Look at any list of the top 10 New Year’s Resolutions for at least the last decade and you’ll see that exercising more and losing weight always come first.
For those of us who live in Mallorca, the chances to put these resolutions into practice abound. But we also have a unique opportunity to do much more to help the planet while we help ourselves.
To start with, Mallorca’s climate is perfect for exercising outdoors all-year round. You’re never too far from a beach to walk on or mountains to hike in. If you live in Deià or on the West Coast, just stepping out of your front door is an invitation to exercise. It takes around 30 minutes to stroll down to Cala Deià – and maybe even swim – and you’ve got no choice but to walk back up a steep path or twisting road for a good 30 to 45 minutes.
The Mayo Clinic recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise a week or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise. You have a choice of walking down and up to the Cala at a moderate pace contemplating nature three times a week or twice a week as fast as you can.
And it’s a lot more pleasurable than working out in a gym.
I’ve always thought of Mallorca as Europe’s California. On my first visit to Los Angeles, I was struck by how much the view of that city looking inland to the mountains resembled Palma and the Tramuntanas on steroids. To me, it’s not surprising that Junipero Serra, the 18th century missionary who built 21 missions in California was born in Petra, Mallorca.
The similarities between Mallorca and California come down to more than a vague geographical resemblance. Ever since the 1950s, and maybe even before that, the island’s temperate climate and laissez-faire attitude to foreigners have attracted people who think different when it comes to a healthy lifestyle. This means that, for the past few years, it’s been as easy to eat high quality vegetarian and vegan food on the island as it is anywhere in Europe.
Sadly, Deià’s wonderful S’Hortet restaurant in the Clot isn’t open all year round. But, from spring to the end of October, it provides the perfect place to stop and eat delicious, healthy food on your walk down and up to the Cala.
In winter, you can always head for Santa Catalina in Palma. With an excellent traditional food market offering organic produce grown on the island, fresh fish and meat, and vegan, vegetarian and raw food restaurants and cafes in the surrounding streets, Santa Catalina is healthy eating paradise.
My favourite restaurant in Santa Catalina is Simply Delicious, run by the irrepressible Ronen. This specialises in fresh-cooked eclectic Mediterranean cuisine and is a great place to sit and stare into space after yoga at Earth Yoga, just up the road, or a Pilates class.
Of course, traditional Mallorcan cuisine offers its own take on the classic Mediterranean diet. A traditional dish like tumbet – made from layers of aubergine (eggplant), tomato and potato, lightly fried in olive oil and baked – is both healthy and wonderfully warming in winter. I’d highly recommend the tumbet at Bar Joan Frau, the traditional hangout on the bottom right-hand corner of Santa Catalina market.
If you’d like an example of what’s possible when you live a healthy, moderate Mediterranean lifestyle, here’s Deià’s own 103 years old Toni.
A 2009 study conducted by the Journal of Clinical Psychology found that 46% of people taking part who made common New Year’s Resolutions like exercising more were over 10 times more likely to succeed than people who decided to make life changes at other times of the year. Which is heartening.
But, many of us still find that our New Year’s Resolutions fall by the wayside after a month or two. So what do we do?
I’ve found that, rather than say ‘Right! I’m going to stop doing this and start doing that forever and ever,’ it’s more helpful to make a daily or weekly list of things I want to achieve that includes time set aside for exercise and eating healthy. That way, they don’t start to look like a prison sentence.
When I focus on something positive I want to achieve – in my case, going deeper into a fulfilling yoga practice – I naturally stop doing less of the things that are bad for me. Simply because they get in the way of me moving towards my best future self. I’m using my willpower to achieve something positive not just suppress the negative.
While there’s obviously nothing wrong with self-help, me-focused New Year’s Resolutions can get a bit solipsistic. And, let’s face it, Mallorca is a place where it’s especially easy to exist in a bubble. Having said, that 2019 proved to be a heavy-duty wakeup call for many of us. We can’t go on treating the planet and our fellow man how we have been.
Increasingly, Mallorca is in the forefront of action on climate change in Europe. This means that there are many opportunities to help protect and preserve everything that makes the island such a splendid place to live.
Just to give one example, Save the Med is a fantastic Mallorca-based organization working hard to make the Mediterranean clean and healthy. Make getting involved with Save the Med one of your New Year’s Resolutions and you’ll soon tap into a funky network of activists and likeminded souls.
‘To try and significantly reduce my impact on the planet by taking steps to cut out meat and dairy from my diet and get to 80% plant-based.’ Maria Garde, West Coast Sales Manager
‘To hike and explore Mallorca’s nature more.’ Andreas, West Coast Rentals Manager
‘To breathe more and make time to do things that light me up with the people I love.’ Patrick Hill, Partner
‘To be more compassionate to others, write morning pages and meditate.’ Charlie Hill, Partner
Many of us start the year wanting to be more creative, which often takes the form of writing. We also choose yoga as our way of getting healthier and learning more about ourselves. My Secret Writing Mantra online course on the highly regarded DailyOM platform combines the two. I’m proud to say it’s helped hundreds of people find their way into yoga and writing.
Find out more here.