Tag Archives: exercise


Do you value yourself enough?

People with a talent for living give their physical and mental health a high priority. They exercise, meditate, go to yoga, pilates or dance class, play sports. They take time to recharge their body and nourish their soul.

When I visualise my ideal life, I am one of those people. I would go for a jog on a Monday, maybe join friends at  Zumba class on Wednesday and do training in the park on Fridays.  I would make time for ten minutes yoga 3 times a week, and even fit in some mindful meditation. And of course my diet would include double the fruit and veg and a quarter of the chocolate. Not to mention a cut in wine intake. I would stimulate my mind with much time spent on hobbies, meeting friends and reading.

My reality is usually quite different.  While I recently had some success introducing exercise and healthier eating into my life, going on holiday has set that back a bit. Generally when it comes down to each decision I take throughout the day, I often overrule my ideal self.  Instead, I seem to value spending time working, checking emails, or getting the house clean, over things that will really make me feel happier. I know that they will make me happier and healthier, yet I don’t do them.  And I know from speaking to friends and clients that I’m not the only one who does this. Why is this?

Here are a few possible reasons:

  • We don’t value ourselves – and our physical and mental health – enough.
  • We don’t focus enough – ie we get distracted, we go for instant gratification over hard work, or long-term goals.
  • We find it difficult to change habits, especially ingrained thinking patterns.
  • We are scared – we don’t want to fail, make mistakes or make a fool of our selves.
  • We are too busy trying to prove we are someone else rather than allowing ourselves to be who we are.
  • We don’t realise (or we forget) that many of the goals we aim for will not solve all our problems and make us instantly happy.
  • We worry about what other people will think of our lifestyle.

I am sure there are many other reasons, like laziness, unexpected events, being human, even being spontaneous, that distract us from our idealised life.  Maybe a big one is expecting that an ideal life is possible anyway.  I know personally, and I hate to admit this, that one of the biggest reasons that I don’t give enough time to my mental and physical wellbeing is that I’m constantly trying to ‘prove’ myself in other ways to everyone – including myself. So this means I am chasing achievements rather than valuing myself enough as I am.  Sounds crazy written down in black and white, but there it is.


Health and Fitness Tactic 5 – Home Workouts

So, what if you can’t get out of the house to do regular exercise?
Maybe you have small children, are on a tight budget, or just don’t like exercising with other people. Maybe you hate gyms or jogging, and feel all the travelling to and from health clubs is a waste of time.  Maybe it’s raining and you’d rather stay in.
A good friend of mine, Karen Plested from Karen Plested Personal Training, recommends setting up your own fitness routine in the comfort of your home  if you can’t – or don’t want to – get out to an organised one. She gave me a schedule to follow, which I am going to use when I miss my scheduled classes and when I’m ‘too busy’ to exercise (and maybe if it’s raining.)   She is happy for me to share this schedule with you, so please contact me on thea@fireworkscoaching.co.uk and I’ll email you a copy.
I’m also going to use the individual sets in my 5 minute exercises (see Tactic 4), and I’m hoping that the more I do them, the more I’ll be likely to do them.  I would like them to become a habit which I don’t even have to think about.
So, this is the end of my Health and Fitness Tactics.  I’ve no excuse now, not to be fit and healthy for the rest of my life. But since we all know it doesn’t work like that, I’m hoping that by having more tools and tactics at my fingertips keeping fit and healthy will become easier, more effective and become a regular part of my life.
I hope you have been inspired to use some of these tactics and tips. Please comment below and let me know what works for you.

Health and Fitness Tactic 1 – Reset

My cousin Tom Marien runs a training and fitness company in London called One Element.  He has designed a 12 day Reset programme which helps you kickstart better exercise and eating habits, lose weight and become fitter.

Last year my husband and I did Reset, and I must admit I failed abysmally. My heart just wasn’t in it. I did change what I ate, but I bent the rules and didn’t do the exercise bits and I cursed my cousin everyday for making me do it. (Of course he didn’t make me do it, he’s a very nice man and it was my choice.) My husband stuck to it and lost 5kg in 12 days. I think I lost 1lb, which doesn’t count because I could have lost that overnight.

Anyway, knowing that the problem was with my attitude rather than with Reset, we started the programme again two weeks ago and this time my committment was completely different.  I don’t know why. Perhaps I knew what was involved, perhaps I was just ready to make the changes this time, perhaps I had grown up a little.  Either way, I stuck to the diet completely. Actually it’s not really a diet, you have to cut out certain foods and stick to some basic rules. I still didn’t make time for all the exercises but I did more than I normally would have so I’m going to focus on the positives.  At least I have something to aim for next time!

