A Resolution is For Life, Not Just For January

Uncategorized

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January is upon us now, the resolutions well underway. Smoking, alcohol, food and caffeine are the most popular things that each january millions of us vow to give up in a bid to better our health and rid ourselves of that post Christmas guilt, after weeks of overindulgence and enjoyment. The want to better ourselves is perhaps one of the most beautiful parts of being human, but is there any point in giving something up ‘for January?’ I certainly don’t think so, as someone who doesn’t believe in New Years resolutions.

I am all for eating better, taking up exercise and even drinking slightly less, anything for a healthier life, but these are dramatic lifestyle changes, not habits that’s can be dropped or taken up in the space of a few weeks. Bringing science into the equation, apparently it actually takes 66 days to change a habit, meaning that even if you were to succeed it would take longer than just a dry January. I can’t help but feel that we are just setting ourselves up for a failure, resulting in us only feeling much worse about ourselves when we do eventually give in to the carbs or that glass of red (let’s be honest, I don’t fancy facing the January blues without wine to hand, do you?) It’s a vicious circle.

Then there’s the health aspect, we may have our bodies best intentions at heart when we banish all small pleasures from January’s long days, but restricting one particular food group from yourself for long periods of time is only going to have unhealthy effects on the body and mind. There’s the risk of cravings and obsession and getting caught in that vicious circle again.

I have always believed that if you really want to change an aspect of your life, it shouldn’t take a new year to do. It can be done at any time if you want it enough, mid month, mid-week, even mid-morning! However New Years resolutions don’t have to be a waste of time, they can inspire and offer us a chance to be more positive, so make a different sort of resolution and try adding something to improve your life rather than taking things away. Compliment your friends more, read that book you’ve been meaning to, travel to a different country, write a blog or simply just smile more.

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Mind the Gap – The ‘Thigh Gap’, That Is

Opinion

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Type “thigh gap” into Instagram or Twitter, and you have yourself a huge collection of photographs of women’s slowly disintegrating legs. You will also find the Twitter page @CarasThighGap. Yes, it is exactly what it says on the tin, a Twitter account dedicated to Cara Delevingne’s thigh gap, with various photographs and tweets from followers, paying their great respects to the nothingness between her limbs. Cara is one of the the few women on the planet who can have (if it is possible to ‘own’ thin air, I am not entirely sure of the correct terminology here) a thigh gap, without becoming completely emaciated – though I’m fairly sure you won’t catch her down McDonalds. The problem is, that young girls, teenagers and to be honest even some “fully-grown” women see this obsession sweeping across social network sites and believe that, in order to be good enough, they too must look like this. This is partly down to low self-esteem, bad body image and the media, but a large part of it is down to other women.

We, women, are so judgmental of each other in all aspects of life, but when it comes to weight, it is every woman for herself in a viciously competitive world, where there are no real winners at all. We shouldn’t be marketing these forms of body hatred and dangerous obsessions to vulnerable girls, who are already struggling with their bodies and self-esteem and do not need any encouragement from social media. Once the idea of the “thigh gap” has lodged itself in the mind, it is extremely difficult to get rid of, resulting in young women everywhere starving and torturing themselves in an attempt to achieve something completely unrealistic.

We should know better than this. We should be uniting against ‘thinspiration’ and extreme body hatred, such as the thigh gap, not witnessing it as a worldwide Twitter trend. Extreme and unhealthy obsessions on social media, like that of the thigh gap, need to stop, if we have any chance of moving on from this culture of eating disorders and emaciation.

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The Tracking Debate

Fitness

In an age of ever expanding technology, are fitness trackers and Apps a motivational tool for monitoring our progress or an express ticket to obsession?

 

 

This is a question which is difficult to answer and a great cause for debate. Like anyone, I have found myself filled with excitement when downloading calorie counting Apps to my iPhone and I can’t leave the house for my run without setting my Nike Running App first – it is a great motivator! However I feel that, as with everything, it may have been taken too far.

UP by Jawbone, is a new health monitoring bracelet which is with you literally 24 hours a day. Finally! A 24/7 personal trainer! You might think, but as well as motivating you with high fives and encouraging “Amazing”’s and providing you with great accuracy on how long you’ve slept, how long it took you to fall asleep, whether you’ve reached your step goals, to name just a few, UP also has the potential to torment you with guilt, obsession and quite possibly make you lose your mind.

It is quite simple, all you have to do is sync the bracelet with your iPhone a few times a day and you    can see your sleep patterns and step count compared with what you have ate and drank and if you like the thrill of the game, you can even monitor your UP friends progress on a Facebook-like feed.

The primary aim of trackers and Apps like this is simple, to improve health and fitness, which I believe is of the upmost importance. Is this healthy though? Where it might have an – at least short term – impact on physical health (anyone being tracked 24 hours a day will surely make a conscious effort to be the best they can be), I seriously doubt it can have any positive impact on mental health, in fact, I’m pretty sure any impact it has on the mind, will be quite the opposite. 

UP isn’t the only one of kind by a long way, with $800 million sales of wearable sensors in the US last year, and for the many who aren’t willing or simply can’t afford the prices that bracelets like these cost, there is an ever growing collection of mobile Apps to download which do more or less the same thing, just less accurate and intensified. 

 

Nike Running+ App

Nike Running+ App

Argus App

Argus App

 

Argus App, water reminder

Argus App, water reminder

Constantly checking what you have eaten, excessive exercise in order to meet goals, comparing your fitness progress with other people’s. These are all things which in the real world are considered unhealthy, obsessive and disordered eating behaviour. Like it or not, the trackers are here to stay and the boundaries or self-tracking are only ever expanding, but if you want my advice, I would tread carefully.