Often and forever.

IMG_0873What a difference a day makes!  What a massive life thumping change six weeks has made!

In the time it takes kids to make friends, break friends and bruise knees on their school holidays my little world has been positively and irreversibly transformed in so many ways.

It seems ridiculous almost, to be making these declarations when I’m not even half way through my adventure. There are many things on my important stuff list that I am yet to conquer but that almost doesn’t seem to matter. (Although don’t think for one second come the 18th June I won’t have ticked every one of them off!)

I am different.  My life is different.  What makes me happy has changed.

I wake up energised and want to fill my tummy with food that will make my body happy.  I stop eating when I am full!  This is from the girl who hoovered down food like a Dyson and whose big toes no matter how full could always find room for more.  And did… often!

I drink water.. ALOT of water.  I hated water!

I haven’t had a take away; chocolate bar; packet of crisps since I started and I genuinely have no desire to have them. I would turn them down if you offered them to me without a second thought.

I wake up on a Saturday morning ready to thrown a small round yellow ball at people in a church hall whilst screaming like a Banshee!

I feel fabulous nearly all of the time and have re discovered clothes that haven’t seen the light of day for at least 12 months.  Matching undies are the norm and I am walking tall and smiling wide.

I get excited knowing I will be hearing Stu’s ever so chipper knock on my front door at 6.30am and that  I am going to become a big sweaty; face pulling mess, as I learn how to do magical things with kettle bells, bulgarian bags & TRX.  Stuff I never thought possible I am doing.  It sometimes kills me but I do it and I love it.  And it’s making a difference.  After 3 weeks I’d lost over 3% body fat!

Most of all I have made a whole heap of the most amazing new friends that have welcomed me with open arms into their world.  We have trained together; twittered together; danced together, laughed more than I thought possible together and screamed and shouted at people to keep running together.

You are funny, inspirational and awesome and I feel completely privileged to be your friend.   You know who you are. THANK YOU!

I am completely energised, content and happy.  It’s working and I love it!!!

 

 

The Dodge Connection

I headed down the M6, from my hometown of Manchester around 15 years ago.  Like most people who land in the big smoke for 5 years, I played the 6 month renting merry go round of South West London and finally put down roots ten minutes from the lovely leafy Thames in Surrey.  I absolutely love where I live.  I am surrounded by beautiful historic places, the Thames flows freely and the coffee and cake are plentiful!   However if I wanted a quick cup of tea, or a chat about the weather or my latest dating shenanigans, with my favourite people, it was a military operation that needed a trek across country and to be planned months in advance.  In a world where everyone is working hard; traffic means 14 miles in 2 hours and family time is scare anything being quick and spontaneous is impossible, that was until recently!

At the core of operation banish slug is connection and community.  Becoming PART of where I live, reaching out, giving back.  Making new friends and feeling like I belong.

If you have looked at my important stuff there are key things that I set out to do.  One was give random strangers compliments to raise a smile, I have and it’s brilliant.  I dare you to do it tomorrow.  Go on; tell someone you like there coat, eyes, bag- whatever.  You will become part of the story of their day and like me, may even get a cup of coffee out of it! The least it will do is create a smile and a brief connection.

Another thing I set out to do was join a local club. This one wasn’t as easy as telling someone who I would never see again, that their umbrella rocked.  This meant making a commitment to be there, regularly, whatever else came up.  It also meant introducing myself to new people, as well as learning something new.  What if they weren’t very friendly? What if they were all brilliant and didn’t want me on their team?  What if they all ignored me when I got there?  A lot of what if’s!!

I’m am delighted to say NONE of those what if’s came true!  After a bit of internet surfing I stumbled across Dodgefit.  (@dodgefitsession) I had no idea what this was and never played Dodgeball at school.  The nearest I’d ever got was the movie with Ben Stiller!  No matter, it was in walking distance of my house (Mole Hall, Molesey) and timing wise, 11:30am, was perfect.  Enough time to have a big sleep and also be finished and have most of the day left.  So 4 weeks ago today I walked through the red front doors and introduced myself as the new girl.  Everyone was lovely, chatty, friendly and inclusive.  They had all been playing a while but still made time for me to understand the rules and no one laughed when I nearly did the splits!

For those of you, like me, have never heard of it.  You basically run around a hall for a hour having small yellow balls thrown at you by the opposing team, which you need to, the clue is in the title- DODGE.  If you get hit you then have a forfeit- 5 star jumps or leaping squats.  If Angus (our energetic Dodgefit dynamo) is feeling particularly hard core we have to run round the hall before we can re join our team!  There are other variations on a theme but all include squealing; jumping; running; shouting; clapping, getting very sweaty and most of all laughing!