The main rules of the programme (as I followed them – I’d lost my book so I was doing it from memory) are:

  • no alcohol
  • no sugar
  • no wheat
  • no dairy
  • daily exercises
  • four cardiovascular exercise sessions per week.

This time I lost 5 lbs and my husband lost 6lbs, and I have carried some of the habits on since stopping the programme at the weekend.  I’m not drinking in the week, I’m not snacking so much, I’ve cut down hugely on the wheat , sugar and dairy I’ve eaten too.  I’m sure this won’t last because we’re going on holiday in 9 days but I do feel I will start the holiday with more restraint than I normally do.  And I can look forward to doing Reset in another couple of months to help keep me on track.

Luckily for those of you who want to give this a try, Tom has just relaunched the Reset programme this week and has made it available for free as a pdf download on his website.  He recommends doing Reset 4 times a year, and One Element sets Reset dates 6 times a year where you sign up and are supported by daily emails.  If you live in London you can attend their Training  in the Park sessions too.

Have a go, I recommend it. And don’t worry if you don’t stick to it completely first time round. Who wants to be perfect anyway? Not me.


Health and Fitness Week

I think I need new trainers.

A couple of weeks ago – after the Easter choc-fest – my husband and I started a healthy eating and fitness drive. We’d both picked up some bad snacking habits, were too used to big portions at our evening meal and not doing much exercise. We’re both busy – he works long hours in London, while I work long hours juggling house, family and my own work. Healthy eating and exercise keep getting pushed down the priority list, so now, we decided, was the time to focus on them for a few weeks to kickstart a healthier lifestyle and to establish some better eating and fitness habits.

In 12 days I lost 5lbs and my husband lost…well we don’t know yet because the scales ran out of battery. He  has lost some, and knowing him (he’s strict with what he eats when he’s decided to) he’ll lose more than me.  So what did we do and how did we do it?  Every day this week I will discuss one of the tactics we used to change the way we eat and get fit.

First though, why are we doing it?  Because like everyone we know the benefits of healthy eating and regular exercise but don’t practice what we believe. We wanted to start living with more integrity as well as more energy and vitality and less toxins and weight.  But also, exercise is often cited by positive psychologists as one of the key daily habits that happy people commit to. And who doesn’t want to be happy?

So for us, making exercise a priority and a regular habit is what we were aiming for, while also being more mindful about what we put into our mouths. We had got used to not doing it, and wanted to get used to doing it.


What Really Makes us Happy?

What makes you happy?

I imagine everybody has asked themselves the question: What will make me happy?

If you have, how do you answer?

Money? Time with your family?  Chocolate? A new handbag? A meaningful job?  A husband? A sunny day?  Keeping in touch with friends regularly?

I seem to ask this question of myself quite a lot, and I don’t always know the answer. (Which is probably why I am now a happiness coach, because people tend to become experts in what they struggle with.)  So over the last couple of years I have read many books and research coming from the relatively new area of Positive Psychology. This is the study of happy people, and what makes people happier.  One of the most interesting theories that I’ve come across is one from  Professor Sonja Lyubomirsky and her colleagues.  She discovered through her research that our happiness is made up of:

  • 50% genetics – we inherit a happiness ‘set point’ from our parents, which doesn’t change much throughout our lives.
  • 10% circumstances – whether we are rich or poor, what city or house we live in, how healthy we are, how beautiful or plain, married or divorced.
  • 40% intentional activity – our daily behaviour, how we think and act each day.

While this does sound a bit gloomy (that we can’t change 50% of our happiness level)  it is also great news because it means that we can potentially increase our happiness by up to 40% by copying the daily behaviour of happy people.

7 Happy Habits

So what habits do happy people have in their lives? Below I have listed seven of the happy habits that researchers have identified.

  • They are social.  Happy people spend a lot of time with their families and friends, nurturing and enjoying those relationships.
  •  They practice gratitude on a daily or weekly basis.
  • They prioritise exercise on a daily or weekly basis.
  • They are mindful, live in the present and savour life’s pleasures.
  • They have an optimistic outlook on life, and think in an optimistic way when things go wrong.
  • They are kind and regularly offer help to people they know and meet.
  • They are committed to life long goals, for example, teaching strong values to their children, building cabinets or reducing crime.

Maybe you could pick one of these habits and think about ways of introducing some intentional activity into your life to give your happiness a boost.