Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Review of Word of the Year 2016: Health

My word for the Year for 2016 was Health. I have used a word of the year (WOTY) to focus on something I wanted to change or improve in my life and this was one area that was really important to me. I felt that if I got this right it would impact so many areas of my life – my energy levels, my confidence if I lose weight, my long-term health, my budget, my conscience – I wanted to get my family eating as healthily as possible and to enjoy cooking good, healthy food. 

I wanted to look back and review how I did with my word of the year and how much change or improvement I made. I described the intentions I made at the start of the year: 

"My intentions are not to diet but to try and increase the amount of fruit and vegetables in our diet, drink more water, walk regularly, be kind to myself and allow myself to enjoy my food without feeling guilty but also to put the effort and discipline in to make the right choices more of the time. I have tried meal planning before with varying success, so hope to experiment further with this. I want to enjoy cooking more insh’Allah, for me this means trying new recipes, fresh, colourful ingredients and food that doesn’t take a very long time but that tastes very good". – January 2016 

One year one, I haven’t lost as much weight as I wanted to and I still need to exercise more and eat less of the wrong types of food. But there were some things I did and learned that have really helped me: 

Getting in the right mental space – I moved slowly from feeling guilty, embarrassed and ashamed of the extra weight and overindulgence to accepting myself as I was and being positive about my body and the way it has served me. I stopped judging myself and instead focussed on the fact that I was healthy, had energy and that my body had gone through so much and deserved care and respect. I stopped cringing when I looked in the mirror at the extra weight and started to tell smile at myself and see the good. 

Getting your facts straight – this was about taking an honest, non-judgemental assessment of what you are doing that is impacting your health. The first thing I did was to get weighed properly. My own scales were unreliable so I got myself weighed at the pharmacy and found that my accurate weight was higher than I thought and my score on the BMI (Body Mass Index) was higher than it should be. I also spent a few weeks counting calories and steps and offsetting them against each other using the My Fitness App. It was an eye opener to see how some small snacks (chocolate biscuits) really packed a punch when it came to calories and how many steps you had to take to offset it. It was also useful to understand how many steps I was taking daily and how many more I needed to make my daily target. 



Finding motivation – I have come to the conclusion that this isn’t just about discipline. Trying to diet or deprive yourself of the things you want is not a long term measure for good health or losing weight and keeping it off. Instead of negative actions: stop eating chips, stop eating chocolate etc. I moved to positive actions: eat fresh fruit and vegetables, eat the foods that nourish and energise you, enjoy your daily walk. 




One of the things that really brought this home to me was a talk by Jon Gabriel in which he described the way we can overeat and still be in starvation mode because the food we eat is not providing the nutrition we need. Rather than cutting back junk immediately, the focus with this approach is to eat as much healthy, nutritious food as possible, thereby losing your cravings and changing your habits over time. 

Over the course of the first half of the year, I lost weight, felt great and could feel my mod and energy levels improve. Then the second half of the year felt more stressful with building works at home, a ramped up pace at work and the kids all going back to school with one starting secondary and another starting nursery school. I found myself eating without thinking and resorting more often to take away food. 

So by the end of the year I felt like I was almost back at square one, except it is not square one. I feel motivated and positive. I feel empowered with tools and techniques to get healthier and lose weight insh’Allah. I am in the habit of having breakfast which I stopped doing in my teens and that gets my through my morning and stops me going for the chips at lunch time. I am focussed on creating healthy meals for my family and will keep learning about food, mindful eating and nutrition insh’Allah as well as the sunnah of food and eating insh’Allah, as I believe this will set my children up with good habits for life. 




Did you have a word for 2016? Did it motivate or encourage you? Did you hope to achieve what you intended? 

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