The end of each year is a great time to take stock. To sense where we find ourselves and to feel our way forward into the next spin around the sun.
To support this, we created a simple planner with prompts and space to reflect, to contemplate, and plan. Researching and reading around this topic, it’s surprising how many loooong lists of 30+ journaling prompts exist. It’s also scary how many studies suggest that 80% of “New Year’s Resolutions” are lost by the second week of January.
We tried to keep it simple. One page, one year and yet a whole life in perspective. Our prompts support you in building your vision for a wonderful year ahead and creating consciousness on areas you want to focus on as we move into it.
This is a contemplation that believes we start this year precisely where we should be, that this new year, a creating a “new you” is simply about focusing on the “Un-New You” and celebrating exactly where you and as you are right now, and planning a path forward to the future you want. One that embraces the fullness of your own and the worlds wonder for a swell year ahead. Our six steps to Swellness are also there to support you and you can read all six steps that we use here to build our own “Swellness” – fitness and wellness here:
I felt I needed to contemplate this year more than ever. Accepting and celebrating where I was felt tough at first as it’s the first year I have ever “lost” the plot of my health. I had a term living with Glandular fever at university and a week living with Malaria in Ghana, but I had never feared for my life before. This year took me there a few times. The pain of my periods combined with Covid was such that I wasn’t sure I would make it through a couple of nights. The fear of going through my first general aesthetic and having 10lbs of fibroid tumours taken out forced me to really find faith in my doctors and own bravery. I will never forget the moments when I first discovered the scale of them through an MRI, nor getting confirmation they were benign.
But reflecting on the journaling prompts we created, suddeently I realised it wasn’t hard for me to spontaneously find the 3 things I was grateful for and that had amazed me this year. Top of my grateful list is our course my body and health for carrying me through all this and to the other side to where I am now feeling more like me once again. For the family and friends who reached out to support me – for the flowers, the brownies, the cakes and the food parcels they left on my doorstep to spur me on. For the virtual Bloody Mary text-fests that kept me sane in a sea of boredom waiting for my body to catch up with my intent to fully recover and get back to work a.s.a.p.
Then of course for the miracle of being able to find our path to launch Swell despite my health challenges of 2022. Now certainly in my wildest dreams I wanted to launch Swell Fitness; this much was clear of course as I held the trademark and had written a vision of what my ultimate brand and company would be like that would enable me to do the work I loved, combined with caring for our kids that I loved so much.
But never in my wildest dreams, could I have imagined how it would happen, and that it would be possible this year. So of course, it comes still with amazement on reflection of this year that I met Martin, and that we’ve been able to form and launch Swell Fitness together. My gratitude for his patience and faith in my recovery will be an ever-present part of my and our company history. I find his vision and commitment to what we came to coin as “Swellness” – fitness and wellness, remarkable and it always spurs me on.
So, when I come to contemplate where I want to focus this year, it is of course in continuing my own journey back to full health. It’s crazy to admit that I think I am still only about 30% as fit as I was prior to the challenges of this year.
I am writing from the back porch of my sister’s house in the city of Hastings in New Zealand where happily, the warmth of the summer is numbing the aches of long covid. Yesterday I was cajoled into trying the local Park Run on Christmas Eve due to our whole Kiwi family finding their love for running recently. So, I ran it super slowly in a PW of 14 minutes for my first mile, whilst silently wondering how someone who previously had a 3:58 marathon under her belt now finds herself being overtaken my dog walkers out-pacing her attempts to keep running. The hilarity and humbling nature of running - Peter Kay comedy stage jogging style, as runners dressed as reindeers, and small dogs dressed in a toy Santa riding on their backs passed me by, somehow kept me going.
Running has never come naturally to me; my sub-four-hour marathon heyday was hard trained for, and difficult form to hang onto, so it’s not as if I would have ranked highly in this race to Christmas had I been at full fitness but humbling indeed to now have a yard stick for how long covid has ravished my fitness. If you want to know what happens to a fit person after a year of not being able to work out, it is me right now.
