By @George_Arkley

January and our new year goals are long gone. “New year, new me” feels like a distant memory and, quite honestly, an unrealistic notion I set upon myself. Despite failing to exercise every day, eat like a rabbit and take more trips (joke's on me), I have managed to smash my more realistic goals. I have been more productive and motivated than ever before. I have ticked off half of my career goals for this year and its only Valentine’s Day.

Image courtesy of Pixabay

Image courtesy of Pixabay

However, if you are struggling to be productive right now, you are not alone. In the first two lockdowns, I was the human equivalent of a sloth. I slept, ate and drank my way to 2021 – I even postponed some of my university work due to mental illness. We are in a pandemic; being goal-orientated and motivated should not be your priority. Prioritise you and your mental health first.

Fortunately, I kicked myself out of bed and hit the refresh button in January. My sloth-like state was starting to do more harm than good for my mental health, and it was time to try something new. So, I ditched the booze, deleted my food delivery apps and gave myself a hard mental slap. My hibernation period was over, and I was ready to jump back into my life.

I use the term, ‘life’, loosely here. My ducks were certainly not in a row – they were capsized, floating around the lake aimlessly trying to find a way to the shore. I tackled my life one sector at a time, and slowly things turned around.

First up - food, exercise, booze and health

Have you ever eaten takeout for breakfast, lunch and dinner for six months? I have.

At one point, I even ordered coffee to my door because I didn’t have the strength to make it in the kitchen. My bank balance and body were in serious disarray. I deleted my takeout apps at the end of December, and honestly, I’ve never looked back.

I dusted off my kitchen utensils and made a list of healthy meals I could make in under 15 minutes. The meals needed to be quick, cheap and easy to make because, otherwise, I would fall back to my old ways.

If you haven’t noticed yet, I am possibly the laziest person you will ever meet. I put all of my energy into my career and loved ones, leaving very little left for self-care. It’s a terrible habit, and one I am still trying to change.

I’m an excellent cook. It’s a well-known fact among my social circles. I opt for predominantly Mediterranean dishes. Over a week or so, I became more invested in my cooking and started to enjoy spending time in the kitchen again.

Next – I quit booze. Sobriety has been on my mind for quite a few years. I just never dared to commit to it fully. However, after lockdown and an increasingly unhealthy relationship with the sauce, I decided to do Dry Jan.

After a week of sobriety, I was sharper, happier and ‘more me’ than I have been in months. With some encouragement from boyfriends and girlfriends, I decided to go sober for the next year.

Now that my diet was back on track, it was time to hit the home gym. I started regular HIIT workouts, brisk walks and a few runs here and there. I soon discovered, however, that I hate running. I think it is the 2020 of exercise, and I will never partake in a solo run again.

Second – career

I have never, not even my lowest moments, let my work ethic slip. But 2020 was a year of many dark things, and one of them was watching my university and career prospects nosedive. Fortunately, I landed a full-time job in July and, scrambled every ounce of energy I had left, to do my best at the role.

In December, I decided January 2021 was the time to speed up my career progression. I bought an ergonomic office chair with my first freelance check, invested in some noise-cancelling headphones and finally cleared up my desktop.

However, the star of the show has to be my manifestation board. My best friend talked me into writing down my goals and taping them to my home-office wall. Yes, I laughed in her face.

But the joke’s on me because I look at that board every single day and I have never been more goal-orientated. I’m no expert in manifestation. I outlined four big goals for the year, followed by three smaller ones to get to those big milestones. For example, under ‘get in shape’ is ‘workout five times a week’, ‘take a barry’s class’ and ‘climb a mountain.’ These are all doable in a year and will, hopefully, encourage me to get fitter in time.

Finally – personal life

My personal life was on the brink of collapse in December. If you have depression, you will be familiar with the intense desire to be alone. I neglected my oldest friendships, and pretty much went around my social life with a giant hammer, smashing anything that tried to help me. Metaphorically, of course.

Long story short, my relationships were in shreds, and I needed to sort it out. Oddly, this was a more straightforward life sector to fix. I called my loved ones individually, apologised for my erratic behaviour, and we pretty much picked up where we left off. I am incredibly thankful for the people in my life.

RELATED: Toxic body positivity: I don’t love my stretch marks, and I shouldn’t have to

Over the past year, I have gained a lot of weight and even more stretch marks around my hips, arms, calves and thighs. Lockdown made me lose track of the healthy young woman I used to be. I stopped working out and eating a balanced diet. I lost all respect for my body. Now, in February 2021, I have lost most of the weight and regained a healthy relationship with food and exercise. But stretch marks still snake their way around my curves and slice into my dream of a perfectly toned body. Cellulite covers my thighs and the fatty food I gauged myself in still sits stubbornly on my hips. I am far from body positive... to read more click HERE

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