The problem is offline, not online.

We are in a time where online, and specifically social media, are prevalent to everything. Youtubing can now be a profession and companies who are succeeding often attribute their success to winning online. In a society where you are always available and where opinions, photos and trends can spread in an instant, social media receives a lot of bad press. With people venturing online at a continuously younger age, I don’t think this concern is going anywhere. In fact, influential figures on social media often comment about how they feel a responsibility to promote health and longevity and ‘being real’ over simply promoting the glamour in their lives, so as not to promote a one-dimensional image to their followers. 

No question, social media often does glamourize everyday life. If you search the hashtag ‘IIFYM’, you will most likely find an abundance of pizza and pancakes, giving the impression that eating obscene quantities of this food is both the norm and something to strive for. Likewise, looking at fitness models online, you will likely find endless pictures of shredded abs. In reality, both the IIFYM hashtag and photos of fitness models show a very narrow window, a literal snapshot – millisecond even – of that person’s day. Or, equally as likely, the pictures could be falsely represented. The massive stack of pancakes may be made purely for the photo, or shared among a party of people. And ‘abs’ pictures could have been photoshopped or heavily filtered. You just don’t know. But, while I agree that these representations as the ‘norm’ should be properly presented, would you really search for IIFYM and be seduced by some celery? Would you really follow a fitness model who posted endless pictures of them in hoodies and jogging bottoms?! Sure, the odd picture of a garnish or of your favorite fitness model with no make up on may be a nice ‘reality check’, but you don’t seek celery and hoodies when you search online. So, while I understand what these influencers mean, (and I think it is a good thing they are conscious of how they present themselves and their message), the reality is that without those glamorous pictures, they wouldn’t be an influencer. 
The bigger concern for me is, actually, offline.

Having lived in several places in the U.K., and, having lived in Florida for the past two years, I can only say I feel more strongly about this problem now. The way that some people behave in society is awful. And I am not even talking about crime, I am talking about their everyday behavior and the fact that they don’t question that is wrong. As a female in my late twenties, I feel strongly that I should be able to dress how I like without receiving lewd comments wherever I go. I am completely confused as to what these people think they are going to achieve from yelling out such comments, I mean, have you ever heard of a marriage starting from “yeah, he yelled nice tits at me as I walked into Walmart and the rest was history?!” (Side note, I have practically no chest whatsoever, so if that exact comment was shouted at me, I know they would be lying!) But, seriously, other than those people thinking that that is socially acceptable to declare, it is very intimidating to hear, and makes me fear for my safety. It both repulses me and simultaneously makes me feel indignant. Over the past year, I have had notes left on my car, people ask for my number while I am working and men offer to fill up my car with gas. Whenever I relay these stories later on, I am often surprised as to the reactions I receive. “You’re so lucky” or “Bet that made your day”. Well, no, no it didn’t. And lucky?! These comments disturb me as much as the perpetrators’! Since when did we live in a society where making people feel uncomfortable in both professional and recreational settings are not only normalized but envied?! It makes me feel marginalized. I don’t see that wearing shorts, or putting on make up should equate to an invitation of foul comments or suggestions that I am incapable of fulfilling a basic errand.

While I don’t have hundreds of thousands of online followers, to this day, I have received zero abuse, zero lewd comments and zero demeaning comments online. In fact, I have found my Instagram and my WordPress sites to be wholly positive. Apart from, the Dreaming Elegance people (who, let’s face it, irritate everyone), I have only ever had comments of support or questions about a post to find out more. Yet, in everyday ‘offline’ life, most weeks, I am the recipient of some suggestive or demeaning comment. Online, I post pictures of myself in bikinis. Offline, I walk around in business casual or workout clothes (I never even wear just a sports bra or shorts to the gym either). Online, I sometimes present myself in an overtly more provocative way, yet, offline is where I receive the embarrassingly uncomfortable comments. I am pretty strong-willed and pretty resilient, yet these endless comments affect my everyday life. I often choose not to wear make up on the weekends and don’t brush my hair as I just don’t want the comments from these people. 

