1. REGULAR EXERCISE: ideally daily and vigorous – this is the number one weapon in your crap cutting arsenal. Why? Because everything that gets worse as we get older. Our moods, energy levels, sleep, weight gain, heart strength, bone density – all of these are improved by regular exercise.
2. EAT LESS CRAP: Open to interpretation of course, but here is an acronym to help you get around the minefield of dieting and food faddy advice out there, which changes daily. It’s SAPS:
Sugar – eat much less of this.
Activity – do much more of this.
Processed foods –eat much less of this
Settling down weight – abiding by the above leads to this.
3. STOP WHINGEING: This is often expressed as ‘being grateful’. But adopting a positive ‘gratitude’ mindset begins with stopping complaining about other people, our jobs, our weight, our partners, whatever it is. It is amazing how much we all whinge and complain about stuff, which saps us of much needed energy reserves, breeding only resentment and inertia.
4. TAKE RESPONSIBILITY: If you are currently whingeing about point 2 because I failed to tell you what you should eat, stop right there. Part of the whole point of adopting a healthier lifestyle is working out for yourself what works for you. There is no point trying to make yourself eat kale if you hate the taste. Fish, green veg, wholegrains, fresh fruit, stuff without crap added to it is an obvious way forward. The closer said foodstuff is to nature the better. So pies, cakes and cookies etc. are all fine – in moderation – providing they are made from scratch. If you are unclear about whether your eating of said treats is moderate enough, get on the scales, work out your BMI and you will have your answer.
5. GET IN PEOPLE’S FACES: In other words communicate openly and honestly. In the flesh ideally, or over the phone. Text messaging, FaceBook and the like, while useful and convenient is no way to keep a relationship alive and email takes forever and can be misinterpreted.
6. GET TO MASS: As a country of churchgoers, brought up on this ritual, it is a good habit worth nurturing. An hour on our knees listening to stories about those worse off, while breathing in incense is humbling and life affirming. It doesn’t matter if you don’t believe in it. I’m not sure that I believe in God, but I believe in going to Mass on Sundays. Meditation, yoga, any and all spiritual activities that take you away from any form of ‘me-wanking’ are just as good. It’s all about being present (and crucially away from screens); if we don’t make time to practise this, it just won’t happen.
7. LAUGHING: At yourself most especially, and at life, is a brilliant life skill to adopt. It stops us feeling sorry for ourselves and from taking ourselves too seriously. Laughter has magical properties: relieving tension and anxiety, strengthening and renewing bonds, lightening the load. And it has absolutely nothing to do with happiness. Take on the belief that we choose our moods, so smile and laugh whenever you can.
8. CLEAN UP YOUR SHIT: Feeling content begins with getting on top of our chores, our admin and cleaning up life’s daily mess. An instant feel good factor is injected into our day by the simple act of making our beds each morning. Tip: tackle one shelf or cupboard in your home and clean it thoroughly. Most invigorating.
9. ACCEPT THE GRIT: …that hard is the new black. Avoiding the hard stuff, shirking grit only makes it grow. This applies every bit as much to the pile of laundry un-tended to as it does to a relationship break-up and death. Life is hard – suck it up.
10. COMPASSION: To be practised daily. Towards yourself and others. This means forgive yourself, which is not the same as letting yourself off the hook for failing to take the above points seriously and being responsible for all your choices. But within whatever we aspire towards, we will fail, we will fall short. Failure is implicit to the human condition. So forgive yourself, forgive forgive forgive and move on. Holding a grudge serves nothing and nobody. Give it up, and laugh about it instead. Go on, I dare you.