The benefits of walking….for me

Low angle shot of red wellied feet walking over snow covered ground with snow falling and glowing sunset beyond. Shallow depth of field with focus on heel of boot.

I had a change of direction for the blog this week and wanted to talk about my love of walking and how great it makes me feel.  Those who know me, know I love a good yomp – I love urban, suburban and rural, pavement pounding and muddy puddles and they are all good for my soul.

I think it probably stemmed from childhood – being kicked out of doors with my brothers and father so mum had the house to herself to cook Sunday lunch.  Luckily for us a walk ususually involved a pub so there was always a treat midway but we used to trudge across farmland and beautiful bluebell woods.  Then there were holidays in Swanage where we used go on massive all-day expeditions with my aunt, cousins and any other friends and family tagging along.  These were filled with laughter, sunshine and great conversations and I loved that feeling of comradeship and exhaustion from all that fresh air and exercise.

These days my walks tend to be more solitary; some long, some short but they give me the opportunity to:

  1. Be nosy. Nothing beats peaking into people’s houses when the lights are on the curtains are yet to be drawn
  2. Observe life and the seasons around me. Life seems to run at 100 miles an hour and by walking you can see things that you’ve never noticed before; be it architecture, wildlife, people. Go slow.
  3. Be outside.  Yes I enjoy the gym too but being out in the fresh air (even if urban pollution) clears the head.  Also I can be out for longer as it’s less tiring than running and my body shape ain’t made for marathon running!
  4. Discover new areas close to home or further afield
  5. Exercise and it’s free.  Whenever my brother, who works for Handiworld (nice plug for you Tobes!) is in London for meetings he walks everywhere.  He enjoys the freedom it gives him and saves on those rather expensive tube tickets.  It also gives him the time to clear his head before the next meeting. And according to this article in the Daily Telegraph a brisk 20-minute daily walk reduces an individual’s risk of early death by 25 per cent (University of Cambridge research)
  6. Catch up with friends.  I love a walk and talk and it’s a great way to catch up.  I also use this for work too – if I need to talk with a colleague I often suggest a walk.  As soon as you are out of the office it’s easier to talk and rationalise what the issue is and put forward solutions
  7. Come up with new ideas – it’s a well know fact that nobody has their best ideas sitting at a desk. Take a mo to read this article at health.com which explains why
  8. Give myself a sense of perspective. This to me is the most important factor. I tend to stew and get wound up easily and the rhythm of walking allows me to think stuff through and put things into perspective.  My husband now recognises this and if he sees me getting angsty or in a tizz will drop me off somewhere on the way home and by the time I’ve walked through the door all is good with the world again. And vice versa, if he’s working from home and I hear him effing and blinding at the computer I take him for a walk round the block so he can let off steam.  Win: Win

So if you can, step away from your desk and pop out for a walk as often as you can.  And if you can’t escape see if you can walk part of the way to or from work – even regular short blasts will do and observe how you feel. I hope the endorphins kick in for you too.

How does it feel to be out of your comfort zone?

END OF COMFORT ZONE written on Directional wooden sign with arrow pointing to the right against green leaves background. Concept image with available copy space

Happy New Year to you all and I can’t believe I haven’t written a post since October.  Note to self – must try harder this year!

This week’s topic was provoked by a conversation I had with some friends.  We all like the familiar and the routine and it seems, as we get older it becomes even more importantant to us.  I always had a wry smile when I was working PT or on mat leave and trying to organise meeting up with my mother. We rarely managed it as she was sooo busy playing golf, bridge, Tai Chi, hair appointments and the gardening club. I was delighted she kept herself busy (and still does) but frustrated that she showed no flexibility but these dates were as important to her as a business meeting would be to me.

So what happens when we step out of our comfort zone or our everyday routine?  Naturally we feel anxious, not sure if it’s the right thing to do, doubt our ability and the project’s success. And (as I sometimes do) try and adapt the plan to suit me.  However if you go with it, the rewards can be far greater. On reflection you realise what you’ve achieved and learnt and despite the anguish, blood sweat and tears you went through, that sense of achievement is so much sweeter.

It’s not just about work but homelife too – grasping that “sod it” moment and doing something you really want to do rather than what you think you should be doing.  In my case a challenging walk (don’t think my husband and daughter even realised I’d gone!) or deadlifting 80kg both of which I was nervous about but felt fab afterwards, amazed by my level of fitness – even if I did fast asleep by 9pm on a Saturday night.  My life rocks!

So take baby steps and see what’s outside your comfort zone  – you never know what you might find.  Try something new, push yourself that little bit harder, challenge ideas and thoughts at work and who knows what you may achieve. For 2017 I’m going to join a choir (no rude remarks please!), set up a new working lunch forum and reinvigorate my business. Am I going to have some down days? Hell yeah.  Will I feel anxious and overwhelmed?  Of course.  But I hope to come out smiling at the other end.

What about you?

A working mum’s dilemma

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Here I am again, facing the dilemma that so many working mums have…taking a step back (or maybe sideways move) from my career path to have greater flexibility with work and to be able to spend more time with my husband and daughter.

I don’t begrudge it and I know it’s the right thing to do but I have ambition coursing through my veins and its time I quelled it.  Or should I? 

I admit I’m never going to be a Helena Morrissey (the thought of 9 children and her punishing schedule bring tears to my eyes ) but as I implied in my previous post on a curvy career, I flourish when learning new skills and taking on new challenges. My work very much defines who I am. 

