31.01.22 — Journal

Resolutions for 2022

I’m not usually one for making New Year’s resolutions as I’m not know for keeping them for very long, but after two years of the COVID-19 pandemic it felt like it was time to start to make some changes. That, alongside an energy and optimism gained whilst home for Christmas and then in Tenerife for the New Year, drove me to throw together a list of ten resolutions for 2022.

Of course I wasn’t going to start the new year by trying to change ten aspects of my life all in one go, and so I chose a selection of resolutions, some of which I’d start right away and some that I could complete later on in the year. Also, as I was on holiday in Tenerife until the 6th of January, I decided to put my plan into action on the 7th upon my arrival back in Madrid.

I’m sure you’ll be wondering what my resolutions are in the end, and I shall include them here, not only for informative purposes but also as a way of holding myself to account by exposing myself to the world – or at least those of you who read my blog:

  1. Cook and eat better food
  2. Begin to do exercise
  3. Stop biting your nails
  4. Walk at least 10,000 steps a day
  5. Advance with learning Irish
  6. Launch my new website
  7. Get a Spanish driving license
  8. Begin calligraphy classes
  9. Save up some money
  10. Travel more

As mentioned, some I’ll start as the year goes on, such as driving lessons and calligraphy classes, but some I’ve already implemented since day one. The first one of the list was perhaps the most challenging for me personally, as I’ve a turbulent history of trying to eat better and lose weight, a lot of which stems from my tendency to use food as a crutch to deal with any stress I might be experiencing.

This year I’ve decided that the key lies in drawing up a meal plan, planning when to buy food, and investigating new recipes in my spare time, which usually involves me asking friends, family, and colleagues for ideas as I grow bored of other plates that I usually make. As you can see below, I’ve been making some healthy yet tasty dishes these last few weeks.

These pretty ingredients formed part of a vegetable soup recipe I made up on the spot.

I mention the word ‘tasty’ as for me it’s paramount that I still enjoy my food – it’s one of the things which I genuinely probably enjoy the most about the human condition. This way, I’m still managing to stick to my new health habits, and beginning to really enjoy the challenge of cooking everything in between my work and social lives. It also has the added benefit of helping with the penultimate resolution in my list, as I’m spending a lot less money on eating out or pre-made meals.

Alongside this newfound attitude to food, I’ve also become somewhat obsessed with the measurable resolution in my list: the 10,000 daily step goal. After a while using my phone to count my steps, I finally caved and bought an activity band to better track my steps and activity, and so every day since the 7th of January I’ve diligently walked my ten thousand steps – even after a late night at work and one particularly hungover Sunday morning.

One particularly nice benefit of this little lifestyle change has been the chance to see much more of the city than I ever did before, with my evening walks home after work pushing me to explore little streets and routes that I’ve never walked down before. I do still take the fastest route home sometimes, however this route still takes me past some of the prettiest sites the centre has to offer, such as the royal palace and the Viaducto de Segovia, a huge bridge offering views over the west of the city.

It’s not all bad when I get to pass architecture like this every evening.

It might sound silly, but this combination of eating better and moving more has really changed my outlook on everything, and the extra energy it has given me has motivated me to start doing some things I’ve been unconsciously putting off doing for a while now. One such trip took me to the north of the city and to the Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales, the National Museum of Natural Sciences (an easy one to translate, come on now). This was incited by a dream I had about dinosaurs, and so I decided I would drag myself up there the following day in order to snoop at some models of dinosaur bones.

I’ve also been more proactive in organising things with friends, including a trip to Hugo’s new flat for an evening of tacos and enchiladas prepared by him and his friends. It was a lovely evening, with friends from Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, and Spain all coming together to inaugurate Hugo’s new place. Being on the sixteenth floor, the views from his new place are quite something!

I’d also arranged to spend one Sunday at Sara’s place, where we were joined by her boyfriend, her other flatmate, and another friend to share a long afternoon lunch. Dessert was provided by yours truly, and took the form of a Victoria sponge with fresh cream and strawberries. It may look very nice, but the texture and the rise on the cake were a bit off, as I’ve still not found a good ratio of raising agent to properly substitute self-raising flour. If anyone out there has any idea, please let me know!

The lack of self-raising flour in Spain may actually be my biggest gripe about living here.

Obviously this cake didn’t exactly align with my new healthy eating plan – even if it did contain quite a bit of fresh fruit. This didn’t bother me, however, as my mum rightly pointed out that if I don’t allow myself the odd treat from time to time then I’ll get frustrated with eating well and give up on the whole thing entirely. That means I’m still allowing myself drinks out with friends, my Wednesday lunch out with my colleague Esther, and the occasional sweet treat to keep my sweet tooth at bay.

That’s about it for this blog post, in which I’ve given you a bit of an update as to what I’ve been up to this January through the medium of a rather rambling explanation of my ten resolutions. This weekend, however, I’ve some more interesting plans lined up, and so I’ll be back soon with all the antics from my first trip outside of Madrid for 2022…