map of health

2018 goals: 7 ways I plan to improve my health

It’s mid-week and I won’t lie. It’s been hard being back at work after a six week break. I have to put on work-appropriate clothing, wear make-up, skip naps, plan ahead. Argh. Lucky my team is full of amazing people. But as one of them said today, ‘Everyone seems to be reassessing their lives after the Christmas break’.

I can understand that, it’s hard getting back into gear right after time off, which is why I’m not being too quick to jump into my goals in January. When I sat down to write about how I was going to improve my health this year, I realised it looked similar to my ways I’m going to save money post. Grow wealth and health – I guess they go together.

Focusing on waist measurement, not weight

Every year I have the same goal to lose xx amount of weight. Some years I achieve it, others I don’t. I actually have a lot of weight to lose to be healthy, but I’m shifting my focus onto my waist size rather than what the scales say.

The Health Foundation guidelines say that the healthy waist size for a woman is 80cm, and I am far beyond that recommended size. For me, the weight will eventually come off, but I need to get that waist size down. Measurements are by far a better indicator of weight-loss/health than weight as muscle is heavier than fat, but fat takes up more space. I just want to shift my thinking onto a new focus and not get caught up on the numbers on the scales.

Getting better sleep

Notice I say ‘better’ and not ‘more’ sleep. That’s because I generally can only sleep for about 6-7 hours and have always been like that. However, I also do not always get quality sleep; I wake up regularly throughout the night and sleep very lightly. I want to improve this by being really routine about when I go to bed and when I wake up – seven days of the week. I also want to make the bedroom a screen-free zone to help prevent the need for overstimulation right before I need to sleep.

Sleeping on my back

Speaking of sleep, I’m a classic belly sleeper. And guess what? This is really terrible for your neck – a body part I have a lot of trouble with, causing tightened muscles which then flows onto headaches and chronic pain.

Over the break I’ve been trying to teach my body to be happy with sleeping on my back. It’s not easy to break this habit – I really love sleeping on my side and on my belly, often with my right arm raised over my head (yes, I have shoulder pain too). I think I’m getting better though – it takes some time, so I have to keep persisting with this. The added bonus is that it will stop me from getting cleavage wrinkles (yeah, this is a thing – something else for women to be sub-conscious about) and hopefully less pillow creases on my face.

Checking in with the health professionals regularly

I’m pretty good at this generally, but the last year spent in Melbourne meant I wasn’t doing my usual quarterly blood tests and checking in with my GP on a regular basis. The best form of keeping healthy is preventative, so I plan to see my dentist twice year for my teeth cleaning and check-up, regular check ins with my GP, I’m currently seeing a dietician to help me manage my auto-immune disease and getting massaged and physio when I’m having pain.

Seeking out incidental exercise

As I said in my money goals post, I’m not joining a gym this year, so I need to do more to get my movement up and going. It helps we live on the top floor of an 1980s apartment block where there’s no lift. I’m also about 900 metres from my train station in our neighbourhood, and about the same distance from Central station to my office in the city. I’m also lucky enough to work on the first floor which is accessible by a set of stairs in the office.

I plan to develop the habit of walking for 30 minutes each afternoon for exercise and develop muscle so I have the strength to get better and better.

Keeping work hours

I kinda of suck at leaving work on time, having a lunch break and not bringing my work home with me. So this year I’d really like to focus on taking regular breaks and reading my book rather than reading news sites or working through at my desk. I’m working on organising my day so that I can leave work on time. I can’t stop the need to be on-call, but everything else is within my control.

Cooking more at home and making lunch

I’m actually pretty good at this, but my dietician and I worked out that while I’m generally really ‘good’ at my eating, when things pile on or I fall off the wagon, I have really high calorie days. So I need to work on consistency. Whenever possible I try to make big serves of dinner and prep and then freeze meals so that either dinner making is already half done or we just need to re-heat.

Do you have any health goals this year? What are they?

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