I don’t think I have ever met a single woman who isn’t worried about her size, shape, weight or fitness levels. As Rupal mentioned in her last post on health we should all be concentrating on fitness, and being healthy is certainly more important than being slim but more often than not the two generally go hand in hand.
I am slightly ashamed to admit it but when I was pregnant I ate A LOT! And I didn’t care, well, I did a bit, but in the back of my mind I had the excuse that I looked huge anyway so it didn’t matter. I actually used to buy packets of biscuits (triple choc chip, choc dipped, calorific, Choccy Mc Chocolate Face yummyness) and more often than not I would eat them all in the car on the journey home, mindlessly shovelling them in. Seriously, a whole packet was more often than not consumed within a short ten minute drive. It always happened when I was on my own, a little self sabotage when there was no one there to keep up appearances for, no one to question my actions and keep me in check.
As with so many of our blog posts there is some cross over, this one could also quite easily sit in the happiness section. As soon as I walked out of the shop, biscuits in hand and started eating them I felt happy, sometimes even a little devious (clearly I wasn’t going to tell my husband I had been scoffing goodies without him) but more often than not by the end of the packet I would feel a little disgusted with myself but mostly disappointed they had all gone already, the pleasure factor seemed to have disappeared in a flash, clearly I would have to buy some more.
Now that I look back I am pretty sure it was nothing to do with pregnancy cravings. There have been times in my past where I have overeaten and gained loads of weight before. Thinking about it, it was probably more to do with my mental health at the time. I was heavily pregnant, I’d just moved house to somewhere I wasn’t terribly familiar with, far from friends and family to be with my husband and yet as soon as we moved in he got sent away for a couple of months on a course. In the absence of my real physical friends I allowed food to fill that gap.
For Christmas I was given a fantastic book called ‘First bite’ by Bee Wilson. Admittedly I haven’t finished reading it yet but so far it is fascinating. Our relationship with food is quite complex and I am so glad to be in a position to be reading this book while my son is weaning. I really hope I can establish a healthy relationship with food for him. The thing that really stuck out for me was when Bee explains that we crave certain foods because there is an emotion attached to them.
Have you ever noticed that you really really crave some type of food and then when you eat it, it’s not as good as you had hoped it would be? This tends to be because there is a background story in your life that relates to that food. Maybe you and your first true love ate a tasty chilli con carne one weekend while gazing into each other’s eyes, a warm fuzzy glow surrounding you in a perfect fluffy heart shaped cloud. Fast forward ten years, it’s raining, everything that can go wrong seems to be going wrong and for some reason which you haven’t even registered, all you want to do is eat chilli con carne. You stop by the co-op and buy yourself a chilli con carne ready meal before heading back to your flat to enjoy it. Funnily enough, you don’t enjoy it, and not only because it’s a microwave meal. The food on its own simply can’t recreate that lovely cosy happy time for you. A personal example of my own, when Aunty Helen sends over a plate of Sunday roast left overs along with a slice of her legendary lemon meringue pie, it is essentially the same food, it’s good but it can only fill my belly, it can’t fully fill my heart. Eating it warmed up on a plate by myself is not the same as being able to sit round the table with my cousins and any other relatives that might be about that Sunday, sharing hugs, stories and teasing each other in the only way we all know how. Reconnecting with a deeper more satisfying… well, connection. Being a social person this is really important for me, being with my family I can still be that little girl I have always been inside.
Anyway! Back to my main point. Healthy accountability. Three months after giving birth I decided I needed to do something about my weight. I hated my shape and all my clothes, teamed with the fact I had two christenings and five weddings to look forward to this year, the first being in February. I knew I was kidding myself if I tried to go it alone so I did something I have never done before. I joined Slimming World (other reputable slimming clubs are available). I knew that even though I would not be judged and only the weighing lady would know my weight, I needed that accountability of weighing in each week. There was no one to dupe apart from myself and hey, those scales were not going to lie, they were going to dob me in to myself every time. The eating plan is really simple to follow and essentially it’s what we all already know anyway. Eat plenty of lean meat and veg as well as fruit and keep everything else in check by only having small quantities each day. It’s obvious, I haven’t learnt anything new about nutrition. But what I have learnt is how much longer my happiness lasts when I am feeling pretty in a posh frock at a do. Much longer than those biscuits used to last on the way home. I have lost two stone already.
