined sugar, given the links with cancer and diabetes - then halfway through the year I stopped buying brown sugar for myself and replaced it with honey in my coffee and baking. I confess I do have a bag of sugar in the cupboard for visiting friends who take sugar, and I can't say I myself have given up sugar altogether, because it's in plenty of the manufactured food I buy, and if I'm out, I'll put half a spoon of brown sugar in a cup of coffee, but I did notice as the months went on, I felt less sluggish and slept better.  Some would argue honey is not much better for us than sugar, and I can only go on my own experiences, I just feel better for greatly reducing my sugar intake. It should be said, it's not advisable to consume a great amount of honey either, moderation is probably the key word.

Other years  I switched from white bread to wholemeal, though I still buy white for other people in the family, I also made the change to decaf coffee some years ago, and mostly I'm vegetarian, but again I'm happy to cook meat for other people.  I'm not one to thrust my own preferences on anyone else, this is all personal choice.  I just seem to feel better for these gradual changes and I need to have energy in my day to day life, because I'm 50 now and still rushing round as much as I did when I was in my 20s and 30s.

This year, I made the commitment back in December, to get more sleep and I've also begun meditating, which I'm already finding benefits from, one month in.  I've done yoga since I was 17, but find I get lazy and don't make time for it, particularly now so much of my "spare time" is taken up with writing and editing.  But even 10 minutes of mindfulness meditation seems to have benefits.  I had been getting headaches (probably due to lack of sleep and not drinking enough water) and sometimes felt a little stressed when I got tired, but that seems to be going.  It occurs to me, we're spoilt really, in this internet age we're living in.  We can have access to virtually any book we want, and Youtube is full of videos, supporting us with the changes we decide to make.

Again, I would close by stressing, I'd never seek to advise anyone else what choices they should be making in life, not even my own children, we all need to be free to be autonomous.  There's nothing more annoying than someone giving you a lecture because your shoes aren't vegan.  We all do what's right for us, none of us has the right really, to judge others. and sometimes I think people spend far too much time pointing out our differences, and not enough focussing on all the things we humans have in common.

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