Here’s the “New Start” approach to life, where wellness begins with mindfulness
“Do not dwell in the past, do not expect of the future, but concentrate the mind on the present moment”
It was the night of May 28, 2019. On that fateful day my ex told me there was no longer love for me and we should break up. And of course I was heavily heartbroken upon hearing those words from the person whom I once loved so dearly.
With the full force of pain from a heartbreak, I set upon channeling that inner energy into initiating an overhaul of my life, to kickstart my fitness lifestyle once again and put a more conscientious effort into my mental wellness and well-being.
That’s not to say that I wasn’t into fitness before this. I have always been a regular gym goer and went to the gym religiously all this while. Bodybuilding had been something I did regularly as it was my daily getaway to stay active. But I guess with time, the workouts became routine and I no longer gave a conscious thought into the regularity of my life and instead just let the repetition of daily routines take over. Sometimes all it takes is one spark to ignite the inner flame to bring oneself to a new level of determination — to start myself anew.
And that was how I began applying the acronym NEW START on myself, where being mindful of each of these things is key to a happier life:
Good health starts from good nutrition. After all, our physique is built from the food ingredients we nourish ourselves with and having a proper nutrition means paying attention and taking care of what we eat.
By becoming more aware of nutrition, we can control many aspects of our lives such as our mood and emotions. The influence of a good nutrition actually affects our lives much more than what we think of it. By eating healthily, we exude a happier and optimistic outlook of ourselves compared to times when we consume unhealthy foods.
Personally I work towards eating 5 medium sized meals a day. This includes breakfast, lunch, dinner and two meals in between them.
I do not control too much on the foods that I eat as I feel that being too strict on diet destroys the whole joy of eating anyways. So generally I would go for foods that are less oily and fried, with the focus on proteins, complex carbs and vegetables. And to top it off, I take supplements to boost my daily requirements of vitamins and minerals as well.
Having an active lifestyle helps to create blood circulation in our muscles and brain. And in some ways, exercise is a sort of meditation to the soul since the introspective moments at the gym helps to boost our mood and create a therapeutic effect to our physical being.
When we focus on the movement of each repetition and put our mind into the intensity of the workout, it becomes this cathartic, purifying and calming experience.
For myself, I workout 5 times a week at the gym to keep the active lifestyle going. The five day split goes as such: legs, arms, chest, shoulder, back. Abdominal and obliques exercises will be tagged to any of the workout days. Besides that, I will also do one day each week a HIIT cardio session and one day per week a 2.4km run cardio around my neighborhood.
For each workout I make sure to be done within an hour or two because any more than that would cause the energy to stagnate and lose that drive to lift as heavily.
Our bodies are made up of 75% water and water is necessary for all kinds of bodily functions from the immune system to temperature regulation. Hence it is important to regularly drink more water to keep ourselves hydrated.
With dehydration, all sorts of malfunctions occur, we start to feel lethargic, flu attacks come more easily and our productivity will suffer.
What I usually do is to have with me a full 2 liter bottle of water with me and make sure that I finish the whole bottle during my work day. During workouts I will always have a water bottle with me to refill as and when I can because that is when replenishment of water to the body is the most necessary.
We need a healthy dose of sunlight from the outdoors once in awhile. Humans, like animals, are meant to be in the wild after all. Nowadays with long office hours and late nights, we seldom get the chance to truly experience the outdoors on our regular work days.
As such I would always try my best to take the outdoor option of walking when I am travelling from place to place. For me I also do weekly outdoor trips, be it going for a hike in the nature reserve or just heading out to the beach for some sun and sea.
Having a peaceful temperament means avoiding angry or rash emotions and stay calm and collected no matter what life throws at you. Sometimes we unnecessarily move our emotions too quickly into negativity and that does no benefit to our own health in the long run. It is hard to believe that certain minor misunderstandings with people can create such strong triggers to make us spike in our emotions, but yet when we look back on it, there really was no need for all that much fluster after all.
In any such cases, all it takes is 6 deep breaths because 6 seconds is all that is needed for us to get back in touch with our inner zen and have a grip of our emotions once again. Take some time out alone to reflect on yourself and gather up thoughts to change the thought into positive reinforcing ones.
When was the last time you have consciously cared about breathing? Air is an essential part of life and well ventilated air will keep us away from many airborne illnesses. Whenever possible, take walks in nature and make sure to take conscious deep breaths of the fresh air.
Tuning into your breathing and focusing on the natural flow of air through nasal breathing helps to calm us down in stressful moments.
We all need to rest. And as adults it is crucial to get 7 to 9 hours of good uninterrupted sleep daily. As much as it is easy to say, I think it is the hardest one to implement for me since I get so easily distracted by my phone and the TV at night. Somehow Netflix would get me watching shows till midnight and after which I would then scroll through social media on my phone before I finally feel tired enough to go to sleep. I think this is a bad habit that needs to go for me.
Ideally, sleeping 8 hours every night from 11:00pm to 7:00am would be golden but I am working on this one.
To round it all up, having good physical and mental wellness requires continuity and that can only work if we constantly consciously put in the effort to maintain the positive lifestyle. Hence, we require tenacity to keep things going. How I keep to this is through goal setting. By having set goals through time, both quantifiable and reasonable goals, we become motivated to work towards something and keep things going.