Each week we don’t only weigh in, if you have time then there is a session afterwards called ‘image therapy.’ Essentially we all take it in turns to talk about what went well for us and what held us back that week. It’s a great way to feel that you are not alone, many of the other members also struggle with similar issues and therefore each of them come up with their own unique ways of combating those issues. By sharing our stories and our solutions everyone can reap the reward – a very similar concept to Professional Spring but with food rather than business!
And for those of you who have engaged a coach or a mentor, as you will know, they are not going to do the work for you, that is up to you, but the regular contact and the fact that you have said you are going to do something out loud to a real person will go a long way towards you ACTUALLY doing it. It’s a pull on your own deep seated integrity. No one wants to be a miss match with what they say they will do and what they actually do.
I’d be really interested to hear if you have any examples of when you’ve managed to pull something out of the bag simply because you couldn’t face telling a key person that you hadn’t managed to do it?
This is a really big one for me. My head is absolutely exploding with things I would like to do, my downfall is that I am interested in pretty much everything, I’m surrounded by inspirational people and I get all these project ideas that I want to do ‘one day’ and somehow never get round to doing.
To tell the truth, I am actually in the middle of writing another blog post but because I keep getting distracted I have started on this one instead to get it off my chest!
Maybe you are like me? Collecting things READY for when you are going to do that amazing project, and when I say collect, I mean anything from buttons, beads and fabric to physical brochures, online links, events schedules, pins on Pinterest, notes on Trello/Evernote, physical notes on actual pads of paper but equally lots of old envelopes etc etc. All hanging around in your ‘pilling system’ waiting for the day you will finally utilise them.
I am also guilty of subscribing to mailing lists and then hardly ever opening an email from that guru thinking ‘When I have time I will sit and go through all of them at once and learn every bit of advice they have, all at once.’ Occasionally the odd email subject headline will catch my eye before I swipe it to the right off of my phone screen and I will open it, maybe watch a quick video or read an article (I’m more of a visual person than a reader in fairness) and be reminded of one of the many things I want to do ‘one day.’
Now that I have a son my time is so limited. I have to try and shoehorn as much as possible into his two daily nap times and depending on where my husband is, sometimes I don’t even get to do that. So as you can imagine, being crippled by distractions really does literally stop me from achieving any one thing on my to-do list. I certainly don’t think that I am ‘Slight Edging’ my way to anything. All efforts are far too diluted to count as real progress. (The Slight Edge is a fab book, by the way, read more here.)
So what steps am I taking to tackle this issue?
Some of you may have heard of a default diary? Basically think back to when you were at School. On a Monday morning, you might have had double Maths. How often did you get your Science books out and conduct an experiment in the middle of Mrs. Brauns third attempt at explaining algebra? Never. So why is it that when we sit down to do some search engine optimisation do we get sidetracked by a blogger's fantastic article on modern feminism? Or when we are trying to concentrate on writing our own blog do we ‘just quickly look at this…’ then before we know it we have six tabs open on the laptop of things which we would love to know more about. I’ve actually left my laptop turned on for days with tabs open thinking I would read the content only to have to relent and shut it down eventually, or the battery dies and does it for me. And guess what, it’s more than likely stuff that is forgotten forever, but in a good way, I clearly didn’t need to know about whatever it was straight away, although interesting, it just wasn’t the right time for that to be part of my life.
Trello has helped a lot; I now have Trello open every time I have the computer open. It is actually the second time I have started to use Trello, I didn’t get on with it straight away but a handy YouTube tutorial has helped me utilise the features far more efficiently. Now if I see some flash of inspiration that I know I can use for my business in the future I can save it in the appropriate place on Trello so that when I have double Maths I can look under my Maths board and find all the task cards I need to make that a productive session.
Next, comes discipline, now we can all create a default diary but we need the discipline to stick to it. To only have the essential screens you are working on open, the phone turned to silent so it does not ping pinging its way into your allotted time like an annoying terrier yapping at your ankles for attention which you simply cannot ignore.