However I need to take stock; as a friend said to me I’m never going to look back on my life and take satisfaction in the amount of hours I worked.  Most likely I’ll wish I’d spent more time with my husband and daughter. Plus I do believe if both partners are working full time; something has to give. We can’t have it all. Well we can if we can afford the live-in housekeeper, chef, roster of nannies and our lives are timetabled up to the hilt.  But where’s the fun in that and why have children?  (sorry my 20s Milly Tant is coming out) And if you read about some of the most successful business women who work full time, invariably their partner is the one who can offer greater flexibility in their work. Again back to Helena whose husband is the lead parent.

Also, as I get swept up into working life I have to remind myself how much I wanted a child and I have to make the most of the hugs and cuddles before it’s not cool to have PDAs with your mum.

However I can’t complain I’ve had a great few months working full time at Spark at The Telegraph.  A lovely bunch of people and I now know my Double MPUs from my leaderboards, exit puffs and content blasts, tags, trackers and sticky branding and in return I hope I’ve managed to pass on some of my content marketing wisdom.

So now it’s back to the drawing board and it’s at this point I have to praise my hubby, being the font of all knowledge and wisdom.  He so rightly says that I can channel my energies into other things so work doesn’t have to be quite so important to me.  And I think that’s true whatever stage you’re at in your career. I can gain personal satisfaction from finally having the time to do some voluntary work visiting the elderly – and maybe I will enrol for that pottery course and pour my energies into moulding a lump of clay.

If there’s anybody out there who needs some content and PR support – let me know. I’m free!

Friendships

Happy finger art family group of loving mother and father with son while smiley face at blurred outdoor park background. Retro filter effect. copy space.

I had a lovely deep and meaninful conversation with a friend last Sunday over a few glasses of Prosecco (but of course), about friendships.  I was feeling rather Eeyore that I don’t have one big group of friends who I can hang out with and sometimes I get a pang of jealously when I see on Facebook (darn Facebook) that a gaggle of local mums have gone out and I’m NFI.  But the more we chatted I realised how lucky I am.  I have  a wide network of friends scattered home and abroad who I have accumulated (and lost too) over the years. I may not see them every week, let alone year to year, but we’re always there for each other.  And what’s more, like Miranda Hart’s article in The Telegraph – and yup we were at the the same school so I totally get how she feels – you have different friends for different things  – I have my foodie friends, fashionistas, exercise bunnies, bookclub buddies, arty farty types, drinking pals, school gate chums, working women and then of course those who have known me through all the good and difficult times in my life.  I’m not sure how they would get on if I threw them altogether in a room but each and every one of them is priceless to me.

So I suppose what I’m getting at is whatever type of friendships you have, whether a bit of a loner like me or part of a large gang; embrace and cherish them and also see what other friendships you can pick up along the way too.

So thank you Izzy for making me realise how lucky I am.

 

Keeping fit, healthy & strong

This week I have asked my personal trainer James Chandler from Eat Well and Work Out to contribute to my blog.  Working full time my question to him is always how do I prioritise my fitness and health whilst being glued to my office chair during the week and spending time with family and friends at the weekend? I’m lucky that even if I haven’t done anything all week, a heavy weights session with James makes me mentally and physically stronger even if it does go pear-shaped on a Saturday night! I hope you find his tips helpful….

“Life has a certain amount of bandwidth. Our physical and mental energy levels dictate how much ‘space’ or effort we can put into all the things we have to do and we really can’t do it all.

Almost daily I have a discussion with one of my clients about how to prioritise health despite having responsibilities pulling us off in many different directions:

  • Work
  • Kids
  • Relationships
  • Family
  • Emergencies

There is no one easy answer on how to deal with it all, however, do we actually need an answer? Could worrying or stressing about the things that we REALLY can’t influence be actually taking bandwidth away from fitting in a bit more. Feeling guilty, disappointed or regretful is a waste of mental energy…could we simply channel this back into taking ACTION?

This is where you have to get smart with the priorities:

  • What can you sacrifice in return for good health habits?
  • When could you do A instead of B? E.g. walk in the woods instead of another episode of [insert box set]. (Pettit Post comment – Or do some exercise whilst watching Grey’s Anatomy in my case!)

Can you try and incorporate any of these habits into your daily life?

  1. Move well, and move often
  2. Lift heavy things
  3. Drink only water
  4. Eat real food (nothing that is more than two steps from its natural form, ensuring every calorie you consume is the most nutritionally beneficial you can find)
  5. Sleep well
  6. Reduce stress

The pyramid image you can see is one I created for my clients to illustrate the excellent hierarchy model created by Alwyn Cosgrove. This one is specifically for fat loss, however you can tweak it for any goal you may have. What is really important to remember is that you can only do what you have time and energy to do.

Hierarchy Of Fat Loss.

What I find really impactful is the use of the time available arrow down the side. If that new job, baby or relationship puts you in that 1 hour a week slot and you can only do 1 thing, then it is nutrition you need to focus on. Moving up the pyramid as we get a tad more time shows us exactly what we should apply focus too.

It is simple…fill the space where guilt, regret for yesterday’s ‘not so’ healthy choices or disappointment with acceptance that you are doing the BEST you can at this moment. Simple, yes. Easy, no. However, with practice and putting a bit of time into learning what works best for you can smooth out the journey considerably. Remember, view the long game and enjoy each twist and turn.”