Life Additives: E-Numbers not included

One of the most salient lectures whilst studying for my teaching qualification was a lecture on positive reinforcement. Positive reinforcement was not something I had ever really thought about until that lecture, but it is the most useful and successful behavior management tool I have used, day in, day out of my teaching career. Positive reinforcement is the concept of ‘catching’ children being good, so, instead of telling a child to “stop talking”, I would, instead, recognize all the other students who are silent. I typically do this by thanking individual children or phrasing the expected behavior as a question, e.g. ‘I wonder who can stand quietly, exactly like Lucy?’ It sounds ridiculous, but suggesting or thanking, good behavior works timelessly, whether the child is 5 or 11 years old. Everyone likes to be thanked, praised or recognized and this extends to adulthood too. A genuine thank you resonates far more than any monetary gift. In fact, it was teacher appreciation week which made me really appreciate the value in positivity and thank yous and it also got me thinking…could positive reinforcement be practiced in all aspects of our lives to enable us to be happier and healthier?

Change is always scary, it, by definition, means we are going to have to step out of our routine and into the unknown. Sometimes change chooses us and sometimes we choose change. If it is the latter option, we often enter into change feeling positive, but if change chooses us, we can definitely be left feeling overwhelmed. How about if we purely focus on what the change can ‘add’ to our lives rather than what ‘subtractions’ the change is going to result in? After all, we are not in control of the outcome, but we are in control of the process. For example, you have realized it is time to embark on a healthy lifestyle. Instead of eliminating sweets, chips etc. focus on what you are going to add in instead. So, are you going to add a vegetable to every meal? Are you going to start drinking a cup of green tea? Are you going to add in a run on a Sunday? How about if you are relocating to a new place for work or otherwise? Instead of focusing on the people, or things, you think you are going to miss, why not see it as an opportunity to add a new tourist or local experience to your ‘to-do’ list? Why not Yelp the best local coffee house or attraction in the area and suggesting meeting there with new neighbours or co-workers?

There are many aspects of our lives that are beyond our control, our mood and outlook on life is one of the few aspects we can dictate. Life can be daunting, so let’s not add to it with focusing on what we are without, or our subtractions, but, instead, let’s ease the daily struggles and embrace change with additives. And not the E-numbers kind.

-Benchpressingbaubles, x



Be eye candy and soul food

  1. Move more. The gym isn’t for everyone, but daily movement within your day is attainable for everyone! If you have a desk job, maybe work for a portion of your day standing up; use the stairs or use part of your lunch break to take a walk. At weekends, make an effort to plan something beyond lying on the sofa all day, every day. If you are lucky and live somewhere with beautiful weather (like me), then you are spoilt for choice on activities to do. If the weather isn’t quite as appealing, then going shopping, visiting a museum, or even taking an umbrella and walking the dog are great options. Planning activities always makes me feel more productive and gives me something to look forward to as well.
  2. Eat protein with every meal. It doesn’t have to dominate your meals, but pick your protein source and then use this as your inspiration for the accompaniments. If you are lacking in inspiration, then browsing the Internet, Instagram or Pintrest will be sure to inspire you!
  3. Meal prep. This can be as easy or as complicated as you like, but make an effort every Sunday to set aside a couple of hours to make your lunches and snacks for the week. By being prepared, you are less likely to be tempted by the office cake that has lingered in the break room for more than a week! If you have a sweet tooth (like me), accommodate for it with your snacks. Greek yoghurt, flavoured nuts/nut butter, protein bars, flavoured rice cakes, berries and whey protein are all good, convenient snack foods that satisfy my sweet tooth!
  4. Plan your meals for the following day. I use Myfitnesspal and plan my food using this. It is a great app where you can either manually input foods or scan the barcodes. Don’t fuss about tracking green vegetables and if you have been craving a particular food, factor it in. Deprivation, or the feeling of being deprived of a food, is my biggest trigger for binging. So, as my Mum would say, be kind to yourself. Don’t set yourself up for ‘failure’.
  5. Weigh your food. I weigh out everything (except vegetables) and when I first started doing this, the insight I got into portion sizes was unbelievable! I can definitely ‘eyeball’ portion sizes now, (although I prefer precision!), so even if you just weigh out your food for a couple of weeks to educate yourself, you will learn a lot about a balanced plate of food and portion sizes.
  6. Drink more water. I drink about 5 litres of water a day. You should be drinking about 3 litres, depending on where you live and your level of physical activity. If you don’t enjoy water, chop up fruit and let it steep in the water; brew herbal or green tea and refrigerate it; add Crystal Light or sugar free squash; or add a scoop of BCAA. You will soon be so much more tempted to start guzzling!
  7. Get enough sleep. As soon as I am vaguely sleep deprived, I get the feeling that I am going on holiday! You know when you wake up really early to get to the airport and your stomach rumbles throughout the day? While I love this feeling when I am jetting off somewhere, when you are simply trying to go about a regular day, it isn’t so appealing. Sleep is so important for rest, recovery, health, mood and general wellbeing; don’t trade it off for an extra Instagram browse!
  8. Treat yourself on the outside too. There is nothing that makes me feel ‘put together’ like a fresh manicure. It could be some new shoes, a new face cream, lighting a candle and reading a book, or even a combination of all three! You deserve it.
  9. Set weekly goals. I have only just started doing this and already have noticed a difference in my outlook on a Monday. Having long term aspirations is great, but making these into small manageable steps makes achieving long term goals so much more attainable. Having a goal also gives you a focus and something to strive for throughout the week.
  10. Find ways to enjoy the daily grind. Having a job I really dislike has been eye-opening for me. I have been incredibly fortunate to not be in this position until now, and it is the biggest thing I have learned this year. No-one wants to be around someone who is miserable, and life is for living, not existing. Find ways to make your days enjoyable, or if enjoyable is too much of a stretch, then start off finding ways to make your days manageable. Focus on baby steps, and soon you will realise that you are infinitely happier than you were a few weeks ago.

Benchpressingbaubles, x