Playing it by (one) Year
It crossed my mind yesterday, Blue Monday, that I’d established my Instagram-inspired blog, Skip the Script, exactly one year earlier, Blue Monday 2017 which fell on January the 16th. This makes today its first birthday! I began by posting on my reasons for embarking upon my first (and probably last) dry January. I started it on a whim, as is often my wont. I was never into social media at any point so it made for an unlikely sea change, but since cobbling together a brief weekly piece and posting Instagram pictures isn’t too onerous a task, I’ve kept it up. I played it by ear each week and the end result is a miscellany of posts on health and fitness topics. Some were of an evidence-based, ‘serious’ nature and others were more anecdotal with conclusions derived from studies largely conducted from the comfort of my own head(!). It’s been a busy, interesting year and I’m now reflecting on what I’ve learned from the experience so am going to post a recap of the year’s material to help me gather my thoughts as to whether it’s all been for the good of my health or not. Apologies in advance for what promises to be a boring and very repetitive post!
January 2017 was my first dry one. I’m glad to report that it did translate into me moderating my drinking habits. I keep the majority of my days alcohol-free now and only surpass the (Irish) ‘low risk’ guidelines of 11 standard drinks per week on occasion. (It’s 14 for men FYI.)
I then had a look at exercise in general, and by and large feel I tend to hit The National Guidelines on Physical Activity for Ireland which recommend ‘at least 30 minutes a day of moderate activity on 5 days a week (or 150 minutes a week)’ for adults, even if it’s mostly strolls here and there. My habitual tardiness means these strolls are usually sufficiently brisk to satisfy their ‘moderate activity’ requirement!
On a serious note, I hate the feeling of being unfit and do need to restart something a little more structured so watch this space!
At the end of January I had a look at my coffee intake. Sadly my attempts to curb it are often short-lived. I’m quite the caffiend but make a concerted effort to moderate my caffeine intake every so often and I stand by conclusion to that coffee post- ‘I don’t want to miss out on all of the (antioxidant-derived) health perks… My intention is to banish the (many) crap coffees I consume throughout the day. Instead, I’ll enjoy one top-notch coffee most days of the week.’
February began by reflecting on my inaugural Dry January. While I’m delighted to have moderated my alcohol consumption, it made me realise that not all of the predicaments in which I find myself are due to alcohol or hangovers… Sometimes it’s just me! Sorry wine.
I then posted on sugar… Though am still prone to eating refined sugar in excess too often to mention!
I then looked at the benefits of High Intensity Interval Training. In summary, it’s effective for expediting weight loss in the short term.
I still have this (huge) thing for chocolate, but posting on it at the end of February (while skiing in Utah) has definitely influenced the chocolate I’ve purchased since… I buy more better quality, usually dark chocolate now so at least I’m getting some antioxidants in exchange for my cash!
Dealing with jetlag on the return from that ski trip in March inspired me to have a look at sleep architecture. The importance of adequate sleep quantity and quality cannot be overemphasised and I feel the recent focus on sleep on all sorts of wellness platforms is only going to intensify.
I also looked at the health-boosting effects of omega-3 and vitamin D and can vouch for adequate dietary intakes of these now… I posted on intermittent fasting also but can’t say I’ve tried it!
April showers sent me in the direction of mindfulness in search of answers! I posted on the far-reaching health perks of practising mindfulness in general, and then again on mindful eating. Again, I dip in and out of this and should really make a more regular effort. Inspired by a few afflicted friends, I posted on coldsores for those of you who suffer from them – random I know!
May inspired a motley collection of posts. The first was on vitamin A (a key vitamin for skin health), the next on how to fast forward weight loss by exercising in the fasted state. This was followed by a post on SPF inspired by a city break to Barcelona, which was followed by a look at how our sedentary lifestyles are negatively impacting our health – the ‘sitting is the new smoking’ theme that buzzed about the media for a bit. I finished with a post on the dangers of dairy. Controversh I know but I do believe we consume it excessively and while I can’t imagine completely eradicating it from my diet, I’ve definitely curtailed my intake and now equally enjoy non-dairy milk, for example.
June kicked off with a post on hair health, inspired by the humidity of Marbella. This was followed by a post the importance of dietary pre- and probiotics, inspired by some Sauerkraut I sampled on a city break to Berlin! Another enduring ‘wellness’ topic. I also posted on LISS and LIIT (low intensity steady state & low intensity interval training), i.e. more gentle exercise which generally affords the same health benefits as its more vigorous counterparts but without the attendant stressors on the body such as those that follow excess cortisol production. I concluded the month with a post on naps. These can offer some health benefits, but be careful not to take them too late in the day, lest you knock your sleep drive for the night off kilter.
July started with a post on the worried well and health anxiety. I mentioned some of the stresses associated with working as a GP to which a few readers responded with comments along the lines of of ‘I’d hate to be a GP’. I replied to some to say you just have to do your best, maintain a sense of humour and switch off when you leave, or else you’d never return!
I also posted on the health boosting effects of music randomly! This was followed by a post on bloat-reducing foods, inspired by upcoming bridesmaid duties! Writing about the dangers of artificial sweeteners has resulted in them making only a very rare appearance on my table these days: #winning.
I flew to South Africa at the end of July for 3 weeks for what was unequivocally the highlight of 2017, although you could be forgiven for thinking that it wasn’t given my first post from there was on the mundane topic of deodorants and antiperspirants!
August featured a post on how to have a healthy holiday (read: damage limitation!), another post on sleep- this time honing in on sleep hygiene- and another on not being too ambitious with ‘health goals’, but rather embarking on small, viable changes.
September started with a post on intuitive eating, another thing I should revisit ASAP! I also wrote about finding an exercise you enjoy to amplify the far-reaching effects of your fitness regime, rather than focusing on extreme exercise solely in pursuit of the body beautiful.
I travelled to the States again at the end of September, to the soulful Deep South this time… Gotta get maximum use out of that ESTA visa people! There I posted on how to maintain fitness while on holidays by incorporating gentle exercise into your day, namely bike tours and walks. I bought a bike on my return to Dublin, having been afraid to cycle in the city for years, so definitely #winning there!
October featured another piece on mindfulness, this one for more fairweather devotee! I also posted on how bread is not the enemy (#BreadForLife), my return to yoga, the over-emphasis on dietary protein (which I stand by) and how to individualise your exercise regime to your liking, rather than diverting your efforts to the latest fitness trends. This always results in a more sustainable plan for me.
November saw posts on awareness of portion size, the health perks of my beloved red wine, another post on sleep which was inspired by a WellFest evening and a post on gluten.
December began with a post on the power of massage therapy which was inspired by a blissful stay at Seafield Hotel. Posts on the common cold, tofu and how to declutter Marie Kondo style followed. The Marie Kondo school of thought (eliminating items which do not ‘spark joy’) has had a transformative effect on how I declutter and tidy which will hopefully endure!
And with that, it was 2018. So far this January, I have posted on new year’s resolutions and the pros of a vegan diet. Whatever about whole-hogging it, I have drastically reduced my consumption of red meat for now which I’m delighted about… All about the small, sustainable tweaks these days!
Sorry that ended up being even longer and more boring than I’d anticipated but it was an interesting for me to reflect… A heartfelt thanks to everyone who supported the blog in any way over the course of the year. Have a great week!