The next fantastic thing you can do is have an accountability system going on. My friends Jacquie, Rupal and I use Whatsapp and the same questions are asked/answered each day.
The questions about obstacles are a great way to identify and then mitigate all those things that can get in the way. Your mother in law called yesterday, today you will have your phone on silent or on charge in another room so you don’t get tempted to answer it. That kind of thing.
At the start of this post, you may remember I said I had been writing a different post? Since then my mother in law HAS called and I subsequently ended up doing a little research on children’s bicycle seats! And so the struggle continues.
Christmas is almost here! As we all know, the three wise men travelled a long way to bring baby Jesus some Gold, frankincense and myrrh.
If you search Christmas Gold a lot comes up about Christmas TV, those classic Films and TV shows that come around every year, sometimes the originals sometimes kids adaptations etc. As this week's ‘Talk Tuesday’ is meant to be about wealth I thought it would be fun to talk about Gold, but instead of talking about the obvious value of gold the metal that the Magi were giving to Jesus, I’m going to talk about two of my favorite Christmas films which are generally aired each year and the messages we should hold in our hearts all year round.
If you are interested – gold is valued at £995 per ounce at the time of writing!
Film ‘It’s a wonderful life’ 1946
The main character George is a businessman who wishes he had never been born, an angel is sent to earth to make his wish come true, along the way George begins to discover how many lives he has had an impact on and how things would be different if he had never existed, the most poignant example being that if he had not saved his brother's life, his brother would not have been able to save so many other people. The angel says to George at one point ‘Remember George, no man is a failure who has friends.’ There are plenty of other great messages in this film but the one which stands out for me is not to underestimate the power that one small act of kindness you show can have and the ripple effect that can flow from it. The power to have a positive impact on others is a true wealth that cannot be taken from you.
A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens, 1843
Again we are looking at a businessman who needs to reassess his life. Scrooge is a miserable miserly penny pincher who is visited by three ghosts. The first ghost is of Christmas past, this ghost reminds Scrooge that used to be kind and have friends as well as a great boss who set a good example. The next ghost, the ghost of Christmas present shows Scrooge how lucky he is in comparison to others but they still manage to be happier than he is, a lesson in gratitude. The last ghost, ‘Of what is yet to come’ shows Scrooge that he will die miserable and lonely unless he changes his grumpy penny pinching ways. The lesson to be taken from this film is that the greatest gift is giving, that is where true happiness comes from. So when the chips are down and you aren’t always getting what you want through life and business, family and friends are more important.
What is your favorite Christmas Film/TV episode and why does the sentiment mean so much to you?
Recently I started making curtains for the nursery. I YouTube’d a couple of how to videos but then decided to call my mum, (who made all the curtains at home) but I didn’t really understand what she was trying to tell me, so I scoured YouTube some more and came up with what seemed to me the best plan of action.
Making curtains is 20% measuring – measure twice cut once (or measure about six times if you are me!) – 60% ironing, ironing and re-ironing, then 20% sewing, it would seem.
Threading up my mums old Frister Rossmann sewing machine (I had to use the manual to remind me how to do this as it had been so long since I last had it out) I made the first curtain no problem at all. I measured each piece of fabric to check I’d got enough, especially enough to make the pattern repeat match up once they were all hung. I painstakingly cut off the excess and ironed in the selvedge and then made the mitered corners followed by more ironing before stitching in the black out lining and sewing on the heading tape then one last iron for a perfect finish, easy peasy.
Feeling pleased with myself I picked up where I had left off the following day. The ironing went well but on the third mitered corner the stitches began to pucker up underneath, not good as this was the facing part of the curtain so needed to look great. Back to the manual to adjust the thread tension, a little peeved that surely it should be the same, nothing had changed since yesterday… after a little screw tightening on the bobbin case I was back in business, then I broke the sewing machine needle on one of the pins holding the lining in place, simply bad luck, I replaced it, good old mum having spares in the box. I then went on to break THREE more needles, two snaps and two bent… what on earth was going on?! Called mum, try a thicker needle she said, problem solved temporarily.
