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:

January
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.

February
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.

March
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.

April
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.

May
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!

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

July
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

August
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).

September
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?!)

October
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.

November
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!

December
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


My 10 Commandments for Lent!

So, the frying pan is back in its rack (ours literally gets used once a year for pancake day – I’m not a natural cook sadly – what can I say – and flipping pancakes is not a skill that comes naturally to me …). Anyway, as today marks the first day of spring and the first day of Lent*, when we traditionally give something up (typically food or bad habits) to improve our health or demonstrate self-restraint, it’s made me think about what I might give up (chocolate, gin, shouting at the kids?) or whether, rather than give stuff up (I have little in the way of self-restraint, instead favouring (too much sometimes) the ‘life’s too short’ mantra (aka permission to over-indulge in everything …), I could take something up?

I’m not talking about taking up anything too physical (obvs) and much as I love popping over to Instagram every once-in-a-while to watch yet another motivational Body Coach ‘live’ workout, it’s not really for me. I consider my once a week yoga and constantly running around after my masters (the kids) is enough for me – thanks all the same.

I’m thinking more about how I can take up a better attitude to life in general; taking up a priority for my wellbeing. When things are a bit tough it can be so hard to see the wood for the trees and all that and sometimes I really need to ‘have a word’ with myself – easier said than done – though I’m not about to get all deep and meaningful!

So, keeping with the (sort of) spiritual train of thought, I’ve come up with my ten commandments for taking up a bit more balance in my life, a greater sense of wellbeing, and a spring in my step 🙂

1. Smile – just more often really. I will embrace my inner ‘Elf’ mantra: ‘Smiling’s my favourite’.
2. Be grateful – every day I will remind myself of the things that day, that I can be grateful and thankful for.
3. Share the load – I must, I must, I must … get my kids doing more. They’re not babies any more (eldest is 14 and possibly cannot operate a tin opener yet) – things need to change. I need to stop doing everything then moaning that I can’t do everything (wtf ha!).
4. Hydrate – simple one this – drink more water. This is one Body Coach tip I can do – yay!
5. Do one thing at a time. Think like a man – do one task at a time. Sod the multi-tasking, it just gets my knickers in a twist. Every day I’m now writing a short and achievable to-do list in my diary and getting proper and real satisfaction from actually ticking stuff off!
6. Walk more. I love walking, getting fresh air, seeing nature and taking photos. More of this please.
7. No dieting. Healthy, simple foods only. Chocolate when needed. I’m thinking a more holistic approach in listening to my body and what it needs. Recognising that my fuel needs can change day-to-day (some days I’m literally ravenous regardless of how much I’ve scoffed and others I’m just not …).
8. Banish negative thoughts (at least try to). Embrace positive mantra’s and words: I can, I do, I will, I am … ok.
9. Breathe. Slooooowly. I’ve recently discovered yoga so every day, I spend 15 mins doing some simple but calming yoga stretch and balance moves. And even though my stress levels are quite high’ish right now, I swear my asthma is so much better – I’m sure it’s down to the yoga and considered breathing. Downward-facing dog anyone (this is a great stretch!)?
10. Sleep. I think I need more of this stuff. I love my bed but not necessarily going to bed early (there are too many box-sets to be viewed and indulged in, right?). However, life is super-busy right now and I’m super-yawny so even I’m starting to recognise that I need to take up regular early nights of shut-eye. I’m thinking weekend box-set binges instead?! Happy!

Umm, one sneaky extra commandment – more flowers. I love them. A simple, budget-friendly and super-cheery ‘must’ for me and very spring-like!

So, I now command you go forth and create your own ten commandments to help you take a step in the direction of balance and wellbeing 🙂

*A super-quick history/theological lesson: Lent is a 40-day fast and this year will run up until the Thursday before Easter Sunday (April 13). Christians believe the Lent period reflects when Jesus fasted and suffered in the desert for 40 days and 40 nights during which time he was tempted by Satan, but each time he managed to refuse his temptations.

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