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A Bit of Positivity: Your Body is Amazing

It's New Year's resolution season. That time of year when we're all encouraged to make huge, drastic changes whilst constantly being reminded how crap we currently are by various adverts and articles (usually pedalling "miracle" products and false promises).

It's important at this time of year to remember that you and your body are amazing. Whatever your goal for the year is, whether it's improving your fitness or getting back in to that pair of jeans, let your motivation come from a positive place. Choose to make healthy changes because you love your body, and you deserve to feel your best. Challenge yourself to see what you can achieve - because, honestly, you are stronger, braver and more capable than you think.

Always remember that, despite what Instagram tells us, there is no cookie cutter mould for the perfect healthy body. Healthy comes in all shapes and sizes. You are more than just the number on the scales.

You and that body of yours are in this thing together. Your body is what allows you to taste, to touch and to feel. To love, to experience all the wonders and joys that this planet has to offer. It's what has carried you through exams, job interviews and slightly awkward office parties. Your body is what allows you to experience life, so treat it well and treat it with kindness.

Let's make a resolution this January to be kind to ourselves. To make small, healthy changes. To take things one step at a time. To celebrate what we've already achieved (no matter how small), and to get excited about how much further we can go.

Let's make a resolution not to buy into the body negativity and the fad diets that we seem to be inundated with this time of year, but to treat our bodies well. To invest time into ourselves and to believe in ourselves. Remember - you are awesome, and you've got this. Bring it on, 2017.

Staying on Track (and enjoying yourself!) During the Festive Season

Something I've heard from my fitness clients several times over the last few weeks is "but what about Christmas!?"

With office parties, after work drinks, the Starbucks festive menu (that fudge hot chocolate though...) and the siren call of the Quality Street tin to contend with, the prospect of staying on track in the run up to Christmas - without turning into Ebenezer Scrooge - can be daunting.

To me, a healthy lifestyle is all about finding the right balance, enjoying yourself and enjoying life. Christmas is a time to relax and be merry. Nobody wants to spend Christmas Day desperately calculating the number of calories in a brussels sprout. (It's 8, in case you were wondering - go wild, assault your loved one's nostrils with festive sprouty farts!).

Read on for my top tips on how to maintain a healthy balance whilst enjoying the festive season so you can head into January feeling refreshed and ready to go.

1) Avoid coming down with a case of the 'Sod Its'

We've all been there. You check your diary for the week and realise you've got two Christmas parties, one lot of mulled wine and minced pies and a coffee date with your best friend. It can be so easy to just think 'sod it, why bother working out or eating well at all when I've got all this going on?' and before you know it your nutrition habits are giving Buddy the Elf a run for his money. (Does anyone else think spaghetti and maple syrup might actually taste amazing?)

The key thing is to keep active and eat well the majority of the time so that you can enjoy the outings with family and friends, let your hair down at the Christmas parties and indulge in a minced pie every now and then without having to worry about it. I try to live by the 80:20 ratio - 80% of the time I do my best to fuel my body with the good stuff so that the other 20% of the time I can feed my soul with the indulgent stuff. It's all about balance.

2) Schedule your workouts like an important meeting

December can get pretty hectic and it can be really easy to let exercise become less of a priority. In the same way that you wouldn't continuously cancel or reschedule meetings with your boss or a client, you shouldn't keep cancelling on yourself. Think of your workout as an important meeting with yourself. This is your time to do what's right for your body and, as much as you may not feel like it beforehand, I promise you'll feel so good about yourself once it's done. Plus exercise is a great way to destress so if you find you're getting your tinsel in a tangle, or that darn Elf won't stay on it's shelf, hitting the gym or getting out for a run can be a great way to get some headspace.