Sure, online influences are only becoming more salient, yet, just as there is the constant reminder to live your life offline too, we also need to address how offline behaviors are just as, if not more, problematic than online. For someone to question their safety, and to feel uncomfortable wherever they go, is just ridiculous. We should have gone past this. After all, technology is evolving at an exponential speed, shouldn’t society be keeping pace?

-Benchpressingbaubles, x

My Top 10 Happiness Hacks

There are plenty of mundane, not very exciting aspects to our lives, so, where I can, I try to eliminate unnecessary stresses, annoyances and grievances! These definitely aren’t the key to being happy, but, hopefully, they will give you some ideas on how to cut out irritating aspects of everyday life!

  1. Chop up weekly vegetables all in one go. I have zero patience/care for all my vegetables to be finely diced, I am definitely more of a ‘roughly chopped’ kind of person. I love cooking, but I hate chopping. So, I chop them all up in one go and then use pots to store them for the week. I have a very cute plastic onion pot for keeping raw onion in – even better that you only have to shed onion tears once per week too!
  2. Have two laundry baskets. I have a great laundry basket that has a separate side for whites and darks. If not, I would definitely have a separate one for whites and darks. To me, there is nothing more frustrating than putting washing away to find out one sock still needs to be washed… separating laundry as I put it into the basket makes washing a breeze, and I can also accurately figure out when I need to do washing!
  3. Use glitter nail polish to prolong a manicure. (Sorry guys, not really for you here!) If you are like me and get shellac manicures regularly, you know how irritating it can be when you love the color, but your nails are growing out. Painting glitter at the base of the nail will give your manicure an extra week and also creates a really pretty ombre effect that is really easy to achieve.
  4. Disguise your work food. I don’t know what it is about work refridgerators where some people seem to think that it is a free for all! I have had many items of food disappear over the years, so, if I have something that is generic or pre-packaged (like an apple, individual yoghurt etc), I hide it inside onion/lemon containers. No-one will touch it if they think it is housing an onion or lemon! I know some people write their names on things, but I don’t like the idea of people thinking I don’t trust them (I don’t trust them, but you know what I mean!)
  5. Use a pill organizer. Best 99 cents I have spent. Even though I don’t take many pills, if you take more than one pill daily, I highly recommend them. Unscrewing numerous pill pots takes up more time than I would care to give it, so I portion out my weekly vitamins and every morning, all I have to do is open up the day and pour them out!
  6. Get outside. I know I live in a beautifully sunny state, but regardless of where you live, getting outside everyday should be part of your to-do list. In the U.K., often the best weather would be first thing in the morning. Even just a quick 10 minute walk will boost your mood and give you some fresh air! I have found that the sounds of nature are so relaxing and beneficial to my everyday well-being.
  7. Appreciate negative situations for what they are. We can’t have great days every day, but we can let a bad situation turn into a bad day. A big change in my mindset happened when I stopped viewing bad situations as bad days. Appreciate that something negative has happened, wallow in it momentarily, then plan how you are going to combat that. Then put the bad situation in a box and treat it as a negative experience that you can learn and grow from.
  8. Eradicate unnecessary expenses and treat yourself instead. I developed a habit of using toll roads everywhere, most of the time they were saving me less than 5 minutes of my journey. I have now started avoiding these where possible and using the money to buy something I otherwise might not! Obviously these treats are relatively inexpensive, so you get to treat yourself and not feel remotely bad about it.
  9. Invest in what you value. If you don’t value something, don’t invest time or money in it. Find ways to get rid of it, or, if it is unavoidable, then find ways to minimize the impact it has on your day and in your life. Life is for living, not for existing through monotony. 
  10. Smile and ask everyone you speak to how they are. A smile and upfront friendliness are rare to encounter. Not only will you ooze positivity, but it is hard to be miserable if you are greeting everyone with a grin! Without realizing it, you will establish a reputation for being friendly and helpful…without having had to work at it!

-Benchpressingbaubles, x

Am I a feminist? Am I lucky? Or am I just single?

