So, at the beginning of the year, I decided I wanted to get healthy. That’s all I set myself as a goal. Yeah, super SMART right? But it was a basic premise. I know how to be “healthy”, we all do. Eat well, exercise, and that’s basically all it takes. So how did getting healthier in 2020 go for me?
Let’s set the scene
At the beginning of the year, none of us knew what lay ahead. Looking back, I can clearly remember thinking about the plans we could make and the places we could go to. That wasn’t meant to be, that’s for sure!
My aim was to try to make conscious decisions to take me towards the goal of getting healthier in 2020. So, I went back to the Slow Carb Diet, from 4 Hour Body by Tim Ferris. It worked well for me in 2015 as part of my first body experiment. So I knew it would work again now.
Other than that, I wanted to make sure that every day, I at least managed to get out of the house and go for a 30-minute walk. This was helped with my Apple Watch. Yep, if you have a watch or have ever seen one, you’ll know about the 3 rings. My thought process was, every day, I should be able to complete that 30 minutes of exercise green ring.
That was it. Nothing more, nothing less. I didn’t know where it would lead.
Getting Healthier in 2020: The Data
If you know me, you know that I love data. If you don’t know me, now you know. Data points allow me to see where I’m at, where I’m aiming to get and whether or not I’m achieving it. At the end of December 2019, I weighed in at 93.5 kg (up 8.5 kg since my lowest weight of 2015).
Over the course of the first few months of the year, my weight started to drop. I was eating well, I was making sure I stuck to the 4HB diet, and. Every day I was making it out for at least a 30-minute walk. That might not sound like much but I spend on average 10 hours a day in front of my machines, so exercise, in general, was pretty much lacking from my day-to-day. Or at least it was.
Now it’s the end of 2020, I’m weighing in at 77kg. During the summer I actually went down as far as 73kg, but I’m happy with where I’m at right now. Was it just the diet? Nahhhh, but that is THE most important part from what I can tell.
Morning Routine – The Secret To Getting Healthier in 2020?
It wasn’t just about food and exercise. Just before year began, I felt like things needed to change. I wanted to read more. You can see how that went in the full article, Read More: Always Learning. But to sum things up, 27 books in 2020, and currently reading another 2 as 2021 begins. I’m loving reading again for the first time in years.
In and amongst those books, I came across The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod. This got me thinking about my own routine, and what I could do better. By this time, I had started journaling already, getting back into the Day One app (which I highly recommend – being on your phone it makes it really easy to update it regularly and you can even set up reminders to give you a nudge).
At the end of the year, I had clocked up a streak of 319 days in a row of journaling! Still haven’t missed a day.
Slowly, my morning routine was developing. It’s now all about 4 crucial elements:
- Reading (I read a chapter every morning)
- Journalling (I write an entry in Day One every day)
- Meditation (I try to use Calm every day – I say try)
- Exercise (at least a 30-minute walk – preferably in the morning)
I then read Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker. It’s the book that had the single biggest impact on my life. Realising the importance of sleep, and that your morning routine can only kick-off after a solid nights sleep, I started doing things differently.
Getting to bed earlier. Having a good night time routine, and finding myself awake most days in time to watch the sunrise. During the first lockdown, this was awesome as I was in the south of France and got to enjoy the views.
Sorting out my sleep played a major part for me in getting healthier in 2020.
I also massively reduced drinking. Again, for those that know me from years gone by, you’ll know that I loved going out for drinks and needed very little encouragement to have one more for the road. This year that changed completely, and I can count the number of hangovers I’ve had on one hand. That’s been awesome!
A hangover doesn’t last a day like it used to, at 37, I’m finding that hangovers last a good 48 hours and even then, I don’t get back to 100% functionality for about another 48 hours after that. Also, important to say, I haven’t stopped drinking – that would be crazy – but I am far more selective about when and why I’ll enjoy a drink.
Back to the data, I’ve kept a food journal for the entire year. And I can actually tally up the total number of drinks this year, till right now. (Yeah, I’m a massive geek when it comes to data and tracking 🤓).
396 alcoholic drinks in 2020. WOW!
Now that I’ve counted that up for a full year, I’m a little mortified about how much I must have used to drink, compared to this being a “clean” year, with an average of still over 1 drink per day. Still, this is technically part of me getting healthier in 2020.
In the last 3 months, I’ve only had 60 drinks – so that makes me feel a little better.
NB: I count a glass of wine, or a GnT, or a 25cl bottle of beer, as a drink for my data tracking in my food journal.
Setting a New Exercise Goal
The 30-minute walk (minimum), every day, was going great. But whilst thinking about the whole Getting Healthier in 2020 goal, I decided that wasn’t enough. So early in the year, I decided that there was no reason I shouldn’t be able to run 5km.
Let’s get this straight, I don’t think I’ve ever run 5km! EVER! Possibly not even as a kid.
So I downloaded the 0-5km App on my iPhone (again – yes I’ve tried this before) and then I got started.
What’s nice about this app is how soft it starts. You feel like you’re accomplishing small steps, and they really are small at the beginning, which is exactly what you need to follow to get started.
The very first “run” is actually a mix of jogging for a minute, then walking for 1.5 minutes, and repeat. By the end of it, your heart is pumping, if like me you’ve never really done any exercise before.
Now, it’s been nearly a year, and I’ve completed some 61 runs, totalling some 290 km. On the days I didn’t run, I walked. In total, I clocked up 640km over 150 walks. So, it means that on 211 days out of the year, I completed my goal of a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise!
My highlight for running in 2020 was finally hitting my goal of running 5km in under 30 minutes, averaging 5:54/km. That’s a massive win in my books!
*I lost a chunk of data when my iPhone bugged out and had to be reset at the beginning of summer (a real pain in the ass, but these things happen).
So what comes next in 2021?
Interestingly enough, at the start of 2021, I was doing a Calm meditation session. It talked about the ideas of setting resolutions. Yep, it’s the beginning of a new year, and people set all kinds of resolutions. But this session talked about setting intentions, rather than resolutions. That’s when it clicked.
Last year, I didn’t set myself a resolution to run 5km in less than 30 minutes. That’s hard to achieve, and I would have been sure to feel like I had failed when my first run came in around 7:54/km. However, I had set the intention, very high level. Getting healthier in 2020! Short and sweet. And that’ just what I’ve done.
It’s an overarching goal, and it doesn’t have any particular way to succeed or fail. Simple choices like what I choose to eat on any given day play a part in working towards the goal. A simple 30 minute walk out in the fresh air also helps me move in the right direction. It hit me, this is the key to making it work. Or at least it was to me.
So, this year, for 2021, I want to get stronger and more flexible. What that will look like, I’m not 100% sure yet either. But I know for a fact that Apple Fitness’ new content will play a part in that, as will running.
That’s not all I’ve set myself a challenge to do. I’m also challenging myself to create more content on a personal front. I spend a lot of time creating content for the All About Digital Marketing Podcast and of course Social INK. But this year, I want to make a host of content for me personally.
At the end of the year, I spent some time looking back over videos I had created in 2017 when travelling around south-east Asia. I realised suddenly how awesome it is to be able to look back. Last year, JOD and I challenge each other to a vlog competition. By early February 2020, everything had changed, and as lockdown hit the challenge simply disappeared.
So this year, it’s an intention. Not fuelled by any specific goals and not involving anyone else. And there’s nothing specific about it. I just want to be able to look back at this time next year and realise that I’ve done it.