Monique Keiran: When it comes to healthier habits, it's OK to start small

With the stresses of the last year, it’s hardly a wonder that parking at some popular parks on weekend mornings during the last few weeks has been tight and trails throughout the region have been busy.

Nature Boy thinks much of the recent spike in park users is due to the time of year.

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“It’s mid-January,” he says. “New year’s resolutions are still fresh. Give it another month or two, and things will quieten down to what it was like in November.”


Or maybe people are desperate to get out of the house any weekend it’s not bucketing down rain. We are in the midst of tightened restrictions, 10 exceedingly long months into a pandemic that has changed how we work, shop, visit, exercise and socialize. And this winter hasn’t exactly been all sunshine and blue skies in terms of weather, health in general, or mental health.

Maybe it’s a combination of all of those factors.

Since March, daily reminders everywhere we’ve turned have kept the topic of health top of mind. Some of us even had a bit more time and space than in past years to consider the subject of “health” in terms of their own lives and choices.

Add the new year tradition of resolutions and a desire for fresh starts and new, healthier habits, and some people may be seeking to adjust their lifestyles in ­significant ways.

You may not be going so far as Pender Island’s Stef Lowey and Chris Hall, whose one-year quest to eat only what they catch, grow, harvest and raise was recently featured in the Times Colonist.

After all, these days, a subsistence challenge like that requires certain luxuries first — garden space, access to the ­shoreline and clean water, friendly neighbours with producing orchards who are willing to share the orchard produce, and time. Lots of time. You need time in order to fish, forage, gather, garden, gather, prepare and so on. But, hey, good for Lowey and Hall.

You may not be following the lead of Cait Flanders, another B.C. native who has ­documented on her blog and in books her quest to stop drinking, control her spending and stop buying “stuff” she doesn’t need and that doesn’t make her happy.

You may not want to do the Marie Kondo ultimate declutter and purge of our ­living spaces. You may not even be aiming to reduce your waste to the degree that ­Victoria resident Ken Wardroper has done. Ken hasn’t produced any trash to put out on the curb for pick-up since 2015.

Maybe you want off the hamster wheel and are looking at cashing out on real estate, downsizing and retiring, writing a bestselling novel or changing how you make your living.

Maybe you’re giving veganism, ­freeganism, localvoracity, raw foodism or what-have-you-ism a go.

Of course, you may also be thinking that a lifestyle overhaul is too much to ask when we’re dealing with so much beyond our control at this time. Instead, maybe you just want to once again wear those clothes that need a new hem, a seam resewn, a button replaced or a cuff turned.

Maybe your goal is to finally clean out your garage or organize your toolbox so you can find your wrench, screwdriver, ratchet set or whatever when you need it without having to turn the place upside down.

Maybe you want to pare your wardrobe down to a few good-quality, easy-to-care-for, flexible essentials, so that when regular in-office work restarts, each morning starts so much more simply.

Maybe you just want to lose the COVID-19 five or 10 pounds that resulted from months of stress eating and more time to bake.

Maybe you just want to exercise a bit more, spend an hour or two more each week outside, eat a few more vegetables at each meal, and have a bit more time for the ­people and activities that matter most to you.

In a time and world when so much is beyond our control, taking steps to get a handle on a few of the things we can control can feel huge.

Whether it’s a new year or not.

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