What do you see when you look in the mirror?

As the year draws to a close often we are drawn to reviewing the year that has gone by and looking forward to the coming year, as I was getting dressed this morning ready for the day ahead I caught my reflection in the mirror and it made me think about what I see when I look in the mirror.

Firstly I see a body which if I’m honest is a little bit more curvy & wobbly that this time last year and a body I’m not really that proud of (there is a plan to work on this!!), however when I look past the physical body I and really look at the person I see I am filled with an emotion I’m not very familiar with and that is immense pride in myself and my achievements this year.

For as long as I can remember I’ve always felt like a failure, not good enough and unsuccessful especially since running my business full-time, most of these of feelings are born out of self-limiting beliefs we all carry around in our heads but others are from past negative experiences/comments from other people or the way society has traditionally viewed success. I can honestly say I’ve never felt proud of myself and to be fair it does feel a little alien but something I’m happy to get used too!!

This year though, something has shifted in my mindset to realise that I might not have some of the things people often associate with success but that I’ve achieved so many things that I am proud of. Instead of looking at & focusing on all the things I didn’t achieve this year like getting to the gym enough!! I’m actually celebrating all the things I have done this year.

And here are just a few things:

  • Gaining three new qualifications – Masters in Workplace Health and Wellbeing, a teaching qualification and being a mental health first aider.
  • Ran a successful business, retaining and gaining new clients and exceeding the financial goals I set for myself.
  • Created a number of programmes and services that have helped individuals, teams and businesses grow and succeed.
  • Started the planning for a business conference next year with a great line up of speakers.
  • Worked on my inner demons and limiting beliefs with a therapist to help me move forward – an ongoing process but the shift this year has been monumental!!
  • Spent time with friends when they’ve needed me the most.
  • Recognised my own successes and achievements and celebrated them.

As humans, we are programmed to look for the negatives/dangers, what is yet to achieved so I ask you – When you look in the mirror – WHAT DO YOU SEE?

 

 

 

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Distractions

Following on from my post about balance a the end of March, things haven’t quite gone to plan!!

For the last two weeks, I’ve not stepped foot in the gym, not done any form of fitness and allow circumstances & distractions to get the better of me!

Life has so many ways of challenging us it’s scary!! Just when you thought you had it sussed, boom something else comes up to bite you or something happens that makes you wake up and smell the coffee, well that’s what has happened to me this weekend.

So I’m reminded to reset, refocus and believe…

To do this I’ve created 2 little laminated (love a bit of laminating) cards remind me daily of what I need to do and focus on to achieve my dreams!! Seeing as I spend a lot of time (probably too much time) at my desk!!

      

What do you do when you get distracted from your goals?

Creamy Asparagus & Salmon with Mixed Grains

Salmon and asparagus are a great combination and their flavours go well together. Here is my recipe I made the other evening, this did me 1 main meal with a little left over for a small meal later in the week.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Salmon Steak
  • 1 Small Onion
  • 2 tsp Rapeseed OIl
  • Small Knob Butter (about 10g)
  • 5 Cherry Tomatoes
  • 120g Asparagus (lots left over so probably could have used about 80g (this would be classed as a portion!!)
  • 200ml Chicken Stock, I use Knorr’s Concentrated Chicken Stock which is about 2 tsp & 200ml water.
  • 75g Tesco’s 7 quick cook grains  
  • 50ml Double Cream/Creme Fraiche (optional) but brings the dish together nicely
  • Black pepper

Method:

Cook the grains as per the pack instructions, while they are cooking you can do the rest of the cooking.

I add the oil and butter to the pan, add the onion and gently cook until the onion is translucent,  Make a space in the middle of the pan and add in the Salmon steak skin side down and turn the heat, you want to crisp the skin as it’s easier to remove!! Turn the heat up a bit to help crisp the skin

After about 3 minutes, turn over the salmon – remove the skin (eat if desired), turn the heat down cook for another minute or so

Then add the chopped asparagus, cherry tomatoes, stock (or concentrate & water), you want about 2cm of liquid in the pan; cover and leave for about 5-6 minutes, keep an eye on it to ensure that it doesn’t dry out and burn, however, you only want a small amount of liquid left before you add in the grains and cream

Gently flake the fish and combine with the other ingredients, add in the cooked grains & cream if using, mix well and cook for 1 minute to just heat the cream through, season with black pepper and serve.