I recently listened to one of the best Tedtalks I have heard to date – ‘We should all be feminists’ by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, which I highly recommend a listen. She delivers the Tedtalk in a very engaging, humorous way and the content is very thought provoking. Feminism, and discussion of feminism, is rife at the moment with all the political turmoil in the States. Chimamanda talks about several key conversations during her life where she was called a feminist and conveys how she found these instances highly amusing as she had never considered herself a feminist. (After all, the stereotypes surrounding feminism aren’t exactly something to strive for). I, myself, would never have classed myself as a feminist until I listened to this Tedtalk, but now I’m not so sure! 

I often am told I am ‘lucky’; lucky to live in Florida, lucky to be able to eat carbs and lucky to have the job that I do. While, yes, I do feel grateful for all three of those examples, I would never classify myself as lucky. It is not by random chance that I live in Florida, it is because my Dad got a job over here years ago and I decided to move to spend more time with my family. It is also not due to luck that I can tolerate carbs well. It is down to hard work and consistency. For the past two years, I have stuck to my macros every day, and, as such, have been able to build up my metabolism. And my career is far from luck. Yes, a contact gave me information about the company, but I grafted to get the position in the first place and it is also hard work that has continued my career growth. I can’t help but wonder whether some of these times I get called ‘lucky’ would happen if I was male. Maybe not the Florida living example, but society definitely expects men to eat carbs. Society also permits men to be successful and to experiment with career paths until they are happy. 

Another question I often get asked is why I’m not married. 

I have never been someone who is overtly ‘feminine’ in relationships; I am not particularly affectionate, I am very self-sufficient and tend to adopt a bit of a Laissez Faire attitude in relationships. Men think this is exciting at the start, but, as time goes on, the men I have dated definitely found these behaviors problematic. I have had one really good relationship that I will always reminisce fondly about. As for the rest… I spent far too much time struggling to balance being myself and trying to conform to what I thought was wanted from me. As a result, those relationships were abusive, destructive and suffocating. My last relationship ended just over 18 months ago, and it left me a shell of myself, not because I was devastated about being single, but because of how worthless I felt coming out of that relationship. It was definitely a relationship where I was treated like an incompetent female – unable to make decisions, follow passions or speak for myself. Over time, I adopted these expectations, so when the relationship ended, I didn’t even recognize the person I had become. 

Over the past 18 months, I have built myself back up and have achieved a lot in that time. I have changed career, received two awards in retail, secured a promotion, stepped on stage in a bikini competition, developed social media platforms, and, most importantly, my relationship with my family is the best it has ever been.  I look to my sister, as well as to many of my friends, who are in lovely relationships where both people compliment each other and add to each other’s lives. I always say to my sister that her boyfriend makes her sparkle – he brings out the best in her. So why am I not married? Because I haven’t met anyone who remotely makes me want to make any compromises. I haven’t met anyone who will compliment me (and vice versa) and make me sparkle. When I was first single, I used to worry I would be single forever. Now, I couldn’t care less.

I am drawn to people who work hard and demonstrate passion. I admire those people, whether male or female, probably more now than when I was younger. I know how it feels to coast through life and ‘be feminine’, but I also know how it feels to work hard at everything you value. I have felt no personal satisfaction as great as the last year and have started to learn to disregard societal expectations on the level of success females should achieve. I still wouldn’t class myself as a feminist, but I would say I am completely anti the perceptions that females are incapable. I love the fact that I am strong enough to be able to remove my own luggage from the luggage belt. I love the fact I am fit enough to run for public transport if necessary. I love the fact I have developed the confidence to be proactive and experiment to solve problems. And guess what? I wouldn’t say me being able to do these things is down to luck either.

-Benchpressingbaubles, x

How I track macros: Tips to help with the freedom of flexible dieting

From a university binge drinking student, to a Herbalife fanatic, to having a binge/bulimic relationship with food, to a strict clean eater to a flexible dieter… you could say I have done it all! Nothing makes me happier or gets me results like flexible dieting, but, having come from a nutrition background far from flexibility, I am aware of how mystifying the world of flexible dieting can be! The pure freedom can be incredibly overwhelming and tracking macros can also be a steep learning curve! Having flexible dieted for about 18 months, I have compiled my top tips, from my experience, to help you with your flexible dieting journey.