After all those breakages the bobbin thread then wouldn’t feed through. Clearly the machine hated me and was out to get me to prove I would be a rubbish mother and had no talent at curtain making and I would have to get my mum to step in and make them after all. Failure!!
I walked away, wondering if I should admit defeat, ask if any friends close by had a machine I could borrow (what if I broke theirs too?), or send this machine in for a service and wait until it was fixed to try again. I sat with a coffee while Brunel my dog, tried to console me.
Having cooled down a bit I decided to take one last look, one last look before I threw in the towel… And, dho! The bobbin mechanism wasn’t broken at all, in fact I hadn’t quite threaded the main needle that I had just replaced properly which meant the bobbin thread wasn’t being pulled through – mistakes happen when you are emotional. Relieved, I carried on with my sewing and got the rest of the curtains finished.
This experience got me thinking about wealth. The “wealth” I valued at this moment was:
You might be wondering what this has to do with wealth and business… Well, what this experience highlighted is that wealth comes in many different forms, not just the financial kind.
We can have a wealth of experience, information, support, resources, knowledge, personal strength – all “tools” and “capital” that can be used to help our businesses grow. The unique knowledge we each have, for example, may seem unremarkable to ourselves, but never underestimate the value to other people of what you know. We have all led unique lives, and yes there are a lot of voices and noise out there, but your spin or thought or idea may be exactly the type of voice someone else is looking to connect with. Your insights can be, and are, “wealth.”
Our mothers or grandmothers all had sewing boxes with different colour threads and a multitude of spare buttons, some plain and some pretty elaborate. So don’t underestimate the value of what you have in your own personal sewing box and what you can create with it. I’d love to know what you value, and what non-monetary assets you are already wealthy in.
I am a self confessed people pleaser. I think most of us want to be liked in one way shape or form but when we take on tasks for others at the detriment of our own personal goals and well being it really isn’t healthy.
For any of you that have ever been on a flight you will know that you should put on your own gas mask before helping someone else fit theirs. It’s a great analogy to keep in mind for every area of life really, because if you are feeling frustrated and exhausted from doing everything for everyone else all the time eventually you are going to get poorly and be no use to anyone.
We all only have 24 hours in a day and at least 8 of these should be dedicated to sleep!! Well, I know I need at least eight hours if I want to function properly the next day. But the point to remember is, if you are saying yes to one thing filling any time in your life, then you are saying NO to something else that you could be dedicating those precious hours to. Given the option, do you really want to do whatever it is you are asked to do/help with right now? If not then you probably won’t want to do it later either. Just say no right now.
It’s not about saying no to everything though because sometimes when friends and family are in need then nothing else matters in those moments. It’s just about making more conscious decisions about what it is you want from your life before you put what someone else wants first. It may help to put down on paper a list of all the things that you actually want to be, do or have and memorise it. When you are working to someone else's agenda you will not be propelling yourself forward towards your own dreams, you’ll just be sitting in a boat that is spinning in the middle of a pond that never gets from A to B.
My own experience of this is with creative projects. My heart would yearn to get stuck into some art work, sewing or such like but I would never find time to do it – because I was always allowing my time to be sucked up by less important tasks. By bringing this up and talking it through with my own coach I came to the realisation that to remedy this was simple and all I needed to do was to put some non negotiable ‘creative space’ in my diary each week. I’m now working on sewing some black out curtains for the nursery, as well as the wooden pelmet boards and I have the blocks of time in my diary necessary to make sure I’m able to get it done.
When you start to say no to others you will probably feel guilty at first but eventually you should find it empowering, and truthfully, other people will wish they did the same because you will become happier and therefore more productive in the long run.
But be prepared that there will be some people who will try and use your good nature to their advantage, they won’t accept your new found clear concise ‘no’s’ or the valid reasons behind them (you may already have one or two people who spring to mind who are like this) These are the people you’ve probably already noticed you don’t even really enjoy being around as they drain your energy. Allow them to simply slip away and take no notice of their hostility towards the new non compromising you. You’re better off without them. If it’s a family member that you can’t simply be rid of then make sure you are prepared for any calls/meetings with them and manage your boundaries carefully, sometimes meeting on neutral territory rather than their office or house can really help.