In this connected world…

… how comes the number of people who feel lonely is growing?

And at times me being one of those people!! Now I’m not looking for sympathy as I’ve chosen my life and in the most parts, I’m really happy as I’m beholden to no-one but every so often I do get pangs of loneliness!!

In doing research for this blog all the stats and information about loneliness is mainly focused on the older generation and it would also seem that there are many projects to help with this issue. But about people like me?!?

I then came across this infographic from Office of National Statistics which actually shows that it’s middle-aged people who are feeling lonely more than the older generation.

So I’ll share with you my situation!! I’m currently single, I live on my own and I run my own business from home, all my family live hundreds of miles away, I have a great circle of friends however most have partners and/or have children and busy lives…

Often when I’ve mentioned to people about feeling lonely, I’m often told that just because you are in a relationship you don’t get lonely & I totally get that but this is often said by someone in a relationship or the other response is well you can always call or message me, which is lovely but I feel like I might call at a difficult time!!

I get out and about quite a lot with my business and am part of a CrossFit community, I know in recent years I’ve not been out much socially due to financial constraints which have made it harder to keep the loneliness at bay but my door is always open for visitors & tea guest!! I’ll happily cook tea for anyone if it means not spending another evening on my own!! Don’t all shout at once…

Its just the little things that hit you hard really, I’m not Bridget Jones crying into my Chardonnay every night but there are tearful moments, a good example of this was last week I spoke at a conference, it was a big deal for me, it went really well and when I got home it would have lovely to share my day with someone & have a glass of wine and celebrate. Or when I organised a BBQ over a weekend and one by one all the people invited contacted me to say they couldn’t make it and they all had valid reasons and I wasn’t angry with any of them but then it left me spending a weekend on my own!!

It’s having someone to give you hug when you’ve had a rubbish day or to make you a cup of tea when you’re working hard and don’t have time to stop or cook you tea when you are too tired to do it yourself.

I’ve often felt like a spare part when at social events when everyone else is paired up, even if it’s with their best friend rather than a partner and I just feel like the odd one out!!

This leaves me wondering, is it me? is there something wrong with me?

But it’s not just about being single, it’s feeling that you are invisible unless you shout up, I do my best to stay in contact with friends and when possible arrange to meet up, however, I do wonder if I didn’t make the effort what would become of that friendship?!

Like a said at the top of the post I’m not looking for sympathy, just remember that what you see on social media might always be what’s going on and a message to a friend might just brighten their day to know someone somewhere is thinking of them!!

Much Love, Rachel xx

Easter Digital Detox

As much as we are all probably more connected with each other than ever before somehow sometimes we can feel totally disconnected with ourselves!!

It feels that we are constantly bombarded with information and notifications and yes you have a choice whether to respond and engage with these however at times it can seem too much.As I live on my own and run my own business social media allows me to connect to many different people on many different levels and in a way makes me feel part of something so I don’t feel isolated.

But I have to admit that there are times when I’ll use social media to procrastinate doing things that actually will benefit me in the long term which I avoid doing as they are hard; things like self-reflection, challenging self-limiting beliefs or breaking habits that don’t serve me well.So I decided to take the plunge and unplug, now I know that I’m in a fortunate position to do this, my family live miles from me so don’t have commitments to see them. I don’t have a partner or children at the moment (What I’d give to have these is a whole other blog post!!!) so my time is my own and the long Easter weekend seemed the ideal time to do it.

In all honestly I couldn’t wait for Thurs evening to come so that I could turn off my devises and escape into my own small world for four whole days. In years gone by I used to dread this four day weekend as I wasn’t comfortable in my own company and found it incredibly hard, as I’ve matured being on my own is something I love and yes I do spend hell of a lot of time on my own but I never tire of coming home to an empty house (well apart from Sophiecat) and being able to shut the world out.

