Over the last few years, I’ve walked into every January with a clear list of plans and goals. But the idea of a focus word never made much sense to me, especially because I thought it’d be something like “growth” or “progress” every single year.
The reason I’m making a change this year, however, is the fact that no matter how everything else progresses (or doesn’t) this year, there’s one area I want receiving my non-negotiable attention.
That one area, and my focus word for 2020, is health.
Health – I haven’t necessarily neglected it altogether, but I definitely haven’t done enough work on, and it shows. The body is a beautiful creation, but it has its own flaws. The more time we spend taking care of it, the more time we can hopefully spend in it. This is obviously no new information, but we all have phases in our lives when this reality hits us.
For me, this happened over the last few months. I’ve been struggling with chronic neck pain that makes it difficult for me to drive, to draw, to play the guitar, to blog, to travel, to code – pretty much everything I want/need to do.
It’s unfortunate that we sometimes take action only when things start to go wrong, but better late than never, right? I’ve decided to spend the next year building healthy habits that I can carry with me for the rest of my life.
Areas To Focus On
I previously went to the gym in my apartment complex, but their timings were so weird that I never got to fit exercise into my morning routine. As winter started and the evenings became dark and cold, the motivation to step out of the house after a long day at work was at an all time low.
If you’ve known me for a while now, you know that I’m not one to wait until the New Year to start doing things that I need to do. I got a gym membership last week (from December 21) and I’ve started working out regularly early in the morning. There’s a special kind of high that comes with watching night turn to day as I’m already finishing one of the most important tasks planned for the day. I’m absolutely loving it!
I’ve also realized that my neck is in better shape on days that I do yoga than on days that I don’t. So yoga always follows after my cardio each morning, along with exercises from my physiotherapy.
Quantity of sleep: Waking up early to hit the gym means going to bed early, and this is something I’m going to have to consciously work on. Meetings with friends, work, and hobbies often stretch late into the night, eating into sleep time. If you have any tips on how to maintain regular sleeping habits, share ’em, please!
Quality of sleep: I’ve invested in some amazing Tempurpedic pillows that add support to my neck and keep me relatively pain-free through the night. They’re definitely not on the budget side, but sometimes, the payoff makes the expense worth it!
For more than a year now, I’ve had a system in place to ensure that I’m having at least 2 liters of water a day. The most important step to get started with water intake is to have a bottle/cup/container that you can use to measure how much you drink. I start my day at work by filling a 16oz bottle full of water, and keep it right next to me. I take frequent sips of water through the hour.
With that much water, I’ll surely have to use the rest room in about an hour. At this time, I finish any remaining water in the bottle, and fill it once again, putting the process in auto-repeat until I go back home.
This year I plan to increase it to 3 liters – although I know that this means a 50% increase in my visits to the loo as well! 😛
Medical Appointments, Physiotherapy
I’ve already signed up for an auto-deduction of $500 from my income through the next year towards a tax-free account that I can use only for health expenses.
It’s a spend-or-forfeit type of account, which means that any money that I don’t use over the year will be lost.
This is my way of forcing myself to set up appointments regularly. This is also my way of pre-allocating some funds without having to dip into my savings or other budgets. The added benefit is that this part of my income won’t be taxed!
If you’re in the USA and think you can benefit from such an account, talk to your employer about a Flexible Spending Account (FSA).
80% of my food is from home. This doesn’t always mean that it’s all healthy, though. Coming from South India means that most of my meals consist of rice and lentils, and I can’t go too long without the Indian flavors. I’m trying to find sustainable replacements to rice, and I’m also trying to include a larger variety of vegetables in my diet.
While I’m still working on including more veggies in my diet, I’ve found a fun way to include fruits. Four times a week, I make a berry-blast smoothie which consists of blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, grapes, banana, and sometimes, spinach. Zero added sugar. Delicious, healthy, and filling! I also have an apple and an orange every day after my workout.
I know that this post was mostly about physical health but I’ll also share how I take care of my mental health soon!
Do you do focus words? What’s your focus word for 2020, and what’s your plan to keep your focus?