1. Download a macro counting app. I personally use MyFitnessPal and pay for the premium service. The regular MyFitnessPal is good, but the premium allows you to input specific grams of protein, carbohydrates and fat as well as allowing you to have different calorie breakdowns for different days and ‘quick add’ calories. Both versions allow you to search the database for food, scan barcodes and create recipes/group together frequently paired foods. Before you start trying to figure out what macros you should be eating, I would suggest you log a week of food and drink into the app to see roughly how many calories and macros you consume. It will also help with the second step.

2. Hire a coach/seek advice from a qualified person on what macros you should be eating. Inputting information into an online tool only gets you so far. It doesn’t take into account what calories you are currently eating and it has no idea about your current metabolic rate. I prefer my macros to be continually in the hands of New York Muscle Radio, but even just hiring a coach for a couple of months to help you get started will help you no end! They can tweak your macros, depending on how your body responds, and they have a wealth of both qualifications and experience, two things algorithms do not have!

3. Start looking at nutrition labels. Not only will this help you understand what a serving size is,  but it will also help you understand what percentage of your daily calories that food will use up. This will help you make choices!

4. View your macros with the same approach as planning a vacation. (Hear me out on this one!)  When you start planning a vacation, you may dream of a 5 star Sex and the City style trip to Dubai, but you don’t even look at those vacations because you know they aren’t financially viable. If you do opt for one of those vacations, you know will love it at the time, but be filled with regret later, having to pay for it for weeks afterwards. So, instead you book a lovely 4 star all inclusive holiday, traveling in economy class. You opt for all inclusive so you don’t have to worry about expenses, but plan on going out a couple of times to experience the local nightlife and cuisine. This same thought process you should apply to your macros. While you may want to eat 5000 calories of cheesecake today; if you do, you know you will enjoy it at the time, but feel sick later and then regret it all week. Instead, compromise. Have half a slice of cheesecake, or skip the cheesecake and use the macros for something else, or make a less calorie dense version! As soon as you view your macros as something you can play about with, rather than something restrictive, you will enjoy the process so much more!

5. Decide how frequently you want to eat. Do you like the traditional 3 meals? Or do you like to snack? In MyFitnessPal you can rename each meal to personalize it to suit you (you have to do this from the computer).

6. Consider what you like to eat. Just because I love oats more than horses doesn’t mean you have to eat them for breakfast and dinner! Use your initial week where you logged your food as a starting point and tweak it to suit your accurate macronutrient breakdown. That way, you are not starting from scratch, but are simply adapting your current lifestyle to suit your goals.

7. Don’t feel you need to stick to serving sizes. Serving sizes are great to learn from. They show you both what a portion looks like and also how some companies cleverly market their products to make them seem more low calorie than they actually are! I rarely stick to a serving size of anything. Remember, it is a guide only! For example, on a high carb day, I may eat 2 servings of rice. I also may be cooking a broccoli for the week. On the packet, it says 4 servings, I make it do 5 servings. Also, when it comes to the end of the day, I ‘macro cap’. That is, I play around with whatever carbs, proteins and fats I have left for the day and ‘use them up’. This may mean I have a few grams of cereral, 1 chocolate or a small amount of peanut butter on top of my yoghurt. I either enter it into MyfitnessPal directly (if that food allows you to input by the gram) or I work out the percentage of the serving size I am consuming. This really enables you to have a little bit of what you fancy, without having to have an entire serving. I do this all the time.

8. Enjoy it! Over time, you will learn more and more about what a calorie looks like as well as what you can fit into your day. I cook in bulk on a Sunday and input those meals in for Monday – Friday. For the remainder of the calories on those days, I plan what I am going to eat the day before and log it. Sometimes I alter this on the day, but I predominantly eat whatever I have planned the day before. You will probably go through phases of eating ‘cleaner’ and eating more micronutrient void food and that’s okay! The initial excitement of being able to eat ice cream and candy will probably rule your diet, but this will probably level out. You will learn how you feel after eating different foods and will learn to incorporate being on track with nutrition without sacrificing life!