We’d love to hear from you on this subject. What are your personal ‘important’ tasks that you keep putting off because you are constantly tackling other people's ‘urgent’ agendas? Do you have a top tip you can share with the group on how to combat our people pleasing ways?
What is wealth? If you do a quick Google search and click on images you are instantly bombarded with lots and lots of pictures of gold, stacks of cash, money trees, people rolling around in cash, dollar and pound signs, piles of money getting bigger etc etc.
But is it all about money?
The Wikipedia definition, which is also brought up through the Google search, says that ‘Wealth is the abundance of valuable resources or valuable material possessions.’
A wealth of knowledge is not a material possession but is of course a valuable resource. As is time.
If you search wealth quotes and click on images (I’m a visual person!) you end up with some conflicting messages of what true wealth is, of course these messages are an individual’s personal view or experience of wealth and wealth generation. The conflict is that many are about not needing money to be happy, that character and trust are the truest measures of worth, a few have tips and tricks to generating cash too. My personal favorite is ‘So many people spend their health gaining wealth and then have to spend their wealth to regain their health.’ It’s a strong message in my eyes as many of us jump on a treadmill and never stop to think just exactly how much we actually need, we don’t consider how much is enough, we just keep going because that is what society expects of us. More, more, more!! And to what expense, our health, our relationships?
My reflection on this is that only you can decide if you are wealthy in a way you would wish to be. But you have to take the time to figure out exactly what it is you want, what is important to you? REALLY important to you, and this IS important.
Will Smith once said, ‘Too many people spend money they haven’t got to buy things they don’t want, to impress people they don’t like.’ Maybe not all of us are spending money we don’t have but I think a lot of us can put our hands up to trying to impress others every now and again, keeping up with the Joneses or even simply worrying what other family members will think we should be doing/achieving etc. WHAT DO YOU WANT? And what do you enjoy?
Going back to the subject of time, which I hinted at earlier, surely this is the most valuable resource we have. It is a leveller too – all of us have exactly the same amount of time (OK – so some of us outsource tasks which frees up more of our time but you see what I am getting at) what will you do with your time? When you get to the end of your life will you say, wow I wish I had spent more time at my desk, scrolling through Facebook or watching Eastenders or will you wish you had spent more time learning about a subject that interests you, seeing the world or being with family and friends? Only you can know what truly makes your heart sing.
Don’t waste your time working towards some other person’s goal. Take time out to sit with your thoughts for a while and decide what truly makes you happy. As Howard Thurman once said, ‘Don’t ask what the world needs, ask what makes you come alive, because the world needs people who have come alive.’
Surely then, true wealth is an abundance of what you personally define as a valuable resource for yourself. Mine would be having the time to walk my boxer dog Brunel which gives me a healthy pursuit and a sense of wellbeing, recharging my batteries and leaving me in a better position to tackle the other tasks of the day.
Last week I was really ill, I had to clear my schedule and pretty much sleep the whole time which was so frustrating.
On the Friday morning I woke up feeling a little bit better, I scrolled through my Facebook feed while still in bed (a terrible habit I would like to get out of!) and came across a post from a local art community. My heart ached as if I had not been ill I was meant to be taking my mum to the Waterperry Art in Action event in Oxfordshire that day.
I love art, I have dabbled a little. When I was still living in Cheltenham there was a great drop in center you could go to on a Thursday night and pretty much try your hand at whatever you liked. We’ve moved house twice since then and I have still not managed to find a class quite like it. In that moment I decided to have another look for a class I could take, I’d really love to learn how to paint properly. I found myself looking at art retreat holiday and I began to weep.
What I haven’t explained is that I am also 26 weeks pregnant with our first child, so being drained and emotional, I was crying because this wasn’t the first time I had looked something up that I wanted to do, only to remember that my life was going to change beyond recognition very soon.
So far my career has seen me on the road creating in store displays for an international home and gift wholesaler, working for myself as an interior designer, carrying out various office admin jobs, working in a gallery, working as a pot wash in a kitchen! I’ve been an internal sales manager, and an operations manager for two different companies; then flown solo again as a property investor and now another career change into life coaching which I adore.
