Small steps lead to big changes


  • Focus
  • Saturday, 04 Apr 2015

Getting back into shape: Jojo hiking with her pugs on a remote trail in her neighbourhood.

At the turn of the year, so many of us made promises to ourselves that we will make this year better than the last. Some of us wanted to change our diet, quit bad habits, get into shape, improve our finances, get better job satisfaction, take more time off for holidays or have more personal happiness in general.

However, so many New Year resolutions inevitably start collecting dust on a shelf, filled with so much hope but already approaching their ‘use-by’ date at the turn of yet another year, with very little improvement or change.

We have all had years like that, where we feel the very things we keep wanting to change eludes us and old habits die hard.

However, I’ve recently learnt that monumental change can come from the simplest, smallest of changes. Like the saying goes, “think big, but start small”.

For myself, it began with housework that triggered a wave of change everywhere else in my life. I was rummaging through my wardrobe last month and getting frustrated that I could not find a specific article of clothing.

My own dusty new year resolution came back to haunt me, “This year, for goodness sake, clean out the closet and throw out all that junk in the master bedroom”.

Suddenly, in that instant, I decided it was high time to start converting my bedroom into a beautiful living space rather than a place to crash when I was in town.

When we are subconsciously not happy or comfortable in a particular space, we spend the least time in it, which was why I was always in my living room, rather than my bedroom.

Not only did I end up clearing out boxes and drawers full of stuff and expired toiletries, I even decided to paint my bedroom a lighter shade just to brighten up the room.

It’s incredible what a fresh coat of paint and some much needed spring-cleaning can do. I felt like I was in a totally different space and I was loving my bedroom all over again, making it my sanctuary.

Another thing that happened was getting back into an exercise regimen, which was up until now, nearly impossible while I was filming my travel show. So one positive thing led to another, like a ripple effect on a lake that previously had no activity at all.

Suddenly, I was back in my sports group and getting back into shape by playing racquet sports every week. I’ve also been climbing the mud trail of FRIM until I’m breathless at the peak or hiking with my pugs in remote trails within my neighbourhood.

I absolutely love the release of endorphins exercise brings. It’s almost addictive. Once you get into the swing of an exercise regimen, your body gets used to it and starts to crave the activity, to a point you feel like something is missing when you don’t exercise at all. Not to mention, I was sleeping so peacefully at night so exercise is the ultimate form of de-stressing. You are seriously too exhausted to be up stressing about stuff when your body is that tired after a workout.

If you’re the lazy sort, just making an appointment with an exercise buddy really helps you commit to being there, but get started because once the exercise bug catches a hold of you, you will need no further motivation. You will naturally gravitate toward exercise, especially when it makes you feel so good about yourself. I remember an old friend of mine, who was also a yoga instructor, saying, “Sometimes, all you need to do is get dressed and put on your sneakers. I guarantee you will probably walk out of your house and do some form of exercise.”

It is in the smallest of things we might do, even if it’s just a tiny adjustment in our lives, that profound change can take place. Since I was on a roll, I decided to also embark on a home detox.

Spring cleaning the house made me want to do the same with my body, especially after the Chinese New Year festive period, with one too many well-meaning relatives encouraging me to “eat some more”.

So, I was on a highly nutritious, homemade clear vegetable soup for a few days followed by delicious smoothies, which didn’t make me feel like I was suffering at all, including a tremendous amount of fresh fruit and plain water. Within a few weeks, I felt incredibly energised. This was not about losing weight for me, but clearing out toxins. I got rid of that bloated feeling and lost about 3kg, making me feel much lighter all around, and especially more agile on the court.

At this juncture in my life, well into my late thirties, I’m feeling more active and youthful than ever. On some days, I’m even wearing beanies and funky T-shirts, just like I used to when I was about 18 years old, so I think I’m starting to believe that age is just a number.

You are as old or as young as you feel and if you wanted to make a positive life change, just start small. The rest will follow.

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