-Benchpressingbaubles, x

Mindset over toolset – Happiness hacks for success in every aspect of your life

This blog post is very personal and has taken me a while to write. I am a self-confessed introvert and use social media to air my thoughts, feelings and experiences. I tend to keep my opinions to myself and ‘people please’ where possible. I have moved continents; changed careers; experienced volatile relationships; struggled with my relationship with food, and, even worse…struggled with my relationship with myself. I have been there where I hated myself – loathed what I saw and how I felt; not wanting to get out of bed and spending vast proportions of my day in tears. Sadly, I don’t think I am in the minority here. In fact, I think the majority of people will struggle with their relationship with food over their lifetime and I think lots of people also go through phases of self-loathing. I do think, though, that the only person who can change that mindset is you. I am not saying it is easy, nor I am saying it can be done overnight ( in fact, I would argue, if you do accomplish it overnight, then it will purely be a monentary relief in your misery). But, I promise you, if you want to be happy, you will get there. In a year, I have transformed my life. There are still aspects that have gaping holes in it – I miss my British friends and family more than I can express – but I am infinitely happier. Instead of focusing on aspects of myself that I don’t like, and wallowing in them, I set myself goals to improve them. I am very goal-oriented and self-aware, two qualities which I think only benefit all aspects of life. My motto: You can only grow your toolset with the right mindset.

1. Learn to be self-aware. When you say something or do something, you often do so with intention, that is, you intend your action to come across in a particular way. Unfortunately, it is not always understood in the way you intended – it is interpreted by other people, sometimes favourably, other times, less so. After receiving feedback at work on a presentation gave, I started recording myself speaking. I was shocked when I noticed some of my mannerisms and facial cues. For example, when I fumbled over my words, I noticed I speak out of the corner of my mouth, something which makes me look shy and incompetent. By recording yourself speaking, you get a visual representation of how you present yourself and you can begin to address what you don’t like!

2. Practice the ‘doorway drill’. This is something I heard on the Tony Robbins podcast, but I think it such a good life hack! Since first impressions are both made incredibly quickly and hard to shake off, it is vital to make a great one! This doorway drill is simple – every time you walk through any doorway, you pretend you are walking into a job interview. You straighten your posture, slap a friendly smile on your face and walk through the doorway confidently. To start with, it takes a lot of remembering to execute, but soon it becomes a natural habit that you practice without thinking.

3. Don’t do things sometimes. Doing something sometimes, I think, is infinitely harder than doing something all the time. Just doing something sometimes requires you to make a conscious effort to remember to do it, including accommodating time within your daily routine. But, if you do something all the time, it become automatic and you just accept it is part of your life. This is why people who start on aggressive exercise or nutrition plans don’t stick to them, they lose momentum over time. Instead, focus on implementing small changes into your life. Focusing on these changes becoming part of your everyday routine will be the factors that help you change and will also alleviate the stress of remembering to do things sometimes.

4. Set weekly goals. I am a big advocate of weekly goals. Everyone wants progress and they want it yesterday. Having big goals is awesome, I love passion and ambition in people. Big goals, though, can require months, or even years, to achieve. I like to break down my big goals into smaller ones, often tiny goals. Some examples of some of my weekly goals include; reducing drinking diet soda to weekends only; adding 1 rep to every set on my squat; to even ordering a new watch strap on Amazon. My weekly goals encompass every part of my life, from the mundane chores to improving health to optimizing gym performance. It is so satisfying the following weekend to scratch off the prior week’s achievements and set new goals for the week ahead. If I don’t achieve one of my goals, I either keep that goal for the week after, or I evaluate whether it is realistic, sometimes breaking the goal down further into an even smaller target.

