Lessons learned

As the Healthy Town initiative draws to a close Monina Mooney looks back on what she has learned

So the Healthy Town initiative has drawn to a close. It is hard to believe that eight weeks have passed and yet perhaps it does seem like a very long time since the beautiful weather of early September!

As I said in my previous post this is where it gets hard. The evenings get dark and the mornings are a bit nippier and it is harder and harder to motivate ourselves to get out and move. I find it is easier to eat more healthily in better weather too It’s harder to face salads and fruits when the rain is lashing down…

I thought it would be worth noting some of the key things I’ve learned and noted over the course of this campaign - here are my top 10:

1. Reading food labels is very important - sometimes we can think we are eating something healthy but the numbers in the small print can tell a different story.

2. Exercising doesn’t always have to mean pushing yourself to your limit and breaking a sweat. More gentle activities like tai chi and yoga have many health benefits – both mental and physical.

3. Not all fats are bad - there are oils and fats that benefit your heart health that should be part of your diet. This does not however mean that deep fried foods are good to go. Olive oil in moderation good - oil in the chip pan...not so much!

4. Everything in moderation...I know I know...snooze! But really isn’t it a little more palatable to think of having a little of the things you like and keeping everything on an even keel than either completely over indulging and paying the price or alternatively living an austere life that never includes chocolate cake? ( or maybe that is just me!)

5. Paying attention to your mental health is as important as your physical health. The Healthy Town talk about kindness to yourself and others really made me think we could all do with cutting ourselves and others a little slack. Life can be tough enough - a little empathy goes a long way.

7. I also learnt that kids are tough little task masters. As I munched chocolate one evening my eldest said “are you gonna blog about THAT mum?”... In truth this whole initiative has helped me teach them a little more about healthy eating and keeping active. It is great to try to instil good habits early.

8. Communication seems to be one of the keys to navigating the teenage years. Though my kids have a little way to go I can try to put in place good habits now that I hope will pay off in some way when we hit those years. I also have a few years left to prepare and steel myself!

9. The more I exercise - be it running regularly or even going for a walk - the better I feel. It is not about weight it is really more holistic. If I am running, for instance, it clears my head, I am more inclined to make healthy food choices, I sleep better, it relieves stress and the effect is increased when I run with friends. I remind myself of that every time I hesitate about putting on my runners!

10. Finally I learnt that Wicklow is a great place to live a healthy life. I met a wealth of local people who are only too happy to help people on the road to good health food producers, chefs, fitness experts they are all here on our doorstep! We have the beautiful coastline, great walks, the organic farm and a massive number of great sports clubs. We have no excuse!

Many thanks to Pfizer and The Irish Times for this great Initiative. I hope many got a chance to avail of all that was on offer and here’s to living long, healthy and happy lives.