Yet, as I approach the year end, despite many friends who knew me before expressing concern at my weight and therefore, my health. I don’t feel the need to rush out and hit the next Instagram diet. I know I look different, but I don’t know how much I weigh. That paled into insignificance somewhere around my operation. I am just grateful to be back on my feet, to have the energy to face a full day, and to even able to try running again this holiday. The recent memory of my long-covid induced walking stick and my post hysterectomy struggles to even out of bed, are still too fresh and raw.
So, when I contemplate our third step to Swellness, Eat Swell, I think probably like most of us, I know what to do, but I need to be and eat in a way that does not distract from my recovery. I can’t hit the “burn” style workouts like I did 5 x a week before I fell ill. So here I am, accidentally and happily likely overweight. I will be more conscious about what I eat, as I also want to be fit enough to spontaneously run a 10KM in the mountainous wild as I was before. This is my long-held dream to be running in any forest, any sunrise well into my final quarter of life. They say you don’t stop running as you get old; you get old as you stop running. So, getting back to running this year I will and must.
To support this, I will focus on steps 2, 4 and 5 Pure Swell, Be Wild and Get Swell Fit to help me get progressively back to fitness in 2023. I will be carefully following the advice of my long covid physio to manage my heart rate and energy to avoid burn out again and listening to my body.
I will make my own fitness and nutrition a priority. I will continue my daily yoga practice, but add more walking in the wild, more swimming and more fitness when my energy allows. I will track this in guess what, a paper diary! Progress can be hard to feel when you are living with long covid. When you have waited a year to feel just 30% of the fitness you used to be, it can feel super frustrating, so I bought a paper diary to help me both do more journaling and get more perspective.
Having time to meditate (step 1) and get perspective on life has been one of the joys of a year with long covid. Living life on the sofa slow lane you can’t help noticing more. So am happy to have integrated meditation into my life now to the extent that I know it will always be with me. Yes, blown off course sometimes by the hectic nature of life with two teenagers in tow often, but I love that I can reflect that thanks to more time to be present with it this year, all I need is a tiny bit more consistency.
Perhaps the toughest step to Swellness for me is Step 6, connections. The fear of getting Covid again and that it might dare to take another year of my life and banish me to the bed and sofa again is ever-present. But I try not to give into this fear too often, I try to stay focused on the positive benefits of making that step of connection, of drinking the energy of being around wonderful people, hearing their stories, learning from their lessons. I popped into my first evening event just before Christmas as it was on the way to my brother’s house. Thanks to team Rival’s wonderful live event and podcast recording, I almost didn’t notice the fear and left feeling energised by the great conversation, the new connections I had made, and the joy of seeing friends “IRL” once more.
So, I will try to be a more physically present friend this year. My friends know that my breakfast bar is always open for a smorgasbord and their kids know where all my ice cream, treats and tomato sauce is kept, so I hope to restore a better social balance in 2023, one that enables me to steer clear of covid, but return to the social life I have loved and missed so much.
I love this thought and too the section at the end of our planning which contemplates books to read, places to go and connections to make this year. My heart fizzes with excitement at this bit. The hardest bit of having long covid was not being able to plan, not knowing when that light at the end of the tunnel would arrive to let you play in it. I really really hope it stays.
But for now, I hope our year end planner helps your year-end contemplation as much as it did mine. Whilst I was working on mine, I showed my daughter Alba what I was doing, and she decided to create me a vision board to bring my year end contemplation to life. She created it inspired by what I told her about my year-end review, and she proudly showed me the result and the bottom right corner the image and said, “Mummy I think this is good, I think you’re creating the kind of life you can’t wait to wake up to.” I love that she feels that. I am really looking forward to 2023, and I hope after your year-end contemplation you are too.
Love Nel x