5. Plan. Having been an elementary school teacher for four years, I can testify that the biggest cause for children misbehaving is lack of routine, or change of routine. Uncertainty is the worst thing, no-one likes an unpredicted outcome. I plan, often meticulously, most parts of my life. I schedule work and personal appointments on a digital calendar that syncs both parts of my life. I set aside Sunday morning to cook the majority of my food for the week so that my weekday evenings I can use to have a lengthy workout and socialize with my family. I use my lunch break for social media and personal emails and tend to post content on social media and browse social media at completely different times.

6. Get comfortable at dealing with uncertainty. Sort of ironic that this follows the previous point, but some uncertainty is inevitable. You are not always going to know what the affect of a word or action is. You are not going to be able to predict every outcome. Learning to deal with uncertainty is a difficult skill; a skill, I would argue, that no-one ever completely masters. I have worked so hard at my ability to feel more relaxed at uncertainty. It can help to write down all the possible outcomes of a stressful situation; it can help to take the dog for a walk; it can help to blast music and sing at the top of your lungs! (I won’t judge!) In fact, there are many things you can do to take your mind off uncertainty. What I have found the most helpful, though, is to be more open and honest with my feelings to a very select few people, notably my immediate family and my very close friends in the UK. To them, I confess exactly how I am feeling, but I do so in a measured, calm way. To everyone else, I adopt a ‘fake it til you make it’ attitude. I communicate my concerns if it is relevant, otherwise, I leave that stressful aspect at home and put on a smile, a cheery ‘hello’ and ask them about their day. The more questions I ask them, the more I have to make sure I am listening and responding and, the less I think about my stresses! I also end up feeling better and often learn something new! Plus, they don’t think I am miserable to be around!

7. Focus on your ‘why’, not the ‘why’ of social media. Simply, focus on what your reasons are for doing what you do. Ask yourself, ‘why am I doing this?’ Anything you can’t, or don’t answer, stop doing them! You don’t have to do anything that doesn’t add to your life and contribute to you being successful and happy. Just because it may seem like everyone else is doing it, doesn’t mean it is right, or necessary for you. As silly as it sounds, one of my examples of this is me no longer eating mashed avocado. I really am not a big avocado fan, but seeing everyone on social media doing it, I thought that it was necessary for me to eat for me to be ‘into fitness’. I know, ridiculous, right?! Occasionally, when I fancy eating avocado, I do. I definitely don’t eat it regularly and eradicating this ‘need’ has also eradicated a very unnecessary and very silly self-imposed burden.

So think of these as the 7 deadly sins’ nemesis and, to quote Gretchin Rubin, I hope they make your life a little happier!

-Benchpressingbaubles, x

Thanks a latte 2016 & Starting 2017 off on the right foot (literally)

I am not going to do a fully reflective blogpost on 2016, as I feel that most of that, for me, is best done away from the Internet. But I am going to reflect on some of last year’s resolutions that I scrawled down on my ‘Notes’ section on my phone, as, sometimes, it is nice to give yourself a little pat on the back, see how your goals have changed, and, also seeing where you ‘failed’!

1. Get a new job. Can definitely check that one off the 2016 ‘achieved’ list. New job in a new career and I love it!

2. Be able to do a muscle up. Can’t remotely say I have achieved this! I am too fearful of jumping (sounds ridiculous I know) so I don’t think this is likely to happen any time soon.

3. Be able to squat 70kg. Yes! Seeing how much my squat has progressed is really satisfying. My one rep max is 170lbs (77kg).

4. Be able to deadlift 200lbs. Again, yes! I have repped 235lbs recently!

5. Spend more time on myself. This sounds a little selfish, but think I have done well with this in 2016. I treat myself all the time; from new candles to manicures to massages to a sneaky bit of Netflix now and again.

6. Improve my relationship with myself and food. Definitely, yes. I don’t feel guilty, binge or deprive myself of anything; food or otherwise.

As you can see, lots of my resolutions last year were very focused on food and fitness. I think they needed to be as I was flat out miserable. Giving myself both numerical and qualitative resolutions, it gave me a broad range of specific and interpretative goals to aim for.