3) Don't be afraid to say 'no, thank you'

Inevitably, the run up to Christmas can involve a lot of eating out or dining with friends, and sometimes you can find yourself almost pressured into ordering/accepting things you don't really want just to be polite. You know when you just really don't fancy another three course meal but everyone else is getting a starter so you end up ordering one too? Or when you're visiting friends and the second round of Christmas cake comes out? It's fine to say no thank you - if you don't want it, don't have it!

4) Be mindful

Eating mindfully is a great tool to use all the year round, but even more so at Christmas. We've all had that moment when you've accidentally found yourself surrounded by Quality Street wrappers with no recollection of how they got there (maybe that's just me...). Taking time to appreciate your food and listen to your body can be a great way to avoid overdoing it.

5) Don't stress - enjoy yourself!

I honestly think the more you worry and overthink it, the more likely you are to come down with a case of the aforementioned 'sod its'. Christmas comes but once a year so let yourself have a little bit of down time, strike a healthy balance and most importantly - enjoy yourself!

Be Brave with Your Life

When I was younger, I thought courage and bravery only came in great forms. The lion tamer, the dragon slayer... Getting up to go to the loo in the night without switching on every single light in the house. Setting off on a marvellous, worldwide adventure or leaping off of something very tall. But in recent times I've realised that sometimes the things that require the most courage, the biggest dose of bravery, are seemingly smaller and slightly more subtle. Being brave isn't always about doing something huge.

It's about having the courage to build a life that makes you happy. Being brave enough to speak up when something's not quite right. To walk away, if you find yourself in the wrong place. It's about letting your guard down and listening to your heart every now and then. Fighting for your dreams, no matter how small, or ridiculous, or scary they may seem.

Bravery is about having faith in your ideas, your knowledge and your abilities. Letting go of self-doubt, and the expectations of others. Being kind, being generous and changing your perspective from time to time. Having the courage to find, and to follow, the path that's right for you. No matter how different, or unexpected it might be. It's risking a fall, because you might just fly.

Sometimes it's easier to just accept things the way they are. To stay in your comfort zone, to keep on keeping on. Just remember that you are strong, you are smart and you deserve a life that you love.

Be brave with your life and let courage guide the way.


So... life update. 10 months after leaving my PR job, here I am. A fully qualified personal trainer (with a pilates qualification on the way!), who has just quit her gym job to go freelance and set up her own business. God knows I'm scared and full of apprehension. But more importantly, I'm excited and I'm determined. For a few months there, things got a little bit foggy and I kind of lost sight of why I did all of this in the first place. But I've taken a breath. I've got my clarity and my passion back, and I can't wait to see what happens next. Wish me luck!

April is the New January: 5 Steps to Help You Achieve Your 2016 Fitness Goals

I've decided that April is the new January. The start of a new year is always full of pressure to make big changes and "become a better you", all whilst nursing your post-Christmas food baby and desperately trying to ignore the empty pit that is your bank balance. Never mind the dreadful weather and the plague of cold and flu lurgy flying around - January sucks, February is only marginally better and then sneaky old March turns up with that Easter weekend and Mini Eggs become a major food group. April though, has brought with it lighter evenings, a hint of sunshine and for me, a great big boost of motivation.

If you've hit April and you're yet to actually use that shiny new gym membership, or the novelty of those 6am runs you promised you'd do daily has worn off - don't beat yourself up. April is the new January and with the increased daylight hours and the faint promise of Spring in the air, it's the perfect time to make a fresh start - it's never too late to start working towards your goals.

5 Steps to Help You Achieve Your 2016 Fitness Goals

1) Reassess your goals
When it comes to fitness, having a specific goal in mind can be a great way to stay motivated. Whether it's improving your 5k time or just making it to the gym at least twice a week - have something in mind that you'd like to achieve and start taking small steps towards it. Divide your end goal into three - focusing on the short term, the medium term and the long term. Starting with a huge, unmanageable goal can leave you feeling overwhelmed and demotivated. Splitting it up into manageable chunks gives you something attainable to aim towards and you'll get a nice big hit of satisfaction every time you hit one of your targets.

