Saturday, 6 July 2013

Beautiful inside: Goal setting for a healthy body and mind

As a beauty blogger I'm ever so slightly obsessed with make-up, skin care, body care and hair care products. Yet we all know the concept of beauty doesn't simply relate to outside appearance, but to looking after the whole, including your state of mind. I've recently started a course of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy with a wonderfully understanding and inspiring Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner and one of the things we have been discussing is setting achievable goals in order to boost my confidence and help crack down on my anxiety.

Anxiety controls my day to day life in many ways yet I'm determined to take small steps in order to regain control and start living my life the way I'd like to live. I've always wanted to exercise regularly and make an effort to eat healthily, not because I'm overweight or physically unwell but because I would like to know I'm treating my body well and caring enough about myself to guarantee myself the best chance possible of a long and healthy life. Plus, getting physical and taking care of the body has a direct effect on the mind. Exercise not only floods your system with feel good hormones, and eating fresh food not only benefits the body, but both also send a clear message to an anxiety ridden mind: I deserve to be taken care of and I'm determined to look after myself.

During a recent CBT session I was asked if there are any everyday occupations I put off doing due to anxiety, that I would really like to do. I said I'd like to go for walks throughout the week in order to feel fitter and to regularly experience a chance of scenery. What's putting me off is a fear of 'boredom' and the real space for contemplation that such silence brings, and the effort of having to find something to wear and make myself look presentable. I don't mean that in a vain way! It's just that I get quite self conscious about how others might perceive me and it makes me feel sort of anxious about leaving the house sometimes. I was advised to set two small, manageable and ultimately achievable goals for this week in order to work towards exercising regularly, so I decided I would go for two half hour walks over the next seven days. Two walks may not seem like much, but that's kind of the whole point; making goals achievable in order to train your doubting, anxious mind into believing you can eventually conquer the bigger stuff.

I've also decided to cook two meals this week for my family, one being a fish dish (as I usually don't like fish but recognise how good it is for the body!) and the other a healthy dish of some sort. While I'm not a bad cook I don't exactly love being in the kitchen, so again, two meals seems like a really achievable goal. I'm also determined to start eating healthier lunches as lunch is definitely where I become unstuck. Often I'll just have toast and tea, or a sandwich with a slice of ham and some crisps, which means I end up snacking throughout the afternoon- not good! I prefer eating a hearty lunch and a smaller dinner so I'm going to work on creating balanced, filling lunches in order to avoid snacking so much, making sure I prepare two healthy lunches over the next seven days.

I've made a list of healthy ingredients to purchase during the weekly shop tomorrow, and I'm hoping that if I can begin eating a healthier breakfast and a healthier lunch I won't struggle too much with snacking the rest of the time. Here's what I've come up with so far, in no particular order (!)

Baked beans
Wholewheat bread
Broccoli, carrots, spinach, sweet corn
Green tea
Light cream cheese
Peanut butter
Apples, bananas, nectarines
Whole wheat pasta
Baked potatoes
Salad leaves, watercress, tomatoes, lemon & oil dressing
Cooked salmon
Turkey slices
Natural yoghurt

It's a work in progress but I've got some good healthy foods on there so far. Along with snacking I also have a tendency to eat carb-heavy meals which leaves me feeling bloated and sluggish. I'm going to try to up my protein intake, using the two cooked meals as a starting point, and try to avoid eating heavy carbs with every single meal every day. I'm hoping that limiting potential snack attacks will lower my processed sugar intake as well, which I think my skin will be thankful for. It's time to zap these zits and up my energy!

As I mentioned above, I'm not overweight, I just want to feel like I'm treating my body with the respect it deserves. I weight 8 stone and have weighed the same since I was about 17 (I'm now 24), before which I weighed between 6-7 stone throughout my teen years, but I do feel bloated and consequently 'heavy' quite often and I'd like to tone up as I'm all jelly and no muscle underneath my clothes! Not ever really putting on weight has meant I've neglected to really think about the internal ramifications of a poor diet and I think that at 24 it's about time I started making my health a priority. It's time to look after myself, and that includes looking after my mental health through taking care of the physical. Plus, although 'slim genes' seem to run in my family, I'm not so sure my metabolism will continue to cope if I keep feeding my body so much junk!

Alongside walking I'd quite like to give Pilates a go. That's on my future goals list! One step at a time. I've downloaded a selection of free fitness apps on my iPhone so I'm going to have a browse and see if I can find some toning workouts to do alongside cardio, aiming to gradually incorporate these over the next few weeks by setting some more small, achievable goals.

To summarise! My goals for this coming week are to go for two half hour walks, cook two protein rich healthy dinners and to prepare two healthy, filling lunches. The key to effective goal setting, as stressed in CBT, is creating manageable and achievable goals, baby steps if you like, things you know you can do if it means you'll start believing in your ability to succeed in directing your life the way you want it to unfold. I know that a lot of my anxiety stems from feeling as if I'm unable to achieve bigger goals and ambitions. If I can achieve these small goals and really start taking good care of myself, maybe one day in the not too distant future I will be able to believe in an ability to achieve the bigger, 'scarier' ones.

This week, should all go to plan, I'll already be well on the way to sticking two fingers up at anxiety... Wish me luck!


  1. Good luck lovely. These are brilliantly realistic and achievable goals, all leading you in the right direction :)

    1. Thanks, I'm getting there, slowly but surely!xx

  2. Hey, read my new post, it's kinda similair theme to this!

    1. Ooh I'll pop on over and have a read!xx

  3. You should defo give Pilates a go. I have been doing it for over year now and love it and dropped a stone in weight. x

    1. That's awesome, I'd love to try it as I've heard it's great for toning and strength?xx

  4. Such a great post - I totally know what you mean about finding something to wear to look presentable. I look forward to your next post! Good luck x

    1. Thank you so much, my goals are a work in progress! I know some people might think it's silly to worry about what to wear out, but sometimes it's things like that can become blocks to just getting on with it. I'm trying much harder to stress less and just go for it :) xx

  5. Thats really honest and lovely - take little steps to overcome the big things - good luck with this I hope you can keep going!

    1. Thank you, one step at a time and so far so good :) xx

  6. This is a great post and something which people should talk about more often!:) good luck with your goals!ive had to do similar things!you can totally do it!:)


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