So what are my goals for 2017? I began 2017 with my siblings, watching fireworks, literally standing on my right foot only!

  1. Meet new people.
  2. Squat 200lbs.
  3. Do pull ups without a box as my starting point!
  4. Get a promotion.
  5. Move out.
  6. Get a dog.
  7. Get more adventurous with my hair.
  8. Be extra vigilant with my dental regime.
  9. Compete in a bikini competition and not look out of place.
  10. Go on a solo vacation.

I also have 4 more resolutions that I have written down but am keeping completely personal. When I have achieved them, I may share, but I do think some things are better off the Internet.

2017, I am excited!

-Benchpressingbaubles, x


What not to do in 2017

So the end of 2016 is approaching and many of us are reflecting on the past year and thinking ahead to 2017. Gone are the days where we can wear glittery glasses for the upcoming year (unless you want to resemble a festive pirate), but, unfortunately some other less glittery stereotypical new year trends will likely surface. Here is my guide of the top 7 resolutions for 2017 not to make.

1. Buy into detox weight loss tea diets. These detox tea diets really should be regulated – they are extremely harmful and are not a solution to ‘shedding the Christmas bulge’. Having used such tea diets before, I know exactly what they involve. It will make you feel physically drained and you will spend most of your evening on the toilet. They are not cleanses but dietetics and laxatives. All you are losing is water and your body is not digesting nutrients effectively either.

2. Exercise more in the first week of January than you did in the whole of 2016. I confess that I dread January in the gym and it isn’t because I resent people’s New Years resolutions, but because I know that the majority of the people monopolizing the equipment are doing so for one month only. Don’t start off the year by going to the gym multiple times in a day if you haven’t been exercising for a while. You will feel incredibly sore, therefore not wanting to go back, and, realistically, are your multiple trips sustainable? Instead, start off aiming to go 2 – 3 times a week and build on it as time goes on.

3. Set large resolutions only. Big goals are great; they show ambition and a commitment to strive for something. But large goals are also seemingly unattainable. As well as setting large resolutions, split each resolution into parts. What steps do you need to achieve this large goal? What small benchmarks along the way can you set for smaller recognitions of success? By doing this, your large goal is a lot more attainable – you have an action plan and measures of success.

4. Set the same resolutions you have done for the last 5 years. If you haven’t achieved your New Years resolution from 2012 now, then chances are you are not going to. Ask yourself, why is this a recurring resolution? Is it really important to me? Questioning yourself about this resolution will make you think about it more. Are you only settting it because you think you should? If you are convinced this should be a resolution, then break that goal up into smaller goals so this year you really can achieve it.

5. Reflect on 2016 as wholly positive or negative. Some years are happier than others. Some years bring more pain than others. While you may be looking forward to closing the door on 2016, I urge you to look for the good and the bad in the year you had. Being aware of your emotions and experiences can only make you more self-aware and better equipped to deal with whatever 2017 has in store.

6. Set yourself up for failure. Okay so you have your New Years resolutions, and, seeing as it is the start of the year, your motivation is high. But then you still have Christmas chocolate. And the weather is cold (unless you live in Florida). Still, you start off eating chicken and broccoli for a couple of days and then you cave…devouring an entire box of chocolates (including the flavours you don’t really like). Instead of setting yourself up for failure, focus on making a few small changes to your lifestyle. For example, swap your afternoon biscuits for a protein bar; search on Pinterest for a healthy recipe using your favorite ingredient; use your lunch break for a refreshing walk… the list is endless! Focus on small changes and they will soon add up to big ones!

7. Measure success by the scales. I have written an entire blogpost on this, but success is not measured by the number on the scales. It is easy for me to tell you that, which is why I included images, so I could show that the scales are useful…to a limited point. Instead measure your success by how you feel and how you look; do you have more energy? Is your skin clearer? Are you more healthy? Can you run further? 

I will write a separate blog post with my reflections of my 2016 resolutions and my resolutions for 2017, but I wish you all a very happy and healthy 2017; the two most important aspects of any year.

-Benchpressingbaubles, x