“Hey Hannah, I’ve followed you for a little while now and I was just wondering how you keep on top of your health in the winter? I find that I lack any motivation to train and look after myself in the winter months, which means that come spring, I feel like I’m starting from square one again. So what is your daily routine entail over the winter months? Thanks, F.”
Guys, it finally happened – I received my first ever email. It was short, sweet and to the point. I’m not going to lie to you; I got very excited and let out a tiny squeal that even I wasn’t prepared for. This is something I’ve been meaning to write about for a while now so I thought I’d use this email to do just that.
P.S. I would love to make ‘Readers Questions’ a permanent feature so please send me as many questions as you can manage to firstname.lastname@example.org – I will definitely reply to you, and if it’s a big enough topic then I’ll share it with the world too.
*This would also be a good time to point out that I am NOT a dietician, nutritionist or personal trainer. I have found methods, through lots of trial and error, that work for me. They do NOT always suit me, and when I get ill I have to modify my training to suit what my body is telling me. My method will not necessarily work for you – that being said, I hope you can find some use in the mass amount of writing I’m about to send your way!
My Daily Care Steps
For me, my training is more than just jumping in the gym for an hour a day. It’s not enough and it doesn’t keep me motivated to look after myself all year round. If my emotional or spiritual health is lacking, then my physical health can’t keep up. I’m not the kind of person chasing ‘dat booty’ or washboard abs – My fitness is so much more. I have to commit to myself for at least 3 hours a day – that’s broken up into training, meal prep, morning and evening meditations and a few other steps. I’ll start by going into my daily care steps in a bit more detail.
It’s the first thing I commit to in the morning and one of the last things I do at night. I don’t do it for long. I haven’t mastered being able to sit still for more than about 12 minutes at a time just yet, but the more I do it, the easier it gets. Practicing meditation helps me to focus on my goals, builds my character and reduces stress (during my evening meditation, I simply give myself permission to let go of all of the negative energy I carry; I then exhale it all in every breath. It helps me to get into a much deeper sleep).
Meditation doesn’t have to be complicated or mysterious. Just get into a comfortable sitting position (the lazy part of me wanted to see if you can meditate lying down, but actually, I just fell asleep), close your eyes and focus on your breathing. When your mind wanders (which it will) just refocus on the sound and feel of your breathing. If it’s a really niggling thought, I picture physically plucking it out of my brain and placing it on the floor next to me – you can always come back to it later.
Before I even leave the house, whilst I’m having my breakfast I write down, or just think about everything or everyone that I am grateful for. Gratitude is a powerful emotion that connects us much deeper with our lives, our relationships, our environment and our universe. When we focus on the positive we feel amazing. Again, it doesn’t have to be complicated. Sometimes it’s just being grateful for your breakfast, beautiful frosty mornings or the ability to train your body.
This one took me a little while to get my head around – but I led with the simple logic of “Your thoughts become your actions”. So whilst I’m having my breakfast I write down three ‘I AMs’. I tell myself I am strong, focused, present, hardworking, powerful, healthy, productive – they vary on what day I intend to have and what my main focuses need to be. I then keep telling myself these three ‘I AMs’ throughout the day and it helps shape my mindset. Sometimes my mindset isn’t in the most positive of places first thing in the morning (understatement), so sometimes all I need to promise to be is ‘Present’ and ‘Open’.
Food is fuel, right? If I need my body to train and work in a certain way then the fuel that I put into it is the most important thing. With my CF I am used to keeping food diaries (my dietician always found them useful) and now I used them to keep my focus on what I’m eating. I am always honest in my food diaries, which means that I am hyper aware of every teaspoon of sugar I eat. That being said, I am not OCD about it. I LOVE cake – so I will eat cake whenever I want. I won’t beat myself up about it and starve myself for days to make up for it though. I make a point of enjoying it with my whole being – because that’s why it’s there!
I have never counted my macronutrients, and I don’t intend to. I don’t need food to be a chore in my life. Instead, I just make sure I’m getting enough good proteins (through a post work out shake, eggs, meats etc), healthy fats and COLOUR!
Plus, when I consistently eat rubbish I FEEL rubbish and I don’t have enough time in the day or years in my life to feel rubbish!
My favourite part of the day! I have been active for almost 4 years now but my training changes all the time. In the summer I spend less time in the gym and I tend to hike and climb more, whereas in the winter I’m in the gym 5/6 days a week. My training in the winter varies between weightlifting, yoga and cardio. Cardio training is the most beneficial to me in the winter because it keeps my airways clear, but yoga keeps me sane and I LOVE weightlifting, so a healthy mix of the three means I don’t lose too much motivation over the dark, wet winter months.
I also have to have bigger goals in mind – The gym is not where I want to spend the rest of my life. So why am I there? I’m there so I can climb mountains easier so I can go on spur of the moment trips when they come around, so I can walk long distance trails and so I can move and train and control my body with intention. I also record all of my training so I can look back and see how my times/weights/reps are improving over time.
Typically, something I am not the best at. If I gym in the morning (I always drink about 1 litre of water in the gym) then it sets me on the right path for the rest of the day. If I don’t however, I am prone to forgetting; but boy don’t I know about it by the end of the day. My water intake directly marries up with the amount of energy I have during the day – Plus, it’s a key element for slimming down and toning up (if those are your goals). I aim to get at least 1.5 litres in a day, plus an extra litre if it’s a training day.
Usually, I’ll tag this on to my gym session if it’s a training day, or if not then first thing in the morning after a bit of meditation. I tend to pick up injuries in my IT bands and hip flexors through not stretching enough (you’ll know this if you read The Pembrokeshire Walkies blog) – so I force myself into the habit now to avoid those as much as possible.
Evening Power Questions
Okay, I worded this a bit more intimidatingly that I intended to. Before I meditate in the evening I evaluate my day. I think about what I can do differently, what habits are holding me back, what behaviours I’m ready to let go of, what habits I’d like to create – the list is endless and varies all the time. Through asking myself these series of questions I’ve began to discover new ways to live healthier, be more empowered and more self-honest.
And that’s about it – the rest is consistency. My routine doesn’t change much in the winter, except for that I have to add in a bit more cardio training to clear my lungs and keep them strong. It’s a good thing to point out that I can’t keep this up ALL the time, I’m only human. Sometimes I have rubbish human days – I don’t train, I don’t drink enough, I practice zero self-love techniques and I eat rubbish. I still record these days and just tell myself “Hey, at least you got out of bed even though you didn’t want to. Good job lady. Tomorrow’s another day” and I don’t beat myself up over it.
I hope you’ve been able to make some sense of all of this! It might seem intimidating at first, but start small and aim high. If you have a bad day, then allow yourself to have a bad day. Don’t be mean to yourself. Just remember that the sun will rise tomorrow and you have a whole new world of possibilities waiting.
I truly hope you have a healthy, happy, prosperous 2018 filled with gratitude and love.
Any questions? You know where to find me!