2) Rethink your motivation
Improving your health, fitness and wellbeing is such a positive thing, so your motivation should be positive too. This is about empowering yourself, not punishing yourself. Exercise to get fitter and stronger, to see what that amazing body of yours can do. Push yourself towards your goal because you deserve to achieve it.

3) Stop comparing yourself to others
Your goals are about you, not anyone else and comparing your progress to others can be toxic. We're all different and we all adapt and progress at different rates - trust me, you're doing just fine.

4) Make it fun
The best way to stay motivated is to do something that puts a smile on your face. Started 2016 with high hopes of running a marathon only to discover that you absolutely loathe running? No sweat, find something you enjoy - whether that's shaking your thing in a zumba class or bench pressing away in the free weights section. You're doing this for you, so do more of what makes you happy.

5) Be proud of yourself
It's so easy to get bogged down in what you haven't achieved, what you can't do yet and how far you've still got to go. If I had a penny for every time I've had a little strop whilst out on a run because I don't think I'm doing well enough, I'd be rolling around in a sea of 1 pence pieces. I speak from experience when I say that beating yourself up will get you nowhere. Focus on the positives rather than burying yourself in negatives. Take a step back and look at what you have achieved. Give yourself a pat on the back - you're out there doing it and that's the most important thing.

Taking a Leap of Faith: When Quitting is the Opposite of Giving Up

Last week, I quit my PR job to chase a pipe dream. It's a move that 2014 just-graduated me would have been horrified by. I've given up a career, with progression and development opportunities. A career that I was so sure I wanted. But what I haven't given up on, is myself. In fact, I've taken a pretty big gamble on little old me and that little pipe dream of mine. 

On Wednesday, I'll be starting a Level 2 Fitness Instructor course - the first step towards becoming a fully fledged personal trainer. As an English Literature and Theatre Studies graduate, it's a fairly big career change and it's not exactly what I anticipated myself doing when I first embarked on my degree back in 2011. I've danced since the age of 3 and in recent years fitness has become a big part of my life. It's always been in the back of mind that I'd love to be a personal trainer - to have the opportunity to turn my hobby into a career whilst helping people to get stronger, fitter and more confident. Until this year, I'd always subconsciously shut that thought down. Without realising it, I've been living according to what I perceived as being expected of me. I did an English degree, and so with not quite enough thought I set about chasing a graduate career path that seemed to fit with what I studied. Looking back, I think I just got myself so wrapped up in the pressure of landing that sacred 'graduate job', so I'd have something to say for myself at family gatherings and class reunions. I was following the path I felt I should follow, rather than the one I really wanted. My perspective and my priorities have changed so much in the past year - I've realised that what's most important to me is getting up each morning and doing something that I enjoy. It's not about the job title. It's about putting your heart and soul into something you love, whatever that might be. The hardest part of my career change hasn't been making the decision itself, but letting go of expectations.

So on to the plan. I'm a chronic over-thinker so I'm trying my best to just go with it and see what happens, but at the moment the aim is to qualify as a personal trainer and then set about qualifying as a pilates instructor and a dance teacher. Further down the line I'd love to study physiotherapy and nutrition but we'll see - I was always that kid that wanted to do everything at once so I'm trying to reign myself in. For now, I'm just excited to learn and to see what I can do.

I may have quit my job, and given up a perfectly good career - but staying on that path would have been giving up on myself. It might all go wrong - god knows I've had several 'oh crap what have I done this is insane' moments over the last week - but I won't know until I try. I'd rather give it a go and risk falling on my face because otherwise I'll always wonder. This could be the start of something awesome.

Well done if you made it this far into my self-indulgent little ramble. I guess what I'm trying to say is take a chance on yourself, whatever that chance may be, let go of what's expected of you and do something that puts a smile on your face. I genuinely believe we'll regret the things we weren't brave enough to do far more than any mistakes we might make.

"So be afraid! And then do it anyway."

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