It’s a good work out.  You are taking part in your very own version of Mike Reid’s runaround with added balls!

It was brand new and it is brilliant.  With my hand on my heart I can say I love it.  I look forward to it and I’m feel really lucky to be making friends with some great people both young and old.

If like me you walk out of your house and know no one to stop and say hi to, then think about what is on your door step.  What you can become a part of.

 Who knows it might just change your life!

 

With a little help!

A big part of operation banish slug is about feeling fabulous; walking tall, with a spring in my step and a smile on my face.

But what colour should that smile be for someone who is nearly 40!?

Nearly 40!  How did that happen!!!

It’s over 20 years ago since I’d last looked properly in the mirror and worked out what sort of stuff I should be slapping on my face to give it a bit of a helping hand!  Although I was a bit too young in the 80’s to appreciate the baby pink lip and aqua blue eye shadow, I have been pretty much been doing the same thing, most days for a very long time.  It was time for a re-vamp, a bit of a spring clean!

The trouble was, I had no idea what was out there in the bonkers world of make up and beauty .  More importantly I had no clue where I should be spending my hard earned dosh!  Beauty products don’t come cheap.  I could have navigated my way through the terrifying orange skinned; false eyelashed; scouse browed world of the beauty counter, but I’m not that brave!  I would have been bambi in headlights and needed to re mortgage my house!

Instead I reached out to the wonderful world of Twitter and found the incredibly lovely make up artist  Catherine Bailey (@catherinebmua).  Catherine thankfully agreed to pop over and give my make up bag the once over , as well as help me find the perfect red lipstick and avoid looking like an extra from Hollyoaks!

Every lady needs the right red, just like you need THAT little black dress and THOSE killer heels.

Any women will tell you having someone come and examine the contents of their make up bag is similar to nails down a blackboard or chewing on cotton wool.  Mine was full of Christmas gifts and free samples, so I was worried Catherine would take one look at it and pat me on the head whilst mouthing ‘oh dear dear me where do we start’.  Luckily she didn’t.  She gave me some great advice on the things that shouldn’t go within 10 feet of my skin, unless I wanted to look like an extra from Shaun of the Dead!  Smokey eyes, white eyeliner and plum lips were banished forever.  She was also surprisingly complimentary about some of the things I had.  The Naked neutrals eye shadow and Estee Launder concealer got a thumbs up. She also dug out some stuff I had never worn that is now my daily staple!  Who knew I rocked pink lipstick!

As well as sorting out my stash she also have me a make over and talked me through how to apply the perfect base.  For all you ladies hitting your mid 30’s- less is more and Revlon primer is a God send!! My foundation has been replaced with a Liz Earle Sheer tint.  I look positively glowing!  We nattered about powders versus creams.  Creams are the way to go and my new Illamasqua blusher is much easier to apply than I thought.  I have so far managed to avoid looking like Aunt Sally from Worzel Gummidge. I also discovered how to make my nose look great! (who knew!?) Benefit high beam is miraculous! Thankfully Catherine also found me my perfect red.  Max Factor Fire & ice.  It rocks and I have ordered 2!  I plan to wear it a lot.

So in 2 hours, with the right advice and a bit of know how I shook off some of my 20’s past and am making the most of my 30 something face.

If I do say so myself I don’t look too shabby at all!

 

No injuries for me!

If you’ve looked at ‘my important stuff’ you’ll know that staying injury free is CRUCIAL to me.

This time last year I’d just about stop hobbling around like a 90 year old lady after tearing the muscles above my knees.  It took 4 months for me to get back to normal-ish and I’m still scared of running.  At the time it happened I wasn’t in the middle of a strenuous run, jumping over small vehicles or completing the last of a million lunges. I was doing my shopping in Tesco!

I was planning to do the 2012 London Marathon and I was in the middle of my marathon training, putting in the miles on my own. I wasn’t worried and I’d never suffered from any injuries before, not even blisters.  I was doing exactly the same thing that I did in 2005 when I ran my first London marathon.  For some reason this time around my body decided it was doing no more and it sent that message wrapped up in a very painful wrapper with a confidence zapping bow.  With help I got back on my feet but it took what felt like forever.  It was only when I went on a  sea kayaking holiday in September that I realised how much of a grey cloud had been following me around.  7 days wild camping and paddling round the coast of Turkey with 8 amazing friends helped kicked the cloud into touch.

I made myself a promise at the end of that holiday that I would do everything I could to not to be back in that useless place.

