2018: 12 months, 12 challenges | Simply Marcia

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2018: 12 months, 12 challenges

Having made it to mid-January without a drop of alcohol (the longest I’ve gone without a G&T for years – literally), and determined to see Dry January through until the bitter end (16 days and counting …), I’ve decided to create 11 further month-long challenges.

Why? Well a) because having an end in sight is motivation in itself, b) around 4 weeks for a challenge is doable as far as I’m concerned (and before the novelty value wears off) and c) past experience has shown me that grand sweeping, generic resolutions along the lines of ‘I’m going to get fit’ or ‘I’m going to lose weight’ just never, ever work for me.

But, short-term commitments or challenges are good for me. I’m not always very good at trying new things – it’s the scared-of-failure thing I think! So anyway, I’m hoping that one of the outcomes of my challenges is that I learn to enjoy new habits – so most of my monthly challenges are based around nutrition, health, fitness and good mental health practices.

So this is my plan of monthly challenges:

I’m already half-way through dry January and to be honest, it’s going ok actually. I’ve had the odd moment where I’ve really fancied a cheeky little G&T but I’m determined to get to 1st Feb without alcohol – I think I might be finally discovering the will power I never thought I had.

Sugar free February. Supported by Cancer Research UK, this is another higher-profile monthly challenge. Their site has loads of tips and advice. I’ve also found some great recipes on The Body Coach site as well as individuals on Twitter to follow including London Health Mum for sugar free tips.

30 minutes of blogilates every day. Ok, so 30 minutes a day might not sound like much of a commitment but, this will be on top of my 45 minute daily uphill dog walk (and work, children, etc) – so for me, this IS a commitment.

3 vegan days per week. I try to have around 3 completely meat free days per week and have vaguely dabbled with vegan meals but want to do it properly a few days a week. A great site for tracking down ready-made vegan meals, snacks etc is My Vegan Supermarket and for vegan recipes and a 30 day Vegan Pledge you can take, to go vegan for 30 days, The Vegan Society will be my go-to.

The Body Coach’s 2 week (x 2 workout plan to lose weight and tone up fast! I’m anticipating this one being tough – we’ll see how it goes!

No dairy. I’ve more time to research this monthly challenge but found Healthy Magazine is a useful starting point.

Meditation and month of calm! In preparation for the kids breaking up from school, I thought this might be apt – I’ve done a bit of research and loads of people swear by the Calm app so I’m going to be downloading this and

I’ve always fancied having a go at making some of my own skincare, so with that in mind, James Wong’s book ‘Grow your own drugs‘ in hand and Lucy Bee’s website on stand-by, that’s my plan (though if it doesn’t quite work out I will might treat myself to a VeganKind beauty box).

Like January, September is a month of new starts and good habits, so am planning on doing the squat & plank challenge (eeek, do I know what I’m letting myself in for?!)

Surf school. I’ve always wanted to learn how to surf properly – or at least have a go! I’ve chosen October as it’s out of season but the sea is still a good temperature. There are some brilliant surf schools here in Cornwall – the one I’m thinking about learning with is Surf’s Up in Polzeath.

Walking to running. I remember running as a child ha! But am keen to see if I can still run so will be downloading the 30 minute run plan from Women’s Running to get me motivated and started!

Green Christmas. I’m pretty sure that as per all previous years, December will be busy and pressured enough as it is, so no fitness or health challenge here except to have as green a Christmas as possible.

Have you ever set yourself a month long challenge? How did it work out for you? Or maybe you’re feeling inspired to try a challenge or two this year?

Wish me luck! x

Furniture revitaliser :)

It’s not only our faces we can transform with a spot of makey-upy ‘painting’, but our sad or drab or child(pet)-wrecked furniture too.

I admit it; I’m a late convert to the whole upcycling, repainting and resusing or reimagining-of-furiture-movement. I’d never really understood the whole second-hand thing (eughh!) and charity shop browsing (what?!) until divorce sent my budget spiralling in the wrong direction … I am now a fully paid-up-member of second-hand furniture and bric-a-brac purchasing. In part, due to said spiralling-out-of-control-in-a-downward-fashion-budget but also because it’s very ‘of the moment’ – antiques and arts and crafts markets are springing up everywhere and are big business (my fave is the monthly bohemian and brilliant people-spotting Frome Independent Market ) – and I love them. I now totally get a buzz from a second-hand (ahem vintage!) bargain and owning something a bit different and unique and (sometimes) a bit battered (pre-loved!).

