Skip the tired old resolutions.
Don’t go on a juice cleanse.
Skip the soup diets.
Ditch the “detox tea” (or anything with detox in the name, to be honest).
Steer well clear of the low fat aisle.
This year have your own little New Years Revolution! Decide that instead of punishing yourself you’re going to do something that’ll have all of those ridiculous fad-diet companies shaking in their boots.
Decide to love yourself.
In a world driven by an economy that wants you to hate yourself, to constantly need to buy into new schemes pushing you towards an utterly unobtainable goal, simply loving yourself if the biggest, bravest act of resistance.
Self love gets a bad rap, “oh you must really love yourself” is a classic playground taunt and one that smarts (particularly for us self deprecating Brits!) but don’t confuse love with arrogance. It’s not about thinking you’re better than anyone else, being selfish or self absorbed. It’s simply deciding to be a bit nicer to yourself. Looking more kindly at your flaws, being gentle with yourself and making choices that make you feel good.
In short, treat yo’ self!
Treating yourself is something we’re more likely to hear around Christmas when the world wants us to buy more stuff. But what if we reframed the idea of treating yourself? What if we changed the whole idea of what a treat even is?
Ok you’re going to have to bear with me here. This is something I’ve mentioned to a few friends in the past, and I’ll be honest… they looked at me like I was nuts. But it niggled at every single one of them, slowly working away in their subconscious and I don’t know one person who hasn’t found it life changing. So feel free to think I’m crazy, you’ll come around.
The idea came about as something of a parenting idea (before I even thought about trying for a baby, it was purely hypothetical), wondering if you could teach your own kids a different meaning of the word “treat”. When I was little McDonalds, crisps and chocolate bars were all “special treats”, something bad for you that you were only allowed once in a while (after a great deal of nagging on our behalf) as a treat, especially if you didn’t tell mummy (sorry dad!) It meant that those golden arches had something of a mythical status to us, we couldn’t drive past one without having our noses pressed against the window with chants of “canwecanwcanweee”, which in hindsight is weird because Happy Meals are gross. Dry, suspiciously grey meat, a dollop of sugary sauce, cardboard bun, soggy chips and syrupy drinks. But when you’re told something’s a treat and for special occasions only, do you enjoy it more? I certainly enjoy champagne more because I associate it with celebrations, don’t you?
So what if you were to teach very small children, right from the start of their lives that a treat is something that treats your body. Gives it the best possible fuel, like putting premium oil in a Ferrari. When putting dinner on the table you marvel at what a “treat” it is to have such delicious produce and all those different colours, textures and flavours to try. And then when you’re stuck in some miserable airport treat a trip to Burger King more like something mundane, “well, if there’s nothing else…” It’s not about demonising “bad food” but not putting it on a pedestal either.
But as we all know, imaginary parenting bears as much reality to real life parenting as imaginary down-hill skiing does to the real thing. And once school starts, well that’s a whole other world. But you’d have sewn some pretty strong seeds.
Anyway, the idea really stuck with me and I decided to start reframing what I considered a treat for myself. Is a red velvet cupcake really a treat? It’s sweet, a bit sickly, I’m not really getting any nutrients whatsoever from it, I’ll get a little energy bump that’ll dump me again right after leaving me hungrier than before.
This Chocolate Orange Smoothie though… well that’s going to fill me up for a few hours, boost my potassium levels, feed my gut flora, improve my skin, my joints, my digestion, help me concentrate, and it tastes like molten cake batter. Now this, this is a treat!
Instead of a takeaway filled with addictive additives, sugar and salt, that’ll only have me groaning in discomfort by bedtime, I’m going to whip up Skinny Chicken Satay! Full of protein, good fats that’ll keep my heart, hair, skin and nails unbelievably healthy, and no insulin spiking sugar to make it all go to my thighs! A treat for now and a treat for when I try and wriggle into my jeans next week!
If you really want a burger, have a burger! But have a good one, made with proper meat and proper cheese. If you really want a pizza have a stonebaked sourdough one made by an Italian and savour every bite.
Trade your coke for a chilled Evian.
When going to a meeting in town, rather than thinking “I’ve had a long week, I’ll take the lift, I deserve it” I tell myself “take the stairs, your body deserves it”. I was at my very fittest when commuting to an office in East London every day, because I would power walk to the station, followed by stomping up every flight of stairs I came across, with my abs held in and engaged. Rather than seeing lugging a heavy laptop as a hassle, think about it as a free workout, no expensive gym membership required! And there’s no treat like the tight lil butt you’ll see appear in a few weeks!
Basically it’s all about perspective. Change your perspective on the world and watch your world change drastically.
Start treating yourself and this incredible gift you’ve been given (your body) as you deserve to be treated. By this time next year you won’t even know yourself.
Vive la révolution!
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