But what do I really love most? What puts me in the zone where time just flies by and I couldn’t be happier or more in touch with myself and my thoughts? Creating. Art and design. Either looking at it or actually trying to achieve something myself. But I hardly ever do it.
If I am honest, my ideal future ‘me’ dream is to own an arts center where people can come and experience all different types of art and craft but somehow I never find myself working towards that. I am always working towards ideas that seem more tangible for the here and now.
So when I found myself weeping it was because I was cross with myself for not investing more time and money in my passion, in what makes me happy before this point in my life (36 years old and pregnant.) And this is because I’ve always bowed to outside influences of working towards money rather than a life that makes me happy. Luckily with coaching I have started to turn this around.
I am sure our baby will also make me happy, no doubt, and hey – I’m not about to die any time soon I hope! But when mum called on Sunday to say that she had ‘good news and bad news,’ the good being that she and her friend had been to Waterperry on Saturday instead and had a lovely time, the bad being that after 40 years that was the final Art in Action weekend at Waterperry meaning I had properly missed out, I couldn’t help but feel that I had stupidly missed so many opportunities. Mum and I went when I was 19 and had been talking of going again ever since, I just simply hadn’t organised myself to accommodate it.
Luckily there will be plenty of time to pick up my paint brushes in the future and if I can’t make a class I am sure I will be able to look up some ‘How to’ videos on YouTube. There will be other similar art in action type events around the country too I’m sure BUT it really was a good wake up call for me and I wanted to ask you – what do you put off? What would you really rather be doing?
My husband isn’t into art at all but he is quite happy to drag me around beer festivals and brewery tours because home brewing is his passion and I support him. He did pay for my art classes in Cheltenham as a wedding present but like I say I haven’t found anything similar since, I am sure when we take some time off next week he won’t mind a few gallery tours…
It’s not to say you need to make a career out of whatever it is you have been denying yourself, but just put your foot down and make some time for that one special thing that makes your heart sing. I really notice my energy drops when I spend weeks of too much time on the ‘shoulds’ and not enough time on what really brings me joy, it’s not frivolous time wasting it’s investing in your soul.
Thankfully mental health is getting a lot more positive attention in the media nowadays which is really great but even so, for some people there can still be a lot of stigma attached to admitting when you are struggling.
This is such a shame because the person suffering through a low point, male or female, can often feel like they shouldn’t admit they are having difficulties and therefore suffer on in silence with little support which in turn can make the problem even worse.
As a life coach and through my volunteering work as a listener for the Samaritans it seems to me that we are slaves to our thoughts, it’s not always about what has actually happened but how we feel and think about what has happened which traps us. If we truly believe something to be a certain way it is very hard to be persuaded otherwise unless we have hard evidence to prove us wrong.
Our minds are very good at gathering evidence to support our beliefs and they filter out anything that doesn’t fit with our view of the world. This is a good and a bad thing, bad if you choose to dwell on negatives but excellent if you can push these thoughts aside and find something good and forward thinking to focus on.
The challenge therefore is to practice, practice, practice!
Make time to exercise your mental muscle so that through practice it can banish unhelpful thoughts from your head and leave space to nurture productive and positive thoughts, and then subsequently while you are looking out to the world with these positive thoughts your mind will gather the appropriate evidence to back them up and build on them and before you know it you are on an upward spiral.
Clearly as a Samaritan I would advocate calling the Samaritans (Free phone number 116 123) whenever you are feeling a bit down and don’t feel you can share with friends and family. Contrary to popular belief you do not have to be suicidal to call the Samaritans and please don’t feel your issues are too trivial as nipping them in the bud is far better than letting them spiral out of control to the point where you are in a right mess! You will never be judged, the Samaritan will simply listen and help you explore your thoughts and feelings, sometimes just saying things out loud can really help you make better sense of what you are experiencing.
So if you have tried sitting down with a cuppa, a hot bath, an early night or Ben and Jerry’s ice cream and that just ain’t cuttin’ it – TALK to someone! After all, a problem shared is a problem halved.
Learn more about the Samaritans - www.samaritans.org