I know some people might find this really hard, I remember watching a programme a few months back where individuals were asked to spend a number of days cut off from the world in a furnished shipping container with only themselves for company and out of the 4 or 5 people who started the experiment I think only 1 was able to last the full allotted time, most went a bit stir crazy, one participant didn’t even make it past 12 hours!! It feels that although technology and social media has improved our lives in many ways it has also damaged our lives in some ways. This need to always feel connected, fear of missing out… But is this actually doing us any good? The ability to entertain yourself, the use of imagination to pass the time, boredom and thinking time/space to name a few things we don’t seem to do anymore.

As well as turning off the internet I also decided that I would try to watch less TV, I initially thought I’d turn it off for the 4 days but decided in the volatile world we live in that it might be a good idea just to check in with the news and allow myself a few hours in the evening to watch a film. This was going to be one of the hardest things for me as often I put the TV on just to have noise in the house and then get sucked into watching mindless or mind-numbing programmes!!

I wasn’t totally cut off as I also decided to leave my landline on, the main reason for this is that my dad hasn’t been well recently and so thought it best that if my parents/sisters did need to get hold of me they could ring me. However I asked them not to unless it was an emergency. This might seem odd to some people; in our family we’ve always gone on the principle of no news is good news so not speaking to my family regularly is a normal thing.

When I woke up naturally on Friday morning, well as naturally as you can when you have a cat who likes to be fed at a certain time and bothers you until you give in to their demands!! So I went downstairs to feed her and made myself a coffee, turns out it was 7.30am which is a lie-in for me. I came back to bed and thought what now? Usually at this point I’d grab my phone and tablet and have a nosey at social media and before I know it a couple hours have past. Instead I picked up my journal made a rough plan of how I was going to spend the next four days. There were a few things that I’d like to do and a few things I needed to do and decided that my weekend would look like this:

  • Friday – a bit of work, house chores
  • Saturday – chill day, reading
  • Sunday – writing and reading
  • Monday – more work

Work mainly consisted of:

Writing a presentation for a talk I’m giving later in April, I’d spent a couple of hours on Thurs downloaded research papers on my subject area and so all I needed to do was pull it all together.

I also had some paperwork to complete for a couple of funded projects I work on as an associate, paperwork is not my strong point so put this off all the time!

I wanted to do a business review of the last 12 months (my financial year end) and just reflect on what I’d achieved.

Reading:

I have so many books I start to read and then don’t find, books I’ve bought and not even started and books I’ve read, loved and want to read again!! I love reading despite being dyslexic but I don’t do it very often and find other things to do like social media or watch the Tellybox as they are easier. But once a book has grabbed me I do find it easy to while away the hours reading; most the books I read are personal development focused as I believe we never stop learning and developing as people.

Writing:

When I hit an age milestone last year I decided that I wanted to write some “Thank You” cards to people who have influenced my life journey thus far. I spent most of last year and early part of this year making the cards and so thought Easter Sunday would be a nice day to set about writing the cards.

It’s now Monday lunchtime and how’s it been?

The first word that comes to mind is quiet, I’ve not put the radio on (I usually put it on as soon as I get up and it stays on for most of the day, just in the background) and the TV has stayed off for most of the time. I did put it on more on Sat and Sun but was quite disciplined to turn it off after watching a certain programme or film.

Things I noticed:

Not having my phone on meant that any pictures I wanted to take I had to use my actual camera, which 1st needed charging and turns out I’ve not used it for nearly three and half years!! And it felt all a bit alien to use it and at time of writing this, I’m not sure how I’ll get them off the camera onto the PC to put in this blog post!

Not having the internet on meant any word I couldn’t read or know its definition I had to look it up in my dictionary. Being dyslexic I often use the internet to look up words, if I can’t read them I can at least know that they mean so I still can understand what the writer is trying to say.

