Easter is just around the corner and summer is approaching rapidly, so it can be tempting to want to set some health-related goals around Lent. With sugar, coffee and junk food at the top of the list of things people tend to give up around this time of year, it’s easy to follow the norm. Here at The Fitness Truck though, we’re challenging you to do things a bit differently this year.
It’s the norm to give something up during Lent, with more than one in five people in the UK taking part. The 40-days before Easter offer a great time for reflection before spring hits, and it can be the perfect way to get back on track if you haven’t kept up your New Year’s resolutions for as long as you’d hoped. Lent is a perfect time to focus on some self-improvement (and we love self-improvement here at The Fitness Truck).
We’ve all done it before; given up chocolate and failed around 10 days in (we don’t blame you – we’re definitely partial to a Creme Egg or two this time of year). It’s can be too easy to lose motivation with a new challenge if you’re not 100% committed to the cause. This is why we’re thinking about doing Lent a little bit differently this year.
We always like to try taking a new perspective, and our approach to Lent has been no different. While it wouldn’t hurt to give up sugar, coffee or junk food we’re ready to do something more unusual! After a bit of thought, we realised one of the biggest and most valuable things we could give up is our time. Now stick with us here… I know, life’s already busy and the thought of squeezing in another “to do” in the day seems unrealistic. There has to be some give & take, so we’ve put together a list of things you could think about giving up, and what you could take up as something new for Lent this year.
Give up: Social media
People spend an average of 2 hours and 23 minutes on social media a day – A DAY! That translates to a whopping 16 hours each week – which is like having a part time job (and I bet for most of us it doesn’t pay)! With increased social media usage linked to a decline in sleep, memory and self-esteem, you might find it’s not just your free time that’s improved through making this change.
So, this year for Lent, how about putting a cap on your screen time. Monitor how long you’re spending on these platforms each day and start to plan out what else you might want to do with this time. If a clean break seems a bit too much straight away, why not set a goal to halve your weekly usage. Do what feels the most beneficial to you.
Most phones now offer ways to help monitor your app usage, and can even block certain sites after your allotted screen time is up (or you could try apps like AppDetox, Freedom or Moment). Alternatively, delete the apps from your phone and log yourself out of these sites on your computer – this way, you’re helping out future you.
Whilst we know that social media isn’t all bad – it has actually been shown to combat loneliness and strengthen relationships – as with most things, it all comes down to moderation. Lent could be the perfect time to press the ‘reset’ button on your social habits by going cold turkey for 40 days, before slowly re-introducing the channels that you really can’t live without. You might even find you haven’t missed much at all!
Take up: Cooking
From learning culinary skills to experiencing calming benefits, cooking at home is full of rewards – and not just regarding nutrition.
Studies have found that people who cook at home more often tend to be healthier overall. When you cook for yourself, you can decide what exactly goes into your food. From using less unnecessary oil to making the perfect portion, the benefits definitely stack up. It’s loads cheaper too, with the average home-prepared meal costing half of the equivalent meal at a restaurant.
Surprisingly, the psychological benefits of cooking for yourself and others are also huge. By practising mindfulness, performing some self-care, and nurturing family and friends through food, the practice has more than just physical benefits.
We asked our followers on Instagram whether they were avid chefs, or if they preferred the convenience of getting a microwave meal or eating out. It turns out, 90% of those who answered do cook more often than they don’t, which is great news! If you do tend to cook for yourself, why not try cooking something new every week? This way, you don’t stick to the same old, and you can improve your cooking skills in the process.
Give up: Unhealthy spending habits
It can be easy to fall into the trap of not watching what you’re spending. By getting comfortable with your monetary habits, monitoring what you spend can fall to the bottom of your to-do list. This means saving for nicer holidays, bigger purchases and weekends away become few-and-far-between.
The simple act of watching what you spend can seriously help you to understand how to better your spending habits. By enabling you to save for unexpected costs, giving you a nice safety net, and stopping wasteful spending, recognising where your money goes can have a knock-on effect into other areas of your life.
Cutting out something small, like a daily coffee on your lunch break, can really add up – plus it’s a lot easier to stick to that making massive changes. Cutting out a daily £2.40 coffee would add up to £96 over the 40 days, and stopping buying a daily meal deal at £3 would add up to £120. Collectively, this would save you £216 – the equivalent of a return flight to Morocco. Paying attention to these small habits can equate to a lot further down the road.
Another way to save up some extra cash, without making any substantial changes, is rounding up your purchases. Moneybox is a great app which you can connect to your bank, and it automatically rounds up your transactions and saves the money for you (some bank accounts also offer this feature). Saving 20p might not seem like much, but in our experience, it equates to about £10 a week – without you even noticing. Try this throughout Lent and treat yourself to a memorable night out with your loved ones at the end of it.
Budgeting doesn’t have to be difficult, especially by starting small. Write down your saving goals and check-in with your purchases often. Go through your spending at the end of each week during Lent, and make adjustments on how to improve for the week ahead.
Take up: Meditation
With meditation proven to reduce stress, control anxiety and improve mindfulness, it’s a no-brainer that frequent practice can help improve your overall health. This mindfulness has the knock-on effect of being more aware of your daily health-related habits, such as mindless snacking and skipping exercise.
Mindfulness can snowball into your physical health too. It can reduce chronic pain, lower blood pressure, treat heart disease, improve sleep and even alleviate gastrointestinal difficulties. Your mental and physical health work in tandem, and if you neglect one, the other will be soon to follow.
Now, we know that sitting still in the quiet for 10 minutes a day sounds boring – but that’s the point. If you feel reluctant to try it, it’s probably because you’re in dire need of some alone time. Try it every other day for the period of Lent, just for 10 minutes. There are apps to help too – try Headspace, which is a no-nonsense way to get some mindfulness in and goes easy on beginners.
Take up: Podcasts
Podcasts are a great way to make the most of your time. When you’re driving to work, out walking the dog or even whilst you’re cooking, sticking on a podcast is a great way get in some extra learning, or to indulge in a little escapism. Studies have found that people who listen to podcasts have an improved attention span, are more empathetic and are better listeners. There really is something out there for everyone – from the true crime fanatics to the comedy lovers; entertaining yourself through podcasts allows you to educate yourself on a chosen area of interest, whilst also going about your day-to-day.
At The Fitness Truck, we love listening to the Pull The Pin Podcast by Alan Barrett, the CEO of Grenade. Alan invites some notable guests on the show, and talks about entrepreneurship and fitness myths. Another favourite is The James Smith Podcast by online fitness guru James Smith, who is famous for his no-BS approach to nutrition, health and fitness.
So, how can you keep one of these habits going?
Accountability is the biggest step forward when it comes to changing your lifestyle. Talk about the changes you’re making with others – by getting constant, honest feedback you’re more likely to stick to a goal. Plus, you’re forced to follow through as you’ve made the commitment to someone other than yourself. So, before you go full steam ahead, get one of your friends on board. Agree to meet up, or have a phone call, at least once a week. This way – you’re way more likely to make your goal a reality.
If you’re looking for some accountability with your exercise, check out The Fitness Truck. We offer personal, exclusive and corporate fitness sessions, where we bring the gym to you. Fill out our contact form for more info.