New Years Resolutions 2017

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It’s taken me a while, but I’m now in a suitable mood for setting new years resolutions.  December saw me laid up with man flu and January had me mostly confined to the house with food poisoning and a torn stomach muscle, but all these problems are now fading and I’m starting to look forward again, bubbling with enthusiasm for the new year.  I mentioned the last two months of challenges though, because they have taught me an important lesson, my lifestyle – great though it is – isn’t that resilient, I’m going to try and improve on that this year.

For context last year has been my best year for decades, I feel the improvement in my muscles and joints, but I’m also more relaxed and contented, my blood test results have improved considerably and I’ve achieved most of last years resolutions.  This year’s are therefore mainly tweaking, building upon and continuing with the changes that I set in motion when I retired and so without further ado, here they are:

  1. Diversify my hobbies.  Most of my hobbies involve moving, I hike, cycle, garden and work my allotment.  I eat out a lot with friends and family, we go to the movies and on city breaks, but all of these involve walks too.  I’ve started to cook more, but the things I like cooking I’ve grown and harvested myself, everything is movement and it’s wonderful and natural.  I do read a little and I like TV shows, and when pushed I will clean house and do a bit of DIY and I love my allotment projects, but movement is at the centre of my life.  However this year I’ve had two months where my movement has been restricted due to illness and I’ve been a little lost.  I’ve managed to find things to do, but I’ve not been quite as excited to get out of bed in the mornings.  So I’ve decided that I need to diversify my hobbies and find one or two that slot into my movement based lifestyle when I’m well, but can become all absorbing when health, weather or the unexpected keep me sedentary.  I’ve not settled on the hobbies yet but my short list includes, painting, reading, software development and growing micro-greens.  longer term I’m still considering a greenhouse along the east wall of the garden, so I can continue gardening in bad weather and if I can’t make it to the allotment.
  2. Enrich my life with Debbie.  I’m carrying forward this resolution from last year as Debbie’s teaching job got the better of her last year and we didn’t do anywhere near as much as we’d hoped to.  This year we have committed to five holidays, a few weekend breaks and lots more day trips and days spent together in the garden, on the allotment and babysitting Robin.  Hopefully Debbie will be dropping down to a four day week as well in September which should definitely help and this year, with the kids having moved out, we both have more time.
  3. Keep close to the kids.  Although I did this fairly well last year, I’m keeping it as a resolution for this year, as I want to establish good habits and rituals that will last well into the future.  Ideally I’d like to find ways to holiday with each of the kids, even if it’s just for a weekend or short break and we definitely want to visit them all and have them all visit us.  Keeping in touch day to day is helped by the fact that I send them my daily diary each night and we chat, online, on the phone or in person a few times a week.
  4. Reduce my injuries.  Last year I had a few injuries, I damaged my hand in a fall from my bike that stopped me lifting for months, developed Tennis Elbow from allotment work that stopped me in my tracks for a month and tore a stomach muscle that put me out of action for weeks.  I want to do something about it this year, there are four strands to my approach: diet, exercises, pacing and risk management.  I’m adjusting my diet to provide the extra nutrients that help with joint and tendon repair; I’m starting body weight strength and mobility exercises;  I will be watching for exhaustion using heart rate variability monitoring and pacing myself better; I’m going to take more care to spot readily avoidable physical risks.  As a result I’m hoping that I reduce injuries and bounce back quicker if I do get them, and just in case, I’m diversifying my hobbies.
  5. Live seasonally. I used to change my job every couple of years to ensure that it didn’t go stale.  In retirement I don’t have a job to change, but I can change my hobbies, problem is I’m loving all my hobbies, so my retirement strategy is to keep things fresh by living seasonally.  Basically this means doing strikingly different things in each season, to provide lots of variety.  I’m also eating seasonally, rather than munching the same favourite foods, flown from all over the world, every week.  Where possible these will be home grown seasonal foods, but where that’s not possible they will be foods eaten when they’re at their peak.  I’m planning to garden/allotment less in Winter and do more travelling.  Do lots of hiking and cycling in spring and autumn.  Focus on the allotment and day trips in Late spring and summer.
  6. Reduce day to day expenses.  Last year we spent too much, i.e. we lived beyond our means, this was intentional because it was my last year funding the kids, but also I invested in the allotment, a new home multi-media setup and a lot of essential house maintenance.  This year we are reducing our expenses to a little below our means, so that we have an emergency fund.  A few years ago I experimented with not spending money and I really enjoyed the challenge and so I’m hopeful this shift in lifestyle from spending on things to spending on experiences, will be similarly enjoyable.
  7. Increase my aerobic fitness. I’m fit enough for most of the everyday movement in my life, but I’d like to be able to run a couple of miles, cycle forty miles and hike all day and this year I’d like to move in this direction, provided it doesn’t increase my risk of injury.  High intensity interval training seems to be the best bet, so I will be doing that a few times a week, either through sprinting on my bike or up hills while hiking or on the exercise bike at home.  I’m also planning to do a bit more distance cycling when the weather is friendly.
  8. Expand my comfort zone. Being retired it’s extremely easy, and cosy, to live inside my comfort zone, but I think doing that results in the size of the zone contacting with each year and I don’t want that to happen, which means I need to consciously try to expand my zone.  Visit places I’ve never been to before, learn new skills, put myself in situations I’m not that fond of, say yes to events I’d normally decline.
  9. Get back to a 32” waist. Last year I reduced my weight quite a bit, but my waist stayed at an annoying 34”, I’d like to get down to 32” by spring and ideally 30” this year.  Waist size seems to be a much better metric than weight, but it does mean that when I succeed I will have to buy a whole new set of walking trousers, but it’s worth the cost, and my current favourites are starting to look a little tatty anyway.

Steve Richards

I'm retired from work as a business and IT strategist. now I'm travelling, hiking, cycling, swimming, reading, gardening, learning, writing this blog and generally enjoying good times with friends and family

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