My dictionary is a pocket one with a combined thesaurus which was bought for me by my sister when I found out about my dyslexia and has a limited number of words. So a couple of words I couldn’t find and have noted down to look up when the internet is back on. But I did enjoy looking up words and finding other words I’d forgotten!!

Time became less important, I use my phone as my watch and alarm clock and not having it on meant I listened to my body more and did things as and when I felt the need to rather than being driven by time. We all live to routines, some of these are artificial the routines we create ourselves to get stuff done and some are our natural inbuilt routines or rhythm (circadian rhythm) like whether you are an early bird or night owl. I found that on all four days I woke up around the same time between 6.30-7.30am and yes this might have something to do with Sophiecat but I think it’s also my natural waking time too!! Time seemed to slow down and I felt really calm.

I managed to get most of what I wanted done, all the things that were deadline driven (for someone else) got done; the other things (activity/goals generated by me) got started but will be continued over the coming days and weeks.

I have to say that I did miss talking to people and can’t wait to catch up with friends but overall I’ve found these 4 days to be quite restorative and have enjoyed the quiet contemplation of being with just my thoughts. No massive breakthroughs just a reassurance that I’m doing ok (there were less tears than I thought there would be, in fact I only cried during one of the films I watched, in recent years I’ve felt quite emotional/teary about things in my life) and that life on the whole is great and that I’ve got a lot to be thankful for.

All about balance

In these modern times it feels like we are all juggling lots of different thing to maintain a balance in our lives and sometimes things become unbalance.

Following on from my last post about the last 18 or so month, an area which has been out of balance is my fitness time.

We all have the same hours in the day and how we spend these hours is our choice, I remember someone saying to me that you can’t make time for activities (That’s physically impossible to make time) however you can find time if we look hard enough.

For the last 18 months my fitness routine/time has taken a back seat, I haven’t done this on purpose really it’s just I’ve allowed other things to fill my time and I guess this is a reason why some people find it so hard to exercise.

The main thing that has taken up my time more is my business, which in some ways is fab as it feels like I’m slowly but surely making headway towards what I want my business to be and I know that sometimes things have to be sacrificed to achieve other things. However I also know that doing fitness for me this is Crossfit and running that these actually help me to perform better in business.

The world of Health and Fitness has gone bonkers in recent years, I qualified as a Personal Trainer in 2002!! Wow I didn’t realise it was THAT long ago, that does make me feel old!! Fitness was still quite a new things in terms of gyms/health clubs that appealed the mass market and were open to everyone. The benefits of doing fitness to improve health have long been recognised!!

Then social media happened and somehow health and fitness turned into posing on Instagram (using filter & photography tricks to look better than you are), body image & body shaming, restricted diet (chicken, broccoli & sweet potato) and very little about health!!

My belief is that we should find an activity/exercise that we can do that helps us to live our lives better and improve our health rather than just to get a six pack or guns (biceps).

My chosen exercise is Crossfit (What is Crossfit?) which I absolutely love most of the time, it can frustrate the hell out of me at times but ultimately I go back for more every time.

One reason I love it so much is as soon as I walk into the box (what we call the gym) I forget about all my challenges and focus on what I need to do to get me through the workout, therefore improving my mental health, it’s my escapism/release!!

Another reason I do it is that it improves my physical health!! I do it as I like to feel fit, I like to know that if I needed to run for the bus I could, or if I needed to do some DIY or move furniture around my house I could.

The by product of the above is weight loss!! From when I started my Crossfit journey in July 2014 to about about Jan 2017 I’d lost a total of 25kg (3.9 stone) however, in the last 18 or so months I’ve put on 13kg!! Now I don’t really care about the weight as it really DOES NOT MATTER in the scheme of things but it kinda does as being a “healthy weight” is good for long term health.

Last July I hit an age milestone and went for a Well Women check up at my local doctors surgery with the practice nurse, after all the test were done I was told my risk of getting any of the big killers (serious disease) was put at 0.45% this was the lowest score the nurse had ever seen, however the one section of the check where I didn’t get a green was my weight. And yes I know they use the BMI chart to track this and we all know the flaws of using this as a stand alone measure but ultimately I know in myself that I need to lose the weight that I’ve gained over the year as it will help me to achieve long term health. But the truth is that I actually need to lose fat and this will take time and discipline to do.