Keeping that promise is central to operation banish slug.  I’ve surrounded myself by an amazing group of experts who are working together to make sure I get strong and fit and stay healthy.  My crack team are Sam and Sarah from Pace Therapies (@physioSB; @PACETherapies) and my awesome trainer Stuart Amory (@StuartAmoryPT). Stuart recommended the magic eye of Sam who is working with me to ensure all my muscles work together in the right way.  Sarah is provided amazing thumbs, fingers and elbows to loosen my muscles and give me bruise free sports massages and Stuart is pushing me hard to be everything I can be.  They are the most brilliantly talented people I have had the pleasure of meeting and they are all on my team! It’s incredible and they make me smile massive smiles!

It hasn’t been easy doing Sam’s exercises.  They isolate particular muscles that need stretching and challenging in completely new ways.  This means pain.  Controlled, planned and expected pain, change doesn’t just happen.  These exercises create as much sweat and teeth gritting as swinging kettle bells and suspending from the TRX.  Stuart has been helping ensure I do the exercises properly by incorporating them into our sessions and I’ve committed to doing them at least 4 times a week.  I can tell the difference already as 5 second holds are turning into ten.

This part of keeping fit might not be the sexy part that generates the compliments but it’s one of the most important.  We only have one body and we all should look after it and treat it with respect.  If you haven’t ever had an assessment, ask yourself would you drive across America without insurance and an MOT?  The answer is NO!

Go spend the money and take the time and see if there is anything that you need to do, to help you be the best you can be and injury free!

Accentuate the positive!

Today is the first day of my 5 for 50 day challenge.  www.5×50.co.uk

It’s not really about the distance or the 30 minutes spent huffing and puffing each day.  It’s about forming a habit, making a change and carving out 30 minutes everyday, where I get off my bottom and do something.  Anything!  Run, walk, skip, bike, dance, swim, jump, hop, crawl- whatever it is.

I DO IT and I do it a day at a time.

Six months ago I changed jobs, I needed a new challenge, to stretch myself in a different way.  The previous job was all about delivery, success was easy to measure.  I could do it in my sleep and loved it.  The new role needs a more subtle approach.   It’s about playing the long game, helping people move forward, influencing, challenging, sometimes standing alone and working out if you are doing the right thing isn’t always easy or obvious.  I struggled in the first few months to see how I was making any impact.

That was until I changed my perspective and started to accentuate the positive.  Rather than thinking about whether I’d nailed the goal, I began looking at the smaller successes, the nudges, the movement forward.  I began to find achievement and purpose.  It felt good and my confidence resurfaced.  I believe we all need to know we are making a positive difference to our worlds and some days it’s difficult to hang on to that.  To believe.  I began scribbling down at the end of each day 3 things I’d done well.  Not massive moments that deserved high fives and praise, just things I was proud off.  How I’d helped people do different!

When I’m feeling rubbish and those voices in my head are telling me it’s all too difficult, I get out my book. There is all the evidence I need to tell me I can and I have, so there is no excuse not to do again.

Try it.  Everyday scribble somewhere, anywhere, 3 things you are proud of.  Accentuate the positive!!

So if you are thinking about doing the challenge,  don’t let the 50 days put you off, just do 30 mins today and tomorrow……repeat to fade.  Take it a bit of a time, concentrate on the awesome stuff you have nailed, not what’s next.  It’s not about what you didn’t do.   Think about what you have done.

Go on! I dare you!

Walk tall!

Tonight the clocks go forward signifying that spring has officially sprung.

The air is full of hope, new life, new beginnings!

My spring happened a little earlier than most.  As the mornings started to lightened & with the snow falling heavy in the North, 14 days ago,  I found a new sense of purpose.  A bounce appeared in my step & smile firmly on my face.  A taller walk, a more connected me.  Since then the feeling has intensified into an overwhelming one of control and contentment. Balance.  This is a new experience for me and a word I don’t use lightly.  It has never resonated. It does now and I’m genuinely loving it.

It hasn’t all been plain sailing. Who knew drinking 8 glasses of water and rocking matching underwear would have been, so far, the most channelling things on my important stuff list!  The second has been the topic of many flabbergasted workplace  conversations, with woman giving me a knowing secret nod and men utterly perplexed that I don’t necessarily don agent provocteur every day or are completely shocked that Marks & Spencers sell pants that don’t have matching bras.  Who knew one male colleague said to me at a work do last week.  One of my favourite emails of the last week has been from a close friend she wrote:-

In honour of operation banish slug today I am matching top & bottom and feeling fabulous!

You have to love that!

The journey so far has been remarkable, I’m playing Dodgeball once a week at a church hall at the end of my street and it’s the best fun ever.  Food isn’t a issue, I’m eating well & thinking about what I have, not what I can’t have.  I have an army of virtual supporters in #FitTeam13 and Stuart Amory my personal trainer who inspires me everyday to work harder and reach higher.  I am also learning that relaxing is good and just as important as all the other stuff! Excellent news!

#Operationbanishslug is rocking my world!