2013: Bring It On

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I hope you like my new sketches that I’ve started adding to some of my posts. One of the things I want to do more of this year is draw, as it’s something that I used to do a lot of but I’ve let slip in the past couple of years. I thought my blog would be the perfect opportunity to encourage myself to get drawing again. My idea is to add sketches to my posts that represent what I’ve been up to that week.

This little doodle symbolises how I hope to grow in 2013. But who knows where that growth will take me?

I’m also loving being inspired by other people’s art at the moment. Good street art in particular is really getting me excited, like this great silhouette stencil that I spotted on my way home from the market on Saturday morning.

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Take a Step Together

Although I discourage people from making New Years Resolutions, especially big lifestyle changes that are near-impossible to achieve, I appreciate that a lot of people do make them. By the start of December every year I hear friends and co-workers talking about their resolutions for the next year and I genuinely believe their determination to stick to them.

During my own personal lifestyle change, one of the things I constantly tell myself is ‘one step at a time’. The longest lasting change is gradual, and if I happen to slip up and take a couple of steps backwards I try not to beat myself up about it and instead work out how I can move forward again. Making those small steps can be incredibly difficult, though, and it is so easy to make an excuse as to why you have to wait until next week to start.

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At the moment I work in an office, a very sedentary environment where it is very easy to become lazy and put on weight. Determined to break this trend, last year my team and I made changes together. All five of us tried to live healthier lives (and I also encouraged them to live more environmentally friendly lives). We all had our own personal reasons for doing it, and we all went about it in different ways, but we encouraged each other daily and shared ideas and knowledge. I have no doubt that, without the support of the other four, not one of us would have succeeded as well as we have so far. Who needs a personal trainer or nutritionist when you have four coaches stopping you from buying that chocolate bar from the vending machine?

After a couple of months taking steps forward together, we noticed that one of our number was regressing. The colleague in question will remain anonymous, but he’d started to take a couple of steps back in his diet and he had started to make excuses not to go to the gym. The rest of us banded together to remind him of why we made our pact in the first place, and what he wanted to achieve. He’s still not entirely back on track. but we will continue to support him in his ambition to lead a healthier life and set a better example to his child.

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In a nutshell, the idea is to get together with some like-minded friends or work colleagues and encourage and support each other in your New Year Resolutions. It might give you the push you need to make the change forever. And don’t forget to check in with people occasionally to make sure they’re still on the right path.

Looking forward to 2013

Happy New Year everyone! I hope 2013 brings adventure and happiness for all of you.

As you know, I don’t like to make New Year Resolutions. I think they put too much pressure on people to completely change their lives every January 1st, and they have little hope of becoming long-term lifestyle changes. Instead, I set myself a challenge a few years ago to visit at least one new place every year, and to try at least one new activity. Yesterday, I looked back at my highlights of 2012, so today I thought I’d look forward to 2013.

Although I’m not planning any big trips for 2013, I still intend to visit at least one new place. I’m planning lots of smaller trips, like long weekends around the UK. I’ve also been looking at the possiblilty of catching the Mega Bus from Cardiff to somewhere in Europe. I’ll keep you posted on that one.

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I’m also hoping to revisit some of my favourite places like Whitesands, West Wales (above). Maybe whilst I’m there I’ll be able to add surfing to my list of new activities at long last. I’ve wanted to try surfing for ages, but I was hoping to get more practice on my body board first. That, combined with the awful weather we had in the UK last summer and having to look after a seven year old meant that I couldn’t get in the water and give surfing a go.

I’m adding a new aspect to my challenge this year as well – I want to take part in more local, community activities. You know I love all things local, and I live in a fantastic community of people, a rare occurrence when you live so close to a city centre. I’ve dabbled in local events in the past, but I’m terrible for making up excuses as to why I can’t do more. If I make it part of my challenge then I’ll make myself get involved, and I know I’ll end up having lots of fun. I’ve already got a few ideas up my sleeve, and I can’t wait to share my experiences with you.

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Just over a year ago I made the commitment to live a more plant-based lifestyle. This year I hope to continue that journey and move closer to living completely plant-based. Oil and sugar are my biggest vices at the moment. Although I’ve stopped cooking with oil at home, I still buy products that contain oil and I want that to change. It’s virtually impossible to cut out oil when I’m out and about, but I’m hoping that making the change at home will have a difference. Cutting out sugar is theoretically a lot easier, but I have a really sweet tooth so for me it’s going to be a bit tougher. I’ll do my best, though. While we’re on the subject of food, I also want to educate myself further about my allergies and do my bit to support producers that cater to both plant-based vegetarians and allergy sufferers.

As always, I’d love to hear about your adventures in 2013. I’m going to head out now because the sun has actually made an appearance in South Wales! I was starting to think the rain would never stop!