My focus is always on my health and if I ever do get a six pack to be proud of I will know that I’m in a place where my health/weight will be best it can be!!

So like before when I did my crossfit diaries I’m going to be sharing my FAT LOSS journey with you not only to keep me accountable but also to hopefully inspire you to think about what you can do to improve your health!!

I won’t be living off chicken, broccoli and sweet potato but I will have to look closely at my food habits and see where I can make improvements. Food and eating is part of what I do as a business and I want to prove that you don’t have to restrict your diet to achieve health related goals!! Will I be calorie counting and balancing my macros? Hell No, life is too short for this, however I will be making sure that the majority of the food I eat is nutrient dense rather than calorie dense!

My diet will consist mainly of fruit and vegetables, meat and fish, beans and pulses and nuts & seeds, as well as the odd piece of cake (it’s good for the soul).

The main thing that I know I may struggle with is maintaining my energy due to poor sleep. This is mainly caused by stress, anxiety and mild depression as well as being overweight!! So exercising more will hopefully help with the sleep issues too!!

I know there will be days that I won’t feel like doing anything, my body will ache from the last workout I’ve done and work is calling, so the manta below is going to put at my desk to remind me to keep going!! This is a life long journey but getting started is the 1st small step along the very long road!!

 BRING IT ON!!

End of the tunnel?!?

Over the last few days/weeks things for me have shifted, don’t know when or how but they have, well in my mind they have anyway!!

For probably the past 18 months I’ve kind of got sucked into focusing on my challenges and the lack in my life rather than focus on the positives and abundance. From the outside it might not have been noticeable as I’m good at putting up a mask but many people close to me had noticed!!

I’ve not been conscious of doing it until it’s been pointed out to me or I have re-read something I’ve written or heard myself say something that is quite negative. I’ve let negative thoughts dominate every part of my life!! This is very unlike me and I notice this a few months ago but couldn’t find a way to shake these feelings or thoughts.

However recently, maybe it’s got something to do with coming into spring, just the passing of time or the work I’ve been doing with a therapist or a combination of all three but I have to say that I’m feeling a whole lot more positive about my future.

While going through this negative time I have felt that it would pass eventually and these challenges are there to teach me things about myself that I need to learn and just “be” with the feelings!! This is quite hard to do sometimes as we are often taught that we should be “happy” all the time!!

As time went on I found myself feeling like things were never going to change and the more I felt like this the more it became reality or not really I just stopped noticing the good and focused on the bad!!

I’m a believer in universe and laws of attraction, without going into too much detail about this as there are plenty of books you can read about it (The Secret by Rhonda Byrne is a good one to start with). The premise of the theory is that “Thoughts become things!” So what you focus on become reality and even though I know this I was still unable to change my mindset.

We all have challenges in life, and to be honest without them life would be pretty dull!! However then these challenges as they had with me become all encompassing then it’s time to seek out help and support; as well as being very conscious of your behaviours and language you use with yourself!!

Over the years I’ve trained and become qualified in many disciplines (fitness, nutrition, business) and when I’m supporting others in helping them achieve their goals I’m able to give them the best advice possible and it works, I regularly see clients achieving goals yet.. I’ve stopped listening to my own advice…

I’ve stopped practising what I preach to a certain degree, and I know this is quite hard to do sometimes but if I did listen to the advice I give others how my world would change!?!?

Now I’ve realised this, I’m working hard at noticing the habits and behaviours that aren’t serving me well so that I can start to change them.

Also focusing on the things that I can do to impact my future rather than focus on all the things I can’t control. As well as being realistic and taking small steps to change.

I have everything in I need, my knowledge and more importantly the belief in myself that I can make sustained positive change in my life to make the future bright than the past 18 months have been!!

Watch out world, I’m coming for you…