Some things however cannot be easily replaced when budgets are squeezed (think kitchen cupboards and built-in wardrobes – unless you’re a bit handy with a sledgehammer and your carpentry skills are top notch). This is where a spot of easy(‘ish) DIY but super-impressive repainting comes in (hooray). All hail then, Annie Sloane – the queen bee of repaint jobs 🙂 This great woman knows a thing or two about breathing new life in to old stuff. She is the furniture revitaliser! If anything (that doesn’t move) in your home is looking a bit tired, despondent, boring, grubby, non-sparkly … then consider a lick of furniture ‘make up’. Head over to Annie’s site for loads of inspiration, top tips, video ‘how to’s’ and stockists, and get creative. 

The thing I love most about the whole process of (re)painting is that for me, the rythmical and repeated actions have an almost calming effect (as long as a) there are no children or pets close by and b) I have sensibly covered stuff that’s most definitely not to be painted). My focus is purely on the action of painting, therefore temporarily parking all the day-to-day stuff whirring around my brain. Brilliant. And, at the end of the process I have a beautiful and bespoke piece of furniture (plus the ‘I did that’ satisfaction).

My project this weekend – to breathe new life in to two pine bedside chest of drawers (picked up at Bath artisan market for £25) … Happy repainting!


Trying to be (more) grateful

Gratitude. Thankfulness. How often do you stop to list the things in your life you’re most grateful for? If you’re like me, then not very often – umm, helloooooo, busy mummy lady!!

However, I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently (think it’s to do with that mid-age thing – I find my mind wandering about and thinking about all sorts of deep and sort-of-meaningful stuff …). Anywhoooo – gratitude. It makes you focus on the good things in your life – it really can help you gain perspective and in turn make you feel happier and thankful – for the stuff, people, health you have in your life.

And according to the sciency people who know sciency stuff, there are lots of positive side-effects: apparently being grateful and thankful you’re also more likely to be(come?!) fun-loving, optimistic, kinder, generous, resilient and it’ll put you in a better mood (no more moody-Mildred then!).

If this all seems a bit yawn-some and tedious but this post is maybe making you think you ought to give it a little go, then it’s actually easy-peasy to incorporate a bit of grateful attitude in to your life (with hopefully all the lovely side-effects!) – simply consider all the good things that can happen if you start reminding yourself, even just once a day, of all you have to be grateful about … x

Mummy needs a bath (bomb)!

You know you deserve it! Instead of your usual jump-in-and-out-functional-shower, make time (ha!) in your life for a once-a-week (more like once in a blue moon?!) soakette in a blissful bath accompanied only by one of these super la la bath bombs by UrbanSoapsmith – they literally sound good enough to eat and are, simply the best – go treat yourself (shh, don’t tell the kids, or partner …). This is serious (and much-deserved) you time …

And, close your eyes, sink in and reeeeeeelax (until you open your eyes to see a small child (one of yours obvs) has suddenly appeared by the side of the bath – arghhhh, how long have they been there for?!) – ho hum! x

bath bombs etsy

Colouring calmer …

As a ‘born in the 70’s’ kid, there really wasn’t exactly much in the way of ‘on tap’ entertainment – boredom was de rigour back then. Free play and creativity were positively encouraged as these were cheap as chips! One super-cheap form of entertainment I totally loved back then, was the good old and trusty colouring in book. I properly loved it. I had a huge collection of rainbow-inspired felt tip pens and took a huge amount of pride in my work – no going over the black lines!!!! Colouring-in in the 70’s and early 80’s was a serious business … Anywhooo, roll on umm, 20 + years (eeek) and what the hell?! My lovely (and super-creative sister-in-law) gave my daughter one of these ‘aimed at grown-ups’ colouring-in books – I couldn’t resist a little cheeky, sneaky colour-in (she’ll never notice, I told myself) … 2 hours later …!! Really!! Never, ever did I think I’d utter the following words but, here it is: I’ve rediscovered the joy and super-simple pleasure of the colouring-in book – all over again!! It’s sooooooo addictive. The concentration and focus needed (this is a serious business, remember!) to keep within the black lines is so calming … And it’s so cheap 🙂 – there are loads to choose from – a good starting point is good ol’ Amazon. Happy colouring-in! x